Tuesday, May 12, 2009

God's underpants...

At our house, naked isn't common, but it's also not particularly noticeable. I think Jamie & I are modest by nature, but we're also not overly concerned with hiding ourselves.

Since the kids were born, I always wear pajamas (at least in part to prevent my still-nursing, co-sleeping 2-year-old from latching on in the night without my consent). And in general, I TRY to close the door to the bathroom when I'm using it (largely unsuccessfully - I can't count the number of discussions about WHO gets popsicles after dinner that I've carried on while I'm SO wanting privacy). But I do try...

Comparing nudity at our house to, say, my own upbringing, however, I'd have to say we're a bunch of nudist hippie freak-jobs. 

When I was growing up, we weren't provided words for any underwear-covering body parts aside from "down there" and "bosom". All euphemisms were determined obscene and discussion of bodily function was taboo in the extreme. I was raised to use the words "urinate" and "defecate" unironically; I once got grounded for using the ubiquitous 80's words "pissed off". And (my personal favorite), around age four, when I noticed that I had a mystery "third hole" in my genitals, my mother snapped back quickly "No you don't!" (Because thinking your vagina is aberrant is apparently better than acknowledging it and - god forbid - having to name it). Sigh...

So, I'd venture a guess that my idea of middle ground regarding body privacy, nudity and prudery might be skewed. Probably the Waffles are somewhere on the conservative end of that spectrum between all-out nudists and the completely over-the-top body-phobes I call "family".

When wonderful, lifesaver sister #2 came to visit and help with the kids last month, our free-flowing, laidy-back-nakedy habits got a bit of a system shock. Jamie's first night in the hospital, I came home to find my kids having a bath together, just like normal... ...but wearing their swimsuits. I don't know how she intended to actually WASH them, but I was intrigued by what the point of hiding their genitals was.

Since I was preoccupied with other things that week, though, I let that one go for a while.

Am I crazy to think that covering them up is like a fast-track to fetishizing? Generally, I am interested in the weird correlation between religious prudery and how that so much comes across as sexual preoccupation. Because if there's one thing Mormons are VERY good at, it's pushing young people to get married early and have babies (also multi-level marketing, but that's another discussion). This is such a big deal, they've designed their own mystery underpants to WAY cover all those dirty bits. And, from my armchair, it seems like my upbringing was FRAUGHT with preoccupation with general genital (of the boy/girl variety) business. Getting married was pretty much the #1 game we played as kids. And why? Babies? Sex?? I can't speak for any other person's upbringing, but I can certainly say my own was FAR more focused on sexual attractiveness, arranging pre-marital boy/girl get-togethers, discussions of marriage and having children at an early age, than my own children's is.

So what's the deal? If bodies weren't so taboo (I think they use words like "sacred"), would Mormons have this same preoccupation? Which came first, the prudery or the preoccupation with all things body, sexuality and underpants?

5 comments:

Lee said...

Bathing in swimsuits??? LOVE IT. Yeah, who needs soap in our private parts?

mamazen said...

Well, we don't soap ruby up... ever cause she has sensitive skin... so i guess bathing in a suit might get her clean - ish. But then again, she showers naked with ryan, so we've ruined her already. ;)

Sophie Stillwater said...

In France, boys have a "zizi" and girls have a "zézette" [zay-zette]. When Franck was spelling his email ["sallemjazz"] the other day, Laila giggled to me and whispered, "He said 'zizi'!" Totally excellent blog, btw.

Captain Dumbass said...

I love people who go over the top with protecting their children from the evils of nudity and sex but see no problem in allowing their young ones to watch ultra violent tv shows and movies.

And from... *ahem* personal experience, I always found that the girls with the more sexually repressive upbringings were always the... er... most experimental.

Jason, as himself said...

Ha. Yes. At our house, poop was called "stinky" and pee was called "wet". Those were the only words we were allowed to say. Body parts were never discussed, of course, and ultra modesty was the norm.

I agree with your commentary on all of this stuff.

We are actually on the modest side here at our house, too, but not for religious reasons. We have a live-in nanny and of course the in-laws.

If it were just me, I'd wear as little as possible.