One of the things we’ll sometimes hear from others objecting to our barefootedness is that our feet are somehow “dirty”, and that this is a reason we should not do so.
Yet, nobody seems to object to the fact that the bottoms of shoes touch and pick up the same sort of “dirt”, or that the tread on those shoes do a pretty good job of tracking it around.
I am prompted to write this by another story about nudity that is making the rounds. It strikes me as an odd coincidence that after yesterday’s entry, another story pops up that is peripherally related.
The story is that mere nudity is not illegal in San Francisco. It must be “lewd” (that is, for the purpose of exciting sexuality) to be illegal. I guess that has led to some folks actually just sitting around naked in the Castro district there. There’s a story in the LA Times: “Public nudity pushes boundaries in San Francisco“.
The reason it is making the news is that a city official wants to make it a law that the nudists sit on a towel or other barrier, and not directly on public seating. As the story says, it is pretty much normal nudist etiquette.
What caught my attention was an entry about it on a science blog, We, Beasties entitled Nudists are infectious just like everyone else. It should be pointed out that the author is a PhD student in immunology and studies “the interaction between the mammalian immune system and the microbes that colonize our bodies.” He knows what he is talking about.
He points us to an article in Slate, Does Public Nudity Spread Disease? Not Especially, and commends the article for actually doing some research and not engaging in the usual fear-mongering. It is well-worth reading. It is also well-worth keeping in the back of your mind that it applies to all the usual shibboleths about the dangers of bare feet.
The Slate article also points out that
Most people are regularly exposed to fecal-oral pathogens from other sources, including computer keyboards and dollar bills
and that led to a comment on the “We, Beasties” entry:
But a dollar bill has as much e-coli as a butt stain on a park bench? I mean, that conclusion really stinks …
Kevin (the “We, Beasties” author) then commented back
I don’t know about absolute numbers, but I imagine nudists have as respectable hygiene patters as anyone else. Sure, if they failed to wipe effectively they might spread more E. coli, but ask yourself — when was the last time that dollar bill in your wallet took a shower?
And that leads me back to bare feet yet again.
When people make the claim about bare feet tracking various nasties (or would that be “beasties”?), my usual response is
Your shoes are walking in the same stuff, and picking it up in the treads. My feet get washed every day when I take my shower. When was the last time your washed your shoes?
I can’t help also commenting on one other item in the LA Times story (addressing the possible ordinance requiring a towel to sit on):
Common sense should prevail in restaurants — pants, shoes and a shirt at the minimum — and people need to sit on something, the two men said.
Huh? What’s that shoe thing doing in there? What’s that go to do with anything? As I’ve said before, bare feet do not emit magic death rays, and if they did, then flip-flops and sandals would have to be prohibited. It’s not even as if the sight of a bare foot would be particularly noteworthy, since sandals and flip-flops still show almost all of the foot.
It’s just another case of mindlessness, the same kind of mindlessness that the Slate and “We, Beasties” articles are criticizing.