One of the odd things about the United States is the commonly accepted norms of modesty. Large numbers feel it sinful for a female breast to be seen, even if on a marble statue from ancient Greece. I wonder how this concept developed.

Near our apartment in Jakarta it was common to see people relieving themselves in a river while a few feet away other people were doing their laundry or even drawing water for cooking or drinking. In Tehran in the summer time, people who can typically sleep on the roof – and enjoy sex in the open air. In Sri Lanka and many other countries the only places for most people to bathe are streams or lakes – and they get pretty naked – or at least exposed through a wet sarong - in the process.

In Lier, a new style automated public pay toilet next to a modern open air urinal on a public street.
In Belgium, it is common to see men urinating in public. And it is common for women to have to walk by a urinal to get to the toilet stall.

Until the last couple of centuries, few people had private bedrooms. And there were no such things as bathrooms. Even today, probably a majority of the world’s families live in one room. Where bathing was considered desirable, there was no way to do it in private. Even kings and queens often had other people in their bedrooms through the night AND morning constitutional. In the past for virtually all, and for most today, the concept of modesty was/is simply no option. There was, and is, no option to seeing all sorts of body parts, and all sorts of bodily functions at work.

That a good part of the American people is now taught that the (for example) female breast should never to be seen in public is both curious and sad.

And it is sad. Take for example the minister of some sort who wrote to the Miami Herald in 1999 that his Florida vacation was absolutely RUINED because he saw a bare breast on the beach. Or the father who demanded that the school bus route be changed because it passed a copy of a Greek statue of a male. He also claimed to be a Christian. Why do these Christians find God’s creations so terrible?

last update 9 December 2000

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