January 4, 2015 in Uncategorized
A series of posts that I've seen here on this site, and some other notes I've have from people, have really got me thinking again about this "extreme polarization" within the "nudist community," and how awful it is that something so wildly simple as taking off your clothes has to be chopped-up into regulated categories and closely-guarded social cliques. It's bad enough that I think I don't really want to be a part of these nudist-specific social networks any longer, and I'm going to say a few things here that I know will upset certain people, but I'm going to say them anyway--not to hurt anyone's feelings or stir-up trouble, and certainly not because I have any particular "agenda" beyond wanting to enjoy my life as I see fit, in peace.
Let me start-out by providing some background on who I am, philosophically-speaking, and how I have always thought of nudist activities...
Firstly, I'll state that I am a totally non-religious person. And I don't even know precisely why I include that fact here, except to hopefully illustrate that I try very hard to base all my viewpoints and actions upon reason. In my view, reason is the simplest and most straight-forward pathway toward mutual acceptance and compassion for one-another. I try to apply logic to all my actions, and I "believe" in nothing at all. I have only 5 senses available to me, and if something cannot be explained to me, quite simply, in the context of those 5 senses, then I assume it's something I can't "know" about and thus I form no opinions about it. So I'm not an atheist, exactly, and neither am I a "new age" spiritualist. I don't know what "spiritual" even means. I practice Yoga regularly, for example, because it's great exercise and makes me feel wonderful, but I'm still waiting for someone to provide me with a scientifically valid explanation of what a Chakra is.
But I do digress, and the second point I wanted to lead to is that I am a HUMANIST. I am a human-being, and I firmly and profoundly feel that the evidence around us dictates that our focus should be on the here and now, and on helping one-another live-out lives that are as wonderful, beautiful, and as pleasurable as HUMANLY possible. To me, the only thing I have any business "believing" is that the universe is fairly random, that there is no "purpose" to it, and that the only thing we really "have" is our own selves, and one-another, for a tragically brief period of time on this amazing Earth. And those factors dictate to me how vitally important it is to treat myself, one-another, and the planet with TOTAL respect and care. Those are the priorities in my life, and I don't need a lot of rules and regulations, or specially-defined structures, to tell me how to do it. It's instinctual. I know exactly who I am, and I know how I like to be treated. I try every day to extend that very same kindness to everyone that I possibly can.
So that is my belief system in a nutshell. But I hate labels and categories where they are not needed, and I think that if most people got to know me they would say that my philosophy of life defies easy explanation.
My experiences with going nude in social situations came at a fairly early age, for me, but I also didn't grow-up with it. So for me it was a totally new experience at around the same time that I was becoming aware of my sexuality for the first time, and also transitioning to becoming sexually active. And with those factors coalescing, under the circumstances, also, of enjoying the overall bohemian culture of the California beach-bum lifestyle, I will confess that the opportunities to run around totally naked, at the beach, with my good friends, had a powerful influence on my relaxed attitudes toward sex and sexual behavior.
I've already described, at length, in other blog entries, here, why I think that nudity cannot and should not be "normalized" in the sense that many people seem to mean by that phrasing. I.e., that we should all "learn" to accept nakedness as the "natural" state of being, and by so doing, somehow extract from our experience the beauty of the human form as a subject of sensuality. I cannot for the life of me come-up with any "rational" excuse to do so. But that is because I view it from the standpoint of biological and evolutionary evidence. And I think the evidence shows that human beings, as creatures of nature, are oriented by our very biological nature to the visual and tactile sensations of one-another's bodies in cueing the instincts tied to our libido. This is simply the way we actually did evolve. To think of the human form as beautiful and sexually-appealing IS completely natural. Attempting to erase the sexual appeal completely from the equation is NOT natural at all. It's antithetical to human nature and deeply, dangerously repressive, in my opinion.
But in the nudist/naturist community, somehow the simple ability to behave like adults gets hopelessly lost. I think that people are naturally on the defensive about not wanting to portray the simple act of being nude at a beach, for example, as nothing more than some manner of public orgy. I get that, and it IS important to "fit-in" with the wider context of society, for obvious reasons. But at the same time, it is awful, at least to my mind, the way things get set-off into opposing camps, both of which are surrounded by some of the ugliest legalism I've ever encountered.
On the one hand we have the "lifestyle nudists:" the hardcore swingers and the obsessively-addicted sex-seekers that have completely disconnected their natural sensual enjoyment from their ability to treat people as human beings. To them, the body really is nothing more than a sexual object, and people are nothing more than actors in a continual succession of their ever-fading ability to truly enjoy their sexuality. To my mind, these people are basically dead inside. They've given themselves over to an addiction, nothing more. I feel bad for them. I think they have truly lost the ability to experience joy; they are some of the hollowest people I've ever met.
On the other hand we have the "true nudists:" the rule-quoting legalists who are ever-watchful for anyone that dares to step out of line on the question of nudism and sexuality. If ever anyone expresses even the mildest hint of sexuality while they are nude, the "true nudists" are there to descend with holier-than-thou admonitions of how "that's not how we do it." They seem to cherish the idea that it is they, and they alone, who know the "true" path, and the "right" way to experience oneself. I wonder how often they stop to realize how foolishly obsessive they've become over something as simple as not wearing clothing. In my personal experience, I have witnessed first-hand that it is the most vociferously adamant advocates of "NON SEXUAL" nudity that turn-out to be the most depraved sex-seekers and invasive perverts around. At least the swingers have the guts to admit what they really want...
