… We Just Don't Know It Yet
I watched the MTV Video Awards last night primarily to see what Miley Cyrus was (or was not) going to wear. I have been following Miley and her public stance on body freedom for some time and I find her outspokenness on the topic to be quite refreshing and reassuring.
Take this comment when she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live looking like this:
"Humans aren't afraid of the human breast," she told Kimmel. "It's the nipple that's the issue. …Like, I'm showing my boobs and no one has a problem but the nipples are covered so somehow that's okay. So America's actually fine with tits, it's nipples they don't like. Which is what you have (referring to Kimmel), which is insane, because the nipple, what you can't show, everyone has, but the jug part, that everyone doesn't, you're allowed to show underboob. I've never understood the way that works."
You can see a video of the whole scene here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/836970
Sadly at the end of the piece she is disses the reality of humanity on a nude beach, but one would hope that her attitude would moderate with adequate exposure to that type of environment (pun intended).
"I'm a vegan nudist." – Miley Cyrus
The important point is that Miley is using her world wide celebrity platform to embrace the goodness of nudity, using her body freedom to draw more than a few million eyeballs to the MTV Awards while she is at it. But people are soaking it up, especially young people. You don't hear young people watching the MTVA's saying, "That's so rude. Why is she showing so much skin?" More likely, you hear them saying "I love that and I love Miley!"
Which brings me to my second point. The world is becoming increasingly accepting of social nudity.
Case in point: WNBR.
World Naked Bike Ride events take place all over the world (and somewhat surprisingly) even in the ultra prudish United States. They take place largely without recrimination and most often accompanied by cheers (not jeers) from happy onlookers.
Every time the world sees or reads about another World Naked Bike Ride, most people become a little more accepting of social nudity.
Case in point: Free the Nipple Campaign.
The Free the Nipple campaign has been gaining a lot of steam in the last year, thanks largely to a fair amount of media attention and support of a number of popular celebrities including Miley, Rihanna, supermodel Cara Delevigne, Lena Dunham (herself a strong advocate of regular social nudity), Scout Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore), Chelsea Handler, Jon Stewart and others.
Public breastfeeding is an allied cause that has garnered the support of many famous people including Alanis Morrisette, Alyssa Milano, Angelina Jolie, Miranda Kerr, Gwen Stefani, Kristen Bell and many more.
Every time the world hears about Free the Nipple or the right to breastfeed in public, they become a little more accustomed to the idea that exposure of the female breast is not necessarily a sexual act, but can be an ordinary part of daily life.
Case in point: Nude Recreation.
"The Coolest Way to Beat the Heat: Take a Nakation", Nude Cruises, Clothing Optional Resorts, World Record Skinny Dip. All of these programs are well promoted and receive a significant amount of (increasingly positive) attention in the media. Most notably, none of them were widely known to the public (if they even existed) even as few as twenty years ago. Today, the mainstream public has a growing variety of means to experiment with various forms of social nudity.
Every time someone hears about some form of legitimate nude recreation or (shockingly!) decides to try it, the power of acceptance of social nudity increases by a small amount.
So how is all of this noteworthy?
The answer is that in today's marketplace of ideas there is quite a bit of positive momentum behind the idea of social nudity. That is where we differ from the past. Before the age of the internet that allowed much of this information about social nudity to come out in the open, it was hidden in the closet. Now admittedly, much still remains in the closet, but as has been described above, that is dramatically changing, and changing for the positive. Twenty years ago, it was very difficult to find a large body of mainstream voices speaking out in support for the cause of social nudity. More likely, whenever any kind of nudity was referenced in a public setting, it was charged with potentially criminal wrongdoing.
This is all so very similar to the struggle for gay rights. Back in the '60's gays were totally in the closet. Their adherents gathered in very private places and their existence was hardly ever mentioned in the public light of day. That all blew open with the Stonewall riots in 1969. Today, gay freedom rights is almost a fait accompli. Two things drove that outcome over the last 50 years. First, the generational issue. As more and more people came out of the closet, increasing numbers of non-gay people, led by younger kids, learned first hand from friends and family members who were gay that they had nothing of which to be afraid. They learned that gay people are normal people too. Second, again aided by the spotlight of the internet, the whole story of gay culture became much more widely known. With that knowledge came increasing acceptance.
Fifty years ago, if there was discussion about being gay, it was with condemnation. Today there is a balanced positive response to that condemnation. Since younger generations are more quick to accept the positive message, the opposing voices are literally dying out.
That is the exact same thing that is happening with the idea of support for social nudity. The positive message is increasing, balancing out the traditional negative message and a younger audience is responding favorably with an attitude of "what's all the fuss about?" The only major difference between the gay rights struggle and the nude rights struggle is that we don't have to live with limited access to mass media to carry our message to the public, resulting in a quicker rate of change.
It is easy to believe that this rising tide will continue and that in the not too distant future we will see the balance of positive sentiment to negative sentiment tipping in our decided favor.
So you see – We have won the war … we just don't know it yet.
Nudely yours – SPI Maker