Picture this: you arrive at a house for a 21st to spend an entire weekend with a group of people you’ve never met before. Barely two hours in and everyone starts taking their clothes off. What do you do?
If you’re like me the first thing you do is run away. Then when you realise that this is going to be a theme across the whole weekend, you just roll with it and try to pretend it’s not happening. Now, I’m no prude; I’m all for free the nipple, there’s nothing ‘unnatural’ about public breastfeeding and if you want to get your kit off on a nudist beach then by all means go for it. But suddenly being bombarded with the naked bodies of people I’d only just met (and was stuck in the middle of nowhere with all weekend) did make me feel uncomfortable.
Maybe it was the fact it wasn’t just visual – I was assaulted with boobs to the face with such intensity that I’m pretty sure I got a concussion – or maybe it was that the nudity had an obvious sexual undercurrent. I felt like I’d stumbled into a remake of Rocky Horror and was about to be dragged into an orgy at any minute. Thankfully that never happened, but it got me thinking: If this was just confined to a screen, would I be that shocked and uncomfortable?
No, is the short answer.
Game of Thrones, Westworld, Marco Polo, Sex and the City, True Blood… These are a select sample of the shows that grace our screens and have no issue with gratuitous nudity and sex. While several years ago these shows might have raised eyebrows, now no one bats an eyelid. We expect it. If we watch a new show, or even a film, where everyone keeps their clothes on, we almost find ourselves asking “Well, where is it?”
Should this worry us? Absolutely not.
For far too long sex and sexuality has been taboo. The media is opening conversation. It’s allowing discussions of sex in relation to subjects like gender and legal rights, as well as enabling it to be something we’re no longer ashamed of. It’s empowering. It’s progressive. It’s refreshing.
Despite all of this, however, there are still issues. Why is the majority of on-screen nudity female? Is sex being too romanticised, where women can orgasm in seconds and men are chiselled to the point of photoshop? Are we becoming desensitised to sex in relation to violence, to scenes of rape and domestic abuse? Media presentations need to be truthful; it influences everyone’s lives in ever increasing degrees and as such has a responsibility to both entertain and inform. But perhaps we just don’t like the truth and it would make for terrible viewing. Maybe that’s just the naked truth.