Sunday, May 15, 2011
. . . I found Jesus!
My history research has taken me to United States antebellum reform movements. Emerging from the religious ferment of the second great awakening, many believed they could bring about the millennium by returning their bodies to prelapsarian purity. They thought this would be accomplished through the strict control of diet, sexuality, and dress. A few suggested clothing was a necessary evil; only one called for complete nudity -- Samuel Bower.
I thought of those reformers and Mr. Bower today when I met Jesus in the park, as well as how the public naked body comes to signify a tension between a civilization we wish to reject and a savagery we fear, artistic culture and lasciviousness. It is this very ambiguity our Western culture has assigned to nakedness which makes it such a slippery, dangerous category. For Samuel Bower, however, nakedness was simply perfect.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
I just got home from running some naked errands in my neighborhood. As I was unlocking my front door a very young man in dirty painter's work clothing came running up behind me asking me why I did this everyday? Rather then allowing me to answer he went on to say, "I know this is San Francisco, and you do this because you are waiting for someone to attack you. Then you can crucify them." I said, rather taken aback, that was not why I was doing this. "Okay, then why are you doing it?", he asked. Before I could answer he told me that I should at least respect little children, that a lot of his friends have little children and they told him they are very upset with me walking past them and they don't believe their children should have to be exposed to something harmful like that." I told him it only was harmful to little children because their parents teach them it is harmful. "Alright, alright" he responded, "I thought you would say something like that. But why do you have to do it." I said I thought it was obvious that he wasn't really interested in hearing why I did it, because every time I tried to explain to him he interrupted me with a monologue of his own as to his preconceived notions as to why I was doing it, at which point he allowed me to tell him my reasons: that our bodies are natural, not shameful, that body-shame is taught and is nothing but self-hatred, they our bodies do not always equal the sexual, that on a nice day like today it feels good, that our bodies are beautiful and do not hurt anyone. "I bet you wouldn't do this in the Mission," was his response as he walked away, still visibly angry.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Scot Brogan in the BAR writes a wonderful piece about the loss of sexual freedom to assimilation and self-policing, reminding us that what we might judge as inappropriate, someone else might judge as perfectly fine. Then he pulls out that tired ass old complaint that the guys who walk down the street naked are "Usually not anyone you want to see naked." Come on Scott, you can't have it both ways!
Friday, May 6, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Walking through the Castro today I couldn't help but notice that most of my homeless friends have disappeared. It could be the weather, but given the strong police presence in the past several days, I doubt it. Walking down Castro Street in my usual attire, the single homeless man I saw, who was shirtless, asked me about my nakedness, saying he wished he could be naked. I explained it was not illegal. He asked about indecent exposure. I told him of the California Supreme Court ruling which stated that mere nudity is not indecent. He told me to keep standing up for my rights. Further up the street, yelled at me from a passing SUV, "Put on some pants, you're fucking gross!"