Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Definitions

“‘Why go naked?’ It is about feeling relaxed, comfortable and free. Imagine walking on a glorious sunny day, wild flowers in full bloom, the alluring green of the South Downs, and the pleasure of the company of like minded people. Reason enough for many to walk in the countryside, but walking without the encumbrance of clothes enhances the experience many times over. ‘Why be a naturist, why go naked?’ is really the wrong question. The real question is, ‘Why not?’ What really stops you?” – The Thoughtful Naturist We were all born naked; this is a simple truth. So what happened after that? Why are we so concerned about nudity? It all starts with what we mean when we think and talk about nudity. Nude is simply not wearing clothes, but as Jenny Harper points out, the concept carries others meanings: “When we use the term ‘naked’, we are referring to being deprived of clothes. It’s a word that almost generates embarrassment of such a condition. We regularly speak of ‘the naked truth’ and ‘the naked soul’, which suggests that nakedness is not just a physical state but a spiritual and psychological one. The word ‘nude’, on the other hand, carries no uncomfortable overtone. The image it projects is not of a defenseless body, but of a confident body.” So I’ll begin with a few definitions to reduce misunderstanding and confusion from the start. Nudism is the ‘practice’ of not wearing clothing. Don’t read more into it than that. Nudists are people who enjoy doing things common to daily life without wearing clothes. They are normal people who like the feeling of the sun and wind on their skin and the freedom to be content with themselves without shame or fear. Nudists believe that the human body is not bad, ugly, or illegal. They enjoy being naked when it is natural, but have common sense so don’t demand nakedness everywhere, anytime, but only when it feels natural and practical. Nudists don't go naked to offend or provoke. They only shed their clothes when it’s convenient and comfortable. They simply enjoy the world at its most natural by experiencing life naked. To be considered a nudist requires no minimum or maximum level of participation in social nudity and it’s really more a mental attitude about the body anyway, so many of its benefits can be derived without ever taking off a stitch of clothing. ‘True’ nudists are not exhibitionists, voyeurs, swingers, or perverts of any kind, so are not interested in seeing others naked, being seen naked, or making nudity sexual. For a nudist, nakedness is not about seeing or sex; it’s about being. The terms Naturism and Naturist are often used interchangeably with the terms Nudism and Nudist, though Naturism also implies more than just taking off clothing for recreation. It’s more of a life philosophy concerned with respect for self, for others, and for the environment, with physical, psychological, environmental, social, and moral benefits. I prefer the term naturist over nudist because it promotes and promulgates a larger, more inclusive worldview, and not just the idea of getting naked for recreation. (So I will mostly use the terms ‘naturist’ and ‘naturism’ from now on.) It’s very important to understand that naturism is not sexual. (I will discuss this in more detail later.) Rather, it’s a totally moral, chaste, and safe life philosophy. It’s not a religion; it is practiced by people of all religious persuasions whether they are Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Wiccan, Pagan - and yes there are even Muslim and Mormon naturists! Naturism may be seen as ‘sinful’ by conservative people who misunderstand and think it is immodest, feeling that naturists are obsessed by evil, but this is untrue. Some people are drawn to naturism more than others and may therefore need it more to be right with themselves. But people are no more obsessed with naturism than they are with being clothed – in fact, they are perhaps less obsessed than ‘textiles’ who demand that ‘everyone’ always be clothed, or else. It’s wrong to be ‘obsessed’ with the sexual aspects of nakedness, and this type of obsessed person is certainly not a naturist. Some examples follow: Voyeurs are accused of being addicted to pornography because they get perverse sexual pleasure from seeking out and looking at naked or scantily dressed people and photos. Gawkers, a unique category of voyeur, might sit with binoculars above any beach watching the people below. Gawkers may even get nude on a beach and sit near other naked people to get a close-up view, and often use a cell phone to take photographs. Voyeurs and Gawkers are NOT naturists. In fact, they may get ‘turned on’ even more by sexy clothing than by nakedness, and are seldom nude while practicing voyeurism. Exhibitionists or Flashers get excitement and perverse sexual pleasure from showing parts of their bodies to shock others. Exhibitionism does not occur in naturism because exhibitionists find no thrill in places that lack overt sexuality; naturists are not shocked by nudity. Exhibitionists may be people who are trying to come to terms with naturism in the wrong way, but they are definitely NOT naturists yet. In naturist environments exhibitionists are as unwanted as in the rest of society, so people who cannot control their ‘inner exhibitionist’ will not be tolerated because true naturists do not get naked to be seen, to shock people, or to experience sexual pleasure. Naturists just like being nude. If they like to be with others, it's because humans are social creatures. Swingers use nudity to find sexual partners other than their spouse. Sex is the main goal for swingers, not being nude, and because nudity might inhibit sexuality, swingers often prefer sexually alluring clothing to total nudity. Swingers are definitely NOT naturists, at least when swinging. Pornists use nudity as a sexual lure to attract people and make money. This group includes strippers, prostitutes, pornographers, and the like. Even some art, fashion, marketing, and media types become pornists at times. These people are NOT naturists. They