I recently came across a podcast that addressed the issue of why men have nipples. In a nutshell it’s because nipple development is non-sexual and male and female mammals have all the same equipment. There are only slight changes in chemical stimulation during puberty and pregnancy. In fact, men can even lactate.
That got me to thinking about the issue of “covering one’s nudity”.
If, technically, men’s nipples are the same as women’s nipples, why are women in our society required to cover theirs but men are not? Why is it that many primitive societies don’t really care either way? What happened in our distant cultural past to make this a big deal?
Is it a size issue? No, because there are some men who have bigger ‘manneries’ than some flatter-chested women.
Is it a sexual issue? I suspect that breasts have only gained sexual status in our culture because of the fact that they’re hidden rather than the other way around. I would imagine a breast in an African tribe would hold the same attraction as a calf or thigh.
Is it a vanity or jealousy issue? Could be. Breasts would be a good indicator of age and I could well imagine older women covering theirs to hide their age and so increase their attractiveness.
Is it Freudian? Perhaps. But, once again, it’s likely to become Freudian only in cultures that cover them in the first place.
Is it religious? The Quran specifically demands (in Sura 24:31) that women cover their breasts but I’m not aware of anywhere in the Bible that does.
In Arab cultures where women are required to cover just about everything do the men also have stricter rules? Is it acceptable for an Arabian man to show his nipples?
Lots of questions and not enough answers. I don’t even want to start on genital nudity.