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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:30 am 
Smeric
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The other day, I was discussing my Terpish architectural designs with some people #erelae and we got on the subject of privacy within the home. It seems we disagreed on whether all occupants in a given household would want private bedrooms, as they generally do in American culture. I pointed out that many activities, such as sex and clothes-changing, require private spaces so that others don't see you doing them. Pthag, among others, objected that people have no innate need for privacy in conducting such activities, and that many cultures have made no such efforts to hide sex or nudity. I pointed out that pretty much every modern industrialized culture seems to value this sort of privacy and modesty, which would suggest it has something to do with the effects of modernity. Of course pretty much every modern industrialized culture has been influenced by European Modernity in some way, which probably skews these observed tendencies.

This got me wondering about the different attitudes toward privacy and modesty that cultures can take and why those attitudes vary so much. Notions of modesty vary immensely throughout the world, from the minimalism of some tribal peoples to the nigh-totalitarian expectations in many Islamic countries and almost everything in between. Pretty much all "modern" cultures, from the US to Europe to Japan, seem to hold a fairly consistent set of expectations regarding modesty. All agree that one should not appear nude or semi-nude in public (except for infrequent or specific contexts like medical treatment or saunas), that sex should remain private, that children shouldn't be exposed to sex or nudity, and so forth. This general attitude, or precursors to it, seems to have evolved independently in many parts of the world which leads me to wonder if it represents some tendency inherent to civilization or modernization.

Anyone care to shed light on this subject, perhaps someone with uncanny knowledge about so much like Salmoneus? Discussion of modesty and privacy in your own concultures would not be out of place, either.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:01 am 
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Uh things like nudist beaches'll be accepted differently in different places, even within Modern West. Like there was a story about Polish coming to Germany and being like "Yo what's this about nudist shit". (Here's a video for it: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6c9ft ... urita_news) And Germans have nudist swimming pools too. And the relative homogenity of Modern West ist kind of due to cultural influence in the time of the Second Wave of European Invasion. And America pretty much is European colony. I would google to try and find out about taboos on nudity of kids (or lack of them) and shit like that but you can do it yourself.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:38 am 
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jmcd wrote:
. And America pretty much is European colony.

Sorry, but we won the war. We are not a European colony, we are a place where Europeans come to to live in a better country than where they were.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:51 am 
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Zapcon wrote:
jmcd wrote:
. And America pretty much is European colony.

Sorry, but we won the war. We are not a European colony, we are a place where Europeans come to to live in a better country than where they were.


You're an autonomised European colony, which is the worst kind of colony ever that kills kittens with small pox.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:19 am 
Smeric
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Legion wrote:
Zapcon wrote:
jmcd wrote:
. And America pretty much is European colony.

Sorry, but we won the war. We are not a European colony, we are a place where Europeans come to to live in a better country than where they were.


You're an autonomised European colony

Exactly. The point is that American culture and European culture is more or less identical when contrasted with another culture e.g. Japanese, Indian.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:20 pm 
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Could it be that part of the reason that some cultures don't have or haven't had more privacy is that it simply isn't practical a lot of the time? If everyone's going to have their own bedroom, then you're going to have to build that room, which means putting up more walls, doors etc., which means using up more resources; then, in colder climates especially, you have to heat the rooms separately and everything: the prices all add up to quite a lot more than just having everyone in a single room. In cultures where these kinds of resources are quite limited (which I would suspect includes most cultures across history), you might want privacy, but it just isn't practical to have it. (This is just an idea.)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:06 pm 
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I'd rather not see this thread get bogged down in nationalist disputes. I think we can agree that the US has much of its cultural roots in Europe and forms along with it a Western cultural sphere. Whether or not we consider it an independent country or merely a rogue colony makes little difference. My real point, by the way, was that similar notions of modesty seem to have developed independently in cultures even before Western influence. You wouldn't see someone living in Tokyo or Kolkata coming to work in their underwear anymore than you would in the West, something which obviously came before Western influence on either city.

jmcd wrote:
Uh things like nudist beaches'll be accepted differently in different places, even within Modern West. Like there was a story about Polish coming to Germany and being like "Yo what's this about nudist shit". (Here's a video for it: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6c9ft ... urita_news) And Germans have nudist swimming pools too.


