Try to find what seems “off” about this picture and the two below.
Ah, you’ve got it. The men are naked, and the women are in swimsuits.
I don’t know where they were taken or when or even if they’re legitimate, although they look legitimate. I’m inclined to think they might be from Germany or an Eastern European or Scandinavian country and were probably taken in the forties or fifties. I think of Germany because I saw a beach on the Greek Island Naxos chock-a-block with naked German families on holiday. Picture it, as Sophia Portrillo on the Golden Girls would say, two pale, sun-frightened Americans, one in lounging pants, long-sleeved pullover, and hat, the only people with a stitch of clothes on, surrounded by hundreds of au naturel frolickers. I remember that one strapping young man and woman drew a broad-jump line in the sand and took turns running toward it as fast as they could, everything flopping, before they took flight. A person didn’t want to stare, but a person probably did. So I say to myself, if your family vacations naked on the beach together, maybe back home it doesn’t feel strange to see your brother or son competing naked on a swim team. But why did the women cover up at home?
Am I reading too much into these pictures or do they suggest a society that found it unthinkable for women to think of men as sex objects, possibly unthinkable for “decent” women to have sexual feelings at all?
At least one of the pictures below, of a diver or divers, are clearly in the U.S. Doing a little internet research, I found these explanations on a Yahoo Answers site, https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20131003021653AAqBAGa:
“Boys swam naked because it was considered normal and healthy (in a single-gender environment) and the fear or embarrassment of being naked around one’s own gender was just unthinkable. It was quicker, easier, and already common (this was done at YMCAs as well as local swimming holes). The rules were made by the previous generations that had gone through the military, or had grown up where privacy was much more of a luxury than it is today. “Watching” wasn’t a part of this at all; it’s just the way men behaved.
We boys swam naked all through junior (middle) and senior high, as well as at the Y. I was on the swim team for years, and we always practiced naked. We “saved” our suits for the meets, when there might be moms and sisters watching, but the rest of the time, nudity was the norm, especially at the Y where it wasn’t just restricted to the pool.”
More from Yahoo Answers, re why boys swam naked at the YMCA:
“First, some of them couldn’t afford polyester swimwear and just wearing cotton shorts wreaked havoc on the filter systems of the time. Second, it promoted a classless environment. Naked, you can’t tell a banker from a laborer. And last, guys were more used to being naked back then communally than they are now. Most of them served in the military where privacy wasn’t a priority, and people in general weren’t as squeamish about being human as they are now.”
“Sometime in the 1960’s corresponding with the expansion of female rights, the YMCA was forced to accept female employees, lifeguards and instructors.
For whatever reason, it was immediately decided that all female’s had to wear suits, but the same was not immediately true for the boys.
There was quite a bit of grey area from state to state, and it was quite common for boys to swim naked under the watch of a female lifeguard, or for a group of boys to have a female teacher.”
But none of this exactly explains the pictures above, all seven from the site http://notashamedtobemen.tumblr.com/, which focusses on naked men, most “at rest.” No source is given for the diver photos, and the co-ed swim team photos are credited to an adult site, http://clothedmalenudefemale.tumblr.com/, but I couldn’t find the photos on it for further sourcing, though I don’t doubt that they are or were there.
Male nudity in public has a downside: a guy is mentally freer if his favorite part isn’t announcing what he’s thinking.
But I don’t need to tell you, do I, that as a spectator I think all sports should be played naked?