The purpose of this article is not to defend nudity, but to remind us as to how it’s been presented, even academically, has continued a narrative that encourages racism.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I will always remember the excitement of seeing a teacher roll an ‘old school’, reel-to-reel film projector into the room. It was a welcome diversion from normal classroom activities. However, I recall my spirit dropping and a feeling of dread when I saw that the ‘educational film’ was set in Africa, or the America’s where the nudity was described as ‘indigenous’, ‘native’ or tribal.
I would look around the room at some of my Black female classmates, and they would look embarrassed…I was. I could hear some of my classmates who were not Black laughing and giggling, but not the same way if they would giggle if the pictures were in an ‘adult’ magazine or movie. This nudity ‘indigenous’ was not presented as sensual, sexy, or erotic, but it equated to watching animals at the zoo who didn’t wear clothes. The males and females in these films were portrayed as uncivilized, unappealing and helped continue the narrative that people who lived in or originated in these countries were….less and inferior.
Was it stated explicitly? No. Was it inferred? Absolutely.
Respected publications such as National Geographic would be accessible to everyone on the shelf, while magazines with topless women would be hidden. They both contained nudity.
All of this helped established a paradigm that ‘indigenous’, ‘native’ or ‘tribal’ nudity was not equal to the European or American nudity that is accepted as art. While colonizers were savagely conquering ‘indigenous’ people around the globe, they portrayed these people as ‘savage’ and inferior.
So, why isn’t nudity displayed by people who are born in the United States or Europe considered ‘indigenous’ or ‘native’ when that’s the case by definition?
Why are some articles of clothing that are close to the color of ‘lighter skinned’ races considered ‘nude’ or ‘flesh’ color?
As the discussion about ‘cancel culture’ continues, quite frankly, some things should be canceled. Bringing an end to spiritually and culturally destructive traditions is one of the reasons the Pharisees and leaders sought to kill Yeshua the Messiah, Jesus Christ…
Mark 7:7-9 (NKJV)
7 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—[a]the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
9 He said to them, “All too well you [b]reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.
Even if we didn’t participate in establishing the cultures that cause division today, when we don’t work to change them, we are still guilty of participating by allowing them to continue.
Jesus eluded to this as well…
Matthew 23:29-32 (NKJV)
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and [a]adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.