A Better Meaning for "Open Carry"

Two men walk into an “open carry” retail store. One is naked. The other, dressed in camo, carries a gun. In less than a minute, a security guard escorts one of the men out of the store- which man?

In 2014 USA, “open carry” is about bearing arms, not baring genitals. But firearms and penises have a complicated relationship. Look at the wealth of jokes along the lines of “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” Swords, too, and staffs, and magic wands and light sabers. A penis can “shoot” and sometimes “shoots blanks.” Like a sword it “penetrates” flesh where it can. If a certain part of your body sometimes sprouts up wildly into the air, seeming to defy gravity, you’re marked by it. It’s an important part of how a man occupies his space in the world. 

Firearms have nothing to do with that. They are a different thing altogether. But it’s easy to get the impression that firearms somehow indicate manliness for a lot of people out there. There’s a whole macho culture around guns, and it erupts into the spotlight whenever another gunman perpetrates a massacre. Almost every time, it’s another gunMAN. You don’t have to be a statistician to see that the factors “possessing a penis” and “owning a gun” tend to correlate alarmingly. 

Does living clothesfree reduce or eliminate that correlation? Not necessarily: nude men of the Amazon or the Pacific islands still use weapons for hunting food, but also for maiming or murdering other people. How about wearing an outfit that draws attention to the penis – does that eliminate the correlation? Again, not necessarily: codpiece-wearing European dandies of centuries past didn’t suddenly give up their swords or their muskets just because they had their masculine organ on display. So, having visual acknowledgement as the possessor of a penis does not effectively trump the desire to carry a weapon. 

But in today’s mechanized, filmed, overly mediated day-to-day life, a social nudity sense of “open carry” could in fact go a long way toward remedying violence in society. Social nudity “open carry” is simply what social nudism is: openly exposing the entire body among others doing the same. After all, it’s tough to be sneaky about weapons when you’re naked. Carrying a firearm, whether open or concealed, is not natural, but “open carry” of a penis is entirely natural. A firearm can be used to defend life, but almost always at the expense of taking someone else’s life. The main reproductive function of the penis is the opposite: it is to give life – to produce pleasure while engendering a new life. That’s a beautiful thing. 

“Let’s go shopping but not for clothes”

We need much more social nudist “open carry” in our everyday life. Through social nudity we recognize ourselves and gauge the range of humanity. Social nudity, non-pixelated, is what we need for TV, films, and videogames, too – along with a lot less violence. Even though simulated or narrated violence might help build suspense in a movie storyline, or help create a TV commercial-break cliffhanger, it’s not the only way to do so. Through violence we teach ourselves to degrade and abuse. Through violence we merely terminate, with exaggerated force, the complex interactions and dialogues of life instead of engaging fully and intricately with  them. Guns symbolize this fatal violence and are used to bring it about. Very much in contrast to guns, penises–as another part of our mortal bodies–symbolize our humanity, and are used to bring it forth.  

We DO need stronger laws regulating gun ownership and use. We DO NOT need stronger laws regulating which parts of our bodies have to be covered where and when. Let’s admit that social nudity, for all its humane benefits, is not a panacea. But living our vulnerabilities daily, with our all-too-human limitations in view, reinforces just how fragile, how precious, how worthy of extended analysis, and how much to be celebrated, our lives are. 

5 thoughts on “A Better Meaning for "Open Carry"

  1. Well said! I don't want to take away anybody's weapons, but adamant gun toters kind of freak me out.I've known three machine gun owners, one a close friend. There was a little PvietnamTSD involved, and my friend gave his/hers to one of the others after having gender reassignment surgery and taking anti-androgens.Thanks for the link to Cor van de Sande. And I do want to garden naked in the city.


  2. So well written and said. I struggle daily with events in the world that are so full of hurt and just awful things. I often think if everyone went socially nude for a day – maybe people would be a little bit nicer and accepting of one another – hiding behind nothing.


  3. I get your point, but it is a horrible analogy. At least as many penises in the hands(?) of bad people are used to commit crimes and destroy lives as guns.


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