My origin is from an eastern region where, despite differences in religions and beliefs, social etiquette and traditions are the same. Feelings of pride and shame are the same. The war of superiority and inferiority has been going on for centuries. A man showing his emotions is considered more honourable. If we feel pride or any other feelings, it is connected with women. Women are a source of honour.
From where I came from, human society has different standards for men and women. It’s all about the human organs. A highly sensitive standard has been set for the genitals.
If (for some medical reason) it is necessary to talk about human’s genitals, there are different nicknames for it in national and regional languages. It is considered polite to have a nickname for the genitals.
On the contrary, the real names of the genitals are used to express anger and resentment toward enemies.
In a state of war, prisoners are not undressed, or at least not in public. Let’s give them some human dignity! On the other hand, if someone takes off their underwear, prisoners consider it as a humiliating insult. It’s prefered better to die than to expose the body parts. This is how powerful genitals are.
But all these feelings and traditions on genitals die comfortably on the doorstep of the sauna in Finland.
And the genitals feel free after a long time. There is a sense of equality with other organs. Free from so-called labels and nicknames, they feel real. In the sauna, genitals participate in the community gathering.
When I shared my first sauna experience with friends with the same cultural background, everyone shouted at me:
“You were not ashamed!”
“You should die!”
“Shame on you!”
And they asked:“Were you completely naked?”
I answered: “Nor I, neither anyone else was naked.”
My friends continued arguing: “It is not true! Finns get naked in the sauna!”
I replied with determination: “No. Not at all. No one was naked including me.”, and continued: “No one ever felt naked. Being naked is the feeling. There was no such feeling. We were all wearing “dresslessness” like uniforms. We all were in the same natural skin uniform of “dresslessness”. Everyone was wearing natural clothes of their own size according to their height and age. There should be no question of being naked in it.”
My friends hardly endured my lengthy explanation, but still considering sauna as a shameful act against our cultural norms. As I insisted, my friends allowed me to tell them about the experience from inside of the sauna, from beyond the sauna doorpost.
I said that there were more than twenty men in a heated and steamy room. Small talks were going on. After few minutes, a man from the right side starting talking with me without asking my name, nationality, beliefs or political affiliation. He asked whether I am feeling comfortable or the temperature is high. I thanked him for his attention and care. And answered him that everything is fine.
He changed the conversation from Finnish to English. Our conversation had drawn the attention of many others. One person among them had visited my home country forty-three years ago as a missionary. I asked them to correct my Finnish rather than speaking with me in English.
I was treated as an honourable guest and human fellow. All religious, race, ethnicity dividend was melting down in the heat of the sauna. Similarly, the heat of the sauna had melted layers of my eastern imitation. The steam thawed the fats of shame and making the way clear for my glands to exhale old cultural layers and inhale and accept a new way of life.
I had started feeling free, light and inter-ethnic. An isolated semi-bright but warm room gave me many friends who are turning my social segregation into the congregation.
I advised my listening friends to go to the public sauna. The fat of your shame will go down quickly. You will feel very light. And then you will feel real freedom when the folkloric coats will vaporize in ten minutes.
Then you will always realize that you have entered Hell but have come out of Paradise.