What I truly believe is that these two opposing groups are constantly at work to ruin the experience for the vast majority of us. I, for one, am an adult that knows how to behave and to coordinate my personal needs and predilections with the prevailing social context. I understand perfectly and completely well that different people have different boundaries, comfort levels, desires, etc. I embrace and respect the different circumstances that people are in, and celebrate their various reasons for wanting to be naked with other people. I completely get that there is a very important distinction to be made between one's PERSONAL experience of sexuality, and openly lewd behavior, invasive sexual come-ons and innuendo, outright staring, expressions of lust, etc. I DO get it, and I totally respect the boundary. Never, ever have I advocated that "nudism" as a general activity should be inclusive of sexual expressions that are invasive of other's boundaries or willingness to participate. In that regard, I am in agreement with the "true nudists" inasmuch that I SO completely agree with the notion of maintaining respect above all else. Personal space and the freedom to enjoy that space as one sees fit is always paramount, and NO ONE should ever feel empowered to violate that or make someone feel uncomfortable.
With that said, however, let me boil-down my over-arching approach to it all in exactly two words: LIGHTEN UP!
Why is this something we have to be so uptight about, seemingly ALL the time? Why, when people talk about the enjoyment of social nudity, do they obsessively need to prefix it with "non sexual?" I don't get it at all. I've heard many people also use the term "wholesome" nudity, as if somehow sex is not "wholesome" and therefore something to be altogether disdained.
Only once in my life have I actually ever been involved in a verbal "debate" with someone over this issue, but the person in question had one of the most militantly constrained viewpoints on the topic that I'd ever encountered. On the one hand, this person thought that it was really and truly evil to EVER wear clothing of any sort. In this person's mind, from what I could gather, they felt that you could not count yourself as a "true nudist" if you did not make every conceivable effort to be totally nude at every single possible opportunity. But on the other hand, this same person also believed that it was absolutely and totally unacceptable for anyone to ever allow thoughts of sexual attraction enter their minds while experiencing social nudity.
My main point of debate, against this stand, amounted to this: if people are ALWAYS supposed to be nude together, yet NEVER find themselves sexually attracted to one-another, then how or why would anyone ever have sex? Should we as a species, thus, simply die out for lack of all interest in sex?
It seemed insane to me then, and still does, yet I see it all around me. I simply cannot grasp how a person comes to be so miserably uptight. And it really and truly does make me feel bad for people that are so painfully constrained in their thinking. I want to reach out to them and let them know that it's all going to be okay. That it's okay to be a human-being and release oneself from the legalistic bondage of artificial morality.
This is the core of my own philosophy and approach to "nudism:" that there is absolutely nothing wrong with social nudity retaining an element of sensual delight, and a perfectly fine and acceptable circumstance under which mutual sexual attraction can occur as naturally and joyfully as anywhere else. I believe that it is just as "unnatural" to artificially attempt to inhibit one's natural feelings of personal sexuality as it is to wear an idiotic "bathing costume" at the beach.
I, for one, don't have a sexual "off switch," as many people are quoted as saying. I am, and have always been, very open and up-front about the fact that at least part of the reason I enjoy being naked in certain circumstances is that it DOES tie-in, in very enjoyable ways, to my experience of sexuality. To me, trying to tease-out and suppress my sexuality from the rest of who I am would be like trying to extract the flour from a cake after it's been baked. Makes no sense, so I don't even try. It's impossible. I am who I am, and my libido is activated at times I least expect it or even want it. I'm human.
Like most humans, I like to feel sexy. And I don't just "love" sex, I absolutely adore it. Going nude--letting go of that inhibition--plays into MANY aspects of my personality. It is liberating and joyful, it's healthy and freeing, and "lightens" my emotional being. But it also feels very sexy, also, at least to me, and I'm not going to "hide" that fact.
I enjoy being seen nude, and have no problem at all being okay with the idea that someone might find the sight of my body to be beautiful and sexually appealing. I don't want to be the object of someone's fixated lust when that type of attention is not invited or appropriate, but I'm also not going to recoil in disdainful horror if someone is aroused by the sight of my nudity and wishes to respectfully inquire as to whether such an interest might be mutual. Sex is wonderful and fun when it is lighthearted and absent of heavy-handed rules.
