Why Americans are afraid of nudity, and the Finns — no

“In the sauna after walking in bikinis? Men and women don’t bathing together?” — such questions are asked Sanne Kangasharju (Sanna Kangasharju), the press attache of the Embassy of Finland in Washington, when she invites American guests to visit the Embassy sauna.

“For the Americans in the sauna to go — both in the pool with his head to jump. They would have to overcome your fear,” she said. And this fear stems from the fact that the Americans where wstydliwie Finns. Nudity for them is a very delicate moment, even in the family circle and among members of the same sex.

In the women’s locker room at the gym each shower cubicle covered by a curtain. If I change in the same room with a friend-American, she covers his eyes. In a friend of the family mom never undresses in front of him since, that was three years old. How to explain such modesty Americans?

The first and most obvious reason is religion. The Americans — the heirs of the Puritan ethic, and the nakedness they do not associate with bathing and intimate relations.

“In American culture is deeply rooted the idea that sexuality is bad,” said Matt Irish (Matt Irish), young man resting on the beach in Maryland with my sister and friends. The beach is the only place where they dare to talk with Americans about nudity. And yet many refuse to give their full names.

Matt and his friends conversation on this topic is not embarrassing. They are liberal-minded guys of years of twenty who would be happy to treat the issue of nudity is easier, as is customary among Europeans, however, private education is not so easy to turn away.

Brother and sister Matt and Kristin (Christine Irish) the last time undressed in each other’s presence when they were informed of three. “Maybe I could appear Topless on the beach around strangers, but in the presence of his brother — never,” says Christine, a consultant in education, taking the right swimsuit under your clothes. What is own brother worse than a stranger?

“We brought up that sex is outside of family relations, so carefully avoid everything that is connected with it, says Matt. Sounds like nonsense, of course, but the way it is”.

A friend of Matt and Christine Jacklin Luintel (Jaclyn Lewinthal) believes that in American schools much more watching the appearance of girls than boys. This still lies the idea that a woman’s body should only see the husband.

In the modern high school in Chicago, where she studied, too, there was a dress code: the rules specified that the straps of the shirts the girls should be a width of not less than two fingers. According to Jacklin, if young people do not know how to behave, you need to create limitations for them, but not for girls. “In this respect we are not far removed from Muslim countries”, — said Matt.

“Exactly,” agrees Professor of law at Yale University, James Whitman (James Q. Whitman). In 2004, he wrote an essay, “the Two Western cultures of privacy” (The Two Western Cultures of Privacy), which was thinking about the different views of Americans and Europeans on the idea of a private life.

In a telephone interview from Paris, Whitman says, that much of the Christian world, including the Americans and the Muslim world associate nudity with sex life. “The exception is in the full sense of the word secular Nordic countries: you simply perceive nudity differently,” he says.

Whitman another reason to call the American modesty: in the US people make a clear distinction between private and public life. House of refuge, but outside people all the time. People who are not shy to appear in public without clothes on, according to Whitman, “out from under the protection of the home” and thus “abandoned the idea of privacy”. For this they condemn.

“Do not forget that the level of crime in the United States higher than in Europe, says Whitman. Respectively, women in skimpy clothes there is a higher risk, and this affects the way of thinking.”

From the point of view of Europeans, the private life extends beyond the home: the woman could appear on the beach without the upper part swimsuit and expect respect. In Europe man is “master of its reputation and, accordingly, if desired, it can appear in front of the other without clothes and with her head held high,” writes Whitman.

Differences in understanding of the idea of private life clearly emerged during the scandal with Monica Lewinsky (Monica Lewinsky). The Europeans were amazed at how much the American media discussed the sexual relationship, President Clinton (Bill Clinton). “The Americans have no respect for personal life?” — they wondered.

In the issue of the perception of sexuality Europeans think Americans are immature, and they, in turn, believe a more open attitude of Europeans towards sex is irresponsible and depraved, but also a bit thrilling.

In the US, sex is almost as alcohol — only for adults, so in terms of nudity here separately, there is a world of children and the adult world.

Christy brown (Laura Brown), 44-the summer employee of Department for customer service, also spends a day off at the beach. During the conversation, she says, when she was ten, she accidentally saw her father naked: “I realized that this is completely unacceptable.”

In her opinion, people sunbathing Topless — not a sight for children’s eyes. Own children it reminds you to zip up all the buttons and carefully pull up the pants for her it is a safety issue. “A child needs years to six or seven to explain what is considered personal. I wouldn’t want to at school told her that my children do not understand,” she explains.

Each Christie, 47-year-old restaurant owner Thomas Morris (Thomas Morris), supports it: “the Pants can be removed, but if you’re already grown up enough to defend their country”.

But is such modesty among family members does not lead to unnecessary sexualization of the relationship between parents and children? Children do not need to have an idea of what it looks like ordinary the body of a man in middle age?

“That’s so Scandinavian,” says I’m American. So she politely indicates that I went too far.

However, for the inhabitants of the Nordic countries the idea of nudity is still associated with the idea of equality, and this is the third reason why Americans and Europeans in this respect are so different.

Finnish sauna culture includes the idea that under her clothes we’re all the same, so, from the Finnish point of view, somewhat arrogantly consider themselves so special that you can’t even undress in front of others.

In his book “Finnish miracle” (The Miracle Finnish), which was released in 2011, canadian Andre shaker (André Chaker) wrote that in the sauna no one feels better than others. However, it is a forced equality may not like the foreigners. “In any society with the help of clothes emphasizes social status, said Whitman. — And if there are no clothes, there is no opportunity to stand out.”

How, then, Sanne Kangasharju can persuade Americans to go to the sauna, leaving the locker room with the clothes and their beliefs?

According to her, it is important to involve nudity undue attention. She says that in a sauna you can go in a towel or without it as desired. Then most Americans, realizing that Finn not looking at them, take off the towel.

“And then they exhale, “I did it!”” — says MS Kangasharju. Then meeting each other, her guests joke: “clothes You never know”. For them it is admissible by the courage of the statement.