From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- the buttocks and the anus, the perineum
- for males: the penis and scrotum
- for females: the vulva and the breasts, especially the nipples
In the West and elsewhere, females breasts are typically considered as parts that should be covered in most contexts, with degree of tolerance for uncovered breasts (such as at beaches) varying in different regions. In some places, such as many contexts in the United States, where breasts are typically considered as not appropriate to be exposed in public, it is sometimes considered sufficient (such as in certain entertainment venues, usually for an adult male audience) that the nipples alone be covered. It is however quite common in the United States for mothers to breastfeed their very young children in public view, which often involves exposure of the nipple.
In some periods of European history, female shoulders and legs were included. More conservative viewpoints in the West in some contexts still find it appropriate that females should cover their shoulders, particularly when entering a church or other sacred space.
In Islamic traditions, the definition of intimate parts are similar to their definition in Western culture. A significant proportion of Muslims believe that females should cover most of their body, especially the hair, shoulders, neck, and the "intimate parts" mentioned above. Although men can leave their hair uncovered, they must also keep their "intimate parts" hidden. It is often stated that these parts are likely to arouse excitement in males, and for reasons of chastity and modesty, should be covered.
Exposure of one's intimate parts, particularly unintended exposure, is typically connected with feelings of shame. Such acts may be subject to strict social rules, social control and criminal justice; see nudity and indecent exposure. However, exhibitionism is an example of a typically nonthreatening mindframe wherein the person who exposes his or her "intimate parts," particularly female breasts, is looking for a validating reaction from those to whom the parts are exposed, giving the exposer an ego rush and feelings of validation and attention.
Intentionally touching the intimate parts of another person, even through clothing, is often associated with sexual intent. If this is done without legally valid consent of the person being touched, it may be considered sexual harassment or sexual assault.