Friday, May 01, 2015

1930's naughtiness update

Last week, on a whim, I was using Trove to find early Australian newspaper references to nudism, and turned up a series of stories from 1929 and into the 30's indicating the interest the topic attracted in Australia and the US.  

Today I Googled to see if a Pope had ever weighed in on the matter, and indeed, a 1930's Pope (Pius XI) did*:


That lecture seems a little late - the newspaper clippings I had in my previous post show that in 1932 and 1933 (the latter after Hitler had taken power) Germany was already banning the "cult of nudity".

But more interesting was an extract I found from an article about the future Pius XII, the wartime Pope, before he took on the top job:
In 1926, Pacelli was Vatican ambassador, or nuncio, to Germany, and he alerted Rome to the “moral perils” confronting Catholics in the freedoms of Weimar democracy. “Perhaps the thorniest problem for religious life and pastoral care,” he wrote, was Germans’ propensity to use contraceptives and have abortions. He railed against the “perverse propaganda of nudism,” and against the Tango, which was “of very evil origin.” “Any gymnastics wear for girls,” he continued, “that proactively accentuates their shapes or that is inappropriate for the female character must be avoided.”
Germany had just experienced the greatest cataclysm since the seventeenth century, and Berlin was a place where impoverished shopkeepers queued at soup kitchens while disfigured veterans asked for handouts on street corners. Working class families lived six to a room. But what bothered Pacelli were girls’ gym clothes. Pleasure and license posed a danger to eternal salvation, but poverty did not.
I didn't realise the concern with which the Tango was held in the early 20th century.  

In an interview published three years ago, the then Cardinal Bergoglio said of the tango, ‘I like it a lot. It’s something that comes from within me.’ He showed great knowledge of the tango’s history and of its most famous performers, especially mentioning Ada Falc√≥n, an Argentine tango singer and actress of great wealth and celebrity who, 60 years before her death in 2002, suddenly gave up a life of luxury and romantic turbulence to live in seclusion in Buenos Aires.
Times change...

* from "Naked:  A Cultural History of American Nudism", which seems to have just been published this year.

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