I thought about nude beaches and various carnivalesque settings that would seem to challenge standards of modesty, but concluded they mostly represent exceptions that prove the rule. Outside these clearly delineated settings, the traditional rules of modesty still hold. Far from undermining Western notions of privacy and modesty, I think these settings actually reinforce them by contrasting with the norm and thereby defining them as the norm to be followed by default. Regardless of how naked we get at the beach, most of us wouldn't dream of walking into the office where we work in the nude.

Curlyjimsam wrote:
Could it be that part of the reason that some cultures don't have or haven't had more privacy is that it simply isn't practical a lot of the time? If everyone's going to have their own bedroom, then you're going to have to build that room, which means putting up more walls, doors etc., which means using up more resources; then, in colder climates especially, you have to heat the rooms separately and everything: the prices all add up to quite a lot more than just having everyone in a single room. In cultures where these kinds of resources are quite limited (which I would suspect includes most cultures across history), you might want privacy, but it just isn't practical to have it. (This is just an idea.)


I made pretty much the same argument in the #erelae discussion. Namely that people wanted privacy just as they do today, but couldn't always afford to build large heavily partitioned houses. Those who could afford it, the wealthy and royalty, gave themselves plenty of private spaces such as personal baths. That suggests to me that the lack of privacy in pre-modern and non-Western cultures may have more to do with scarcity than actual rejection of privacy as Pthag and others argued.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:52 pm 
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oh no, Pthag didn't argue *shit* with you

i'm gonna repeat this:

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please note everything he says about me is seen through a sperglass, darkly, since i realised halfway through explaining to him the cross-cultural differences between privacy that i was talking to a manchild who derives a priori the way the world is without worrying about how it actually is and sort of left #erelae in a blinding moment of clarity


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:07 pm 
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Dude a lot of other aspects of society and expectations and so on vary from culture to culture. Why *shouldn't* privacy be one of these things?

Eddy wrote:
Whether or not we consider it an independent country or merely a rogue colony makes little difference.
I was ever saying it wasn't independent. There may have been perception otherwise, but that was not my intention.

Eddy wrote:
You wouldn't see someone living in Tokyo or Kolkata coming to work in their underwear anymore than you would in the West, something which obviously came before Western influence on either city.
With India, having to wear tops is definitely Western influence:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?ei=0s9BTe_jBoS3hAeRvezPAQ&ct=result&hl=fr&id=cqrpAAAAMAAJ&dq=sari+topless&q=tactless+assertion#search_anchor


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:54 pm 
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Eddy wrote:
You wouldn't see someone living in Tokyo or Kolkata coming to work in their underwear anymore than you would in the West, something which obviously came before Western influence on either city.


Of course not; "underwear" is by definition the clothes that aren't meant to be seen. The sticky part is what counts as "underwear".

For example, look at these girls (yes, they're drawn, but it's a decent depiction of the real-life outfit):
Image
Looks pretty modest, no?

For a Heian Japanese lady, that's underwear; she'd be almost literally mortified to be seen that way by anyone but the maids who helped her dress or her lover. She's practically naked!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:39 pm 
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Eddy wrote:
The other day, I was discussing my Terpish architectural designs with some people #erelae and we got on the subject of privacy within the home. It seems we disagreed on whether all occupants in a given household would want private bedrooms, as they generally do in American culture. I pointed out that many activities, such as sex and clothes-changing, require private spaces so that others don't see you doing them. Pthag, among others, objected that people have no innate need for privacy in conducting such activities, and that many cultures have made no such efforts to hide sex or nudity. I pointed out that pretty much every modern industrialized culture seems to value this sort of privacy and modesty, which would suggest it has something to do with the effects of modernity. Of course pretty much every modern industrialized culture has been influenced by European Modernity in some way, which probably skews these observed tendencies.

