28 votes

Why we need to bring back the art of communal bathing

40 comments

  1. [22]
    Loire
    Link
    This may be one of the most... interesting... solutions to urban isolation I have read in quite some time. And while the effort is admirable, the author makes quite a few leaps in order to prove...

    This may be one of the most... interesting... solutions to urban isolation I have read in quite some time. And while the effort is admirable, the author makes quite a few leaps in order to prove communal nudity is the necessary step in improving our quality of life and solving all societal woes (to the point of suggesting it could help with global warming! Buzz)

    The bathhouses of the future, by reinventing the historical social functions of their ancient originals and combining their most attractive aspects to build a new model, would compensate for the erosion of public spaces elsewhere. They could serve as libraries or performance spaces, or host philosophical debates or chess championships: they might, like the Moroccan hammam, have gardens, allotments or other green spaces, to bring urban dwellers in touch with plants, flowers and animals.

    Perhaps we should just reverse the erosion of public spaces, instead of thinking one will cover all the the others we've lost. I don't know, perhaps I am secretly a puritan, but I don't need my library to have naked people running around one room over. Lets build public gardens, theatres, debate halls, and libraries, and... If somehow necessary, bathhouses. We do not need one public space to rule them all.

    It’s churlish

    Mmm, yes quite.

    19 votes
    1. [20]
      Heichou
      Link Parent
      I don't know that adding another option to hang out socially would convince people who wouldn't normally go out, to go out again. Personally, if I had to choose between staying home and being...

      I don't know that adding another option to hang out socially would convince people who wouldn't normally go out, to go out again. Personally, if I had to choose between staying home and being naked in front of strangers, I'd choose staying home every time. I like the author's passion, but I don't share a passion for exposing myself for the greater societal good

      14 votes
      1. [7]
        Loire
        Link Parent
        But in this scenario you would also have strangers scrubbing you and touching you. Doesn't that make it all better?

        But in this scenario you would also have strangers scrubbing you and touching you. Doesn't that make it all better?

        3 votes
        1. [6]
          nur
          Link Parent
          I don't think they were implying that communal bathhouses should necessarily replace other public spaces or that they're the solution, just that they could serve well for housing pluralities of...

          I don't think they were implying that communal bathhouses should necessarily replace other public spaces or that they're the solution, just that they could serve well for housing pluralities of public functions by virtue of them having a more intimate character, which other places lack.

          I don't know where you're getting the idea that strangers would be violating your personal space but that's not what happens in bathhouses.

          6 votes
          1. [5]
            Loire
            Link Parent
            Emphasis mine. Written within the context of "Bathhouses will renormalise our views of body diversity and positivity" that authors intention is fairly clear irregardless of what occurs in...

            Directly experiencing other real bodies, touching and smelling them, is also an important way of understanding our own bodies

            Emphasis mine.

            Written within the context of "Bathhouses will renormalise our views of body diversity and positivity" that authors intention is fairly clear irregardless of what occurs in contemporary bathhouses.

            2 votes
            1. [4]
              nur
              Link Parent
              Yeah and I'm with them that on that line of thinking, but that's not to say that normal ethical boundaries shouldn't still apply. Do you disagree with the quote or is the practicality of getting...

              Yeah and I'm with them that on that line of thinking, but that's not to say that normal ethical boundaries shouldn't still apply. Do you disagree with the quote or is the practicality of getting to point where that happens naturally and well what puts you off?

              3 votes
              1. [3]
                Loire
                Link Parent
                I find it interesting you are questioning my off handed reply to someone's introverted nature rather than the original reply which had actual meat to dissect. First and foremost I disagree with...

                I find it interesting you are questioning my off handed reply to someone's introverted nature rather than the original reply which had actual meat to dissect.

                First and foremost I disagree with the hypothesis that communal bathing is "a near universal trait among our species". Cultural preponderance for bathhouses and their local equivalent is not the same as a trait common to the entire human race.

