Is The Naturist-Nudist World It's Own Worst Enemy? Part 3

I’ve done my fair share of reading, research and in-the-field investigations of the world of naturism and I have found few answers to so many questions. When I see some small clubs sit quietly in the background in order to survive and compare that to the nudist resorts such as Desires and Hedonism who seem to thrive as over-the-top exhibitionist locals, nothing seems to make sense. I reported last year how my wife and I were walking along a beach only to see a couple having sex on their beach facing balcony with her bent over so that he could pump to his heart’s content while both looked out onto the oncoming beach traffic to see if they were noticed. It definitely was about public performance and not about a man and a woman making love. The traffic passing by the quiet naturist sun club is almost non-existent with just a rare fly-over by a small plane intent on seeing what might be happening of “interest.” The traffic passing by the nudist beach resort is high with cameras held in hand with hopes of catching some action, or at least a generous display of genitals. The common mind set is the driving force that keeps the needle swaying to anything that proves nude is lewd.

But common nudity is anything but lewd. A group of people sitting on blankets reading while nude is boring as a spectator sport. Not only is it boring, but it might be illegal or immoral. However, if there is money to be made by the entertainment industry, the public is more than willing to set laws and morality off to the side. It seems to be a no-win situation. So what is a person to do?

Naked activists are sure that their exploits in fielding large events such as naked bike rides, naked skinny dipping record attempts, naked sporting games or naked protests will turn the tide and have nudity become more accepted at the basic community level. However, each of these attempts are simply more food for entertainment. Cameras outnumber participants. That the participants then paint up their bodies and find various strategies to say “see me, I’m naked” lets the watching public confirm their opinions that it is entertainment. The idea that somehow the viewing public will then turn around and get their various law agencies and churches and organisations to do a change in mindset and thus allow ordinary, non-entertaining nudity to be tolerated and legalized, is very wishful thinking. The events are what they are – good-natured exhibitionism where folks can have some fun without running afoul of the law – nude folk strutting their stuff.

Is there any hope at all for shifting the public mindset? If there is, it is at the micro level where individuals influence those in their immediate circle – family, neighbours, friends. One by one, tolerance and accommodation “may” be enlarged as these neighbours, friends and family members accept the fact of one’s proclivities toward nudity.

Change just a few minds, and perhaps then a few more will be changed as the ripple flows outwards further from one’s immediate circle. To limit one’s engagement with only those who are already nudist, naturists or nude-friendly only works against the eventual relaxing of the public attitude.

7 thoughts on “Is The Naturist-Nudist World It's Own Worst Enemy? Part 3

  1. Your thoughts are really enlightening as they are helping me gain perspective and understanding of the ‘bigger picture’. Thanks .

  2. I was listening to a local radio talk show and the person moderating the discussion said something like “50%” of the traffic on the internet is porn. This spiked interest in me and I wondered what the definition of porn really is. If visiting nudist sites or Tumblr, etc., and looking at pictures of naked folks is porn then I am contributing to that 50% of the “harmful” traffic. It’s easy to make statements like this and have them believed by the public.

    There is no doubt that the accessibility of XXX rated material has grown with the internet popularity but I wonder if that does not point to a void in our ways of life that people are trying to fill. Knowledge is power and I think if kids grew up knowing about our bodies, sex, and all that goes with that there would be less curiosity about those things. We seem to be headed in the opposite direction, though, with more restrictions and less birth control and sex education information being provided by public education.

    I have seen sex on the beaches both in the USA and Europe. ( I personally can’t see the attraction but obviously some people get off performing for an audience.) If I was a parent with my kid and happened to see that, I would tell him that the people were having sex and that would be it. Kids know much more than we adults think. They are curious and talk to others about the things we ourselves were curious about. Now, however, they can access the internet and find out about things that remained a mystery to us for years.

    A woman at a nudist spa in NZ asked me why men did not mind being nude. Her husband had always explained it to her using the commonly used “freedom” phrase and she had never bought that. I told her that I thought it was not so simple and usually it was a combination of things that convinced a man to go nude in a social setting. Exhibitionism, sex, seeing others nude and yes, “freedom”, all are reasons that combine to make one want to try social nudism. Only later when the initial impressions are over does one realize that the “comfort” effect is probably the most compelling reason to continue. It is so much more comfortable socializing with nude people than in other situations.

