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L. Neil Smith's
Number 440, October 21, 2007

"A crowbar works wonders."

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On the Cultivation and Exploitation of Gymnophobia by Tyrants
by Ann Morgan

Credit The Libertarian Enterprise

I have been doing some thinking over the nudity taboo in our society, and how it serves the purposes of those who would tyrannize us. It does so in many different ways, which are hard to discern, because like air, gynophobia (fear of nudity) surrounds us to such an all-pervasive extent that it is hard to perceive.

The possible or actual violation of the nudity taboo is, of course, often a sign of (either in actuality or theoretical discussion) a tyrannical, rights-violating government. A prime example is the notion that a strip-search is a violation of a person's rights and privacy. And it is. But underneath all of this is something far more insidious, that most people do not consider: The very existence of, and careful cultivation of a nudity taboo into each new generation is, in and of itself, a far more insidious tool of tyranny than any finite amount of violation of it could be. Good evidence of this is found in the fact that the wearing of too little clothing, or the wrong sort of clothing is a crime in many tyrannies, and the worse the tyranny in question, the more stringent the demands of the dress code, and the more extreme the punishment for failure to comply with it, up to and including the death penalty. Those who would rule us are well aware of the power that a carefully cultivated nudity-taboo gives them over people.

The usual excuse given for the cultivation of a nudity taboo is that if we did not have one, society would degenerate into a chaos of mass-rape. This is ridiculous, if a few shreds of woven threads are all that stand between our civilized society, and mass rape, then we are in severe moral trouble, because unless we take to wearing padlocked metal armour, most clothing is easily destroyed or removed by any human being of normal strength. It is the ethics of most people, ethics tyrants claim are weak, unreliable, or nonexistent, which prevent them from tearing the clothing off another person, not the strength of the fabric; and despite what is claimed by the church and government, it is those same ethics, not the fabric, which would prevent mass rape, even if all clothing mysterious vanished tomorrow.

The most obvious form of power a nudity taboo gives a government over people, is that the mere threat of violating it will, in and of itself, cause many people to comply with whatever other freedom destroying option the government demands of them. The classic example being something along the lines of 'Either agree to our demands to seven forms of identification and being disarmed before going on an airplane, or we will strip search you and possibly make you fly naked. Rationally speaking, a person would probably be safer flying naked and armed, than clothed and unarmed. But rationality does not enter into this, the careful cultivation of an extreme nudity taboo into most people is such that their gut instinct equates clothing, rather than firearms, with safety. However, besides it's use as a brute threat, there are other, less obvious, but more effective ways in which gynophobia gives tyrants power.

To start with, the nudity taboo that exists here robs us of our best (most logical) arguments against such oppressive practices as the forcing of women in muslim countries to wear burqas. There is absolutely no way to create any sort of *logical* argument that it is acceptable for a woman to publicly show her face, but unacceptable for her to show other parts of her body, such as her breasts or genitals. The argument thus degenerates into one of religion, or irrationality. Once you accept a religious, irrational argument as valid, in any area, you will have to accept it in all areas, and you have then accepted the rule of force and tyranny, both here, in Muslim countries, and everywhere else.

Secondly, the most positive personal attributes of a human being, such as their intelligence, integrity, status, and dignity are, in the mindset of most people, all tied in with their clothing; to the extent that if someone's clothing is removed, you then remove all of their positive attributes, up to and including their status as human beings, both in their own eyes, and those of others. The pervasiveness of such a mindset is obviously extremely convenient for those who want an easy way to remove the humanity and other positive attributes of others. They merely need to take away their clothes, and they will automatically lose their status both in their own perception, and that of others. This is obvious nonsense when you think about it. Your personal attributes exist in your brain, not your clothes. A genius remains a genius even if he is naked, and an idiot remains an idiot, even if he is in a $2000 3-piece suit. What makes this especially bad, is that any NEGATIVE attributes a person might happen to have, are NOT likewise removed in anyone's perception, when their clothes are removed. Although a prize-winning scientist or talented surgeon automatically becomes a laughingstock if their clothes are taken away, a pedophile or a murderer are still objects of fear and disgust, even when naked. The worst human attributes are thus permanently stuck on those who have them (and who does not have at least SOME negative attributes, however minor), while the best human attributes are instantly removable by any person or organization with the physical or political power to remove someone's clothing.

Lastly, the nudity taboo creates an inversion of responsibility of human being for their actions. One reason often given for wearing clothing is to remove sexual temptation from others. What this implies is that on the one hand, people are not responsible for controlling their OWN sexuality or other actions. And on the other hand, people are ALSO responsible for somehow (such as by wearing clothing) controlling the sexuality or actions of everyone else other than themselves. This is completely unrealistic on both counts, a person who can't control themselves needs to be in a cage, and to expect a person to be responsible for controlling the actions of any and every other human being on the planet is an expectation of omnipotence that no-one possesses. But I have seen this mindset increasingly often, in which a victim is blamed for a crime, it is their fault because they are 'responsible' for preventing the actions of a criminal, who has no responsibility of his own for controlling his own actions. Obviously this is ludicrous, and unworkable, under such a system you are responsible for the actions of everyone EXCEPT yourself. But I suppose that that is a logical extension of the socialist mindset, where you have to work for the profit and wellbeing of everyone else, except yourself.

As an addition to this lack of control over your own sexuality, is the fact that if you do not control your own sexuality, then you had better believe that it (and by extension, yourself) is being controlled by someone else. And the person controlling it is most certainly NOT (despite what the government might try to convince you of) someone off the street who is not wearing whatever is supposedly 'modest' enough clothing. It is, in fact, the government itself, and the control over human sexuality gained by a nudity taboo is not only a means for controlling people, but a handy way to trigger the breeding of a new generation of cannon fodder on demand.


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