Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nudity is Free

By Chip Tsao | published Apr 09, 2009

I was told there used to be a nudist beach in Hong Kong frequented only by foreigners in the old colonial days. Compared with investing $26 billion in the white elephant project known as the West Kowloon cultural district, ceding a remote island to nudists today would cost almost nothing. But the government would be too scared to trigger another round of moral debate, fearing that setting up a nudist beach would attract thousands of complaints.

The reason is that in Chinese language, there is only one word for both “nudity” and “nakedness”.

In English, “nude” is always associated with paintings by Picasso or Renoir—a nude is an object of natural beauty created by God to be admired and appreciated in the light of art. Being “naked,” on the other hand, usually refers to a mere physical state in the bathroom or bedroom. Voyeurs look for nakedness, while life painting depicts nudity. But the Chinese word for both nudity and nakedness always bears pornographic connotations. It’s a word meant to trigger guilt in us from when we learn it in primary school. This is where the confusion and the taboo come from.

But there is a huge market for Chinese nudists nowadays. As Orientals, we Chinese have smoother skin that enables us to proudly exhibit our bodies right into our 60s without fear of looking like an old shabby turkey. Nudity is a statement of freedom, which can hardly be expressed in other alternative ways in China. Give us a remote island and let the nudists sort out themselves—backpackers from Shanghai, Manchuria, Sichuan or inner-Mongolia could implement a personal open policy here. It would soon flourish with nude bars and nude hotels.

If Hong Kong hesitates, China will do it sooner or later.

Promoting the culture of nudity would benefit gym enterprises like California Fitness. Hong Kong paparazzi will have a great time. Any potential candidate for the next chief executive could briefly appear on the nudist beach to signal their ambition with political muscles, like the late Chairman Mao, who took a dip in the Yangtze River on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. It was the first time the Chinese hailed the sight of the half-naked great leader floating on the current like a drifting slab of pork, before we realized that it was a coded message for the purge of his political rival, the vice-chairman Liu Shaoqi, who was to be branded as a counter-revolutionary. Just think of the excitement that would ensue when John Tsang, Henry Tang and Leung Chun-ying race to the beach like the scene of a 19th Century post-impressionist French landscape painting, and let the housewives take a vote.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home