Daring Naturists

Just the other day, I was out with a group of friends when someone commented that my shoes were orange in colour. ‘You are quite daring,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t be seen dead in orange shoes.’ Another friend immediately retorted, ‘Oh, wearing orange shoes is nothing for him. He dares to do more than that. He dares to go about naked.’ The first guy then said, ‘I guess if you dare to go naked, you dare to do anything. You can have no more shame.’

The concept of shame has a long history in Chinese philosophy. More than 3,000 years ago, Chinese philosophers have been debating about the question of shame. The debate culminated in Confucius summing up in his own eloquent words his rather warped idea of shame. According to Confucius, shame is an essential human trait. A man who has no shame is no better than an animal. But to Confucius, a cultured man or woman must feel shame if he or she transgresses any one of the many ancient precepts. These precepts demand strict conformity to tradition and rituals.

The tradition and rituals include (among many things) how a gentleman or lady should be dressed. The idea of going about naked would be anathema to Confucius. Confucius scholars will no doubt declare that a naturist is the ultimate shameless being who is no better than an animal. This may explain why there are so few naturists among people of Chinese descent.

When my friends said that there was nothing I wouldn’t dare to do because I had no problem going around naked, they were merely repeating this warped concept of shame.

But they are totally wrong. It’s not true that naturists have no shame at all. I would be most ashamed if I told a lie. I’d be terribly ashamed if I were guilty of discourtesy or an act of unkindness. I would be overwhelmed by guilt and shame if I behaved in an unjust manner towards another human being. But I’m not ashamed if I’m nude because there is nothing in the human body that is evil or indecent.

The traditionalists have got it all wrong. It’s true that a good person should not be incapable of feeling shame. But he should only feel ashamed if he has done something that hurts or harms another person.

54 thoughts on “Daring Naturists”

  1. The following is based on the teaching of a counselor (DELETE Psychologist) some 30 years ago. I can't remember who. I'll check my books.

    I believe that "shame" is a taught concept used to manipulate people. Calling it a trait just says the same thing. We are capable of being shamed and owning it.

    There is a big difference between "SHAME" and real emotions fear,anger,joy, happiness, sadness.

    We are born with the latter mechanisms. They protect us (fear) and elevate us (joy).
    "shame" is taught as a controller. "shame" means you are not worthwhile or good enough when the opposite is obvious. You are worthwhile. That other person does not like what you are doing.
    I'll remember the Psychologist's name after more coffee.

    • True about shame being taught as a controller, but fear and anger (which lead to hate) have also been instilled by politicians and religious leaders to control and manipulate people. That is how dictators, ideologies and religions gain control. Get enough people angry or fearful long enough to believe something and it becomes ingrained in the population. All emotions are used to control others.

  2. I would take the "But he should only feel ashamed if he has done something that hurts or harms another person" a bit farther to include harming any other life form without necessity (such as for self defense or food), and without harming the very planet which sustains us.

  3. Many people blindly follow what a religious authority tells them to think and do. Most religious people I know and in the "Bible Belt" would probably say public and social nudity are shameful. Some of them are probably hypocrites and look at nude pictures or even pornography in private and link the two together. It makes it more exciting when it's forbidden.

    The website link below is an example of Christian dogma teaching nudity is shameful. It states "public displays of nudity dishonor God by pretending an innocence that no longer exists. A Christian should definitely not be a nudist or participate in nudist activities." I obviously disagree with this narrow-minded teaching and think it is disgraceful. I know I'm "preaching to the choir" as they say.

  4. Agreed. Most people in conservative cultures are so inculcated with the concept of nakedness as shameful and have been taught that they should feel offended at the sight of nudity. It's a wonder how these cultures produce doctors and nurses, except that there are people who study anatomy and realize convention is misguided.

    • I've thought a great deal about this and it's not just ancient Chinese philosophy that is anti-nudity. When my former schoolmates first heard from me that I was a naturist, they didn't believe me at first until I sent them a selfie I took on a nudist beach in Croatia. One of them, a devout Hindu (the believing kind and not just the cultural sort) told me that he and his wife were quite traumatised by my revelation and they thought I was just childish and naive and taken for a ride by decadent people from the West. They both agreed that they couldn't live with a spouse who was a naturist. In other words, they both affirmed their firm belief in textilism.

      In Asia, I have a lot of experience living among people of diverse cultures and religions. I must say the Chinese people are the least opposing despite Confucianism. The main thing is most Chinese people just mind their own affairs and they are not meddlesome about others. They just keep to themselves even if they think your behaviour is disgraceful.

      The group that is most rabidly anti-nudity and which is almost impossible to penetrate is the Muslim community. When some friends of mine went naked 3 years ago on a deserted beach in Penang, Malaysia (a Muslim country) and nobody saw them except for a video that went viral 3 months after the incident, the newspapers reported that more than a dozen Muslim groups lodged police reports against them. Many of them were subsequently sentenced to prison for periods ranging from one month to six months. A similar thing happened in Singapore but because nobody saw them except for a video that got circulated after the event, nothing happened. The Muslim population is only a minority and nobody filed police reports and so the police didn't take action. Not long ago, a group of foreign mountaineers took a group nude shot at Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia and they too were arrested but because of international outcry, they were let off after only spending a day in jail. It's very foolish to go naked in a Muslim country or any country that has a Muslim majority. It's not so bad when all you're dealing with are people with merely a cultural opposition to nudity. If it's a religious opposition (particularly if the religion is extremely obtrusive), that can spell the end of naturism for that land.