    Wishing that our neighbors will one day stop trying to close down beaches and pass more rules and regulations about public nudity will not solve the problem. Their cause in many instances is just as strong for them as ours is for us. All politics is local and those who make the regulations are the ones to concentrate on. Before you vote for a local councilperson find out her/his position on social nudity and public nudism. Have your local club designate a local government representative who will be the voice of your group. Make sure that representative interacts with the national action groups also. You must be pro-active and voice opinions at public hearings and meetings where these topics are discussed. Sitting in your room contributing to the 50% porn problem will not get it. HA!

  3. Thanks for the provocative posts. Indeed the wonderful world of the Internet is about hits and click-throughs and ad revenues. Since porn rules, any word that can draw visits will be used. Unfortunately naturism, nudism, nudity are “magic” (money) words too that can be buried in web sites to attract visits. Probably used to sell pots & pans too! 🙂

    Of course this conflating porn with naturism is an ideal vehicle for those who vehemently oppose true naturism on religious or other grounds and particularly exploit the images of children to make unjust accusations. Those in the know may reject the idea that naturism is in retreat and as you suggest hunkering down in private, membership only facilities behind doors and gates. However, in an earlier comment on another post the writer referred to having experienced a “swinger vibe” at a supposedly reputable camp. This would appear to be a significant problem for camp operators, web sites and “conventional” naturists. Whether there are accurate statistics related to the growth or retraction of naturism is unclear. Certainly if the statistics are made cloudy by vague definitions that include the more salacious practitioners they would be all but worthless.

    As you say there is a lot at stake and the Internet has provided some opportunity for the word to get out to describe the healthy aspects of a naturist lifestyle, but the negative illegitimate co-opting of terminology is presenting a major risk that may not have produced an appropriate response from true naturists – yet.

    Western societies in particular continuously struggle with progressive issues and the pendulum swings many times before the progressive alternative is accepted as the new normal. Heck they burned Elvis Presley records!

    However, as more and more previous taboos are crossed off the list, new taboos surface to replace them. It appears to me that this is the current situation, and significant problem, facing naturism. It has become more top-of-mind simply because many other taboos have been dealt with and it is the “new” threat to “civilization”. Life in the Bullseye is not fun!

    I see that the AANR has a series on its web site about “coming out”. It may be helpful for some but it does not appear to me to be the main problem.

    Despite claims of positive benefits made by naturists I am not aware of any peer reviewed research that verifies the many claims. It may be time to get a lot of naturists and non-naturists into fMRI’s and determine if there is a real difference and “if” practicing naturism changes our neuroplastic brains for the better. Even evidence like that will not likely change a lot of minds. The simple fact is that most people simply cannot imagine engaging in social nudity and no amount of “scientific” evidence – unless of course it can guarantee weight loss and/or cure cancer – will convince them to even try it once.

  4. I have to agree that many of the nudist activists cause more harm than good with the “in your face” tactics they use. Also true that the more hedonistic resorts foster a mentality that in order to be nude it has to be a sexualized experience. We have many guests who are excited to find places to go and enjoy the freedom/comfort of healty social nudity without it being an “edgy” environment. Many have said that after several of those experiences, they simply don’t want to expend the energy inn those environments.

    Social nudity CAN be sexualized, but it can also be an experience of peace, reflection and self discovery…as well as an opportunity for partners to connect on a less carnal level.

    When we have enough places for people to go and be safe, secure, comfortable and allowed to have the sensual experience of social nudity…and they find the positive benefits we will have a better opportunity to educate the general population without being so “in your face” about our chosen lifestyle.

    Now….go Enjoy the Sunshine!

  5. Bill. Interesting comments.

    About the AANR campaign–it is a joint effort with TNS and these articles are the first ones within that cooperative plan. I think they basically offer suggestions for folks who have difficulty telling relations and friends about their lifestyle. To some it may seem to be unnecessary but to others it might spur them on to take part in conversations like these.