With all that said, I am SO put-off and disgusted with some of the recent comments I've seen posted here, in response to some photos and other people's thoughts. I think it's a travesty that people cannot bring themselves to be inclusive or to admit themselves to be as human as everyone else, not above the very natural inclinations we ALL have. I don't need to be around this sort of poisonous mindset, and thus I think that this and probably most other such sites is just not something I want to be involved with any longer. Many of you that I've met here are so very nice, and thus it's hard to make a decision like that, but my life is much more than a persona on some website, and I suspect as much to be the same for all of us 🙂
I'll close this rambling tirade with a simple call to everyone (myself included) to be humans first and "nudists" second, and stop viewing our lifestyle as something proprietary and exclusive. We are not a "band of brothers" or any such thing. We are human beings that have (re)discovered how nice it feels to be naked. That's all. There's not much more that needs to be said about it 🙂
November 3, 2014 in Uncategorized
One of the most wonderful aspects of nude recreation, that I am always most keen to share with others, is the connectedness that social & outdoor nudity makes me feel with respect to my motivation to pursue the goals of bodily health and fitness. Perhaps it is a matter of simple coincidence that I’ve spent my entire adult life immersed in both cultures: i.e., I started enjoying nude recreation at the age of 20, and had been inclined toward healthful living and athletic pursuits even before that age. Living in Northern California, too, certainly encourages an open-minded and happiness-seeking soul to gravitate naturally toward embracing athletic pursuits and a lifestyle friendly toward openly casual nudity. It is a place where the outdoors simply beckon one to take-up surfing, swimming, running, hiking, cycling, etc., and to think more openly about possibilities for enjoying life.
But I also feel that (for me anyway) there is something more than a merely coincidental link. I feel, and have always felt, that there is a synergistic connection between the two things, in a way that definitely keeps me motivated and happy. Before I’d discovered the immersive joys of nude recreation, I understood the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and of the discipline involved in athletic pursuits. However, I didn’t yet directly “connect” athletic activity with the feelings of being in touch with my own body and spirit. In a way, I viewed health and fitness--at that very young age--probably in the way many people view it: as something of an inconvenience, but one that should be done anyway, in order to reap the benefits at a later time. It was only when I started attending nude beaches on a regular basis that I really began to develop an awareness of how much I actually loved to use my body for recreational/athletic pursuits. I began to understand how the discipline involved in difficult athletic pursuits actually serves as a sort of “kinetic key” that unlocks a door to greater understanding and appreciation of the self.
The obvious explanation (and I think it’s not a bad explanation) is that nudity certainly makes one more “aware” of one’s body. Being naked, and the profound “feeling” of nakedness, in settings other than the comfort of one’s own home, I think serves to make a person much more aware of how they actually feel about their body. There is a distinct psychological advantage that exists somewhere within the release of that particular inhibition. Establishing a level of comfort in being nude outside, with other people, imparts a sort of acceptance of oneself that can serve to encourage a greater interest in owning one’s health and fitness.
For myself, the way I would describe it is a growing awareness that “I” am not something separate from my body. My body is who “I” am, every bit as much as the mental construct that is my identity. I’m nothing without my body, and thus I regard it as something “sacred” (to the extent that I actually hold such beliefs--I try not to take it too seriously). And in that regard, my desire to keep myself as healthy and as fit as possible becomes a part of my radical acceptance of myself. It has become for me, in other words, a complete reversal of the ways that our culture seem to encourage people to pursue health & fitness. I.e., popular culture, at large, is set-up to encourage feelings of insecurity about our bodies. For women, in particular, there is so much undue emphasis placed in mainstream culture on the notion--for example--of working on your “bikini body” for the Summer. We are made to feel as if we should not accept ourselves, and then encouraged to buy (of course) all sorts of products that purport to help us reach our “goals” (all of which, by-the-way, have very little to do with actual health & fitness, and everything to do with achieving a very narrowly-defined ideal of beauty).
My comfort level with being openly nude has encouraged me to pursue health & fitness on my OWN terms, for how it makes me feel about myself, rather than simply the way I look. It is part of my lifestyle and who I am. I love to feel energetic and beautiful to mySELF, first and foremost. I’ve learned to embrace physical activity as something that is truly integral to my identity, to the point that I really do feel a sort of spiritual awareness when I push myself to higher and higher levels of athleticism. There is something really magical that happens when I push past limitations that I thought existed--when I “will” myself to accept the pain and suffering as a part of the natural experience of my body.
I have a very personal and simple example of this manner of experience that I’d like to share. My particular activity of choice is long distance trail running. It’s something that I love for so many reasons. It is solitary and challenging, and puts one very much in-touch with the wilderness. I love to run for hours and hours at a time down isolated back-country trails. For me it is pure bliss. I participate in ultra-distance trail races, on occasion--not for the “competition” aspect, but simply to test myself and to be a part of the trail running community. Not too terribly long ago I participated in my first 50-mile event--the longest distance I’d run to that point. I found the distance and the course to be extremely challenging. As with any longer distance run, much of the battle is psychological--one must be willing to confront pain and suffering, and to sort-out the desire to quit. By mile 30 or so, I had started to really feel the effort, and was going through a lot of psychological turmoil to keep my head in it and stay focused on my desire to finish. At some point I found myself absolutely alone on the course, and I reached a sort of epiphany that contained a type of irrepressible joy over simply reveling in the experience--pain and all. Along with that joy came an unmistakable sense of wanting to be naked. Almost without hesitation I stopped to remove my shorts and tank, stowed them in my hydration vest, and ran the next few miles nude. It felt absolutely spectacular--one of my fondest memories of being nude outside, really. I can’t even describe in words just how closely in-touch I felt with my body and how completely comfortable I was with myself.
November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
Not so much of a "blog" entry as a somewhat longer passing thought which I wanted to toss out as another discussion point.
