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Perseus and Andromeda, a fresco from Pompeii

Human sexual arousal and expression is often confused with partial or complete lack of clothing, though each condition exists exclusive of the other.


Non-Sexual NudityEdit

Naturists on a beach
A nude erotic performer at a sex show in France.

Some modern cultures have equated human nudity with sexuality, inherently stimulating the libido. Historically, that has not always been the case. In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed until the fall of man resulted in them becoming aware of their sexual natures.[1]

Partial or complete nudity have also been observed in many countries throughout history and in modern times. Around 300 B.C., Indian mystics utilized naked ascetism to reject worldly treasures.[2] Currently in northern Europe, public nudity is a popular practice.[3] In ancient Greece, athletes commonly exercised and competed nude.[4] Female sumo wrestlers in Japan competed nude without the mawashi now worn by men.[5] Such cultural practices are not related to sexuality.

Nudity became a very important facet in the expression of feelings or conducting events. Studies have shown that showing more skin may offer social benefits such as intimate relationships, depending how much individuals focus on a person's body and/or mind.[6] Nudity can be observed in:

  • Figure Drawing: drawing humans in various shapes and perspectives
  • Naturism: practice of going out without clothes
    • Naturism is common practice in many countries, including the UK. Public nudity is seen as common and socially acceptable in beaches, parks, and other social events.[7]
    • In a 2009 report, Smith and King conclude that naturists have been able to sublimate their sexual impulses in a naturist environment: "Sexuality, when practising naturism, was found often to be suppressed through the use of rules, geographical isolation and thoughts and behaviour. Some participants found ways of exploring and enjoying their sexuality by keeping their feelings hidden and/or seeking out more sympathetic naturist environments. Naturist environments may offer a unique space in which to explore aspects of our sexuality that are currently pathologised, criminalised or commercialised. "[8]

There is legislated control of acceptable bodily display to protect decency. For instance, in America where there is freedom of expression, states have different nudity and public decency laws in place.[9]

Sexual arousalEdit

There are cultural differences regarding the acceptability or sexualization of nudity,[10] but the definition of what is lewd has also changed over the years, as has the comparative acceptability of male or female nudity. When physical sexual attributes are shown in the mainstream media, on the Internet or in night clubs, this is often taken as being sexually related as with pornography or striptease. People then experience erotic or sexual pleasure. Exposure of the body is a tactic/display of courtship or a form of flirting. Physical or emotional intimacy is characterized as romantic or passionate love and attachment, or sexual activity.

Sexual arousal is an aspect of a person's sexuality and a part of sexual excitement. Individuals may have a strong desire to express themselves without clothing, which can potentially be seen as obsessive–compulsive disorder. Men and women experience sexual arousal very differently.[11] It is difficult for males to conceal full sexual arousal, or indeed lack of it, while fully nude. Penile erection is an obvious indicator of sexual excitement of a male. Thus, male images are less common due to the vulnerability experiences.[12] In the case of females, physiological changes — such as vaginal lubrication and swelling, coloring and engorgement of the labia and clitoris — are less visible to others. Popular pornographic films majorly consisted of nude females starting in the Golden Age of Porn.[13] Female nudity can be seen as an art form or a way to objectify women.[14]

Sexual arousal may be expected between sexual partners while conducting naked practices (bathing, sleeping, and dressing), but some partners may feel uncomfortable being nude even in private. For instance, a person may feel comfortable being nude only during a sexual activity in a dark room or covered by a sheet or blanket.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Sex and Nakedness in Eden". Retrieved 2019-08-05.
  2. ^ "A brief history of nudity and naturism". BBC Timelines. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  3. ^ ""Nudity is considered quite normal nowadays"". @GI_weltweit. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  4. ^ "Ancient Olympics Mixed Naked Sports, Pagan Partying". National Geographic News. 2004-08-09. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  5. ^ Chie Ikkai (2003), "Women's Sumo Wrestling in Japan", International Journal of Sport and Health Science, 1 (1): 178–181, doi:10.5432/ijshs.1.178
  6. ^ Conversation, Gary W. Lewandowski Jr ,The. "Nudity Found to Offer New Social Benefits". Scientific American. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  7. ^ "About Naturism". British Naturism. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  8. ^ Smith and King, Health & Place, Volume 15, Issue 2 (2009), pp. 439-446.
  9. ^ "Nudity and Public Decency Laws in America". Legal Resources.
  10. ^ Smith, H W (September 1980). "A modest test of cross-cultural differences in sexual modesty, embarrassment and self-disclosure". Qualitative Sociology. Kluwer Academic Publishers-Human Sciences Press. 3 (3): 223. doi:10.1007/BF00987137. ISSN 0162-0436.
  11. ^ "The Different Ways Men and Women Experience Sexual Desire". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  12. ^ Eck, Beth A. (2016-06-30). "Men are much Harder: Gendered Viewing of Nude Images". Gender & Society. doi:10.1177/0891243203255604.
  13. ^ Paasonen, Susanna; Saarenmaa, Laura. "The Golden Age of Porn: Nostalgia and History in Cinema" (PDF).
  14. ^ Yu, Richard K. (2018-03-22). "Tracking Historical Representations of the Female Nude". Medium. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  15. ^ Kinsey, Alfred C. (1998). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33411-X.