Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Power of Nudity

To me one of the most interesting and powerful aspects of submission is the incorporation of forced nudity into the dynamics of a female led relationship. I am not a nudist or naturalist so prior to my initiation into the D/s scene, being unclothed is something that had always been reserved for times when I was changing clothes to prepare for a different activity, bathing or having sex. Pretty much the rest of my life has involved wearing clothing.

Nudity is closely associated with sexuality in our culture and from childhood most of us were taught that a significant level of body modesty is expected. In an effort to impart the importance of modesty, for many of us our parents perhaps unintentionally also managed to condition us to associate feelings of shame with nudity. As a result nudity for me except under very narrowly defined conditions is a pretty uncomfortable experience. One euphemism for the embarrassing state of nakedness is “exposed” and in times past I have felt exposed and embarrassed in situations where I was is involuntarily caught undressed.

Once each week, my Mistress requires me to complete a standard ritual and as a part of that ritual I must be completely naked, wearing only the collar that symbolizes her ownership and control. While albeit not quite as intense an experience as it would be if I had to perform the ritualized nudity in her actual presence, still this requirement for complete nudity does produce some pretty powerful feelings for me, most notably, feelings of vulnerability and exposure. Because of the feelings I experience when forced to be naked I do have a clear understanding of why forced nudity is an integral part of the dominance/submissive experience.

Forced nudity is a means of subjugation, and one person’s subjugation is another’s empowerment. Forced nudity produces feelings of humiliation and humiliation is as a tool that serves to emphasize a submissive’s sense of being controlled. While our society has conditioned us through art and media feel okay with the idea of nude women we as men get a little nervous about the idea of nude men. According to Elayne Rapping, a professor of women's studies and media studies at the State University of New York, Buffalo, depictions of fully clothed men with nude women in classic paintings has been occurring since the 17th and 18th centuries. In modern times, full frontal nudity of females has also become a norm even in mainstream films. It seems normal for women to parade around au naturel, but men just don’t. Exposing our male "secret parts" as a result seems abnormal or taboo as this is just not as routine to us as is female nudity. In aboriginal cultures where nudity is commonplace and accepted, men still generally cover their genitals because as all men have had to occasion to learn at some point, due to the exposed nature of our genitals, covering them protects them from harm. To have our genitals completely uncovered and exposed caused us intense feelings of vulnerability.

Another issue I think that forced nudity causes for us as men is to reveal his private parts, a man is reduced to the position that women have traditionally been reduced to as a part of patriarchal society’s oppression which is to be examined, to be judged and that's a scary thing for men. When a man is flaccid it's not a very virile thing. When a man is sexualized or objectified through forced nudity it calls into question the whole “male dominance” idea we have been conditioned to accept. Also, for many men, physical modesty is the last shred of pride as clothing protects us from intimate scrutiny. Clothing expresses and symbolizes authority and dominance, so when we are forced to be naked by our female partner it powerfully “puts us in our place” and reminds us of our submission. Since ancient times, ritualized, ceremonial nudity has been evidence of a submission, resignation, an appeal for forgiveness and a sign of respect for our betters.

The idea of nudity and the notion of vulnerability apply in various absences of clothing and degrees of exposing the bare skin of intimate parts. Thus we can feel naked without being completely nude, as when female dominants require men to dress only in female panties. This submissive “uniform” can produce in us the same feelings of humiliation, exposure and vulnerability as when we are made to be completely naked. Nakedness (full or partial) is also often used as a part of a corporal punishment (spanking) to enhance the feelings of imposed humiliation. There is something very submissive about having to be partially or completely nude for a punishment and it causes men to feel their submission so much more completely than the spanking alone can do.

Nudity like submission shares an important commonality, exposure. When we acquiesce to forced nudity at the hands of a dominant, we reveal a lot more about ourselves than simply our exposed body parts, we reveal our submission. Through the forced or mandatory condition of being without clothes, we humble ourselves before our Mistress. This gives us an understanding of humiliation and its place in D/s relationships, the word “humiliation” comes from the word “humility”. The feelings of vulnerability that nakedness can produce should not be underestimated. The experience of forced nakedness triggers our submission. The mere fact that a woman is exerting this degree of control translates into something sexual. In our society, the sexual arena is typically ruled by the males of our species but now it becomes the place of power for the female. The female, once thought of as the “weaker sex” becomes the stronger of the two. A mutual exchange of power takes place. Our maleness becomes her tool by which to exert her own special brand of control over us. Our masculinity is mocked. The dominant female recognizes and uses this place as her pedestal in which to stand above us. It is from this vantage point that she can begin to exert her control over us. We give this to her willingly. Humiliation and objectification are often closely entwined; through the use of forced nudity the female makes the case for; “I own you, so then I can do whatever I please with you.” Being humiliated, even mildly, acts as a reinforcement of our submissive position. The mere act of being naked, and knowing the reason for being naked is to provide our dominant female partner full access to any part of us, whenever she desires and she doesn't even have to be physically present. Our nakedness is still a reminder that we belong to her and of the pleasure that comes in serving her.

The idea of obediently kneeling naked, exposed, and vulnerable in the presence of a fully clothed, dominant female turns me on to no end. A part of that is the idea of being subjected to the scrutiny and evaluation of a woman with complete control over me. Naked and on my knees is a good position, completely silent as I await her commands. I enjoy the feeling of powerlessness and defenselessness evoked from being nude in front of or for the benefit of my Mistress. My submission naturally grows from that and I wish to take it to its full level until I am stripped of all my inhibitions and feel her ownership of me completely.

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