This got me wondering about the different attitudes toward privacy and modesty that cultures can take and why those attitudes vary so much. Notions of modesty vary immensely throughout the world, from the minimalism of some tribal peoples to the nigh-totalitarian expectations in many Islamic countries and almost everything in between. Pretty much all "modern" cultures, from the US to Europe to Japan, seem to hold a fairly consistent set of expectations regarding modesty. All agree that one should not appear nude or semi-nude in public (except for infrequent or specific contexts like medical treatment or saunas), that sex should remain private, that children shouldn't be exposed to sex or nudity, and so forth. This general attitude, or precursors to it, seems to have evolved independently in many parts of the world which leads me to wonder if it represents some tendency inherent to civilization or modernization.

Anyone care to shed light on this subject, perhaps someone with uncanny knowledge about so much like Salmoneus? Discussion of modesty and privacy in your own concultures would not be out of place, either.

Here's my take on the subject:

Most cultures have some sort of restriction on nudity, though perhaps this was not always the case. Your generalizations are not correct, though some can be made:
-People in cold climates traditionally wear more clothes than people in hot climates. What they wear inside the warmth of their house varies.
-Settled cultures have more restrictions than hunter-gatherers. Only hunter-gatherers are likely to go around completely naked.
-Nudity is more restricted for adults than it is for children.
-Nudity is more restricted for women than it is for men.
-Where there is class differentiation, nudity is more restricted for the upper classes than for the lower classes. (Lower-class clothes obviously being optimized for working; the upper-class clothes can go in any direction the culture pleases, with a tendency toward flashiness and complexity*)
-There are some situations where the restrictions are partially or completely laxed, particularly when one is only in the company of the same sex.

One problem for looking at other cultures is that Western culture is pervasive almost everywhere, especially in urbanized areas. This requires us to dig back into records of the past somewhat.


The notion that children should not be exposed to sex or nudity is a rather recent development peculiar to the West. It dates from the 19th century, involving the Victorian "cult of innocence" of the child, I think. Somebody who knows more on the subject please speak up.



*Though certainly this could go the other way. I can imagine a future dystopia where the peasants work the fields and the nobles walk around in their air-conditioned rooms wearing nothing but jewelry and Speedos.


Last edited by dunomapuka on Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:18 pm 
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@dunomapuka: Some very good points that certainly help a lot with the question of clothing. I await hearing from someone who can expand on the "age of innocence" issue you mentioned.

@Neon Fox: I suppose by "underwear" I meant clothing that doesn't cover most of the body. I really don't know if your point about Heian women's fashion is really relevant since I somehow doubt the majority of peasant women worked in such impractically heavy clothing as you imply. Not to dismiss your point, but I generally try to take the experiences of people outside the upper class into account, as they do make up the bulk of any society.

jmcd wrote:
Dude a lot of other aspects of society and expectations and so on vary from culture to culture. Why *shouldn't* privacy be one of these things?


I was wondering, more or less, if we could speak of cultural universals regarding privacy in much the same way we speak of linguistic universals. These universals would of course reflect social and economic contexts, making them conditional and nuanced in application.

Quote:
With India, having to wear tops is definitely Western influence:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?ei=0s9B ... rch_anchor


Let's not forget the place of women in Indian society at that time, though. More likely than not, they had very little place in the public sphere, remaining instead bound to domestic life. If no one but other members of their family saw them, that probably made covering their bodies considerably less important. And quite honestly I feel tempted to characterize this regime of sexual and domestic servitude for women as primitive, certainly not a model for how the Terps would do things.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:51 pm 
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Eddy wrote:
I suppose by "underwear" I meant clothing that doesn't cover most of the body.[circular definition] I really don't know if your point about Heian women's fashion is really relevant since I somehow doubt[weasel words] the majority of peasant women worked in such impractically heavy clothing as you imply.[citation needed] Not to dismiss your point, but I generally try to take the experiences of people outside the upper class into account[relevance?], as they do make up the bulk of any society.[citation needed]

