relationship, a nude kid can playfully frolic without shame or humiliation.

Both the child and parent are performative issues by virtue of what it is that
body can do — be naked or gaze in particular circumstances. Likewise, the patient
naked under the medic’s gaze non-voluntaristically performs submission to that
gaze and that authorizes the doctor’s ‘looking’.
The category that is constrained less by modernist institutionalized power
relationships — though power connections are made up in all contexts of course —
entails other coded and ritualistic sets of behaviours and possibilities: the locker-
room showers which, for example, permit only the barest glimpse of similarly
Nude bodies and the restriction on sexual activity (or arousal). The manners in
which these contexts and signications work to inculcate and constrain the
performative body cannot be disconnected from the subjective sense-of-self as a
(sometimes) clothed body. What Grosz has labelled her second kind involves
an extensive range of bodily actions, from a diverse assortment of appearances and seeing
between intimate partners, casual non-looking between naked intimates going
about pre-coital or post-coital non-sexual activities, glimpses between naked
‘Chances’ in, for example, the gay male sauna — where nudity and looking are
collapsed with sex and sexuality itself.
The rst, third and fourth of groups are the privileged websites of non sexual
nakedness in 20th-century western culture — sites in which the naked body is
performed and constrained, looked at, spoken about and gazed upon in rigor-
ously coded and restrained ways. These sites allow the performance of nakedness
for practical reasons: the bathing of children, the medical examination of the
body, washing the sweat and dirt from the body after sport and physically
vigorous actions — all essential and essentially both speculative and self-specu-
lative, as codes of cleanliness and health are maintained and policed not only by
the self but by each other. These ‘types’ of nude circumstances enlarged in the late
1960s and 1970s, with increased frequent nudity on university campuses,
The Naked Topic
over (ds) 1/8/#03/03 1:47 pm Page 57
Page 5
streaking as a more common practice of transgression and entertainment, and
even ‘naked group therapy’ (Bindrim, 1970). They’re non sexual websites by virtue
of the circumstance — sexual activity is neither authorized nor legitimated in such
frames. Indeed, based on Bell and Holliday (2000:130), naturist societies — an
Case of context-dependent common and gazed-upon nakedness — have taken
great pains in recent decades to stress their nonsexual nature, frequently through
invoking the signier ‘family’, and by contrasting themselves with other sights of
naturist nakedness, particularly those recommended in 19th-century proto-homosexual
Reports and modern homosexual male sexual sites where nakedness is more
Often celebrated alongside a particular sexual freedom. The non-sexual impera-
tive of such sites is maintained by the establishment of a bordered framework which
attempts — however unsuccessfully — to relegate the ‘sexual gaze’ to an exterior.
What Grosz’s categorization lacks is nudist activity pictures of the raising post-
modern sexualization of the allegedly nonsexual sites of nakedness. Despite
the codes and customs which work to split nakedness from the sexual —
to prevent slippage between non sexual and sexual frameworks of nakednes and gazing
— there’s a famous difculty or instability in preserving the discrete separation
of these circumstances. Contexts which are generally understood to x meaning are,
as Derrida has shown, never secure or distinct, but constantly open to diffrance, re-
signication, instability and citations that are never under the order of their
author (Derrida, 1988). In the instance of the frameworks of nakedness, the instability of
the circumstances causes not only a certain seepage of the sexual or sensual into the privi-
leged websites of non sexual nudity, but also the ways nudity in those sites
is read by others, whether they be temporally present at the website or reading the
site through additional representation, for example in a photo or a documentary
What’s at stake in the classification of the myth of discrete circumstances which
relegate the sexual in nudity to the second frame is a particular disruption to the
cultural imperative of coherence of the performative topic. All subjects are
impelled to perform in intelligible and identifiable manners, irrespective of the
location of the ethnic coordinates, whether they be coordinates of belonging
such as sex or ethnicity, or more personalized and less categorized signiers
such as trajectories of private history, memory, vocation afliations, and so on.
Where nakedness upsets the performance of subjecthood is in the paradox

between the sheer commonality of nakedness, since we all have a body that does