Daily English
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1157 Describing Nudity

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,157 – Describing Nudity.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,157. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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On this episode, we’re going to hear a dialogue between Venus and Milo about describing people who don’t have any clothes on. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Venus: Kids, cover your eyes! Don’t look at that. I didn’t know there would be nudity here. Why did you bring us here?

Milo: I brought you here to see this celebration of the beauty of the human form.

Venus: This is obscene! Look at the bare breasts on that one and the one over there is topless. That man’s private parts are on display for everyone to see. Most of these are butt naked!

Milo: Can’t you see past the nudity to appreciate the artists’ creations?

Venus: I’m not one of those people who go to nude beaches and run around in their birthday suit completely uninhibited. This is shameful!

Milo: This isn’t a nude beach. It’s a museum. Your kids are here to appreciate some of the finest art in history.

Venus: I don’t call this art. I call it pornography. I’m taking my kids out of here. Oh my God, there are full frontals wherever you look! Kids, keep your eyes covered. We’re leaving.

Milo: All right, but I was just trying to open your kids’ eyes to art.

Venus: You’ve opened their eyes all right, and I’m slamming them shut!

[end of dialogue]

Venus begins our dialogue by saying to her children, “Kids, cover your eyes.” The expression “to cover your eyes” means to put your hands in front of your eyes so that you don’t see something bad. If you’re watching a movie and there’s a very violent scene, a part with a lot of violence, and you know that your husband or wife doesn’t like that kind of violence, you may say, “Cover your eyes,” meaning don’t look at the screen, or put your hands in front of your eyes so that you don’t see this.

Venus is telling her children to cover their eyes. “Don’t look at that,” she says. “I didn’t know there would be nudity here. Why did you bring us here?” “Nudity” (nudity) comes from the word “nude” (nude). “To be nude” means not to have any clothing on. We might also say “to be naked” (naked) – without clothing. Venus is asking Milo why he brought them to this place. We later learn it’s a museum that has nudity.

Milo says, “I brought you here to see this celebration of the beauty of the human form.” The “human form” means the shape and appearance of the human body. Venus, however, doesn’t think this is a good thing. She says, “This is obscene.” “Obscene” (obscene) is something that is considered very vulgar or inappropriate, usually something related to nudity or sexual activity. Something that is obscene is considered to be unacceptable by the social standards of the community or of the culture.

Certain things might be considered obscene in one culture or in one historical period that are not considered obscene in a different one. Venus, however, thinks that the nudity she is seeing is obscene. She says, “Look at the bare breasts on that one and the one over there is topless.” “Breasts” (breasts) are two things that women have on their chest, in the top front of their body, that are used to among other things feed children, young babies. “Bare (bare) breasts” are breasts that are not covered with any kind of clothing.

“Topless” (topless) refers usually to a woman, but it could be a man who doesn’t have a shirt on, who doesn’t have anything that is covering the top part of his or her body. If a woman is “topless,” then you will see her “bare breasts.” A great deal of Western art, especially during the Renaissance period in Europe, features the human body that is naked. Similarly, you find art from the ancient world – ancient Greece and Rome – where the human body was shown without any clothing.

Venus doesn’t like this. She then says, “That man’s private parts are on display for everyone to see.” Venus is, we think, pointing at a statue. It’s not a real man. It’s a statue of a man, a representation of a man. She points out that the man’s “private parts are on display.” A person’s “private parts” are those parts of the body that we normally cover with clothing.

For both a man and a woman, that would include the parts around your waist – that is, where your legs meet the lower part of your body. For a woman, “private parts” usually also include her breasts. These are things that are typically covered with clothing in most Western countries, and certainly in most places in the United States. To have something “on display” (display) is to have something so that everyone can see it. It’s in a place where everyone can see it. Venus is saying that this statue is showing a man’s private parts so that everyone can see them.

“Most of these,” Venus continues, “are butt naked.” Your “butt” (butt) is your rear, what you sit on. It’s a somewhat informal word, but a perfectly good word to use in any circumstance. In more formal English, we might refer to it as a person’s “behind” (behind), or if you want to be really sophisticated, you might use a word that comes from the French, your “derriere.” My father would sometimes use that word instead of “butt,” but most people say “but.” Notice there are two “t”s in this “butt.”

“Butt naked” refers to someone who doesn’t have any clothes on, and so you can see the persons butt. It’s usually a general term, however, to refer to someone who doesn’t have clothes on any part of his body. Milo says, “Can’t you see past the nudity to appreciate the artist’s creations?” “To see past” (past) something means to ignore or not be bothered by some negative part of an experience or something that you’re reading or looking at in order to appreciate or enjoy the better things, the good things, the good qualities of something.

