On the fringe
Now, stop. In reading the title of this column, did you think I would be talking about sex? I won’t be. I’ll be talking about nudity, which, although may pertain to sex, is not mutually exclusive to it.
I for one love to walk around in varying states of undress. Have you ever cooked naked? It’s thrilling! What about strolling the gardens nude? The rays of sunlight peeking through tree leaves have never fallen on a more welcoming backdrop than that of a shirtless back. How about biking topless? Well, let me tell you — as a woman whose breasts have been confined to either a bra or shirt my entire life — it feels pretty damn good.
You may be inclined to think that I am lying, but I am not. Just ask my neighbors. Although cold weather sends me a runnin’ to my piles of sweaters and wool leggings, we luckily live in Davis. Prime nekkid weather nine months a year.
So, why is our campus not teeming with bare breasts and bouncing balls? There are, of course, religious reasons that keep some folks in clothes, but I would like to discuss other rationalities — the ones that society hands to us as children and reinforces with a sturdy hand if we stray.
What are the reasons you aren’t reading this naked?
Perhaps you are afraid of offending others or, conversely, of others offending you. Society certainly has different standards of nudity for men and women. Oh, look! A naked woman! What a slut. Oh, look! A naked man! What a pervert.
Or perhaps you would rather avoid confrontation with authority — after all, getting pepper-sprayed while naked would probably be uncomfortable, if not completely inconvenient. Maybe your “authority” doesn’t even wear a uniform. It could simply be a stranger having the audacity to say, “This is inappropriate.” Is it?
Have you heard of the guy who attended all of his classes at UC Berkeley in the buff? His name was Andrew Martinez, and he graced the student body with his bare body back in the early ’90s. He declared philosophical opposition to the use of clothing as a means of differentiating ourselves along class and gender boundaries.
After being arrested for indecent exposure on campus, a judge refused to prosecute him, citing that nudity was not indecent unless it was coupled with lewd behavior. This did not satisfy campus officials, so UC Berkeley issued a campus policy that banned public nudity in 1992.
When was the last time you saw someone other than yourself naked, in media or in the flesh, in a non-sexual environment? Andrew Martinez provided folks with just that opportunity. Nudity sans sex. What a novelty! And he was arrested for it.
I need not fall into a discussion about how oversexualized our culture is: We are all familiar with the multitude of risque advertisements and obsessively sexual HBO shows.
I want to glorify the bare human form. All shapes, colors, lengths, widths and ages.
I’ve been to a number of gatherings that have spontaneously transformed into clothing optional events. In these moments, I am taken aback by how much more beautiful we are naked. When we strip ourselves of the tools we use to create our own individual identity, we realize that we are all more or less the same in a simple, real way.
To accuse ELLI PEARSON of having loose morals or laud her openness, email email@example.com.