Why wear clothes?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Thoreau, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

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    Ok, granted there are obvious answers for this question, such as "to keep warm, protect us from the weather" etc etc. But this question has more to do with the sexuality aspect of it. At what point in time did it become frowned upon to not cover yourself with garments? After all, we are the only species that do this. But why?

    I'm not looking for a response based in morality, but rather looking for any scientific data or studies on this.
     
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  3. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    How about a simple answer like this:

    People don't want to see other peoples' loose, hanging balls when they go to buy a soda
     
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  5. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    One possibility is it started when man started to lose body hair. After all if you look unhealthy no mate would want you, so you'd hide your hair loss through the use of garments. That would of course be the days when women were attracted to hairy men and hairy men to hairy women.
     
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  7. superstring01 Moderator

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    Besides the mechanics of the issue (I like a little support and get chafed when I don't wear boxer-briefs during extended runs, at work, etc.). You hit upon one of the core truths. Who wants to see saggy boobies, hairy nut-sacks?

    ~String
     
  8. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

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    The rest of the world doesn't have a problem with it, why do we?
     
  9. superstring01 Moderator

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    Yes they do. Pubic hair is an offense in the far east (especially Japan). Any flesh showing in the Subcontinent and Mideast will get you jailed (or committed... pray for the committed part if you get caught). That's more than two billion right there. Crotch covering is the norm EVERYWHERE on Earth. Europe has no issue with breasts, but try walking through town with your Franken Berries hanging out. You won't get arrested, but you will get a lot of stares and laughs. There are nude beaches there, but we have them in the USA too. You don't get more liberal/unrestricted than Spain (where I lived): nudity on TV, nude beaches, gay marriage, no drinking age and free condoms in school, but NOBODY but the odd hippies ever went to the nude beaches in dress code. Every friend I had scoffed at the notion of nudity outside of sunshine for las tetas (they don't have the boob obsession we do in the USA)

    ~String
     
  10. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    I have to agree with string here, apart from the odd tribe here and there, on the whole the human species is conform to wearing clothes.
     
  11. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

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    I should have rephrased my original question... The rest of the world does not have a problem with it other than humans, so why do we as human have a problem with it?
     
  12. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    On the whole we don't look at other creatures and have sexuality come up. Besides it's usually out of view.
     
  13. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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  14. superstring01 Moderator

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    Self awareness.

    There's a wise metaphor in the Creation myth of the bible about eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you look deeper into the story, you'll notice the bit about becoming self aware, suddenly knowing our "vulnerabilities" and needing to hide them from those around us. Even apes and dogs instinctively protect their balls while attacking those of whatever animal they are fighting. Why? Because they are sensitive, and--well--they're pretty important.

    As intelligent apes, we are aware of the importance of reproduction. Our essential organic purpose is to reproduce. The position of our reproductive organs (especially as men since ours are exterior) is a HUGE vulnerability and are usually needing of some protection against snags, snaps, snake bites and attacks. Cloths accomplish this. As male's and, still, the dominant gender (by way of politics) we influence rules on clothing more than females (cover our nuggets for protection, cover our women to keep other men from lusting after them). Our organs are a cornerstone of our psychology. Their function, use, production capability, size and shape occupy a large chunk of our waking thoughts and thus are a potential physical and psychological weakness if exposed for all the world to see.

    Factor in our shifting weather patterns (too much sun in the desert, too little in the north) and you get why we cover larger portions of our bodies. This creates social norms which we learn as children and adopt as psychological patterns.

    ~String
     
  15. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    A little off topic question I've always wondered about...God told Adam and eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil....but since they had no knowledge of good or evil before that, how would they have known it was wrong to disobey God? Just wonderin'

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  16. superstring01 Moderator

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    That's why it's a myth!

    ~String
     
  17. Betrayer0fHope MY COHERENCE! IT'S GOING AWAYY Registered Senior Member

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    Pubic hair is an offense in Japan? Sources, please. I hardly ever ask for them.

    Clothes? Hmm, well, if I'm allowed to guess with no knowledge on the subject, I'd simply assume that because of those reasons given in the OP, along with cleanliness, people wore "clothing", or simply pieces of material around them and after a while, it was considered unclean to not wear clothing. After that, anyone not wearing clothing would be frowned upon, so everyone wore clothing. After that, people wanted to see people without clothing. And that's where we are 200 years ago. Nowadays, we seem to recognize that clothing is not necessary in every social setting.
     
  18. superstring01 Moderator

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  19. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    It looks like there are many answers to both when and why.


    Latest research on the when, driven by observation of the molecular clocks of lice

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    :

    NY Times, viewed 08:48 PM EST on 07/01/09
    In Lice, Clues to Human Origin and Attire
    ...
    But loss of body hair could have begun earlier, and Dr. Reed’s result suggests a time for when people first became naked.

    If people first became nudists 3.3 million years ago, when did they start to wear clothes? Surprisingly, lice once again furnish the answer. Though humans may long have worn loose garments like animal skin cloaks, the first tailored clothing would have been close-fitting enough to tempt the head louse to expand its territory. It evolved a new variety, the body louse, with claws adapted for clinging to fabric, not hairs.

    In 2003, Mark Stoneking, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, estimated from DNA differences that the body louse evolved from the head louse about 107,000 years ago. The first sewn clothes were presumably made shortly before this time.
    ...


