Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Exhibitionism, or why I spent most of Friday night naked.

At this point, I work on the expectation that when I visit C and C's place for a party I will, at some point, end up naked. The why of this is not so much complicated as lost in the mists of time, poor memory, and a drunken haze.

This description, I realize, makes it sound like a drinking game gone awry and into depravity. Certainly, in one sense it was. But there are fundamental differences between how social nudity is handled at C and C's events and others I have attended.

In my experience, nudity at other events (specifically, in my case, high school parties years in the past) is characterized by a sense of shame and (sometimes) humiliation, paired with a conflicting set of social mores which simultaneously encourage one to get naked for the pleasure of the male gaze and condemn one for doing so. A girl, in this situation, is supposed to be drunk, and tricked out of her clothing. Wanting to be naked is right out. Or, if one does get naked of one's own volition, one is branded as sexually available in the worst way. Really, once one is naked, in these situations, one is tagged as sexually available, whatever the circumstances of disrobing were.

In contrast, C and C's events are characterized by an explicit respect for everyone's comfort zones, especially in the amount of clothing that one chooses to wear, or not. One friend of mine will happily sit around wearing nothing but her bra, while another friend declined to take off any of her clothing, but was happy to watch the rest of us caper about in nothing at all.

In the same vein of difference are the individual reactions surrounding the process of getting naked. In my perception, there is a distinct lack of shame, and an attitude that most often shouts: "Ta Da!" The exception might be Char, who's approach might be characterized as, "I'm so shy. I'm so shy. I'm naked! I'm very shy, indeed."

And while large amounts of intoxicants are usually involved in these parties, I am of the opinion that that has relatively little to do with the nakedness, except, perhaps, as an excuse for the commencement of the exercise. (Not that we need an excuse, really. But it does make the transition from clothed to naked more explicable.)

I like being naked. (As anyone who has lived with me for any length of time [hi Keathwick!] can tell you. ) Left to my own devices, I would most likely wear a bra and underwear, or less all of the time. I don't, for a host of reasons, including that it would make some people uncomfortable, but that is my general inclination. This has little to do with exhibitionism, and a lot to do with liking to be naked.

For years, in fact, I would disclaim a liking for exhibitionism, despite a penchant for having sex in semipublic locations. However, it is no longer deniable: I like people looking at me. Perhaps it is an occupational hazard: actors (as I am from time to time) adore the spotlight, the attention, the knowledge of being watched.

To quote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard: "We're actors! We're the opposite of people!"

Of course, Paradox would claim that it is my essential Scorpio nature has something to do with the desire for attention. I could claim that Moonkai's fondness for my exhibitionistic tendencies warped me.

Regardless, it seems that I have acquired a fondness for being naked that goes beyond the joy of not wearing clothing.