Anita L. Allen

in Unpopular Privacy

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195141375
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918126 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy


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This chapter argues that anti-nudity laws may be reasonable responses to danger and degradation, but in the 21st century, all such laws merit suspicion as illiberal impediments to personal choice. Laws requiring nude dancers to cover-up are an instructive area of problematic, unpopular coerced privacy. The regulation of nude dancing in the United States and Canada reflects a continuing role for a particular vision of modesty as a human virtue. Laws restricting nudism and requiring adult entertainers to cover their nipples and genitalia impose an unpopular privacy on their supposed principal beneficiaries—the nudity-lovers and entertainers themselves. These sometimes curious regulations reflect ambivalent religious and moral values at play. The laws are resented by philosophical nudists and targeted club owners and dancers eager to maximize profits who also believe the constitution is on their side. US policymakers have coerced sexual modesty through laws demanding concealment of eroticized regions of male and female bodies. As might be expected of a free society, the coercion is restrained. But the coercion is ambiguously motivated by concerns about harm and morals, peculiarly limited to the pasty and G. String requirements. In Canada, whose nude-dancing jurisprudence is also considered, no-touching laws, set the limit of decency. Government should try to protect women's free modesty choices, limiting prohibitions to situations of extreme degradation and demonstrable risk of harm. Modesty mandates requiring ought to be reluctant and rare.

Keywords: nudity; indecent exposure; harm principle; modesty; stripper; Canada; moralism; dehumanizing; degrading; Constitution; nude dancing; decency

Chapter.  8728 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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