I remember seeing this photo for the first time, many years ago. Their relationship defied what the adoring public wanted from their hero. The public wanted rebellion, anger, fantasy; the last thing they wanted was authenticity. Stripped bare, daring to expose their ordinariness, their flaws, their pain, and their love; the mystery of the iconic troubadour was exposed. In the end, that honesty cost John his life.
How dare we as individual humans step outside of irrational norms, or even very rational norms to tell the truth of ourselves. Our culture thrives on keeping the masks on, denying even when we are caught red-handed. We lie to the world about who we are, about our dreams and fantasies. We even lie to ourselves, denying our shadow, our darkness that hungers for what is denied, even if what is denied is beautiful.
We tell ourselves that it is important what others think. What would our children say about us or think about us if we were so honest, fully authentic, daring the exposure of our pain, joy, confusion, anger, and bodies? We irrationally belief that our children and grandchildren will be traumatised, not only by what they see, but also by the reactions of extended family, friends, community, and the larger world.
For those who dare to risk, bringing the edges of shadow into the light of consciousness with intention, life takes on a sharper and fuller quality. Taking the risk sets one apart from others who cling desperately to social norms. Yet, over time, the separation dissipates with familiarity. It is now almost normal to be homosexual in orientation, but only if it isn’t “in their face.” However, the sight of genitals still shocks. What is it about human sexuality that appears to traumatise?
Assault – sexual assault. Early life experiences taught us that our bodies, our sexual bodies are targets. It doesn’t matter that the abusers wore clothing or not. The touches, the groping, the claiming of authority over our sexual bodies by others scars us leaving us, and those who are aware of that abuse, in a state of fear.
Survivors of abuse, and the society around them, usually equate abuse with genitals. Predators prey on the bodies, the genitals of their victims. Predators hide their own bodies. The power that comes from hiding in the shadows, behind uniforms, suits, and respectable clothing allows predators to gain trust and access to their victims.
Being naked would visually expose the predators. excitement when near intended victims. That visual warning would eliminate trust and much of the access. We know that, but we are frozen in our fear.
I have used naturism to reclaim my authority over my body, to lessen the fear. And for those who know me and see me as I am, my nakedness does not inspire fear even though many of these people have been victims of sexual abuse as well. If anything, there is a sense of safety.