                But with that said, I am by no means opposed to a growth in communal bathing's popularity, I am simply questioning the authors airy statements that the activity will combat everything from urban isolation (loneliness, apathy, depression), global warming, body image issues, and the erosion of public spaces. Yes, jokes about getting naked are reductionist, but the author writes as if being naked in the presence of other human beings is a magic bullet to societal ills.

                4 votes
                1. [2]
                  nur
                  Link Parent
                  Sorry, I knew that comment was off-handed but I made it sound like I was taking focus with the comment itself than your original post. To expand on my first comment, I don't think article should...

                  I find it interesting you are questioning my off handed reply to someone's introverted nature rather than the original reply which had actual meat to dissect.

                  Sorry, I knew that comment was off-handed but I made it sound like I was taking focus with the comment itself than your original post.

                  To expand on my first comment, I don't think article should be read as strongly arguing bathhouses' importance as cure-all. Maybe I'm just excusing the strong language because it sounds like journalistic trope writing rather than an explicit argument, but I think the sentiment behind it is well worth repeating. Any more attention we can give to dissolving unnecessary barriers from individualist consumer ideology to puritanism is a good in my book, at least when it comes to general online forums like this where so much apolitical content is competing. You obviously don't take issue with the general idea itself though, so I guess it's just the level of importance that we're giving differently that I find interesting.

                  3 votes
                  1. Loire
                    Link Parent
                    I can appreciate the general sentiment, specifically: However, I often do read literally, and perhaps that a flaw, however, I can't bring myself to understand the author's writing as not...

                    I can appreciate the general sentiment, specifically:

                    Any more attention we can give to dissolving unnecessary barriers from individualist consumer ideology to puritanism is a good in my book

                    However, I often do read literally, and perhaps that a flaw, however, I can't bring myself to understand the author's writing as not explicitly arguing in favour of bathhouses specifically. If it is a general treatise on breaking down social barriers and bringing people together, why bathhouses? Why did he skip any sort of rumination on the general issue of social isolation? Why so many specific arguments suggesting public bathing is the solution.

                    1 vote
      2. [7]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        This is mostly cultural conditioning though. In Japan and Korea there is more cultural openness around nudity and people are much more comfortable disrobing. Even generationally in the US older...

        This is mostly cultural conditioning though. In Japan and Korea there is more cultural openness around nudity and people are much more comfortable disrobing.

        Even generationally in the US older men at the gym locker room are generally much more comfortable walking around in same sex company letting themselves hang out. They grew up with communal showers in school.

        If you were acculturated in a place where this wasn’t weird, you wouldn’t be uncomfortable about it.

        1 vote
        1. CALICO
          Link Parent
          It's not all that hard to acclimate either. Having been through Basic Training, showers were only weird for like, 2 days, and then most of us were over it and didn't really give a shit.

          It's not all that hard to acclimate either. Having been through Basic Training, showers were only weird for like, 2 days, and then most of us were over it and didn't really give a shit.

          6 votes
        2. [5]
          Heichou
          Link Parent
          Well sure, if I had spent my 21 years in a culture where bathhouses were prominent, I'm sure I wouldn't have an issue. But that isn't the case, so I take particular exception to being naked in...

          Well sure, if I had spent my 21 years in a culture where bathhouses were prominent, I'm sure I wouldn't have an issue.

          But that isn't the case, so I take particular exception to being naked in front of people. I've got an aversion to just being shirtless in front of even family, so being naked around people isn't my idea of a good or constructive time

          1 vote
          1. [4]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Yeah but the point is you’d get over it once you do it a few times. It honestly seems strange to me that people might think feeling self-conscious about incidental partial nudity is a more...

            Yeah but the point is you’d get over it once you do it a few times.

            It honestly seems strange to me that people might think feeling self-conscious about incidental partial nudity is a more “normal” way to be. That seems like a hangup that it would be worth it to work through no?

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              Heichou
              Link Parent
              Note that I never stated that how I feel is what I think should be the norm. I simply stated that, for people who are too anxious to go out to the library or other social gathering areas,...

