The Nude, Censorship and Patriarchal Opression
The view of the human body has changed many times during recorded history. When Michelangelo painted nude human bodies in the Sistine Chapel the Pope approved, but they were "covered" later and remained so for centuries. However, when the paintings were restored in the 1980´s, the Vatican accepted the nudes again.
We probably began to clothe our bodies in Europe during the Pleistocene glaciations: I do not believe that our problem with the nude body existed before that, but I am certain that we have lost the reasonable approach that was shown by the tropical peoples until recently. They found nudity natural and did not link it with sexual activity, in fact, anthropologists reported that these nude peoples were often quite conservative regarding any public show of their sexuality.
Censorship is a violation of human rights. It violates the right to freedom; the right to learn and think. Thus, censorship is slowly being abolished in democratic societies. How could censorship of sexuality and nudes start if humans lived nude for most of their history?
Biological research has shown that women are less interested in the nude body of the opposite sex than men. The reason is simple: women evolved under conditions that favor the selection of men who have power to provide the resources needed to raise a family. Intelligence, commitment, wealth and high social standards are reliable indicators of this power to a greater extent than a strong, beautiful and large body.
In the opposite side of the spectrum, men evolved under conditions that favor the selection of women who are healthy and young enough to survive the tremendous demands of pregnancy, parturition and care of the young for at least a decade after birth. Thus, men are more interested than women in indicators of these condition, such as a well proportioned body and a healthy skin: men are more interested in details of beauty because these details reflect the characteristics needed to raise a family.
The above explanation is greatly simplified and you may not believe it, but it makes many predictions that you can check for yourself. For example, if the explanation is correct, it predicts that women will be more interested than men in “soap operas” (stories that center on commitment and social standing), and that men will be more interested in watching the nude body of the opposite sex (indicative of reproductive potential). Look around you: does reality fit the prediction of the model?
Finally, patriarchal societies, that is, almost all traditional human societies, support censorship and reject female public nudity (labeling it as “obscene” or “pornographic”) because they believe than women are inferior to men. The idea behind the patriarchal repression of nudity in art and other forms of expression is that women are the property of men and that their sexuality must be limited to the private area of pleasing a husband and providing children to their society (“family is the basis of society”).
Of course, the patriarchal view has outlived any validity it might have had under more primitive stages of human society. I hope that women can recover from the setbacks that in the beginnings of the twentyfirst century they have suffered at the hands of religious fanatics in many parts of the world. They only deserve the best: liberty, equality and solidarity.