Respect

I’m finding this to be a difficult post to write, and I can imagine that it might be somewhat controversial. But I believe that what I need to say here needs to be out. And I want to thank Ginger @breastsrhealthy for setting an example with her consistently helpful and respectful tone in addressing widespread ignorance and fear regarding topfree equality – see here for an excellent recent post.

This post is about blocking, and about exposure to naturism, and about what some people call “dick pics,” and about tolerance. Ultimately, it is about respect.

On Twitter, where I am @nudescribe, there are many account-holders who weave in and out of naturism and pornography, or deliberately confuse one with the other. I followed the lead of a high-profile naturist web page curator, Earl D at clothesfreelife.com  / @Liveclothesfree and used his block list to block many people because of their focus on pornography. Some of them were already following me, others could have been potential followers. It makes sense to do that.

At the same time, there are so many new account holders and second account holders that to truly maintain a block list requires a “constant vigilance” that seems impossible for me, at least, to devote the time to. It’s a herculean task. I’m happy to use someone else’s list. Great.

But here’s the problem: I notice that many new followers seem to be men – young, middle-aged, older – who tend to use penis photos for their avatars. They tend to be from certain areas of the world under the sway of very conservative religious and governmental controls – areas like Indonesia, say, or Egypt, or Lebanon, or Utah. What I understand is that these men can be confused about what naturism means. And there are so many, many reasons for them to be confused, especially when they live in deeply religious societies. I think we need to show some tolerance, and seize the chance to educate, at least as much as possible, before jumping to block. We need more people, not fewer people, to understand what naturism is. And if we automatically write off people who are confused about the distinction between naturism and pornography, well… that’s a whole lot of people.

So I want to address the penis-avatar crowd directly, but what I want to say is for all of us to ponder:

Your penis is wonderful. Your body is beautiful. I hope you have discovered or re-discovered the joy that it is to feel your penis, and all of your body, respond to the breeze blowing or the water flowing over your naked skin. These sensations should be experienced. They should be part of the common knowledge of what it is to live in a body with a penis – of what it is to experience your body unclothed in the elements. Unfortunately, many men never learn these sensations, and as a result, the understanding of the natural range of movement of a basic body part is restricted exclusively and wrongly to sexual situations, and/or to situations of assigned guilt and shame. Just as unfortunately, many women never learn the sensation of the breeze over their vulva, or the lakewater buoying unbound breasts. And these sensations should be part of the common knowledge of what it is to live in a body with breasts, a body with a vulva – again, of what it is to experience your body unclothed in the elements.

You need to know that naturists can understand your focus on your penis – after all, for men it is usually the last body part to be undressed, which makes it the first body part to signify being naked. There is a sensuality to exposing the entire body. Many naturist leaders of several genders have reflected on the sensual intensity of sun or rain or surf on skin.

But naturism is much more than that. Much, much more. Change your focus to the big picture. The standard definition, from the International Naturist Federation, is:

“Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterized by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.”

Notice that the focus is on respect: respect for bodies -our own as much as others’ – and for nature. Respect for the range of bodies out there, of all sizes, shapes, ages and colors, ranges of abilities and genders and sexual orientations. Respect for them, for us all, as part of nature – we are part of the natural world, and our nudity reinforces that.

Sex is a part of the natural world, too. We know this. Naturists also know that because of centuries of church and government taboos on nudity, it’s understandable that people tend to confuse nudity with sex, and both of them with pornography.

But if you are truly interested in naturism, if you are truly open to naturism, you will move beyond the need to see bodies, and photos or videos of bodies. Again, this need to see bodies is understandable, because our governments and religions starve us of ourselves. If you don’t grow up seeing naked humanity – including as might be depicted in art –  you are deprived of an essential way of knowing humanity and knowing who we are, what we are, how we grow and become. This deprivation is one of humanity’s greatest cruelties to itself, because the frequent results – body shame and humiliation, slut-shaming, hazing rituals, unwanted pregnancies, sexual crimes and more – are horrendous. Naturism, to its immense credit, strives to undo that kind of deprivation of bodily knowledge, or, even better, strives to make possible a world in which there is no deprivation, because naturists tend to truly know and accept our bodies in a socially and naturally supported state of nudity as often as possible.