              Note that I never stated that how I feel is what I think should be the norm. I simply stated that, for people who are too anxious to go out to the library or other social gathering areas, bathhouses popping up wouldn't really incentivize them to go out either. I don't think there's any benefit to being naked in front of people beyond some arbitrary notion that it makes us feel closer "as a society".

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                NaraVara
                Link Parent
                Sure it would. Lots of people go to public pools, rec centers, and beaches. And these are all underinvested in every bit as much as libraries and other non-commercial social gathering areas are....

                I simply stated that, for people who are too anxious to go out to the library or other social gathering areas, bathhouses popping up wouldn't really incentivize them to go out either.

                Sure it would. Lots of people go to public pools, rec centers, and beaches. And these are all underinvested in every bit as much as libraries and other non-commercial social gathering areas are. Even the beaches are, increasingly, privatized.

                1. Heichou
                  Link Parent
                  All I've stated was my opinion so far on whether I'd (being somebody who doesn't go out often) appreciate an amenity like bathhouses. It's okay for you to disagree but I'm not about to debate with...

                  All I've stated was my opinion so far on whether I'd (being somebody who doesn't go out often) appreciate an amenity like bathhouses. It's okay for you to disagree but I'm not about to debate with you on whether my feelings are valid or not

                  2 votes
      3. [5]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        The point of public bathing is that you don't really have a choice. You don't have a private bathroom at home; the only bathing facilities available to you are at the public bathhouse on the...

        Personally, if I had to choose between staying home and being naked in front of strangers, I'd choose staying home every time.

        The point of public bathing is that you don't really have a choice. You don't have a private bathroom at home; the only bathing facilities available to you are at the public bathhouse on the corner of your street. It's not an option, it's a regular part of your life that you walk down the street to wash yourself in the company of others.

        1 vote
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          In Roman times yeah, but not really today. People have their own bathrooms in Japan and Korea, but the Onsen/Spa culture is still there. It’s just a more luxe version, and people go explicitly to...

          In Roman times yeah, but not really today. People have their own bathrooms in Japan and Korea, but the Onsen/Spa culture is still there. It’s just a more luxe version, and people go explicitly to socialize.

          2 votes
        2. [3]
          Heichou
          Link Parent
          Yes, and were that the case, I wouldn't have an issue, because I'd have been born into it. But it isn't the case, so I do have an issue with it. You'd be extremely hard pressed to find living...

          Yes, and were that the case, I wouldn't have an issue, because I'd have been born into it. But it isn't the case, so I do have an issue with it. You'd be extremely hard pressed to find living spaces in first world countries that aren't equipped with showers/baths by default. I'm aware of how the concept would appear if I were used to it already

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            If you can get used to one way of bathing, you can get used to other ways of bathing. Humans are adaptable.

            If you can get used to one way of bathing, you can get used to other ways of bathing. Humans are adaptable.

    2. jwong
      Link Parent
      I think a big piece that I agree with is the intentionalism of bathing. I’d certainly like the communal aspects but haven’t had much of a chance to try it with friends. The last time I took a...

      I think a big piece that I agree with is the intentionalism of bathing. I’d certainly like the communal aspects but haven’t had much of a chance to try it with friends.

      The last time I took a communal bath during the winter though, it was really a nice feeling to walk out of a hot bath and back to my accommodation in the brisk cold air. Also given that it was late at night, it felt really relaxing to have that quiet moment where my phone wasn’t available, and I just enjoyed my thoughts - a very calming way to end the day.

      Maybe I’ll start doing this kind of bath more often to help me close my evenings.

      2 votes
  2. [7]
    bbvnvlt
    Link
    I recently started going to the sauna. Me and my partner with some friends. It's remarkable how not-strange and refreshing it is to be normal about nudity outside a sexual context. And enjoying...