Venus says, “I’m not one of those people who go to nude beaches and run around in their birthday suit completely uninhibited. This is shameful!” Let’s start with the term “nude beaches.” A “beach” (beach) is an area next to an ocean or possibly a lake that people go and sit on in order to get a suntan. A “nude beach” is a beach where you can sit without wearing any clothing. This is not very common in the U.S. There are, I guess, places like this. I myself have never been to one, but a nude beach would be a beach where it isn’t illegal to be naked.

Normally, if you walk around a town or a city without any clothes on, you might get arrested for not having any clothes on, but on a “nude beach” usually you are safe to do that. In other words, it’s not against the law to be nude in public as it is in most places in the U.S. Venus says she’s “not one of those people,” meaning she’s not the kind of person who goes to nude beaches and runs around in her birthday suit. “To run around” means simply to walk around, I think, in this case, or to move around.

Your “birthday suit” refers to you not wearing any clothing. When we say someone has their “birthday suit” (suit) on, we mean the person doesn’t have any clothing on, just as the day that you were born was, when you came out of your mother’s body without any clothing on. You didn’t have any clothing on when you were born, and so we call that condition of not having any clothes on your “birthday suit.” A “suit” normally is, of course, a set of clothing that you have on – pants and a shirt, for example, perhaps even a tie if you’re a man.

Venus says she doesn’t run around in her birthday suit “uninhibited” (uninhibited). “To be inhibited” means to not want to reveal yourself or to be shy, to be unwilling to do certain things, perhaps because you’re embarrassed by them or you don’t think they’re appropriate. The opposite of that is “to be uninhibited.” To be uninhibited means not to be embarrassed by anything, just to do whatever you want, not to think that it’s inappropriate – most importantly, not to care about what other people think of your actions.

Venus thinks that these nude statues, this art that she’s seeing is “shameful” (shameful). Something that is “shameful” is something that causes you feelings of embarrassment – when you think that it’s wrong, when you think that it’s inappropriate. Milo says, however, “This isn’t a nude beach. It’s a museum. Your kids are here to appreciate some of the finest art in history.”

It occurs to me now that perhaps Venus is a teacher rather than a parent, but in any case, Milo is telling her that she and the children are in the museum in order to appreciate great art, some of the best art in history. Venus says, “I don’t call this art. I call it pornography.” “Pornography” (pornography) refers to images that are intended to sexually excite the person who sees them or watches them. A shorter form of the word “pornography” is “porn” (porn). Venus thinks this art that shows the naked or nude human form is pornography.

She says, “I’m taking my kids out of here.” “Oh my God,” she says, “there are full frontals wherever you look.” “Full (full) frontals (frontals)” refers to the fronts of people’s bodies which are naked, basically people who don’t have any clothes on. The term “frontal” comes from another expression, “frontal nudity,” which describes seeing the front of someone’s body without any clothing on.

Milo says, “All right, but I was just trying to open your kids’ eyes to art.” “To open someone’s eyes to” something means to get him to understand or appreciate something he hasn’t seen or understood before. Venus says, “You’ve opened their eyes all right, and I’m slamming them shut!” “To slam” (slam) something means to close something, but with a lot of force. If you “slam the door,” you close it using a lot of force so that it makes a loud noise. Venus is saying that she’s closing her children’s eyes because she doesn’t want them to see what she thinks is pornographic.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Venus: Kids, cover your eyes! Don’t look at that. I didn’t know there would be nudity here. Why did you bring us here?

Milo: I brought you here to see this celebration of the beauty of the human form.

Venus: This is obscene! Look at the bare breasts on that one and the one over there is topless. That man’s private parts are on display for everyone to see. Most of these are butt naked!

Milo: Can’t you see past the nudity to appreciate the artists’ creations?

Venus: I’m not one of those people who go to nude beaches and run around in their birthday suit completely uninhibited. This is shameful!

Milo: This isn’t a nude beach. It’s a museum. Your kids are here to appreciate some of the finest art in history.

Venus: I don’t call this art. I call it pornography. I’m taking my kids out of here. Oh my God, there are full frontals wherever you look! Kids, keep your eyes covered. We’re leaving.

Milo: All right, but I was just trying to open your kids’ eyes to art.

Venus: You’ve opened their eyes all right, and I’m slamming them shut!

[end of dialogue]

There’s nothing obscene, we hope, with any of our dialogues. Thanks to our wonderful dialogue writer – our scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse – for her wonderful work.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
nudity – nakedness; the sight of a body without clothing

* Public nudity is illegal at most American public beaches.

human form – the shape and appearance of a human body

* The human form comes in all shapes and sizes, which makes it difficult for clothing companies to produce garments that fit everyone well.

obscene – inappropriate, vulgar, and rude; something that should not be seen, heard, or spoken because it is considered wrong, bad, and offensive

* Did you know that your son and some other boys are making obscene gestures at passing cars?

bare – naked, exposed, without being covered, especially when referring to skin

* Make sure you apply sunscreen on your bare skin before you go outside.

breasts – the two round masses on a woman’s chest, including the nipples, which produce milk for babies