Photos courtesy @Naked_Club, organizers of many fine fun naturist events

Young man from Malaysia, middle-aged man from Texas, older man from Peru, swinger couple from Barcelona: enjoy yourselves. Enjoy your bodies. If your focus online is sexual gratification, it’s easy to see that and block you. But take it upon yourselves to move beyond just looking at bodies, toward thinking about wholeness and health. Work to organize naturism, or to support topfree equality, where you live. Work to create and share a climate of respect in social nudity, preferably outdoors, so that more people can benefit from a better understanding of their own bodies, others’ bodies, and nature. Make it happen somehow.

One of the main ingredients for making naturism happen is nudity. But the key ingredient is respect.

8 thoughts on “Respect

  1. Very nicely said. We try to take the time to educate those who seem to have limited understanding of social nudity and the appropriate way to communicate in the naturist world. Some get it, some don't…that's fine, but we all need to try and help those who haven't been in situations where they could properly express their sexuality and body freedom.

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  2. Great piece, thanks for putting it this way, clear enough for all to understand, and very respectful from you to others' motives and state-of-mind. I've seen lately a growing effort from naturist/nudist/nude-enthusiast/top-free community to educate those taking their first steps into this wonderful world and those already being part of it on how to guide the former into the right path. We have to know and accept that many newcomers may have, and surely they have, a very tangled set of ideas that need to be addressed patiently by a naturist/nudist/nude-enthusiast/top-free person to teach what belongs to our world and what should remind into their private worlds. Some will stick with us, some will the detour into the corresponding sphere where they'll be happy without doing any harm to the naturist.

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  3. Thanks for your comment. I think naturists on the whole are a very tolerant bunch. It's of course possible to be too tolerant. But really if you follow the basic tenet of respect for our bodies and nature then that's the gist of it I think.

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  4. Here is a great comment that came to me via email from Allen H: \”Again, this is a great, though-provoking blog entry. I very much like the closing thought, that \”one of the main ingredients for making naturism happen is nudity. But the key ingredient is respect.\” We live in a culture in which we are bombarded at every level with the idea that \”it's not my fault\”: what I do comes from my family of origin, from my social and economic status, from my religion\” … One of the great growths that comes with naturism is the increased consciousness that \”I have control of my life,\” and \”I take responsibility for my life.\” A part of that, though — and this is what is particularly fascinating and troubling about what you propose, Will — is to say, \”I don't agree with you about where you are, but I respect you, and I expect you to respect me.\” That goes far towards becoming clear within myself of what I expect of myself, and of assuming responsibility for myself. It's particularly important I suppose when we're on our path of being naked with one another: but sometimes I think that being naked and respectful and at ease with each other is just one more healthy by-product of our growing ease with ourselves and our communities: a community which includes the earth itself.\”

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  5. Thanks, Allen – these are excellent points and it's why I think we're better off addressing our values, educating, and recognizing the sensuality of being nude in nature, I think especially for the new generation of potential naturists.

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  6. Might be regional or different countries, but I see here that a lot of naturist groups are far from tolerant. They form little cliques that exclude everyone else, including other naturists, calling basically anyone who's not part of their little club a pervert, ESPECIALLY other naturist and ESPECIALLY if those other naturists are single men.It's got to the point where single men are shunned, not allowed entry, on naturist camp sites and other venues, and couples only allowed after being invited by other members and vetted by committee. Some go so far as to demand police background checks for prospective members and visitors.This is paranoia gone too far, and is (probably) in large part caused by the shift in our \”culture\” towards ever more seeing nudity in an overly sexualised way, to the point that even naturists have come to believe that any other person calling themselves a naturist is merely a gawker or intended rapist.It makes it extremely hard for people to take up a naturist lifestyle outside of their own homes, and extremely risky too when just being spotted by a neighbour who then calls the police can make you lose your job for being a \”pervert\”.

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  7. Thanks for your comment. This is a very interesting point, beyond the scope, I think, of what I was addressing in this post. You've raised a topic that really should have a dedicated post (or two, or several) just by itself. What I can say here, at least, is that different clubs or parks, because of their varying regulations and demographics, have different degrees of success in being flexible toward newcomers, or toward single males, etc. Some are actually quite successful, and maybe their successes just aren't getting enough attention.

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