Nudity as Deviance

I am reading a few sections out of a book called Tolerable Differences: Living With Deviance, by Robert Stebbins (1996). Of special interest in the book is the section on nudism and at the beginning when deviance is defined. Here is an important look at deviance:

Deviance from or non-conformity with the norms of the group with an interest in morality is one of humanity’s oldest concerns. Collective life is possible only when certain crucial rules of behaviour are observed by all or a large majority of the members of the community. These rules are an important part of the complicated, standardized solutions that evolve in response to the problems people encounter while living in proximity to one another.  They are nothing less than strategies for personal and social survival. Such solutions take years to develop and crystallize. They are seen by most community members, especially those who have the greatest power and interest in preserving the status quo, as indispensable to the quality of community life.” [p. 1]

This makes me step back and do some deep questioning about naturism, and about why I have embraced naturism as part of my healing process and perhaps even lifestyle. There is no question that naturism/nudism is about not conforming to the moral belief of the larger society. What does it say about those who engage in nudity, especially social nudity? Is there at its depths, something immoral about human nudity in terms of personal and social survival? Why has humanity moved away from its natural roots where nudity was normal? I don’t know the answers, nor if answers are to be found. And if there are good answers that would unquestionably support the inclusion of naturism within the collective norm, would society then accept those answers? In my opinion, there is too much power, authority and money invested in the status quo. If anything, power is invested in keeping the bulk of human society in a controllable state of unconsciousness. Real awareness, consciousness, would have too many people question the status quo and thus present a real threat to those invested in maintaining the status quo.

3 thoughts on “Nudity as Deviance

  1. Immorality has little to do with nudism other than as a convenient ‘reason’ to condemn it. As Stebbins rightly points out, social rules are based on the group experience and what has been found to be necessary to maintain social cohesion. Moral rules are then created to reinforce and augment social rules with the threat of divine retribution.

    Sometimes, laws are created to enforce arbitrary ‘moral’ rules which have little to do with maintaining social order.

    Public nudity can easily be seen as disruptive; just look how much fuss is caused whenever someone tries it! But this is tied to potential disturbance of the status quo by those unable to control their urges at the sight of a little skin, not as a matter of personal morality on the part of the nude person. Yet society considers it so.

    Social rules have the effect of law, and are enforced by legal means. Society’s moral rules derive from a belief in the supernatural and are enforced by peer pressure, sometimes backed up by law. Both are intended to maintain social order but both have their shortcomings and both tend to overreach their intended purpose on occasion.

    The individual may choose to openly disregard either if willing to accept the consequences. In one case, imprisonment; in the other, social disdain (and damnation IF one believes that!).

    It is the legal duty of all citizens to obey the law, yet personal moral choices are left to the individual as long as those choices don’t conflict with the law and disrupt society. If one’s moral beliefs do not prohibit nudity, then nudity cannot be ‘immoral’. It can, however, still be illegal if practiced in a way that the law considers disruptive.

    Nudists/naturists have historically removed themselves from public view to avoid both civil action and social condemnation, yet feel no moral qualms about social nudism. They fear no Divine retribution, only social castigation and arrest.

    There is nothing immoral about not wanting to go to jail OR to be a social outcast; that’s only human. And smart. Fools, criminals and activists go to jail; nudists/naturists respect the beliefs of others and go about their lifestyle without either disrupting society or violating their own personal moral code.

    The only moral code that nudists violate is that of someone else, and there’s nothing immoral about that!


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