Topless sunbathing versus the New Puritanism.

It’s summer time in the southern hemisphere and for many people that means heading to the beach and getting your gear off. It appears, however, that in many countries women are taking off fewer clothes at the beach than they did 20 to 30 years ago. From France to New Zealand, the topless sunbathing revolution that swept Westernised countries in the ‘70s and ‘80s has come to a screeching halt. Fashion, it seems, has shifted back to covering up, and to a certain extent the rebelliousness of the original act of toplessness is now lost on younger generations that are no longer fighting the same battles as their parents.

OK, I’m cool with that, fashions change, but what is more worrying is the fact that the now small minority of topless sunbathers are regularly harassed by other beachgoers and officials to cover up. Take the example of a New Zealand woman, Shannon Claire, on an Auckland beach recently who was approached by council officers responding to a complaint from the public who told Shannon to put her bikini top back on despite the fact that there are neither national laws nor council by-laws banning topless sunbathers. What’s more, the council officers weren’t even aware that such laws did not exist! (There is an extended news item on this that can be viewed here. I was unable to embed the clip. Warning: contains nude breasts that obviously offend some people).

Anyway, the reasons given to Shannon to cover up were the fact that there were young children and families about on the beach. Right, so covering up your tits is “to protect the children”.

Protect them from what, for fuck’s sake? Overprotect, more like it!

 Once again children are being used as the excuse for the implementation of personal morality. Believe me, kids either don’t care about nude breasts at the beach or they like them. I graduated from building sandcastles and not looking at breasts to looking at breasts on the beach and loving it while lying on my stomach in order to hide my preteen stiffy. It’s only prudish parents whose parenting skills are obviously so poor that they fear having to explain NAKED BREASTS to their children that have a problem.

You two, cover thoses breasts. Don't you know they can KILL small children.

But haven’t these kids seen breasts at home? Possibly not, as the new Puritanism extends far beyond the beach and into the home. Take a look at the results as reported in Time from a French survey entitled “Women and Nudity” by polling agency Ifop:

It found that younger French women not only have a problem with nudity — but actually consider themselves prudish. Fully 88% of the women questioned qualified themselves as pudique — a term that can mean anything from “modest” or “prim” to “priggish.” And they aren’t joking. Though 90% said they get naked with their husband or partner, 59% avoid being nude around their children. Sixty-three percent said they refused to undress around female friends; 22% said they considered a woman in her underwear already naked.

Nearly 50% said they were bothered by total nudity on beaches or naturist camps, and 37% said they were disturbed by publicly exposed breasts or buttocks. Forty-five percent of respondents reported they’d prefer to see a lot less flesh hanging out in full view — male or female.

Those attitudes got even more pronounced with respondents aged 18-24. A quarter of women within that group described themselves as very pudique, and 20% saw any nudity as tantamount to indecency.

In Australia, this New Puritanism has been taken even further where conservative politicians in New South Wales have even tried to legislate against toplessness on beaches. While unsuccessful, one suspects this political position might have been a vote winner for people such as this anonymous poster replying to a newspaper article on topless sunbathing:

Think of the children. I don’t understand how it can be legal. You are in a public place.

Maybe, but as this following commercial illustrates, the beach has always been a different kind of public space.

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2 Responses

  1. I wish this New Puritanism would become the norm everywhere, including the USA. I wish people would at least try to hide their wicked ways. And homosexuals/Lesbians,ect would go back into the closet…preferably a closet that has no back, opens up into another realm, and closes behind them….permanently. like being trapped in the land from The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. only never come back. or maybe it could be a gate to Hell…

  2. Wow nice breasts

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