The cruel bullies are the worst.
But the mindset that makes bullying on this subject possible is pervasive. It tempts most Americans. Seth McFarlane's Oscar song, "We Saw Your Boobs," could've only been performed in a country where it's common. It caused us to treat Anthony Weiner as if his dick photos were more scandalous than pols who had sex with women not their wives but whose packages never made Twitter. It's the mindset that caused People magazine to headline a story about a beautiful princess photographed topless while sunbathing at a private home with her new husband, "Inside Kate's Nightmare." It's the mindset that caused Americans to sit through the hypersexualized content of countless Super Bowl commercials and halftime show choreography without objecting, only to freak out at the split-second exposure of Janet Jackson's nipple.
The typical exasperated comment would be, "What a bunch of absurd prudes we are," but that isn't right. At least if we were prudes, stigmatizing nudity would make some kind of internally consistent sense. We'd be on constant guard against sexual arousal, premarital sex, and lusting after the opposite sex in our hearts. But the stigmas against all the things nudity might lead to in the minds of concerned traditionalists have fallen away. Nudity is almost alone in remaining shameful.
In other words, the stigma makes less sense than ever.
Ridiculing the exposed isn't a last redoubt of social conservatism or religiosity. There are, of course, consistent traditionalists who counsel physical modesty, among many other things, as part of a life well lived. That's fine. I am not advocating any kind of imperative to strip off one's clothes. Modesty is fine. But show me a college student being ridiculed as a "dirty slut" after topless photos circulate on campus and I'll show you bullies who are perfectly comfortable with the sexual revolution, birth control, abortion, and thong underwear. And as they perpetuate this stigma, they treat breasts and genitals as dirty objects to fetishize, not as a lovely part of the human form. For that reason alone, God-fearing traditionalists ought to understand these bullies as particular enemies.
What does contemporary American society gain from a stigma against nudity?
I'd argue nothing very worthwhile. If you're already living in a secular, hypersexualized country where sex is routinely used to sell consumer products, most naked bodies people see are air brushed models who look nothing like the average person, body image anxiety results in epidemic anorexia and bulimia, and effectively limitless images of naked bodies can be accessed on any computer or smart phone at a moment's notice, what possible case is there for a stigma?
Meanwhile, the costs are so evident that urging change seems like common sense. In what direction? Present attitudes are so confused and indefensible that it's easy to make the case for more conservative, more liberal, or more libertarian mores. Think of naked bodies as God's beautiful creation. Think of them as biological reality that showcases individual diversity. Think of them as something to be used however their owners please, so long as no harm is done to others. Just stop treating them as something to keep closeted out of shame or fear of ridicule. Sure, lots of us might feel that, if someone tried to blackmail us. But there's no excuse for perpetuating the stigma. People who blackmail others with naked photos can be prosecuted. Those who merely react to a naked text by ridiculing the person in it? They're the ones who ought to face ridicule. No one should be made to feel that a mere image of their own body is cause for shame.
That isn't to say that the stigma against nudity will ever be fully extinguished, or that people will ever cease being averse to their parents seeing a naked photo was meant for their boyfriend or girlfriend. But a stigma so powerful and ridicule so intense and reflexive that it empowers blackmailers and extortionists in multiple cases all over the country? That's something that can be overcome.