I notice that a lot of you (most?) are from Europe. I'm in the States. America, as you probably know, doesn't have the most progressive legal attitude towards options for being nude in public places. I am lucky enough to live in Northern California, which does have a wide variety of very good options. My primary outlet is the ocean and river beaches around the area I live, and also a few inland swimming holes.
Perhaps interestingly, while there are many areas of coastline that are generally considered to be "nude beaches," they are recognized as such only by tradition and the prevailing norm, not by legal status. There are only a couple beaches in the entire state that are defined as legally clothing-optional, actually.
Around the area I live, there are perhaps a dozen or so small beaches that are most definitely what I would call true "nude beaches," in that they are well known and long-established as such--at least by locals, semi-secluded, and nearly all visitors choose to be totally naked. But there are other areas where the status or protocol can sometimes be up in the air, or in question, or use by nudists is more sporadic. These I tend to call "clothing optional" beaches because typically no more than half the crowd is naked, and nudity may also be confined to specific, more discrete areas, or perhaps a few people remove their swimsuits to sunbathe nude, only, and cover-up to walk around or engage in other activities. Nudists and clothed users tend to get along just fine, and there seems to be no surprise or conflict.
There are still other locations, however, where the overwhelming major of visitors do tend to keep their clothing on, but by persistence of tradition or the way the beach itself is geographically situated, occasional nudity still occurs. There is one area in particular that I enjoy visiting. It is a part of the National Seashore, within which simple nudity does not consist of a legal offense in terms of park officials being on the lookout for it or enforcing any prohibition against it. It's a very, very long and beautiful stretch of beach that is great for long walks. More often than not it is far too cold and windswept to enjoy being nude there out in the open, but on those occasions when it is, it's one of the best places I can think of to go for a long, naked walk along the ocean shore. The beach is large and open enough that one could potentially walk for a mile or more without encountering another person. There are many, many semi-private little nooks and coves here and there, and these are where most nudists tend to set-up along the beach. For myself, I always tend to feel a bit brazen about my rights at this particular location, and--like I said--if it is warm and sunny enough I am not going to keep my clothes on and I make no effort to be discrete.
My very open and casual nudity has never seemed to me to be a problem. Clothed people notice me, some do a double-take, some are clearly surprised to see a totally naked woman strolling happily along the beach in full view, but never have I experienced any sort of truly negative reaction.
There are plenty of other such areas where I tend to be more bold about nakedness than others--I tend to always "push the envelope" a bit. It's not my goal to brazenly offend anyone that truly would rather not have to see nakedness if they really feel that strongly about it. I also don't want to stir-up undue trouble or make a scene. I'm not trying to draw attention or make any sort of "protest" per se. But I do often feel as if there are small opportunities to appear naked in areas where perhaps I'm not quite "supposed" to be, and thus at least convey to open-minded non-nudists that it's not that big of a deal (and that perhaps they might like to give it a try!).
What do the rest of you think about this? Is it a good idea to explore these sorts of boundaries with or without "legal" consent, or is it better to fight the fight strictly through the avenues of official policy?
October 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
Now that I have shared something of a personal perspective on the interplay between nudity and sensuality, I would like to tackle another, more specific matter that lies more toward the intellectual “core” of the same topic: the broad question of why human beings ever opted to wear clothing in the first place, and how the answer affects nudism, in terms of socio-sexual relationships. To the initial question--why we wear clothing--there are answers that on the surface do appear quite evident. The first and most obvious is that of simple, functional concern: the environment. To be able to live in the diversity of locations to which we’ve spread across the globe, protection against the elements is a necessity in some cases. The second, less obvious answer to the question, is that some sort of oddly-compounded, out-of-control cultural imperative led to the commonplace situation in which clothing is required in almost all situations, even when it is functionally superfluous.
Regarding that second point, the perspective of traditional nudism goes something like this: it is entirely unnatural and antithetical to human nature to be required to wear clothing when it is functionally unnecessary to do so. Traditional nudists conclude that the requirement to wear clothing has been thrust upon us as a means or symbol of over-arching control and dominance. And, thus, the conclusion continues, the only “correct” and natural way to live is to refuse clothing and embrace universal nudity except when completely impractical. I may be over-simplifying things a bit, for the sake of making a point. In a nutshell, however, that is the gist of the argument offered by many mainstream nudists--at least among many that I have encountered, myself. And it is this argument that often gets cited when some try to claim that someone is not a “true” nudist unless they make every conceivable effort to be naked whenever possible. I, myself, agree with parts of this line of thinking, but not for all the same reasons that are advanced by traditional nudists, and I reach slightly different conclusions, based on a similar line of thinking.
My educational background is in anthropology & evolutionary biology, and it is from that basis which I build my own theories. To my mind, human behavior--and its consequences--only makes sense when viewed from the perspective of biology and evolution. Looking at human behavior without that fundamental insight, to me, is a lot like trying to explain planetary orbits without reference to Newtonian mechanics. Drawing conclusions on the basis of observations that seemingly descend no deeper than reactions to social norms or political ideas is not objective and prone to missing the real truth of the matter. I don’t claim to have “hard” data for my own observations, and nor am I attempting to present a thoroughly scientific, evidence-based argument, here. I just want to add what I hope to be a somewhat unique set of perspectives, and spark the fires of discussion, by offering an insight from the level of biology and evolution.
