I have now returned from our last camping trip and the camper is unpacked and soon to be put into its winter resting place nearby. Since it is a warm day (30C) and sunny, it didn’t take me long to find a spot in my back yard where I could be skyclad and do some reading. It has been a while since I have looked at James Hollis’ book, Why Good People Do Bad Things, so it just felt right to bring the book out from the shelf where it has lain idle.
Why? Well perhaps it has to do with the fact that being nude, even in one’s own yard, is doing something bad. If this wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t be hiding in the back yard or staying clothed when in other nature settings where people are present. Of course I am using the word “people” here to refer to others in general terms for other naturists/nudists wouldn’t view my nudity as me doing something bad – maybe a bit controversial or risky given the environmental and societal conditions surrounding my nudity.
As it happens, I found something in the book that bears repeating here, a quotation that fits what I am talking about.
As children, we learn to “read” the world around us to find what is acceptable, what is dangerous. Many learned that matters of sexual character were not permissible in their family or religion, and so associated their own natural impulses and desires as something evil, or at best furtive and contaminated. [p. 205]
Nudity, in spite of all the noise made by naturists and nudists to the contrary, is sexual. Sexual does not mean that being nude means that one is on the verge of copulating with another person (willingly or unwillingly on their part). Sexual does mean that one’s sexuality is not disguised or denied as though that sexuality – bare skin, exposed genitals (overt or implied) – was indeed something to be ashamed of. Toddlers exhibit a “natural” way of being when they lose their clothing to run freely in their “birthday suits.” We teach these toddlers that it is unacceptable to be natural in this manner, basing our beliefs on religion, societal prejudices, law, and even under the guise of simply it being infantile and unseemly as one grows older. I notice that just by my finding a quiet and secluded space in my yard, I demonstrate just how powerful those childhood injunctions are on the psyche. Hollis goes on to explain further.
The by-product of our necessary collusion with the realpolitik of childhood vulnerability is guilt, shame,inhibition, and most of all, self-alienation. We all, still today, reenact these collusions, suffer this shame, and retreat from our wholeness. [ibid]
The shoe fits, doesn’t it? It’s time to go back to some more reading. I will be back. Until then, ask yourself a few hard questions and see just how much you want to avoid admitting that this also speaks about you and your experience.