      Taiwan is a country that is extremely influenced by Confucian teachings but they are among the most accepting of naturism anywhere in Asia. It may also be the first Asian country that allows gay marriage. As long as there is no religion in the way, cultural disapproval of nudity can more easily be overcome.

  5. I agree there is nothing on the human body that is evil or indecent. I wish no one thought that any body part was shameful. The warped concept of exposed body parts being shameful has a history in religion also. No part of another animal is shameful, so why should any part of a human body be? We are mammals.
    According to the story of Adam and Eve, the first sin of disobedience caused the only two people in existence to be ashamed of their genitals and cover them when they had never been told they should be covered. Their sin had nothing to do with any part of their body.
    I agree, people should only be ashamed of what they do if it physically or emotionally harms others, not of being nude. It may be daring to most people, but not shameful.

    • I read Genesis a little differently – it's been translated as "they knew they were naked, and they were ashamed". I read that as being ashamed of knowing they were naked, not of being naked. It was the knowledge that showed they had broken God's command not to eat that fruit. I've had friends ask, "Are you decent?" and I always reply either "Yes" or "I try to be". Whether I'm dressed or not is irrelevant to my answer, since nudity and decency are no more related than nudity and sex.

      • I see the Genesis narrative differently also: "Who told you that you were naked?" Is the Q that God put to Adam and Eve. If nudity was wrong, that makes God a pervert. A& E were exposed, I.e. aware of a sense of shame at having disobeyed. Their sewing fig leaves and hiding was a physical attempt to hide emotional, spiritual nakedness…I.e. exposure of sin (disobedience, not nudity). The animal skins were made as A&E would need protection from the environment as they would now be expelled from the garden.

        Many Biblical figures are not condemned for nudity… Bathsheba, David, Peter, as baths were taken in rivers, pool would have been outdoors or in a chamber pot, and tents didn't allow much privacy among families. Nudity was much more normal than most modern people realize. Several prophets were recorded as going nude or even commanded to go naked: Isaiah and Saul among them. FigLeafForum.com is a great site for Biblical study on nudity, as the KJV and other translations have mistranslated the original languages due to prevailing cultural norms at time of translation.

        • From a religious standpoint, if God created man, if God sees everything, then nudism is standing before God exposed, without anything hidden, as the Psalmist said: "Search me, O God, and know my thoughts". Clothes are symbolic as a covering for sin, but if sin is confessed, it is removed. No need to cover.

    • There is another part in Genesis that probably shows the cultural opposition to nudity but it's unfortunately tied inextricably with religion because it talks about God, etc. That's the part when Ham saw his father naked and told his brothers about it. His brothers took a blanket and walked backwards so they couldn't see their father's nudity and covered their father. Although the word 'shame' is not used, it's obvious that to the writer of that part of Genesis, nudity is equated to shame and Ham's mere sight of his father naked is enough to bring shame to his father. I have always tried to defend Christianity against any charge of it being anti-nudity but I have to admit that are little snippets in the Bible that do show a culture that is as anti-nudity as most cultures on our planet.

      • Again, this is a another example of mistranslated verse. The passages in Leviticus forbidding 'uncovering your (various family/relatives/etc) nakedness is a euphemism/idiom for SEX. Various translations use nudity as Ham's since and the story makes no sense as a result. There is some dispute as to what the sin was, but it was at a minimum making a mockery of Noah, and more likely incest w/a drunken Noah or perhaps w/Ham's mother and perhaps even rape (instances of that in the Bible). Prohibitions on nudity are like prohibitions on alcohol, etc. It's easier to ban something than exercise or teach moderation. Culturally we are lazy and look for the easy way out of difficult situations. Most preachers are no exception, especially in this area, but then, they've been indoctrinated on this subject at least since the Victorian era.

        • That's the problem. The Bible was written by people thousands of years ago, translated TO different languages several times and is interpreted differently by different groups. That's why there are so many beliefs, denominations and sects. People will never agree on everything it says. Then they rely on biblical experts and theologians who don't agree either to tell them.

          • There is enough evidence that points to the veracity of what the key themes are; whether someone believes the themes are accurate is 1. a matter of faith, and 2. not the issue I am arguing here; but lesser matters such as nudity or drinking wine are certainly not the main focus, albeit a source of frustration from those who refuse to consider alternative perspectives from the one most held in fashion.

    • Another Bible verse showing that nudity wasn't considered sinful is John 21:7:
      Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

      Here was a fisherman, in plain view of the shore, working naked.

      Another verse is Isaiah 20:3:
      And the LORD said, Just as my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder against Egypt and against Ethiopia;

      So clearly God doesn't think being naked is a sin, otherwise he would have had his servant wear clothes.

  6. Well put, I think that unfortunately there are way too many shameless people around.
    We do take care not to hurt or offend, but we also feel that naturism is not offensive because it is the heart of nature. The 'mindset' of others can be offensive to naturists.

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