Let's not forget the place of women in Indian society at that time, though. More likely than not,[weasel words] they had very little place in the public sphere, remaining instead bound to domestic life.[citation needed] If no one but other members of their family saw them, that probably[weasel words] made covering their bodies considerably less important.[citation needed]


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:24 pm 
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XinuX wrote:
Eddy wrote:
I suppose by "underwear" I meant clothing that doesn't cover most of the body.[circular definition] I really don't know if your point about Heian women's fashion is really relevant since I somehow doubt[weasel words] the majority of peasant women worked in such impractically heavy clothing as you imply.[citation needed] Not to dismiss your point, but I generally try to take the experiences of people outside the upper class into account[relevance?], as they do make up the bulk of any society.[citation needed]

Let's not forget the place of women in Indian society at that time, though. More likely than not,[weasel words] they had very little place in the public sphere, remaining instead bound to domestic life.[citation needed] If no one but other members of their family saw them, that probably[weasel words] made covering their bodies considerably less important.[citation needed]


Pedantic?

Do we really, honestly, need citation for, "people outside the upper class...make up the bulk of any society?"
While I don't think, "clothing that doesn't cover most of the body," is a good definition for underwear, I don't see the circularity.

The citation standards seem a little high.

Plants, generally[weasel words] require water to grow[citation needed]. The sky is blue[citation needed]. f=ma(Newton, 1729).

This forum became a peer-reviewed academic journal so gradually we hardly noticed.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:28 pm 
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su_liam wrote:
Pedantic?

The citation standards seem a little high.

This is Eddy we're talking about, if you don't demand he justify everything he'll manage to slip another excuse not to broaden his horizons through your fingers.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:46 pm 
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Eddy wrote:
Let's not forget the place of women in Indian society at that time, though. More likely than not, they had very little place in the public sphere, remaining instead bound to domestic life. If no one but other members of their family saw them, that probably made covering their bodies considerably less important. And quite honestly I feel tempted to characterize this regime of sexual and domestic servitude for women as primitive, certainly not a model for how the Terps would do things.

Well there was a discrepancy in right between men and women in most of the past two millenia in India but same goes for Europe, where married women had no rights to own property or divorce til the 19th-20th century. (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fwxLkRmd-4QC&pg=PT407&dq=women+europe+property+rights&hl=fr&ei=Vi9CTYq8CIvh4AabjvjwDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=women%20europe%20property%20rights&f=false) But India and Europe didn't have the same mores about clothes. So clearly it's nothing to do with "sexual servitude". Nudity isn't necessarily anything to do with sexuality.

Your hypothesis also doesn't make sense seeing as the most naked ones were Jains (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0K3G ... ng&f=false) who were also the biggest on women's rights (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cQz2 ... en&f=false)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:02 am 
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jmcd wrote:
Well there was a discrepancy in right between men and women in most of the past two millenia in India but same goes for Europe, where married women had no rights to own property or divorce til the 19th-20th century. (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fwxL ... ts&f=false) But India and Europe didn't have the same mores about clothes. So clearly it's nothing to do with "sexual servitude". Nudity isn't necessarily anything to do with sexuality.


I am not saying that Europe was a bonanza for sexual equality at the time. I'm sure they discouraged women from entering the public realm as well. But this expectation to remain domestic can take different forms depending on the specific cultural context. It would seem the purdah of India so thoroughly excluded women from the public that modest clothing became redundant. If no one but other women and the man of the house will ever see them anyway, they presumably don't need in this case to hide their bodies. The patriarchy of Europe happened to express itself in different ways that necessitated thicker clothing on women. Meanwhile the men in both societies could hardly have showed up for work dressed only in jewels.

Quote:
Your hypothesis also doesn't make sense seeing as the most naked ones were Jains (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0K3G ... ng&f=false) who were also the biggest on women's rights (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cQz2 ... en&f=false)


Not in the slightest. Nudity could simply have different meanings in different contexts (and these are very different contexts).

