three pairs of lovers with space

ON NUDITY AND SEXUAL SHAME BY EDUARD BRONGERSMA

 

The following article was written by doctor of law Eduard Brongersma for “Boycaught”, his regular column in Pan magazine, and appeared in issue 20, October 1984, pp. 30-33. The illustrations accompanied the original article.

Dr. Brongersma (1911-98) was a long-term member of the Dutch Senate rewarded for his services by being made a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion by the Queen in 1975, by when he was already openly a pederast and the leading Dutch activist and writer on the subject.

The subject being the link between male social nudity and happy acceptance of Greek love, the illustrations selected are photographs by Brongersma's friend, the German naturist youth leader and prolific boy-lover Hajo Ortil, who had died the previous year.

 

Boycaught

Months ago, in a country far from my Dutch home, a local friend invited me to his apartment one evening when boys would come and dance. There were eight of them, all high school students.

Portrait of Ortil held up by one of his Hanseatic Pirates

Nothing was obligatory, everything was permitted. I was struck by how completely these boys respected one another's freedom. Some wished to dance entirely naked, and so they did. Others retained their trousers, or used loincloths, and did so without being ridiculed or pressured into following the example of the more daring. The music alternated between American disco and native. I was intrigued by the fact that some put on their loin-cloths whenever music of their own culture was played, only to cast them off for the disco dances. One boy, with a most handsome face and a body close to the Greek ideal, kept his blue jeans on during the whole session, until the long final dance when -- happily -- he suddenly flung them aside, exhibiting completely his magnificent physique.

I say "happily" because the marvellous flowing lines and curves of a boy's body are interrupted and disturbed by briefs, slips or loincloths. To admire a boy in toto, nudity must be complete. And enjoyment of beauty was the real purpose of this gathering.

All of these boys were heterosexually oriented: they all had girl friends and enjoyed sex with them. But that was no obstacle to their enjoyment of this all-male show of beauty nor did it diminish their pride in exhibiting their exceptionally fine bodies to their friends. Afterwards each of the boys came to me, one by one, to thank me for coming I was surprised, and said it was rather up to me to thank them for such a splendid spectacle. "No," my host protested, "your presence gave them something special. The fact that you were paying such rapt attention to them flattered their vanity and greatly increased their pleasure."

Without exception, the boys were most polite, well-educated and well-behaved. The dances over, one of them went to the kitchen and prepared an enormous omlette which we all consumed together. Later, without even being asked, they cleaned the plates, forks, the kitchen and even the bathroom, then returned the furniture to its usual place, leaving the apartment just as they had found it upon their arrival. They couldn't have conducted themselves more perfectly.

Ortil's Hanseatic Pirates

I suspect their nakedness contributed to this. Throughout the whole dancing session their bearing had been remarkably dignified: no jokes, no giggling, no affectation. The reader may smile, but I would liken the atmosphere at our gathering with that at a symphony concert -- people enjoying beauty in serene gladness.

A French author -- I believe it was Tony Duvert -- once observed that you  can take the most vulgar, foul-mouthed,  impudent Paris gutter-snipe and see his behaviour change completely the moment he drops his last piece of clothing. All at once he moves more quietly, chooses his words better, acquires a strange dignity. Perhaps the reason is that, standing entirely naked in front of others, he becomes very conscious of being a male, demonstrating himself as a sexual being. For this would seem to be the design of nature (if we may describe nature as a designing force). Nature strives to make sex very conspicuous the moment puberty is reached: the curious dangling movements of the penis, independent of those of the rest of the body, the darker shade of its skin, its crown of thick hair: they all attract the eye to this bodily organ which in the human race is proportionally much longer than in the other higher primates.

It is this very exhibitionistic element which embarrasses the average boy in our civilisation when he has to go about naked. Face, arms, legs, back, chest, belly -- yes; but genitals -- no! Swimming trunks or briefs are indispensable. Why? He is ashamed. Why? He was taught to be!

Shame is a curious word. For the most part in our language the prefix "un-" changes to a negative sense a word with a positive connotation, or vice-versa. No so with shame. It is unpleasant to be ashamed, and it is bad to be unashamed, or shameless. Applied to sex, shame means that we don't want to be associated with sex, sexual desire as well as sexual activity. But why? Such an attitude is only logical if we consider sex vile and dirty.

A positive view of sex, on the other hand, goes hand in hand with the absence of shame and timidity, perhaps even with pride. Why should a boy be ashamed of showing that he has attained sexual maturity and is now able to father children? Why should a boy be ashamed of the organ with which he can tenderly unite himself with someone he loves? Why should a boy be ashamed of that part of his himself which can cause the most exquisite pleasure to course through his body, and with which he can arouse such immense delight in someone with whom he wants to be intimate? Why should he feel ashamed of abandoning himself to the powerful forces of nature?

