A State-Trooper in Georgia introduced me to the difference between ‘naked’ and ‘nekid’.

Naked is when you don’t have any clothes on.
Nekid is when you don’t have any clothes on and you are up to somethin‘.

This is a surprisingly helpful distinction!

Earlier this week I saw a podcast episode humorously entitled “Nudity as a Social Construct”.  I am finding this analogy equally helpful.

Every time I attempt to talk to somebody about how both race and gender are socially constructed, they want to argue about biologic (or physical) element of skin color or genitalia – things are visible to the naked-eye (as it were).

I have been looking for a third example to use as an analogy and now I have it: nudity.

See, the fact that you don’t have any clothes on is not up for debate. That is a physical reality, a biological ‘given’.
What it means in our society – or how it is interpreted – is both situational and culturally determined.

Depending on your:

  • geography
  • culture
  • situation
  • era
  • intention

Not having a shirt on could mean very different things. If you were a tribesman in the 1900’s in Saharan Africa, not having a shirt on means something very different than if you show up to a business presentation with no shirt on in modern-day America.

Both men have no shirt on. How that is interpreted is socially constructed.

It is situational, or location specific. Like the clothes that you wear (or don’t wear) to the beach.

I am finding this analogy a helpful conversation starter with those who struggle to understand how race and gender are socially constructed concepts and not simply biological realities.

Have you found any helpful analogies or tools to further this conversation?

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