If there is one thing that I found both intriguing and strange is the "fun" people find in getting down to ones bare essentials (nude) when at the beach. Luckily there is no nudist beach here in Cebu or anywhere in the Philippines but some nudists still stray from the path and show off in their birthday suits. Whether the trend started back in California during the 60's in Germany, both East and West share a well-established custom which includes "naturism".
If you find it shocking to be at a local gym and find some Koreans, Japanese, etc... swinging in their birthday suit whilst inside the sauna (which I totally find weird) then you would possibly be horrified when you start changing and a young female cleaner does her business of sweeping the floor just like nothing is wrong then you better start to think more openly. Germans - or at least Germans in the non-Catholic north of the country - say that the sight of the nude body is completely normal - natural, as they put it. Why, they ask, would one wear a dirty, sweaty swimming costume? And, they say, being naked is nothing to do with sex and there is never a stir or a twitch of a sexual nature...
Back during the days of the Third Reich the Nazis welcomed what Hermann Goering referred to as the "healing power of sun and air" in making a strong nation, but he did disapprove of public nudity which he called a "cultural error" that threatened female modesty. Mind you that Germany had a well-developed mail-order industry - and it had exactly the right woman to exploit it. So Beate Uhse a pilot in the Luftwaffe who was a woman she had not been allowed to fight but she did pilot planes to the front line and after the war, as the daughter of a doctor, she was beset by friends who wanted to know how not to get pregnant. Not so, though, in East Germany where women had genuine economic independence and that gave them a strength in their relations with men. Now that the Wall is down, cultural frictions are emerging. Here is the way it is placed into words: "When Western men go out with Eastern women, they (men) sometimes have problems. Eastern women are so cool, the Westerners think. So independent. So free with sex. But then they want them to be stay-at-home, too.
With such a mix of regimes and attitudes and cataclysmic shocks to relationships, there is confusion in the unified Germany over the roles of men and women. So if you ever have a chance to visit Germany, you better leave your shyness behind and get into the spirit of naturism or nudity and proudly have things to dry in a place no one minds.
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