I’ll begin by pointing-out that primates in general, and humans in particular, exhibit social interactions that--compared to most other species--are, in fact, highly sexualized in nature. Sexuality and sexual partnerships play an enormous role (some would say the only truly important role) in the structure of many primate societies. Paleolithic evidence routinely indicates that early human societies placed highly amplified emphasis on sexual behavior and that sexuality was a key factor in social organization and survival modes. Our closest extant evolutionary relatives--chimpanzees--exhibit a nearly obsessive fixation on sexual behavior, with many individual chimps being observed mating several times per day and with multiple partners. Chimpanzee social structure is, also, very complex and deeply connected to sexual relationships and individual sexuality. Furthermore, chimpanzees exhibit a colorful diversity in their sexual behaviors, including homosexual and bisexual relationships, exhibitionism and voyeurism, masturbation, and even sexual fetishes.
The next key point regarding mammal species, and primates in particular, is that individual members are sexually-identified rather profoundly and almost exclusively by the visually-apparent differences between males and females. Mammals identify their sexual roles, and relate to their sexuality, almost solely upon the basis of the way an individual looks to the eye. In birds, for example, males generally exhibit colorful or flamboyant feather patterns (peacocks being the extreme example). In human beings, the visual differences between males and females are bound-up entirely in the very shape of our bodies and features. Unlike most other species, the very form of a female human body is (generally speaking) quite wildly different from that of males. Human female breasts, and the human male penis, for particularly notable examples, are almost comically exaggerated in size when compared to other mammals and even other primates. The human male penis is (functionally speaking) superfluously large by a factor of many times over, in relationship to body mass. No other species comes even remotely close to matching the human ratio in that particular category. Why would that be? One of the only reasons that makes evolutionary sense is that the visual component of human sexuality became so important that evolution has selected for humans that can quickly--by visual cue only--identify gender and trigger their libido. I.e., large penises make it abundantly, visually apparent who is who, and present an unmistakable cue to the libido.
To take this line of biological reasoning one step further, the fact that body form is the primary identifying sexual cue among humans represents a tantalizing clue in theories explaining why humans (quite uniquely) have almost no hair on their bodies. Why did we humans, in other words, contrary in many respects to other functional needs and the evolutionary direction of other primates, lose nearly all of our body hair? Many anthropologists believe that the answer may be fairly simple: we lost our hair so that the sexual display of our bodies would be more obvious and profound. It is easier to notice the exaggerated differences between male and female, and the unique features of each, in other words, if those differences and features are not covered-up by too much hair. Again, the visual component of our sexuality is so vitally important to us, as human beings, that hairless (nude) bodies have been selected by the very mechanisms of evolution.
No matter how you interpret these factors and theories, one thing is undeniable: we are very strongly oriented by our visual sensation, and that sensation is very much tied to our sexuality. Test after test illustrates that our libidos are initially activated almost entirely by what we see, not by what we hear or smell, or by seasonal timing and other environmental factors, as in the vast majority of other species on Earth. Nudity, therefore, plays an undeniable role in human sexuality. Our appetites for sex (or, at least, our appetites to experience sensuality) are influenced by the visual appearance of the extraordinary differences between male and female bodies. There may be outlying academic objections to the ways in which I have drawn that direct correlation, but I think that there is undeniable merit to the general argument I’m making. And so I'll proceed from there with the socio-sexual consequences.
What does it all mean to us, now, in other words, in a modern societal context? If we reverse the clock--say--50,000 to 100,000 years, to a point at which human social structures were much less complex, we might find some interesting clues. 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, nakedness was almost certainly the norm for most of humanity. Humans as a whole were far more confined to specific climates; environmental or functional concerns did not yet dictate the general utility of clothing. Additionally, those human societies were most certainly as sexually prolific as modern chimpanzees. The two factors are correlated: general nudity among early humans is connected to their profligate sexuality. Nakedness presented a constant signal to all sexually mature adults that anytime was the right time to mate.
With virtually no controls or prohibitions regarding the activation of the human libidio, people were likely engaging in sex whenever, wherever, and with whomever they chose. As social evolution progressed, however, and humans began to rely more upon complex social order and technology, for survival and the development of culture, the prevalence of rampant sexual activity began to work against those goals. The functions of a complex society (the basis of which is the family) demand that there are some limitations placed upon the where, when, and with whom regarding sexual relationships. It is inconvenient, in other words, to have people copulating on the boardroom table in the middle of a meeting, and to have no ideas at all regarding which children belong to which parents. That just doesn’t work in the context of social order if what we wish to create is a culture in which we have the leisure time available for other pleasurable pursuits such as art, conversation, and scientific discovery.
And this, I think, is where the requirement to wear clothing has its ultimate roots. If our libidio is cued by the striking visual representation of our nude bodies and revealed sexual features, then it makes sense to refine and control that phenomenon by enforcing rules regarding the times and places we may opt to be totally nude. And at other times, varying types or degrees of clothing indicate to what degree sexuality is appropriate--sometimes it is somewhat appropriate, other times it is not appropriate at all. The further evolution of our species into our particular ecological niche (technology and culture) simply demanded that we occasionally put on clothing as a way to re-structure the social rules regarding sexuality.
