I have been thinking about the greater amount of men versus women who are practicing nudists. After viewing a couple of vintage videos that showed that up until recently is was much more socially aceptable for men than women to participate in nude activities. I wondered if male nudity is something embedded deeply in the collective unconscious of humanity.
The collective unconscious is a concept developed by psychologist Carl Jung. It posits the idea humanity has collective unconscious mind that independently shapes and organizes human experiences. This consists of universal inherited preexisting forms, images and representations shared by every culture and group of people in human kind. When these representations are personified Jung calls them Archetypes. Following that thought I am suggesting that one of those universal representations is the nude male.
Throughout history the image of the nude male has bubbled up from the collective unconscious to symbolize many things in many cultures. I think that it is this unconsciously pervasive cultural image of the male nude versus our female counterparts that drawsmaybe even drives us males towards nudist practice. This same phenomenon may be present in the historical practice of societal covering of women, even in cultures where the people tend to be less dressed than those of us in western culture. So if this image is so embedded in our collective unconscious minds, what accounts for the modern day aversion to the nude male body? The representation of the nude male was and is always symbolic of something in each era. It has been symbolic of the warrior, athletic perfection, sexual prowess and more. But as human beings have developed and evolved the unencumbered body in battle has been replaced by the armored body. Athletes are covered with the perfect tools for modern day sports. For the most part the modern day symbolism of the nude male has become exclusively attached to sexuality.
This is where the tension reflected in modern western society arises. The unconscious universal and dare I say a naturally positive image remains. However, it is being overshadowed by a modern conscious perception that is only a partial expression of the more wholistic unconscious representation. In modern western culture the loss of connection to this deep natural and universal acceptance of male nudity has had significant effects on society. It has led to a hyper sensitivity to the nude body, both male and female. Images of both the male and female body have become hyper sexualized driven more by modern ego perceptions than the true self. This in turn has lead to all kinds of body image issues with women especially, but also men. See the prevalence plastic surgery to modify unacceptable body part, (including increasing genital modification surgery among women). Hear the concerns of men unwilling to be seen nude because of their fear of being ridiculed about genital size. Understand the fears of men and women that they will be hit on by the trolling nude males in nude settings. Imagine the anxieties of parents who are fearful that their kids might become victims of perverted nude men. All “real” perceptions of the conscious mind.
So how does this relate to nudism/naturism and being clothes free? I think the nudism is one way that human beings are unconsciously seeking to reconnect with the collective unconscious. I believe the more we can understand this deep psychological tension in society, the more relaxed we will become about clothes free living and develop a more appropriate perspective on male and female nudity. This understanding may also help to explain the disproportionate representation of men among nudists/naturists overall. We can help to promote a healthier body positive view of nudism if we help people to understand the roots of the conflicting views at work in the human psyche. Let me know what you think?