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:04 am 
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Although I don't want to get into the specifics of the debate here, I would like to interject a bit of my knowledge, particularly concerning East Asian culture and "modern"' East Asian culture.

My father was born in Vietnam, he also lived in Japan for several years, and has studied China to some degree, so he knows about East Asian culture more or less pretty well. According to him, in these cultures, "privacy" doesn't operate the same as it does in America. Basically, although people may have separate rooms, he has noticed that in East Asia, people generally are free to go into each other's rooms without that much interruption, whereas in America, people generally keep their room more off-limits to others except in certain situations or if the person in question is pretty close to the other. So I conclude here that just because you have separate rooms does not imply "true privacy" or whatever per se, since in East Asian cultures, you can still go into other people's rooms if the situation is appropriate.

I would also like to add that sometimes in East Asia, privacy is even more of a serious thing than it is in the West; for instance, I've heard that in Japan, people are somewhat unwilling to engage in sex - or even things like kissing or close embracing - in the comforts of their own home, or even in their own room, which is why Japan has the somewhat infamous Love Hotels where people can have sex, because you don't want to do it in your own home. Likewise, I've heard that in many East Asian cultures, parents will rarely display affection to each other in front of their kids, whereas in the West, it really isn't that big of a deal if your mom and dad hug each other or kiss each other on the cheek in front of you.

Likewise, another thing to consider is personal space. which varies a lot even across modernized cultures.

Anyhow, one might argue that parts of East Asia aren't as developed and "modernized" as elsewhere, and further that my father's life in Vietnam was mainly restricted to the earlier days of the Vietnam War, when Vietnam definitely wasn't really modernized, but I would like to counter that by saying two things: firstly, that my father came from an upper-class family in Vietnam (my grandfather was high up in the foreign ministry of South Vietnam), and they picked up quite a number of conventions and customs from the English and French; secondly, that Japan itself proves that a society can still be modernized, Westernized, and yet still reasonably unique. Especially in Japan, where politeness, modesty, and one's place in society matter quite a lot, one can see that they are, sometimes, entertain "more privacy" than Western, modern cultures, but, on the other hand, sometimes they also entertain "less privacy" as well.

Just my two cents.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:58 am 
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You know, Eddy, even if a particular set of modesty standards aren't universal you can still apply them to your conculture. If it's similar to an existing culture, at least people can't claim that it's unbelievable. You can always throw in little wildcards that kind of say, "Not America!"

Yeah, we have private sleeping rooms for adults. Mom and Dad sleep in their own rooms. The kids all sleep in dormitories with all the other kids in the cooperative. Bathrooms are multi-user without separate stalls. When children need privacy or when Mom and Dad need to get together romantically, the compound has many S&M rooms (Sex and Masturbation). Youths don't get private rooms until they take up apprenticeship. It's a bit unusual for kids to take up apprenticeship with their parent's cooperative, so this usually involves moving to a different compound.

There, that's not quite Saint Looie is it?

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:55 am 
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Eddy wrote:
[
@Neon Fox: I suppose by "underwear" I meant clothing that doesn't cover most of the body.


Then you should have said that. Nonetheless, Heian upper-class women considered hakama (nagabakama, really, but that's pedantic) and kosode to be underwear, so there's at least one counterexample. Another would be the Victorians, whose most basic underwear covered about 80% of the skin (shift, corset, pettipants, petticoat).

Quote:
I really don't know if your point about Heian women's fashion is really relevant since I somehow doubt the majority of peasant women worked in such impractically heavy clothing as you imply.


I'm sorry, I must have missed the part where we were only discussing "peasant" women. I thought we were talking about, you know, privacy and modesty. Also, do a web-search for "Flemish working woman's dress" to get an idea of what people actually did wear to work in. Last but not least, wanna make a guess about which part of her body a Heian lady would have covered first, if come upon actually naked? Hint: it's not below the waist...or even the neck.

Quote:
Not to dismiss your point,


Yet you did such a good job of it!