All of which, to my mind, at least on the surface, makes complete sense. I, for one, appreciate complex social structure and the positive benefits of culture and technology. I would not want to eschew those benefits and revert to some theoretical, idealized notion of a “primal” state. Humanity is what it is as a product of evolutionary imperative and--for better or worse--clothing is an obvious component of that imperative. And that is why, even as a nudist, I have absolutely no problem at all with the idea that there are times and places where I most certainly ought to be dressed. I don’t think that clothing, nor the rules that require it are--in and of themselves--somehow “wrong” or oppressive. Those aspects of our societies are simple facts of life that need not be taken to task or questioned on their fundamental merits. As with all aspects of culture and technology, the debate is not over the thing itself but, rather, how it is implemented and used. One doesn't say that a hammer is "good" or "bad," but the way in which the hammer is used may be one or the other, certainly.
The problem with clothing arises as with so many other aspects of our complex societies: things do tend to spin out of control and go “haywire” (that’s a technical term, by-the-way) with the complexity of our rules and restraints. We tend to collectively forget about their original context and intent. People build-up monumentally disproportionate anxieties over them. Rules that otherwise make complete sense become tools by which those in authority can browbeat and manipulate disproportionately large groups of people to the detriment of society as a whole. We accept this manipulation through the development of artificial constructs such as religion and political ideology--both of which are intended to trigger feelings of shamefulness and regret. And the cycle feeds back upon itself, to the point at which, eventually, the rules and restrictions no longer have any valid meaning and must be modified or removed outright, to be replaced by something more sophisticated.
And here is where, I think, the role of modern nudism comes distinctly into play. It is also why I adamantly believe that the natural sexuality of social nudity should be not only accepted but thoroughly embraced. In modern American society, for example, we have a situation in which there are virtually no significant opportunities for people as a whole to be totally nude with one another in simple, casual, outdoor settings that are not somehow contrived for the purpose. We have token places & times set aside for the inconsequential minority of us that call ourselves “nudists” and demand that we be allowed the simple right of taking off our clothes with one-another, while enjoying the outdoors. But in a mainstream sense, we may as well say that there are essentially no clearly and broadly defined options at all for experiencing nudity as a means of social, and broadly socially-acceptable recreation. And that is not healthy--for society or the individual--for a large variety of reasons.
The evolutionary-dictated desire to be totally naked in one-another's presence is there, in all of us. It is laying perhaps dormant or unacknowledged by most people, but it is there regardless and undeniably tied into our sexuality. To continually repress that desire results--probably (I’m no psychologist)--to all sorts of emotional and mental harm. It is probably responsible in large measure for the out-of-control sexual violence and sexism that is witnessed in most human societies. It is quite obvious enough, I think, that the strong, pent-up desire to be nude is present. Why else would we see the “retrograde” evolution of things like “barely there” bikinis, extremely revealing evening attire, nearly-nude costuming, etc. Clearly, people desire the opportunity to be nude with one-another, or, barring that possibility, as bare as legally possible. The rules that dictate our state of dress have become so onerous and unwieldy that our collective psyche has literally pushed us into a corner wherein our innermost, natural desires are fundamentally in conflict with the rules of society and with the confusing addition of religiously-based guilt and shame.
As an example, think for a moment about what is going-on when a woman attends a "topless" beach where the rules of behavior allow her to bare her breasts but require that she keep the pelvic area covered-up, as usual. She opts to wear the briefest of brief "thong" style bikini bottom, barely meeting the legally minimum standard of hiding her genitals from view. What is going-on inside this poor woman's head? She is confronted with a situation in which she is given the go-ahead to be almost totally nude in public, but a bizarre confluence of legalism and contrived moral constraint dictate that she should be guilty about the pride she might otherwise experience if free to bare the specific part of her body that makes-up such an important part of who she actually is. The message sent is terribly confusing: a twisted combination of socially-acceptable sexual representation, on the one hand, and repression and shame on the other hand.
To me, nudism presents a very simple means by which we may untangle this seemingly hopeless pattern of criss-crossing contradictions. The plain fact that humans desire the opportunity to be nude together is more than ample reason to make nudity a pervasive option in most recreational settings--the beach and other recreational waterways, public parks, the wilderness, and other designated locations and times. At the same time, however, I would also state that it should be equally important for us, as individuals, to radically relax our attitudes regarding the very reasons we enjoy being nude with one-another so much. What I hope to have illustrated, here, is that human sexuality is deeply and fundamentally connected to nudity, and that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever--in and of itself--wrong with or harmful about that notion. I believe that it is as unhealthy to hold onto inhibitions around our sexuality as it is to hold onto those that make us so afraid and ashamed of our bodies in the first place. Sexuality is an enormous part of who we are, and we should feel entitled to own that aspect of ourselves and enjoy it for what it is--without shame, guilt, or undue repression.