    I recently started going to the sauna. Me and my partner with some friends. It's remarkable how not-strange and refreshing it is to be normal about nudity outside a sexual context. And enjoying (again, non-sexual) bodily pleasure together does make for an experience qualitatively different from going to a bar, movie, out for dinner, a walk, or whatever.

    Seeing a parade of actual naked bodies is also a great antidote for unrealistic ideas about beaty/a skewed body image.

    One thing we noticed is a stark difference between local visitors (we're Dutch) and anglo/American expats. They quickly cover themselves whenever possible while we and other Dutch just walk around with the towel over our shoulder or something.

    11 votes
    1. [4]
      SunSpotter
      Link Parent
      I've had similar experiences by bathing in local hot springs. Lot's of people go out to those naked, and don't seem to care at all. I know several people who turned up their nose at the idea, but...

      I've had similar experiences by bathing in local hot springs. Lot's of people go out to those naked, and don't seem to care at all. I know several people who turned up their nose at the idea, but honestly I've enjoyed the occasions I've done it. The mix of interesting characters, natural scenery, and stark but casual nudity makes for a surreal experience.

      As to your last statement, I have a few thoughts on why we (Americans) are like this. Before I begin though, I believe that it varies a lot by family. I know some people whose families treat nudity as no big deal, and I've met others that treat it with embarrassment, similar to what you have seen. I could take a few guesses as to why particular families may or may not treat nudity in a certain way, but it's probably more helpful (and more accurate) to look at it from a broader perspective.

      American history and culture is deeply rooted in conservative Protestantism. Being raised in that kind of environment, and learning about the history of these movements, I can tell you that Protestantism has and still does generally view nudity as "sinful", and even uses the story of Adam and Eve to further that viewpoint. That on it's own is enough to create a taboo. But I would guess that the strong sexual themes in our media contrast with these old cultural values, and only make the subject more embarrassing and confusing for most people.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        It does, but I feel like there is getting to be more social pressure against family nudity. I remember watching a public showing of “My Neighbor Totoro” and tons of people around me were saying...

        As to your last statement, I have a few thoughts on why we (Americans) are like this. Before I begin though, I believe that it varies a lot by family.

        It does, but I feel like there is getting to be more social pressure against family nudity. I remember watching a public showing of “My Neighbor Totoro” and tons of people around me were saying the bathing scene between the father and the two daughters was incestuous.

        There was even a Dear Purdie column where a woman wrote in about how she was uncomfortable with her husband walking from the bathroom to their bedroom/dressing room without covering himself. The advice columnist reacted very strongly, implied the father might be a pedophile, and suggested that the mother should take steps to separate from the father and take the kid.

        It seemed like a major overreaction to me, but I was a tiny minority among my friends who felt this way, and about the only ones who agreed we’re people who had lived outside North America.

        5 votes
        1. bbvnvlt
          Link Parent
          That is insane :-/

          The advice columnist reacted very strongly, implied the father might be a pedophile, and suggested that the mother should take steps to separate from the father and take the kid.

          That is insane :-/

          2 votes
      2. bbvnvlt
        Link Parent
        Partly due to protestant Dutch settlers ;). [1] We're a little bit split: North is more protestant (as is the Dutch Monarchy, 'Dutch reformed'), South is more catholic (occupied by the Spanish a...

        American history and culture is deeply rooted in conservative Protestantism.

        Partly due to protestant Dutch settlers ;). [1]

        We're a little bit split: North is more protestant (as is the Dutch Monarchy, 'Dutch reformed'), South is more catholic (occupied by the Spanish a bit longer than the rest way back when). I can't say whether this still translates to a split in levels of prudishness, though.

        [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Protestantism_in_the_United_States

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      Its an interesting cultural quirk because a significant number of anglo's will happily walk around the dressing room (gym/pool) completely naked, regardless of the number of other people in that...

      One thing we noticed is a stark difference between local visitors (we're Dutch) and anglo/American expats. They quickly cover themselves whenever possible while we and other Dutch just walk around with the towel over our shoulder or something.