Quote:
but I generally try to take the experiences of people outside the upper class into account, as they do make up the bulk of any society.


Sure. However, trying to exclude the upper classes from a discussion of modesty and privacy is going to get you a lot less data, and in this context looks rather like moving the goalposts.

Quote:
I was wondering, more or less, if we could speak of cultural universals regarding privacy in much the same way we speak of linguistic universals. These universals would of course reflect social and economic contexts, making them conditional and nuanced in application.


When you get into culture, you're kind of screwed; by the time you're done conditioning and nuancing, you're left with nothing particularly useful. I think dunomapuka's list is about as specific as one can get.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:06 am 
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su_liam wrote:
You know, Eddy, even if a particular set of modesty standards aren't universal you can still apply them to your conculture. If it's similar to an existing culture, at least people can't claim that it's unbelievable. You can always throw in little wildcards that kind of say, "Not America!"

Yeah, we have private sleeping rooms for adults. Mom and Dad sleep in their own rooms. The kids all sleep in dormitories with all the other kids in the cooperative. Bathrooms are multi-user without separate stalls. When children need privacy or when Mom and Dad need to get together romantically, the compound has many S&M rooms (Sex and Masturbation). Youths don't get private rooms until they take up apprenticeship. It's a bit unusual for kids to take up apprenticeship with their parent's cooperative, so this usually involves moving to a different compound.

There, that's not quite Saint Looie is it?

Is this a conculture?

While we're on the subject of privacy, it pisses me off no end whenever my mum comes into my room, because it's my space and I like to have it separately. I try not to think about the fact that there are not quite enough rooms in the house (3 bedrooms, and 4 occupants, although my brother and sister are away) – so if my sister or I are away, she will sleep in one of our rooms. my sister's is bigger and has a double bed, but mine has a nicer view and is more cozy. So yeah. I'll always have more animated conversation with her if we're out or downstairs having dinner.

It's just the fact that I've been living on my own (well, in student flats and so on) for the past 5 years, so readjusting to living at home for a while is hard. It's not permanent, at least. There's also the fact that if I go to my dad's, I don't get my own bedroom (it's all a bit complicated, but he only has 3 bedrooms too, and while we don't actually live there, my brother and sister got a bedroom when I was away at university and only visited during the holidays, so if all three of us are there, I used to get landed with sleeping on a mattress downstairs, although my brother has graciously started being the one who sleeps on the sofa these days, since he's hardly here anymore and is used to sleeping in the forest. Normally, it's just me, and I get the double bed, but if my sister's there too, she gets that and I get the single bed in 'my brother's room'. 'My sister's room' is normally just my dad's spare room.), but my dad doesn't come in to ask me things all the time. But then, since I don't really have a bedroom, and the spare room is literally just a bed, rather than a bed and a desk and various piles of books and DVDs, like my own room, I don't spend time in it. The only time he comes in is to wake me up if I've actually asked him to, or it's getting ridiculously late, or I'm sleeping through my alarm clock. So I feel a bit less pressure when I'm there.

Annnnd as for underwear, I'm wearing socks, long johns, pants, and a T-shirt, all of which I would count as underwear (except arguably the T-shirt, which is underwear in the winter and overwear in the summer). With only these on, most of my body is covered; if you exclude the T-shirt, the lower half of my body is still covered. And the socks can be seen even when I've got overwear on too.

Overwear... is that a word? Well it is now.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:21 pm 
Smeric
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Eddy wrote:
jmcd wrote:
Well there was a discrepancy in right between men and women in most of the past two millenia in India but same goes for Europe, where married women had no rights to own property or divorce til the 19th-20th century. (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fwxL ... ts&f=false) But India and Europe didn't have the same mores about clothes. So clearly it's nothing to do with "sexual servitude". Nudity isn't necessarily anything to do with sexuality.