are only interested in nudity because of the money it produces – sex sells. One might wonder if voyeurs, exhibitionists, swingers, pornists, and the like can be considered nudists when they are simply relaxing without clothes. Perhaps yes, if the reason for being naked is truly ‘not’ about sex. Naturism and sexual activities are totally separate, so it’s as possible for a swinger to also be a naturist as it is for an evangelical Christian. But, since practicing naturism disconnects the ‘naked equals sex’ mind-set, it is essentially impossible for those focused on sex to be naturists who by definition don’t focus on sex. So, don’t make the mistake of lumping this less-than-wholesome crowd with naturism. Exhibitionists are NOT naturists; they are motivated to show their skin for sexual thrills. Voyeurs and those caught up with porn are NOT naturists; they just want to see skin for sexual stimulation. Swingers are NOT naturists; they are motivated by sexual conquest. Pornists like strippers and those involved in sexually-oriented photography and marketing are NOT naturists; they are making money selling sexual fantasy. In contrast, real naturists enjoy naturism for the natural simplicity and sense of freedom it brings them, ‘free’ from sexuality. Finally, perhaps the most common category of people to consider is Textiles. These people may be so obsessed with wearing clothing that they are uncomfortable being nude around anyone, even with a spouse, or in a group shower, or with a doctor. Not only that, but textiles moralistically demand that everyone conform to their clothes-obsessed attitude, seeing nakedness as sexual and perverted. They don’t even realize that they are actually more obsessed with clothing, nakedness, and sex than naturists. They are just the flip-side of the same unwholesome, sexually-oriented coinage as voyeurs, flashers, swingers, and the sex-for-pay crowd, who think nudity and imagine sex. One of the very best aspects of naturism is that it tends to cure people, at least those who want to be cured, from negative sexual obsessions surrounding voyeurism, exhibitionism, swinging, and pornism. Even obsessed textiles who try naturism can be cured. Using nudity as a cure for sexual obsession may seem counterintuitive, but I know this to be true from experience. In the past I was plagued to some degree with voyeurism, exhibitionism, and pornography. Learning about and practicing naturism totally cured me, but more about that later. I understand you may think naturism to be ‘quirky,’ because it is; it must be to correct an even ‘quirkier,’ worldly body attitude. But as ‘quirky’ as naturism seems, it turns out that one is in good company as a naturist. “Nudism is an expression of freedom and to be nude is to be totally free. Nudism embraces the joy of living in a comfortable, healthy, and natural way.” - Inudist “Being naked does not a naturist make. Being a naturist is a life view with nudity as a connection to humanity and nature.” - The Naturist Review “Naturism is a philosophy of life. It’s a way of thinking, acting, and looking at the rest of the world. We are fostering respect for self, for others, and for the environment. . . naturism is a lot more than just taking your clothes off. It is a life philosophy with physical, psychological, environmental, social and moral benefits. People join naturist clubs because they want to find a better way.” – Stéphane Deschênes “I am a ‘Christian naturist’, so to me, naturism is about being able to live as God intended, ‘naked (nude) and unashamed’. It is about allowing our bodies to interact with our environments as they were ‘designed’, not filtered and suffocated through some man-made vestiges apart from the need for protection from the elements such as thorns, thistles, too much sun or too little warmth. It is about proudly proclaiming and displaying that we are made in ‘God's image’, mind, soul AND BODY.” - Nathan Powers “In a topsy-turvy culture where wearing clothes is thought of as normal, and going without is seen as the behavior of exhibitionists or weirdos, an unexpected flash of flesh does for everyday experience what Shelley thought was poetry’s task: it ‘strips the veil of familiarity from the world’. Nudists . . . are the human exclamation marks that punctuate our lives.” - Robert Douglas-Fairhurst “Frankly I have long since tired of so many in general society viewing nudists as eccentric, odd, voyeuristic, exhibitionists, sexual predators and pedophiles. We are simply normal, everyday Americans who refuse to buy into the prudish culture of body shame, extremist modesty standards and nudity as a societal taboo.” - The Emerging Nudist “When a person starts to get outside with the sun and wind on their skin they tend to start appreciating the natural world more. This is why I use the term Naturism instead of Nudism. The practice is not just about being nude. It is getting back to a natural condition physically, psychologically and socially. Extending that perspective outside of yourself allows for an appreciation of others and the world around you.” – Cayanet

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for these terrific definitions and citations! "Nudists... are the human exclamation marks that punctuate our lives." Wow.

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  2. Ken,

    I think your blog is great. I am considering handing this post to my wife to read the next time she complains about me being nude. It may get her to better understand my view.

    In future posts, especially the lengthy ones like this, will you consider using paragraphs? It will make your thoughts easier to read and understand.

    Thanks. Keep up the good work.

    -JR

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice blog. But I agree with JR that you need to break things into paragraphs. It is a bit daunting to read as is.

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  5. So interesting to see prominent mention of my patch, the South Downs here is the south of England. You must have visited sometime!

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