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Learned behaviour?  [message #71719] Mon, 20 June 2016 13:59 Go to next message

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13757

Is being afraid of being tainted by the touch of another male or another female a learned reaction?

Consider how many boys and how many girls mess around together with the same or opposite sex in childhood and discover, suddenly, that genital exploration is taboo, and being fondled by a member of any sex, let alone the same sex is a punishable offence.

When I was eight and it was summer, my friend David and I were happily stripping off in my paddling pool in the back garden. It was hot, sunny and healthy. Mothers appeared telling us to cover up immediately, and to get dressed and stop playing. We weren't even looking, let alone touching.

Why is the naked body so appalling? Why must we not be naked? And why must we not enjoy touch?

Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Learned behaviour?  [message #71720 is a reply to message #71719] Mon, 20 June 2016 21:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Smokr is currently offline  Smokr

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Location: the burning former USofA
Registered: July 2010
Messages: 399

I went on summer vacations with my best friend when I was ten and eleven to a primitive cabin in the Canadian mountains. It was isolated and we never saw anyone else except boats out on the lake. No laundry and no running water. To save our clothes, we ran around in our swimming trunks, underwear, or nothing. We'd sometimes hide from boats near the shore because we were playing Indians stalking the trespassing white man or soldiers tracking the enemy, not because we were ten or eleven year old boys in our skins. We slept in the nude because our trunks were wet as usual and it was easiest to just take them off and get into bed. I don't remember what he looked like naked and had no interest in the sight after we'd played 'show and compare.' I remember it seemed normal and no big deal to run around naked in the woods with him, though I seem to remember some shyness at first. The second summer I looked forward to it because it was freedom incarnate as far as I was concerned. No worries about getting clothes muddy or dirty or torn, and I felt like there were no restraints on our fun. I don't remember if it was the first summer or the second, but I do remember snuggling up for warmth one night when it got pretty chilly. It was warm and comfy and I can't remember anything even slightly sexual about the situation. It was just two naked boys keeping each other warm and giggling at stories and jokes until we fell asleep. I don't remember waking up, but we were probably still curled up with each other, and jumped out of bed and into our slightly damp trunks to go out and start our day with a swim.
I had a sexual experience with a girl at a lake the next summer when I was twelve, as his family didn't go to Canada that summer. It was later that same summer that we first experimented with each other. I often have wondered if we hadn't gone on those primitive vacations, if we hadn't gotten used to seeing each other naked, if we hadn't slept naked with each other before, if we'd have still ended up dry-humping each other in our underwear during sleepovers when we were twelve. 
Maybe those camping trips led to sexual confusion somehow. Maybe if I hadn't gone with him those two summers I would have still had an inhibition against other boys' nakedness. Maybe it was the companionship with him without clothing that began my homosexual tendencies? Maybe, seeing his naked or nearly-naked body, and sleeping next to it, lowered my tolerance of naked boys, and began my interest in male anatomy, associating it with the fun and pleasure we had in the those woods together?
I doubt all that.

[Updated on: Mon, 20 June 2016 22:01]

Re: Learned behaviour?  [message #71721 is a reply to message #71720] Wed, 22 June 2016 02:34 Go to previous message

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Location: Earth
Registered: April 2013
Messages: 276

I think that even the idea of it being a bad thing to even be naked in front of others (even without any sort of physical contact occurring) is very much a learned behavior.  If you look at artwork from places like ancient Greece, there were lots of depictions of naked people, both male and female, and of all ages (yes, including children!).  The human form was considered a thing of beauty, not something to be ashamed of.

Similarly, many Native American tribes, especially in the warmer regions of the Americas, often went around with little or no clothing for most of the year.  For other Native American tribes, wearing clothing was a mark of adulthood.  (The real-life Pocahontas - for whom the Disney animated movie of the same name was based upon - was about 10 years old at the time that the English settlers, including John Smith, first arrived in the area, and would have been going around in the buff, as was standard for the children of the Powhatan people during that time period.)

But for some reason, these days there are many who tend to be horrified by the idea of people - especially children - being naked around each other, and we expect people (particularly kids) to cover up around others.  And so I think there's a certain amount of irony in that when kids are old enough and have advanced far enough along in school - junior high and high school here in the U.S., and their respective equivalents in other nations - we expect them to take gym class, and as part of it we tell them they have to take their clothes off in front of their same-gendered peers at both the start and end of class.  Go figure!
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