This doesn’t have to mean that we immediately run to the other end of the spectrum and go “all in” with the concept, pushing ourselves back 50,000 to 100,000 years, to the point where nudism is presented as an opportunity for free-for-all, rampant, lewd sexual encounters. What I, personally, am proposing here is absolutely nothing of the sort. I believe that many, probably most of the rules we have in place regarding the public/private boundary for sexual behavior are sound. I merely wish to open-up our attitudes about feeling guiltless over our desires to experience sexuality, incorporate the joys of sexuality with the experience of being naked, and enjoy healthy, active sex lives.
Happily so, we have evolved past that point of our chimpanzee relatives, and have more satisfactory ways of being in touch with our sexuality than merely having sex constantly. Our sexuality is much more subtle than that, and it is why most of us feel an instinctual revulsion to uninvited sexual advances, pronounced sexual deviance & invasiveness, and profligate sexual activity in general. Gratuitous sexuality, so far as sophisticated individuals are concerned, does not sit well with us. And that’s what makes nudism so special, to my mind: it is the combination of engaging with our innate desires while simultaneously applying a natural and heartfelt restraint that makes it so enjoyable. The suggestion of sexuality and erotica exists without the need to blatantly advertise it or even fully engage with it. There is a deeper level of feeling to be experienced by keeping certain rules in place; by maintaining decorum and personal space.
Again, thanks for reading, and I do hope to hear from all of you again, especially those that wish to disagree and make counterpoints. Message me privately if you'd like.
October 29, 2014 in Uncategorized
After spending a delightful weekend at one of my favorite hot springs resorts, I wanted to share a few initial thoughts about my experience, because it so perfectly illustrates a particular attitude that I wish to portray regarding nudism and sexuality. Like many such resorts, this location offers a clothing-optional policy and, indeed, 99% of all guests opt for total nudity most of the time. It is a wonderful facility, in a beautiful setting, with an amazing diversity of visitors. Including, I will particularly point-out, a demographic skewed toward an atypically younger, energetic, and healthy & fitness-oriented crowd. It is a very nearly idyllic place; of all the circumstances under which I’ve enjoyed being naked with larger groups of people, I can’t think of any that match the sheer bliss and pure, positive energy of this particular location. (And—sorry—I am not even going to name the place, for fear that—as usual—some people will take what I have to say about it in the “wrong” way and it will be branded in a negative light by the closed-minds out there that can only see black and white.)
For as long as I’ve been enjoying social nudity (almost 20 years), I’ve always felt a slight “disturbance in the force,” so to speak, when I encounter the very often-repeated refrain that “nudism has nothing to do with sex.” It’s not that I feel the statement is “wrong,” per se. I am, in fact, in lock-step agreement with the traditional nudist objective of doing whatever it takes to keep overt sexualization completely out of the picture. I absolutely don’t want nudism to become or to be perceived as nothing more than an avenue for obsessive sex-seeking, or an open door for invasive and grotesquely lewd behavior. That sort of inflated emphasis on sexual activity is not natural and does not serve the broader purpose of enjoying nudity as a means to promote freedom, acceptance, confidence, and liberation.
At the same time, however, my instinct tells me it is just as unnatural to make people feel as if they are doing something wrong if and when they encounter any connection at all to their own, personal sexuality as a result of the inevitable sensuality of nakedness. Our bodies are attenuated precisely to revel in the delights of warmth, sunshine, and open air on our bare skin. Those sensations are all very understandably heightened when we are completely naked, and as any nudist knows quite well, there is also a sort of mysteriously infectious synergy when we experience those sensations with other people. It feels wonderful, in other words, to be with other people that are simultaneously experiencing the same feelings—to know that they are feeling fantastic and have them know, too, that you are as well. It isn’t, in and of itself, a “sexual” experience in the sense that there is a direct line drawn between the experience I am describing and inviting sex. But most people do not have a simple “off” switch for their sexuality, and thus they are going to feel that personal connection, quite naturally, in an environment that is so beautifully open to sensual experience.
And—YES!—at least some small part of that experience includes the visual sensation. Anyone that claims to me that they don’t appreciate the opportunity to see people, and to be seen, without their clothes on is either lying or has had their humanity removed. It is encoded by our evolutionary history: we are strongly oriented by our visual sense, and seeing one-another naked is a perfectly harmless pleasure that need not be denied or downplayed, on the one hand, or specifically highlighted and fixated-upon, on the other. It is possible, in other words, to naturally enjoy the subtle pleasures of mutually-invited exhibitionism & voyeurism, while still maintaining complete respect for one-another’s boundaries.
My experiences this past weekend almost perfectly exemplify the attitude and fun-oriented approach to nudism that I am attempting to convey, here. This past Summer, as a whole, has been quite memorable in terms of incredibly fun, wonderful times spent being naked in the sun, with good friends. On a last-minute lark, as one of perhaps the last truly nice weekends of the Fall, I decided to book a couple nights and go to the resort by myself. And, as most of you probably know, single and unaccompanied females are very distinctly not the norm at most nudist venues—in fact it’s a rather outlying rarity. I don’t mind being one of those females on occasion, but I am also not stupid, and know that I need to be ready to raise my “guard” when needed.
