The Assault on Humanity


The above photograph was taken at the Columbus Ohio Gay Pride parade on Saturday, June 23. There must have been about 100,000 people total between the paraders and the watchers - men, women and children of all ages. Several of the banners/floats were sponsored by churches, banks, and other businesses. While the Christianists are pursuing a marriage amendment to the constitution as a means to marginalize the gay community, there is an increasing visibility and tolerance of homosexuality in the general populace that should eventually end or greatly diminish the societal stigma, but there is still a long way to go.

For the record, let me state that I am a straight male. Have been all my life. But that does not mean that I did not experience some homosexual situations when I was a pre-teen. I think that anyone who is being completely honest has to admit to having something "in the closet".

So today I read this article about a group of male Oregon high school basketball players who got a little out of hand in a hotel hot tub and began stripping off each other's swim trunks.

Marshall Roses, 18, who was named this year's most valuable player and graduated this spring after four years on the team, said he was one of about 10 unsupervised teammates in the hot tub when everyone started splashing and wrestling. Soon the boys were "pantsing" each other -- tugging each other's shorts down for a joke -- and chucking the shorts out of the hot tub.

Roses said he was pantsed, along with a freshman and several other players, that nothing more serious happened and that the freshman "was just laughing like everyone else was." The boys who weren't pantsed collected and returned their teammates' shorts, he said, so no one had to leave the tub naked.

Sounds innocent enough, boys will be boys and all that, but the problem is that a freshman on the team is charging the teammates with sexual assault, contending that his anus was penetrated, and that there were five sexual assaults in all. The accused players will be tried as adults and face a mandatory eight years in jail if convicted.

I have no way of knowing if the sexual assault charges are true or not - that will be decided by the courts. Hopefully this will not be another Duke lacrosse case.

So let's go back to when I was a kid growing up in the sixties. I grew up swimming naked at the YMCA with my friends when I was 9 or 10 years of age. We never thought anything about it. When I was about 11 or 12 we moved to the suburbs near a lake, and my friends and I went skinny dipping whenever the spirit moved. I went to an all male high school, where we all swam nude in the outdoor pool, and were naked in the group showers. And when I was about 15 I would go skinny dipping with a male friend at his summer lake home along with some other neighborhood kids. It was just what we did. Sure, at age 15 it began to seem a little naughty, but that just made it more fun.

There was one red-headed kid who was a pisser. You know, the kid who was your age yet already needed a shave. He liked to pull down other boys' swim trunks and grab the twigs and berries.

The rest of us didn't care for that game and avoided him when we were in the water, but he was affable and we all got along with him otherwise. One night when we were all sleeping in the boathouse he managed to convince us all to play "show and tell" so one by one we all stripped down and strutted our stuff. I have a vivid memory of seeing the first erect penis that was not my own that night.

But that was the extent of it. I look back and consider the activity normal sexual curiosity. Nobody did any touching that night and I don't remember anyone wanting to take it that far.

So when I read about the Oregon high schoolers I thought back on my own childhood and remembered similar incidents of communal male nudity and goofing around. The difference today is that children are bombarded with warnings about child predators, which is often linked incorrectly to homosexuality. I don't know what happened with the Oregon freshman, but whether or not there was some sexual contact or not he was traumatized by the "pantsing" experience and was unable to handle the "shame".

He is likely to be humiliated even more if a trial attracts the attention of Nancy Grace and Court TV, and what about the accused? Do they have the resources of the Duke lacrosse players to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a defense, or do they plea bargain to make it all go away?

Sexual assault is never acceptable. If these boys penetrated the freshman's anus they certainly went above and beyond any permissible behavior, but do we really want to send them all to jail for 8 of the best years of their lives where they will learn all they never really wanted to know about anal rape?

I just think that if our society made nudity a more normal part of growing up, there would be less of these "hazing" incidents, which, according to the article, appear to be getting worse nationwide, and more sexual in nature. Is it the influence of pornography, or violent video games, or perhaps a little of both?

Whatever the underlying cause, it is the fear of homosexuality that is pervasive, that somehow if our little boys see each other's genitals it will spark a descent into the gay lifestyle. Instead, we teach them that nudity is something to be left to the bathtub and the bedroom only, and when they are presented with a situation like the one with the boys in the hot tub, then the connection is made in the mind between nudity, sex, and violence, and how they all seem to belong together.

All you have to do is watch broadcast television one evening, and you will see many sexual assaults, murders and other violence created just for entertainment, but you will not see normal, natural nudity, you will not see naked couples making love to each other. And if you see homosexuals, they will be relegated to sitcoms or reality shows devoted to fashion or decorating, not unlike the Stepin Fetchits of Black Americana before Sidney Poitier came along and pushed aside the stereotypes.

Fear of ourselves, of our own humanity, of our own bodies, only serves to hide away the realities of who we really are, and dooms us to becoming whatever popular culture decides that we should be at any given time.

To paraphrase Al Gore, we are in the midst of an "Assault on Humanity" whereby we are being more and more depersonalized by machines and culture. Nudism is one way (but certainly not the only way) to get back a little bit of that which makes us living, breathing, sensual beings, and see ourselves for what we really are. The more we hide behind clothing, computers, cars, locked doors, and other artificial facades, the more likely we are to lose our personal connections with others, and the more likely we are to do real harm to one another.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,