Taboos

Taboos are an important part of any culture. Along with many other things you need to understand what purpose they serve if you are going to make cultures whole cloth or alter existing ones.

Google defines a taboo as:

a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

Many people also would add that taboos are irrational by definition, they are something that you don’t do mostly because it just is not done.

While taboos are perpetuated by social pressure and conditioning, it does not mean that they do not serve a purpose. Any taboo you care to mention is reinforced by something, often by several things at once.

For example nudity, in most of the world clothing is needed, it is rare to find a place where you could consistently go months without clothing. That feeds into taboo’s against incest.
The most likely reason you see someone naked is sexual, the two things become linked. Given that you would hardly want to be out and about with your sister when she is naked.

This leads to incest. While the obvious reason against it is inbreeding, that is not the only reason it is a taboo. If you look at cultures where it is less of a taboo you see problems arise where fathers and mothers see their children, and younger family as sexual beings and take advantage. The parent/child relationship dynamic is very different then that between romantic peers. When you mix them you get problems. Such problems are one of the reasons why incest has been a taboo for hundreds of years in the west.

All that stated, the salient thing to remember is that taboos are a large part of any culture, and need to be taken into account.
If you were going to have a culture where nudity was not a taboo, and it was normal to be out and about with your family while not wearing anything, you need to think about changing the causes of the taboo and maybe even think about things to work in opposition to it.

For example one of the societies in my novel, Liang, lives almost entirely on habitats. They of course are climate controlled, geting rid of one of the reasons for clothing taboo.
They also had a very hard first generation, They had to work everyone who could all day every day just to feed themselves. Using resources for clothing was not seen as important. After that, those in charge came to see clothing as a status symbol and started to discourage its use by the lower classes.

While taboos may have a rational basis, that is not how they are normally enforced. Taboos are often emotional, it just “feels” wrong. People will enforce them even if many of them have no idea the underlying reasons they exist.
I think most people would agree for example that, Pedophilia is taboo for a very good reason. However that does not mean that the rules and laws against it always make sense. People have taken naked pictures of themselves when they were kids then been arrested for it when they were adults because they had pictures of naked minors (themselves).

Rationally those actions make no sense. However taboos are emotionally enforced, so their enforcing does not always make logical sense.

Taboos are emergent, and if you are setting a story far in the future you need to think about new taboos, they can indeed be a good source for drama.

It may be tempting as a writer to make something a taboo as an easy way out, to make something be seen as wrong without having to think of a good reason for it to be wrong. You can not do that, you must think about it and plot out why it exists for it to be believable.

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