I am not saying that Europe was a bonanza for sexual equality at the time. I'm sure they discouraged women from entering the public realm as well. But this expectation to remain domestic can take different forms depending on the specific cultural context. It would seem the purdah of India so thoroughly excluded women from the public that modest clothing became redundant. If no one but other women and the man of the house will ever see them anyway, they presumably don't need in this case to hide their bodies. The patriarchy of Europe happened to express itself in different ways that necessitated thicker clothing on women. Meanwhile the men in both societies could hardly have showed up for work dressed only in jewels.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purdah wrote:
This takes two forms: physical segregation of the sexes, and the requirement for women to cover their bodies and conceal their form.


As shown in the link, purdah involves covering up the body i.e. wearing a significant amount of clothes. And from these books (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mZjQ ... ia&f=false, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=L5eF ... ss&f=false, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_bjm ... ss&f=false, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Z3pd ... ss&f=false), you can see that it was much more common among women of the Northwest of India and of upper classes. And that it didn't become widespread til the 15-16th centuries. Whereas the women going about topless we're talking throughout the history. In fact, as it says here (http://www.google.co.uk/search?tbm=bks& ... 1159cceab1),
David Levinson wrote:
Still, topless female dress sporadically occurs in minority communities in central and southern India and among the elder population in parts of the east and south.
So basically the areas where purdah was most common is the same areas where topless female dress is least common.

Um "showed up for work"? Most people in both would've been farmers and those that weren't still didn't necessarily have an employer as such. So, for most people, there was no employer to bother about dress code anyway.
Eddy wrote:
Quote:
Your hypothesis also doesn't make sense seeing as the most naked ones were Jains (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0K3G ... ng&f=false) who were also the biggest on women's rights (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cQz2 ... en&f=false)


Not in the slightest. Nudity could simply have different meanings in different contexts (and these are very different contexts).
I'm not sure how that follows on tbh.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:44 pm 
Smeric
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The nudist Jains traditionally believe that women cannot achieve salvation. I believe that they explain that they have to be reborn as men in order to achieve enlightenment. While that doesnt mean anything regarding "women's rights" it would be wrong to describe them as a forerunner of modern Feminism.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:18 pm 
Smeric
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Soap wrote:
The nudist Jains traditionally believe that women cannot achieve salvation. I believe that they explain that they have to be reborn as men in order to achieve enlightenment. While that doesnt mean anything regarding "women's rights" it would be wrong to describe them as a forerunner of modern Feminism.
This appears (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=l_Dd ... en&f=false) to be true what you say about the Digambar Jains. The increased women's rights of Jainism as compared to Brahmanic Hinduism includes for example the fact that women are allowed to be nuns. For salvation of women, there was Yapaniya Jainism and Svetambar Jainism (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0tX4 ... &q&f=false) and Bhakti Hinduism(http://www.google.co.uk/search?tbm=bks& ... des+livres, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5naG ... &q&f=false).


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:57 pm 
Smeric
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Soap wrote:
The nudist Jains traditionally believe that women cannot achieve salvation. I believe that they explain that they have to be reborn as men in order to achieve enlightenment. While that doesnt mean anything regarding "women's rights" it would be wrong to describe them as a forerunner of modern Feminism.


Thank you, Soap, for delivering some facts while also bolstering my point, if anything.

@jmcd: I will concede, first of all, that I know very little about India and so probably shouldn't be debating how to interpret its culture. However since this thread can't really proceed unless I respond, I can only give it my best shot. It sounds like we are really debating whether people living in a civilized (in the sense of having cities and agriculture and so forth) society can go about their business wearing scarcely more clothing than their hunter-gatherer fore-bearers. My intuition suggests against it for some reason, maybe because as dunomapuka suggests, settled people just wear more clothes. The example of the Indians provides a possible counterexample, but I don't know enough about them to say.

@Neon Fox: I try not to focus on what the upper class does because by definition it makes up a small minority of any society and its activities don't reflect those of society at large. Nobles don't have to worry about manual labor or the practical difficulties of maintaining a house and expensive clothing. And quite honestly, I don't share Viktor's fascination with the lives of the rich in the slightest.


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