There is so much visual documentation of communal male nudity in the middle of last century and it being so completely relaxed and comfortable. There are entire books full of wartime groups of men in their down time that show some guys nude, others not and none of it being an issue.

I wonder if more recently part of people’s reluctance is the fact that the internet has come along and images just don’t go away these days? Having said that, all those vintage photos are now scanned and online anyway, it’s just that the men in them aren’t here any more or they are too old to give a rats arse about it. A straight nudie friend sometimes gets nervous on the nude beach for fear that people are taking photos with their phones so he may or may not strip off.

Another theory that I’ve floated at times is the visibility of gay men in society. Gay men have been much more visible and open for a few decades now but acceptance has been further behind and we all know that a lot of straight men feel very threathened by the fact that gay men may objectify them the way they do women so they may remain more modest for that reason.

Whatever the cause, it’s a shame that people are so wary of being seen nude. This vintage video of a bunch of naked men in a sauna, running out into a plunge pool and to roll in the snow from 1947 shows just how natural it was for men to be nude together at the time. I love it.

Sauna (1947), vintage Newscast-SD from javu on Vimeo.