COMMENT

New Zealand, we need to talk.

For such a progressive country - first to split the atom and all that - we've still got some pretty archaic views on things.

This week alone, we've had headlines about a mum being asked to cover up while breastfeeding her child and a family shocked after spotting a group of naked swimmers in a public reserve.

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Why are we so hung up on the unclothed human body?

Does any major trauma come from seeing a stranger's intimate body parts?

If the answer is yes, you've really got to start asking yourself why.

The woman who spotted the naked swimmers in Taupō said she was "horrified" at the sight.

We need to get horrified at horrific things - and there's no shortage of those around. Get horrified about child cancer, sexual abuse, climate change and the threat of deadly pandemics.

Nipples and penises should be the least of your worries right now.

"But won't someone think of the children?" I hear the Karens wonder in the deepest recesses of Facebook.

Yeah, Karen, I'm thinking of the children. The children who are soon going to be adults and grow up with some really messed up views of what bodies look like, if we keep restricting them to the bodies they see on porn sites or in fashion magazines.

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I'm not suggesting we turn New Zealand into a nudist's paradise but we could be a bit more open to it - for our own benefit.

This repressed and archaic view of the human body as something to be hidden and ashamed of is nothing if not a form of oppression - and there are far too many people going along with it without questioning it.

Ask yourself: why do you have such a big issue with seeing people naked?

"It's just not right" and "it's not the done thing" are not good enough answers.

You've been predisposed to think bodies need to be hidden and nakedness is wrong - but here's the good news: you can change that way of thinking and absolutely nothing bad at all will happen. Your children will not grow up to be depraved - if anything, they might just grow up more confident and empowered - and isn't that a risk worth taking?

Besides, you're getting upset at the wrong thing. The problem is not nudity. The problem is the over-sexualisation of the human body, which leads to all kinds of issues. But a non-sexualised naked body - and I think we can all agree there's nothing "sexual" about breastfeeding a child or going for a swim on a hot summer's day - should not be a cause for concern, yet it all gets dumped in the same "lewdness" basket.

In fact, "normalising" the regular human body can be a really good thing. If our children are to grow up with healthy views of what a normal human body is, we need to shed these archaic taboos.

If your child sees someone naked, they will have natural questions. It is part of your duty as a parent to ensure you address these properly. It gives you a golden opportunity to talk to them about things like boundaries, consent and respect for others.

The human body is not immoral - stop making it so.

Consider this: some kind of freak accident on the road leaves a victim lying on the ground, covered in blood. Her clothes somehow rip in the accident and intimate body parts are showing. Are you going to complain? Are you going to feel offended? Why not? Because you know there was no intent to offend so you don't take offence.

The same principle applies to any other situation where people are, you know, minding their own business, clothed or not. The only appropriate response is to mind your own business too.

The bottom line is: if you're getting your knickers in a twist, maybe the knickers are the problem.