Why indeed? Shame is a superficial and artificial shell, easily shaken off. When Masters and Johnson wanted to study the reactions of the human body during sexual excitement and orgasm in their laboratory, they were surprised to find there were so many people, male and female, of all ages between 18 and 80, who were quite willing to masturbate and perform intercourse in the presence of a group of observers. These subjects very quickly lost any inhibitions they might have had. Children originally are entirely devoid of shame about nakedness, and boys may soon get rid of indoctrinated shyness if they are properly taught and encouraged.

I know one old man -- I believe I have mentioned him previously in this column -- who has a university degree, had an important position in society, is a pious Christian and, now that he is retired, devotes his leisure to the study of religion and philosophy. In his late boyhood an age-mate introduced him to the joys of nudity and sex. One day while sunbathing on the beach he met a middle-aged man and they soon became friends and lovers. This man, with deliberate instruction, managed to liberate him from the last remnants of feelings of shame and taboo; he presented him stark naked to his friends, had him pose naked for painters and photographers and even perform naked dances before an audience.

As his inhibitions gradually dropped away he found himself enjoying these occasions more and more. After several months his friend asked seven friends over for dinner and it was decided that the boy would serve drinks and the meal as an ancient Roman slave, wearing nothing save the ring of servitude on his ankles. The guests were delightfully surprised to find a naked youngster in their midst catering to their needs, and they loudly praised the beauty of his body. This excited him enormously, and the inevitable happened: his penis began to swell irresistably and spontaneously and soon it was fully erect. At first, facing the fully dressed guests with nothing to hide the evidence of his salacity, he was deeply embarrassed. The guests grew silent, the atmosphere tense, everyone stared. Then there was a sudden applause, cries of "bravo!" and "how beautiful!" His embarrassment was swept aside and replaced by pride. From that day on such spontaneous erections occurred all the time during the shows he gave, and he found he utterly enjoyed them. One more taboo was wiped out!

Now he is, as I said, a pious old man, but his Christian piety did not adulterate or vilify his memories. "What I did in my youth," he says, "was simply obeying the call of my nature, and I'll be eternally grateful to the man who showed me the way and gave me the opportunity to liberate myself from all those taboos. He didn't make me shameless; he made me shame-free, a positive condition, and thereby he enabled me to take an uninhibited delight in sex, see it as a source of immense happiness to myself and my intimate friends. Morally I cannot see any wrong in this. Aren't people created to make each other happy? I'm a happy and contented old man now, but the period when I was an adolescent and a young man was just one big spring of gladness and a climax of lust. Marvellous!"

His experience gave him a profound insight into human sexuality, seeing all its facets in proportion. He is not afraid of sex in any form, as long as it is based on the consent of the partners. He is fully convinced of the benefits of sexual freedom, on the proviso that it respects the sexual rights of others. His youth was full of sex, full of happy partners, full of shared pleasure and quite devoid of guilt feelings, taboos, frustrations and inhibitions. As an old man, now, many admirers of his wisdom seek his counsel.

For a boy, whose naked body symbolizes so clearly the central place of sex in his life, nudity is the school par excellence for the acquisition of such a healthy view of sex: no secret can be hidden in timidity, no shame, no guilt; sex is rather something to enjoy, to be proud of, a source of happiness to share with your friend or lover.

There were highly cultured people like the Greeks who held to this opinion. On their monuments, on their temple fronts, where sculptures represented battles with the barbarians who surrounded them, the enemy wore clothes while the Greeks fought naked. Watching naked boys and adolescents was one of the most popular passtimes. The festivals of the "gymnopaideia" (dance of naked boys) such as were held in Sparta and on the island of Thera drew thousands of spectators. With the advent of Rome, morality changed, and not for the better. Romans still liked to see nudity, but despised the actors who had to put their bodies on display. They themselves remained carefully clothed -- and, as we know, cruelty and license proliferated.

Today there are still peoples -- we call them "primitives" -- with sound views on nudity and thus on sex. Their minds are generally healthier and happier than ours, they usually display more kindness, more friendliness, less aggression, less criminality than do we in our society. The most discerning attitude seems to me to be that of the Nuba in Southern Sudan. We see them in the magnificant pictures of Leni Riefenstahl: male and female are completely naked as long as they remain young and healthy: only the old and sick cover their bodies.

Fortunately the nudist movement is spreading in the Western world. There existed much more realistic attitudes about nudity before the taboos of the Victorian age poisoned the European mentality, with the resulting increased sale of bathing suits and pornography, high frequency of rape and sexual violence visited upon women and children. Today nudism is no longer considered a freak expression of crazy fanatics, but rather another way of living.

If nudism were widely practiced in the West more realistic sexual attitudes would prevail. Boy-lovers therefore should be supportive of this movement; they can only benefit by its effects. And if they have a long-lasting relationship with a beloved boy, and thus have their special responsibilities toward him, they shouldn't forget the words of my old Dutch friend about the man who liberated him from taboos and guilt feelings and made him enjoy a shame-free nakedness: "I'm grateful to him every hour of my life!"