What's the problem with nudity?

The Documentary Channel screened this BBC Horizon programme called
“What’s the problem with Nudity” the other night. It tried to figure
out why nudity is such a social problem for our species by asking 8
total strangers who have never stripped or been nude in front of other
people (and a battery of TV cameras) to do exactly that. Coupled with a
potted history of homo sapiens and more ancient forebears, it tried to
figure out at what stage in our genetic and cultural history we decided
that it was not OK to be around others without “clothes” on.

As this
kind of cod TV science goes, it was rather un-illuminating on
practically all questions it set out to answer. On the contrary, it
left me with a great deal of other queries about aspects that never got
touched on.

The obvious clanger was asking 21st Century males and
females to rate male chests’ sexual attractiveness based on hirsuteness
or baldness of said chests. This was supposed to give a clue that
evolutionary we have lost our body hair because females preferred to
mate with hairless men. But what this really showed was the scientific
incompetence of the sex researchers setting up such a thoughtless,
biased and uncontrolled experiment: even intuitively (if I may) I would
have shown the subjects a range of hairy and hairless women to rate,
and I bet the outcome would have been far more pronounced in favour of
hairless-ness than the male-only version. Hairy females did far worse
evolutionary speaking than hairy males, just look at the number of
hairy men still with us compared to the amount of hairy females (ladies
with moustaches notwithstanding) and the relentless marketing of
lady-shaves, depilatory products and the opprobrium heaped on unshaven
continental women. And we all know that when woman are at their most
fertile era in their cycle, they prefer hairy bad boys as bed mates
over plucked metrosexuals – and this has a long history too:
interbreeding with hairy Neanderthal men apparently was far more common
than many of us would like to remember.

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Cranky television viewer pining for something worth watching.
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