At this resort, I have never had the slightest degree of trepidation or anxiety about removing my clothing when I’m there alone. In fact I rather like the experience of being on my own, and on this occasion—as per usual—I could hardly wait to be nude. I checked into my campsite, disrobed, wrapped a light towel, made my way immediately to the bathing/sunning area, and took off the towel the instant I was in the clothing-optional zone. Within seconds my mind was in a completely different space, transported to that now-familiar (but never mundane) zone where the movement of time is replaced by a feeling of total body-mind energy and overflowing sensual delight. It is as if suddenly all the positive energy of my inner emotions correlate with one-another and I have an awareness that says `yes, this is what it means to be human and to accept oneself as such.’
It’s a sensation so wonderful and moving that one would think that it could hardly get better. But it does. The soaking pools at this resort are spectacular, with varying temperatures and conditions for silence and stillness. Slipping quietly and slowly into those pools is to experience a sort of translucent cross-over into a wholly separate dimension of sensual immersion. There is no way to describe in words just how totally relaxing the experience is. And I mean “relaxing” in the complete sense, as in: a perfect invitation to let go of meaningless inhibitions and joyfully experience all the pleasures of being alive. It’s simply fantastic, and I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the idea that anyone could possibly wish to be anything other than totally nude. To my way of thinking it would be an absolute travesty to enter those sacred waters clad in some idiotic “bathing attire.” It just couldn’t possibly be the same. Nudity is an absolute must if one wishes to embrace the experience.
And the experience is even better, still, with the added ingredient of sharing it with others. It would be one thing to enter the waters, as I’ve just described, by oneself. The feelings of heavenly delight would still be present, obviously, but add the ingredient of being in those waters with others, and the experience that emerges is one of beautiful, totally accepting intimacy. I would describe it almost as a sort of magic spell that relies on a sort of mutually-respectful acknowledgement of one-another’s innermost personal experiences and vulnerability. It is a very delicately-balanced phenomena—the spell is delicate and can easily be broken by the errant or standoffish behavior of any one person. Everyone must cooperate in filling themselves with a desire to both respect and participate in the process of making one-another feel welcome and wonderful.
I’ll attempt to describe that experience: as I arrive at and stand ready to descend into the waters of the hot soaking pool, I can somehow immediately apprehend the presence of “the spell.” I feel a very sudden and extremely profound awareness of being totally naked. There is a mild rush of nervous energy associated with it, which I take as the final blush of inhibition leaving the mind and body at once. And once that final blush is gone, it is replaced by a notion of complete satisfaction in enjoying the attention of those in my presence that wish to notice and mark their appreciation of the visual appearance of my naked body. The brief gazes, and pleasantly-exchanged, calm, smiling looks of knowingly-intermingled sensuality, add something intensely and immaculately intimate to the experience. Let one of those appreciative gazes wander into the territory of a fixated stare or convey the intent of wanton lust, and—again—the beautiful spell will fall flat.
The sensuality of the experience, and the deeply satisfying inner connection to one’s personal sexuality, is tied to the warm, inviting, shared intimacy of the moment, not in the hurried anticipation of a culminating sexual encounter. It is an alluring sense of underlying sexual arousal that is so incredibly subtle as to be “fuzzy” and absolutely unfocused on the goal of “getting off” as soon as possible, with any one particular partner. It represents an entire shift in the experience of one’s sexuality—one of total surrender to intimacy and openness, in which nudity becomes a form of total honesty. It begins to represent the mutual desire that we all, as humans, have deeply inside of ourselves to be seen and accepted as the person we truly are. In that context, the nature of sensual attraction is truly revealed, and I (for one) begin to recognize the spectacular, mind-blowing, radiant beauty of all who accept themselves fully. This, again, at least to me, is what nudism is all about, and why I do think that it goes beyond the level of silliness to try to extract from it the naturally joyful connection to sexuality that seems quite inherently a part of it.
The question begged at this point, I think, becomes simply this: can, or should, an experience such as the one I’ve just described provide an atmosphere in which people, if they so choose, open themselves to opportunities for expanding their sense of shared intimacy to the realm of sharing sexual energy by direct engagement with stronger feelings of arousal and a desire to experience erotic touch? My own answer—guardedly so, and with many caveats—is that there is indeed a time and place for almost anything. But it is a line that is even finer and more subtle to maintain than is that which maintains “the spell” that I described earlier. The level of care, decorum, and discretion required to experience eroticism alongside nudism, and maintain complete respect, is so incredibly high as to make it something that should be an extreme rarity, at least in my opinion. But I do think that the doorway leading to that type of enjoyment should NOT be totally closed. I think that people should have the right to feel as if they can explore boundaries and comfortably engage with one-another in ways that may indeed lead to sexual attraction, arousal, and culminating erotic interaction.
PLEASE understand that I am in NO way whatsoever trying to imply here that I think there is EVER a time or place in which nudism should be open to blatantly public displays of sexual activity. At MOST, I am suggesting a simple tolerance toward prudently discrete interactions of affectionate intimacy, and increasing the comfort level of those that may find themselves potentially open to the notion of finding someplace PRIVATE to act on mutual sexual attraction that has its origin, perhaps, in the waters of a communal soaking pool.
Those are some of my initial thoughts on the matter, and probably enough for now… I will write down more, and expand my ideas as more comes to mind! Thanks for reading. Please re-blog and comment, and message me privately if you’d like to engage in dialog. Particularly if you DISAGREE with me, I’d love to hear what you have to say!