    Another article on the same subject, slightly differing timeframes:

    BBC, viewed 08:48 PM EST on 07/01/09
    Head lice key to clothing history
    By Kat Arney

    An evolutionary comparison of human head and body lice has shed light on the history of clothing.
    ...
    Margin of error
    The calculation that clothing appeared about 72,000 years ago points towards it being a relatively new invention, given that Homo sapiens has probably been around for less than 200,000 years.

    "A large time window is inevitable with any molecular clock approach to dating, but even if you take the extremes of the range, the result still associates clothing specifically with modern humans," said Dr Stoneking.
    ...


    One man's opinion on the why:
    ANU ScienceWise Magazine By Simon Couper, viewed 08:48 PM EST on 07/01/09

    Monday, 01 September 2008
    Australia and New Zealand

    For Ian Gilligan, clothing is a fascination that goes beyond the fripperies of fashion.
    Ask Ian Gilligan about his research project, and he’ll begin with a contradiction.
    ...
    “It’s a large part of what distinguishes modern-day humanity from everything else.”
    In addition to distinguishing humans from other things, Gilligan argues that clothing separates humans from our environment and from our physical selves.

    These ideas of separation have implications for how we think about ourselves in relation to other things, but also in how our bodies interact with the world.

    “Over the last five to 10 thousand years there has been a lot of enormously big changes in the way humans live,” Gilligan says.

    “Most of our so-called civilised behaviour is now independent of clothing. We’ve fabricated a whole artificial environment, which is a kind of externalised clothing. Many aspects of modern existence insulate us from the outside natural world.”
    ...
    “We can’t assume that we’re all that different from pre-modern humans. The advantage of that perspective from prehistory is that it raises the question: if clothing is a natural consequence of us being modern biologically, why didn’t it happen earlier and more universally in modern humans.

    “Anthropology also shows us that some groups of modern humans were happy to wear nothing unless they were cold, which suggests we didn’t invent clothes in the first place for decorative or social purposes. Aboriginal Australians are a prime example of this.
    ...
    One consequence of this late movement towards complex clothing, Gilligan argues, was the otherwise mysterious disappearance of the Neanderthals just before the peak of the last ice age.

    Homo sapiens, meanwhile, appear to have flourished in large part thanks to the invention of clothing.



    Wiki on the why:
    Wiki, viewed 08:48 PM EST on 07/01/09
    Summary
    A feature of nearly all human societies is the wearing of clothing or clothes, a category encompassing a wide variety of materials that cover the body. The primary purpose of clothing is functional, as a protection from the elements. Clothes enhance safety during activity by providing a barrier between the skin and the environment. Clothing also acts as a hygenic barrier, keeping toxins away from the body and limiting the transmission of bacteria and viruses. Outside of their purely functional purpose, clothes often play an important social and cultural role. Most socieities develop norms about modesty, religious practices, behavioral appropriateness, social status, and even political affiliations in which clothes play an important role. Finally, clothing functions as a form of adornment and an expression of personal taste or style.

    Functions of clothing
    One of the primary purposes of clothing is to keep the wearer warm or in some cases cool. In hot climates this function is minimal, while in very cold climates it is more important.
    ...
    Clothing at times is worn as protection from specific environmental hazards, such as insects, noxious chemicals, [etc.]

    Gender differentiation
    In most cultures, gender differentiation of clothing are considered appropriate for men and women. The differences are in styles, colors and fabrics.

    In Western societies, skirts and dresses and high-heeled shoes are usually seen as women's clothing, while neckties are usually seen as men's clothing. Trousers were once seen as exclusively male clothing, but are nowadays worn by both sexes. Male clothes are often more practical (that is, they can function well under a wide variety of situations), but a wider range of clothing styles is available for females. Males are typically allowed to bare their chests in a greater variety of public places. It is generally acceptable for a woman to wear traditionally male clothing, while the converse is unusual.
    ...

    Religious aspects
    Religious clothing might be considered a special case of occupational clothing. Sometimes it is worn only during the performance of religious ceremonies. However, it may also be worn everyday as a marker for special religious status.
    ...
    The cleanliness of religious dresses in Eastern Religions like Hinduism,Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism is of paramount importance, which indicates purity.


    So we can all form our own opinion on why people wear clothes, and we're probably all correct, at least in part. Humans are diverse creatures and their behavior can be explained by diverse reasons.
    At least we can all be right on this topic!

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  20. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    here is a good question, are we actually reducing male fertility by being constantly covered up?

    Sperm (especially xy sperm) is highly sensitive to heat which is why you shouldnt wear underpants to bed. Testicals have a natural heat regulator (ie they hang lower in hot weather and draw up higher when its cold) and we are interfearing with that (especially in summer) by wearing tight clothing
     
  21. superstring01 Moderator

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    Human fertility is not a pressing issue, especially considering that our population will cross seven billion by 2012.

    ~String
     
  22. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    What people do and don't want to see is a cultural issue.
    Wanting to not see genitals is a result of the universal wearing of clothes, not the cause.
    Similarly for the relationship of sexuality and nudity - it's an artificial cultural relationship, not a hardwired part of human psychology.
     
  23. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    on a world wide scale i agree with you but on an indervidual level (ie a couple who are trying and failing to get pregnant) im sure it IS a valid issue. Not to mention that if it kills sperm it could also cause mutations and there for disabilities amongst the population (you DO realise the statistical likyhood of early male death from misscarage right up through the age groups dont you?)
     

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