* Jillian’s shirt was so low-cut that you could almost see her breasts.

topless – without wearing a shirt or bra; with one’s chest exposed so that others can see it

* The topless beaches are very popular among teenage boys and young men.

private parts – parts of one’s body that are normally covered and hidden from view; the area between one’s hips and thighs, in addition to a woman’s breasts

* They taught their children to never let anyone look at or touch their private parts.

on display – shown; exhibited; placed so that people can see something

* The museum has a good collection of dinosaurs fossils on display.

butt naked – without any clothing at all

* The little boy ran out of the bedroom butt naked, making all the guests laugh with surprise.

nude beach – a beach (coast; land next to the ocean) where people are allowed to be in public without wearing clothing

* I’ve never visited a nude beach. I would be too embarrassed!

birthday suit – a reference to the human body without any clothes on it, just as it was on the day when the person was born

* If you don’t want to accidentally see your uncle in his birthday suit, make sure you knock loudly before entering the bathroom while we’re visiting his house!

uninhibited – without feeling restrictions on one’s own behavior; completely free, doing what one wants without worrying about what is right or what other people might think

* After a few glasses of wine, Sheila became uninhibited and started singing and dancing in front of everyone.

shameful – something that one should be ashamed of; causing feelings of embarrassment and regret over one’s behavior or situation

* Trying to cheat seniors out of their money is shameful!

pornography – images and video intended to sexually excite the viewer

* As a mother, how did you feel when you found pornography under your teenage son’s bed?

full frontal – the sight of the front of a person’s naked body

* Bill stepped into the bathroom just as Marsha was stepping out of the shower, and he saw a full frontal.

to slam – to close something, especially a door, very forcefully and loudly

* You’ll have to slam the car door. Otherwise it won’t close properly.

Comprehension Questions
1. What might one see at a topless bar?
a) Bare breasts
b) Private parts
c) Full frontals

2. What is a full frontal?
a) A full-length family portrait.
b) A forward-facing, unclothed body.
c) A piece of furniture that fills most of the wall.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
human form

The phrase “human form,” in this podcast, refers to the shape and appearance of a human body: “His deep appreciation for the human form led him to study anatomy.” The phrase “human nature” refers to general characteristics that most or all people have: “Unfortunately, greed and envy are part of human nature.” The phrase “human resources,” often abbreviated as “HR,” refers to the department or functions of selecting, training, and supporting employees: “If you feel you’ve been the victim of discrimination, please speak with human resources.” The phrase “human touch” refers to one’s friendliness, kindness, and ability to connect with others: “Dr. Smythe has wonderful technical skills, but he doesn’t have much of a human touch when interacting with patients.” Finally, the phrase “human race” refers to all human beings: “Do you think the human race will ever move to another planet?”

to slam

In this podcast, the verb “to slam” means to close something, especially a door, very forcefully and loudly: “We knew the boss was in a bad mood when we heard her slam the door to her office.” A “slam dunk” is a term from basketball that describes when a player jumps high and forcefully throws the ball down into the hoop: “You’ll have to learn to jump higher if you want to make a slam dunk.” The phrase “slam dunk” also describes something that one has done very well, almost perfectly: “Wow, that sales presentation was a slam dunk. Well done!” Finally, the phrase “to slam on the brakes” means to make a car stop very quickly by putting one’s foot on the brake pedal very forcefully: “That car swerved in front of me, so I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting it.”

Culture Note
Breastfeeding in Public

In the United States, “breastfeeding” (the act of a mother feeding a baby with the milk from her breasts) “in public” (in places that are shared by many people, not in one’s home) is surprisingly “controversial” (with many people feeling strongly that something should or should not be done a particular way). Although breastfeeding is “legal” (allowed under the law) in all 50 states, many woman are “harassed” (bothered) or otherwise made to feel uncomfortable when they breastfeed their babies in public, even if they try to do so “discreetly” (without being seen and without drawing attention to one’s actions).

Sometimes, when breastfeeding mothers are harassed, they simply leave the area. However, more “brazen” (bold) women sometimes reach out to other breastfeeding mothers through organizations like “La Leche League” (an organization that encourages mothers to breastfeed and supports them) to “stage” (organize) a public “nurse-in” in which many women gather to publicly “nurse” (breastfeed) their babies where the first woman was harassed. This often results in the company “issuing” (providing) a public “apology” (a statement that one is sorry for what has happened) and sometimes changing its “corporate” (business) policies regarding breastfeeding and employee training.

Today, 36 states have laws that “affirm” (state that something is true) the rights of women to breastfeed in public and/or to protect breastfeeding women and their babies. And in 1999, the U.S. “House of Representatives” (lawmaking part of the government) “enacted” (made into law) a breastfeeding “amendment” (a change to an existing law) that stated that federal “funds” (money) may not be used to “prohibit” (not allow) women from breastfeeding in public buildings.

Comprehension Answers
1 -a

2 - b