    I agree with Robert and think that is necessary but that it is a very small part. Once one decides that his lifestyle is not a big deal and definitely not illegal or immoral he should be able to look anyone, including public figures, in the eye and tell them that the nudist lifestyle works great for him and they might want to try it. I think the worst possible approach is an evangelical one where one presents his lifestyle as the “answer”. What if there is no problem with the target person’s life? I am just liberal enough to think that there can be two rights and as long as no one is harmed, one should be able to live as he pleases. Nude or textile worlds can coexist. The problem only arises when one group thinks the other has to change and be more like their group. (Separation of church and state has to be maintained, IMHO.)

    To me, it seems that the nudist lifestyle has to offer something of interest in order to “recruit” new members. That means that we have to have programs, outings and workshops that interest young folks, middle-aged folks and old folks. I’m not so sure the 20 somethings are interested in sitting around playing Monopoly or Bingo. Most of them probably have never heard of those games. Also, they might not think lolling around a pool is a good way to spend their time. Resorts might have to come up with new and different ways to attract young people–How about a robot competition or a rave? How about a presentation of the coming legalization of weed? How about workshops on the Keppler telescope and its discoveries? How about career fairs that bring representatives from the industry to talk about work in the hospitality business. Maybe a workshop about raising your children in a nudist household would be of interest to young parents–It would be interesting even to me to hear about the experiences of couples who have done that. How about a lecture concerning retirement plans. There are many talented folks who practice this lifestyle and I think the clubs and resorts should tap their expertise.

    I can even think of topics for men only and women only. Members could invite their same-sex friends who are interested in the subject and the fact that some attendees are naked would not be the main focus.

    We have to get comfortable with ourselves, the way we live and be willing to be open about it to others. We have to offer an interesting package of things to do. This will require thinking outside of the box, talking with local governmental agencies and who knows, you might not recognize this lifestyle in 10 years.

    • Don,

      Your list sounds like “Sunshine U”. Each individual location would have to extensively test the various programs to see what resonated and what didn’t.

      Another potential might be more direct community involvement like the
      Global Shapers Community http://www.globalshapers.org

      I do not have the direct experience of being a member of a landed club as you apparently do. Your comments seem to imply that just being naked and hanging about in the fresh air can get pretty boring and thus the need for more attractions beyond Monopoly and Bingo.

      If the benefits of social-nudity extend beyond the “comfort” effect as you posted earlier and include a deeper understanding of the inherent unity of humanity then perhaps groups within the clubs or camps can take that feeling and extend it to broader community building. That might get a favourable response from an otherwise hostile community.

      Bill

  6. Bill,

    The focus seems to be on attracting more people to the nudist way of living. Dwindling membership of clubs and associations seems to be a trend now and the aging members of these groups are concerned about that. Groups are important because they provide representation when our rights are threatened. If no one speaks up when a long recognized nude beach is abolished we will continue to lose these places. I have never understood the heartburn that people have about these few places anyway. They usually are small, hard to access, and a small sliver of the much larger textile area. The way to censor a radio program is to turn off the radio if you do not like the program and the best way to avoid a nude beach is to ignore it.

    This is not unique to naturists. Other “hobby” based groups are also trying to find ways to maintain their membership. (Some of this is commercial, of course, and thus the interest of AANR which has commercial members as well as individual members.)

    For an individual the option is to do nothing and just enjoy what appeals to him/her and disregard the rest. If a club disappears the person simply has to find another to join or do without the benefits the club offered. The other option would be to work to improve the club and try to fit it somewhere into the changing society so it would be viable still. That requires interest, effort, money, imagination and time so many are willing to settle for option #1.

    I took a look at the http://www.globalshapers.org website and will browse it some more.

    I have some friends in NZ who have participated in the international nudist federation movement representing the groups in their country. I think some U.S. groups used to participate but have now dropped out of that. I mention this because in my limited experience many in our country are not interested in a “World” concept and are only interested in our country and what we can do here. (I was in a discussion with a neighbor about the direction we were headed and quoted an article from “The Economist” to support my position. My neighbor said the point was invalid because “those writers at that magazine are only interested in driving us into socialism and bias their articles accordingly.)

    Thanks for the thought provoking comments.

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