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Reasons for this Blog Article Why would I even be interested in responding to the issue of naked swimming in the schools in the old days with a blog article? First, here was a practice most men experienced as recently as fifty years ago, and is a living memory for many of us, and people don’t know about it.
Some even deny it happened because it doesn’t fit our current cultural mores.
Men don’t talk about it even if they were comfortable with the practice because the reactions are usually negative.
So this article is an exercise in social history to discuss what was standard practice in America until the 1970s.
Boys swam naked in American high schools and sometimes teachers or coaches were naked too (although my swimming teacher always wore a swim suit). social history that a practice that millions of men experienced as boys has been suppressed in our collective memory.
Maybe it was because in swimming we shed those school-issued shorts that accentuated skinny legs.
But perhaps some of our current attitudes and views need to be challenged, including our attitudes toward and views about nudity today which are almost exclusively associated with sexuality. Chapter 3 in my book is entitled, “Naked Bodies, Clothed Bodies.” Nakedness is a powerful religious and spiritual symbol.
(I actually first broached this topic of swimming naked at the YMCA in my “Frank Answer About Being Naked Before God”—written before I went to my class reunion.) Philosophically, I don’t think that the body is just something that we have, as if the real me is something other than the body (like the mind or the soul).
It was traditional for boys to swim naked and no one saw any reason to break with the tradition until cultural mores changed radically during the 1960s.
People who didn’t experience this find it hard to believe.
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It was undoubtedly traumatic that such a thing happened.