      Its an interesting cultural quirk because a significant number of anglo's will happily walk around the dressing room (gym/pool) completely naked, regardless of the number of other people in that room.

      Where does the prudishness begin? Outside? With children/the opposite sex around?

      3 votes
      1. CALICO
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        It's really only vaguely related to your comment, but I'm frequently baffled and amused at how people in general and America in particular is weird about nudity. For most of our history, clothes...

        It's really only vaguely related to your comment, but I'm frequently baffled and amused at how people in general and America in particular is weird about nudity. For most of our history, clothes didn't exist and for the most part neither did the the concept of privacy. Unless our ancestors lived in a climate or context necessitating protective clothing like animal skins, we didn't really wear anything. Humans are just another animal, and nakedness is the norm not the exception. It's difficult to say when clothing became the norm, and in temperate areas it probably caught on as a cultural adornment or display of status thing at first. But even then, nudity being associated with shame is surely a cultural or societal trait more than something ingrained in our DNA, and is fairly recent on an evolutionary timescale. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense if one thinks about it for a bit. Nudity isn't some corrupting force. It's our default state. It isn't inherently sexual, but sex isn't a corrupting force either.

        I remember watching an episode of Big Fat Quiz once, where some models got up on the stage and posed as ancient statues for the contestants to name. Full on cock and balls out for all to see on Channel 4 and in front of a live studio audience. The only person with any sort of reaction was Chelsea Peretti as, being an American, this was peculiar and would never in a thousand years be allowed on television here. Why?

        I can't speak to how the rest of the world looks at public displays of nudity, and it's apparent that most societies draw the line somewhere, but I have to think that our American view on it is dominated largely by our Puritan roots and proportionally-large hardcore Christian population, and not in anything that's rooted in an objective sense of reality. It makes me wonder if our extreme adversion isn't causing some kind of harm on the psychological level that has a negative impact on a collective level.

        6 votes
  3. [11]
    mrbig
    Link
    If I'm not mistaken, that's the first Tildes's nsfw thread! We're making history here, folks!

    If I'm not mistaken, that's the first Tildes's nsfw thread! We're making history here, folks!

    1. [6]
      PopeRigby
      Link Parent
      We've had a few others.

      We've had a few others.

      1. [5]
        CALICO
        Link Parent
        It's the first nsfw.nudity tag at least.

        It's the first nsfw.nudity tag at least.

        1 vote
        1. Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          That's an indication of the growing sophistication of tag usage on Tildes, rather than a growing fascination with the naked body here. There have been a few previous topics that could have...

          That's an indication of the growing sophistication of tag usage on Tildes, rather than a growing fascination with the naked body here. There have been a few previous topics that could have appropriately been tagged "nsfw.nudity".

          1 vote
        2. [3]
          bbvnvlt
          Link Parent
          Funny though, how the discussion is mostly about how treating all nudity as something by definition 'nsfw' (broadly understood) may be a bad thing ;)

          Funny though, how the discussion is mostly about how treating all nudity as something by definition 'nsfw' (broadly understood) may be a bad thing ;)

          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Many workplaces still treat any personal Internet use as time-theft, so I think it’s as much about plausible deniability that you’re goofing off rather than “doing research” as it is a nudity taboo.

            Many workplaces still treat any personal Internet use as time-theft, so I think it’s as much about plausible deniability that you’re goofing off rather than “doing research” as it is a nudity taboo.

          2. CALICO
            Link Parent
            Regardless of what I think about it, y'all's employers might not have the same idea.

            Regardless of what I think about it, y'all's employers might not have the same idea.

    2. [4]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      No, it's not.

      No, it's not.

      1. [3]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        Why are you like that with your silly silly facts?

        Why are you like that with your silly silly facts?

        1. [2]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          I can't help it. I've tried giving up, but the cravings are too hard to beat.

          I can't help it. I've tried giving up, but the cravings are too hard to beat.

          1 vote
          1. mrbig
            Link Parent
            I know. You're among friends ;)

            I know. You're among friends ;)