When Heaven Meets Earth
“Initiation Nudity” is creeping into American consciousness as evidence of thriving practice in Europe seeps into mainstream sites with the usual shock and awe. Even high school students partake of nudity (or near so) in initiation rites–for freshmen.
One of the most provocative books I read in junior high was the Harrod Experiment, back before coed dorms were the norm. It carried the notion to mean a boy and girl sharing a single room, and of course the showers was unisex, adding to the allure. While the book is still a stretch in this country, communal, and coed, changing rooms and baths are common in Europe, and coed junior high nudity isn’t like a raise a stir.
In the seventies I viewed a film where bank customers were forced to strip to their underwear during a burglary (I forget which, but it wasn’t a remake of Inside Man which includes a similar scene). I thought how lucky it would have been to be a victim, albeit male. It was an exciting premise (to me), and the initiation pictures strike a similar tone, though circumstances are obviously contrived, the boys and girls know ahead of time of portends (so they were their best skivvies), and all is done in good humor.
Good humor is important, of course. Had I in my youth been told to assemble in the gym with my class and strip down–honestly, can you imagine?–I would have thought school the best of all possible worlds.