Where we stand

I've been reading with some interest the posts and comments about Naturism, public nudity and where on the bus we should be sitting.

Taking a somewhat outside perspective on it, my overall thoughts are these.

In New Zealand there is no statue law against public nudity. There have been a couple of cases against people jogging nude along beaches etc, but all the ones I know of have been thrown out.
Despite this, it's not that common to see nudity in NZ. I think once on a hike around Mt Tongarero we came across some skinny dippers, and we ourselves made use of a near by waterfall to shower. Even in summer the water is absolutely freezing.
It's somewhat uncommon to see people naked there even though anywhere there's water, it's basically legal to be naked.

I noticed the comments about Steve Gough not doing naturism much good. Initially I didn't understand him, but now that I do, naturism actually has little to do with what he's trying to do. He just wants to be himself. For him, being himself is being naked.

Here on Naktiv siteI've seen people advocating public nudity anywhere. On that basis you should be cheering Steve Gough. On the other hand there's been others that have asserted that there's a time and a place.

I'm inclined to fall into this latter category for pragmatic reasons.

The fact we must face is that cities and modern society are basically unnatural. I had the pleasure of watching Xingu. A movie about the Villas-Bôas brothers, and Brazil's first Indian reserve.
That movie underlines the impacts of modern life and how it separates people from the land, the environment and a more natural, simpler way of life.

I think a cold hard fact that isn't going to change is that city folk like their shops, roads and cafés. There are those that will head for the great outdoors. A small percentage of them will identify with doing so sans clothing.
I am extremely skeptical of urban nudism. At least in the form some would advocate.

It appears the latest fashion for women are tights. In a good many cases this leaves less to the anatomical imagination. It isn't exactly people connecting with nature. Likewise swimwear those of lithe statue can pull off. A triangle strip of fabric in front, little else holding it together.

In my mind, I'm not so sure anybody should be pushing for public nudity. I think the first step is getting people out into the countryside connecting with nature again. They first need to get that connection in order to appreciate why it is people want to get naked at all.
In an urban setting nakedness is distorted. People can't relate to it as it doesn't have an appropriate context. I think nudist clubs and facilities have suffered decline not simply because they've been separate, secretive, and generationally isolated. It's also because far more people are less interested in the outdoors.

It's a somewhat complex issue, and there's more to it than I've outlined here. None the less, I think the starting points need to be carefully evaluated. Within the context of this evaluation, commercialism needs to be accounted for.

28 thoughts on “Where we stand”

  1. Your raise some very solid points in your main piece above Shane all of which play well into my thinking about where we are headed. We are on the same page in general, however, don't be to quick to judge all fisherman. Less than stellar behavior by some visitors to the back country is none the less only tangental to the thrust of my story offered in my blog just posted elsewhere on this forum. In fact, my behavior as described there may also be considered by some as less than stellar, though I consider it to be my right to be able to access the back country in the manner that I describe under the circumstances that presented themselves to me and my companion.

    The occasion of this Solstice for me turned into a three day 30 mile slackpacking adventure up in the Big Branch Wilderness area in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, from which I just returned. I throw this in here because Vermont like New Zealand has no laws that make nudity illegal there. Yet on the surface nothing is very different there from day to day. One does not see nudity very often in urban settings there. It's just not socially acceptable for some of the reasons that Shane cites above about our disconnect from our natural environment when in urban environments. Perhaps also because of persistent patterns of social custom or "memes" as discussed in another blog here recently.

    Yet as one moves away from the urban centers, differences between places with repressive laws in place and those that do become noticeable, subtle but real. Still not much nudity to be found but tolerance is both there to be found, and it seems to be attracted from elsewhere.

    I drove from my home near Boston to Vermont (about a five hour drive)in the nude, a pleasure as always when one can get out and drive free on road trips. The icing on the cake on this occasion, was that upon arriving at my trail heads throughout the three days that I was up there, all on remote dirt roads deep in the National Forest, I had no occasion to need any clothing whatsoever upon exiting my car, standing by the side of the road at the open hatch of my car making last minute changes to my backpack, walking down the road, sometimes a quarter of a mile at a stretch, etc the entire time that I was up there. Others drove by on numerous occasions including park rangers twice and observed me or me and our group as the case may be going about our business without incident. My companion and I shared camp with a pair of textile fisherman, they knowing all the while that we are nudists who hike free in public. I walked a mile and half up a back country path completely naked alongside a textile walker at his open invite, all the while carrying on a spirited conversation about all thing most normal.

    The aspect of all of this that allowed my group and me to feel comfortable on these various occasions totally ignoring any social custom for clothes amongst passing textiles, was our perception that we were back here on these remote roads and hiking trails, accompanied by gorgeous falling water and northern forest vistas the entire way, all for similar reasons: to be away from the normal crowds of less connected city tourists to be found on some of the more accessible trails. We were all back there to hike, fish, camp, and do whatever in the name of healthy enjoyment, and not to pass judgement on how we each chose to do so. Vermont seems to draw in its fare share and more of accepting folk, many from surrounding states. For that reason, and also for the fact that Vermont law is quietly tolerant of free behavior, leaving it as a matter to be socially moderated. Such blatantly free behavior is not something that I or many of us here would likely throw into peoples faces in a more urban public setting, again for reasons cited by Shane and others above. But it all worked out there in the back country just fine for all of us in this altered social setting. There was respect, respect for each other, respect for the environment, and freedom from threat of arrest may be at the root of it all.


  2. I agree there is a time and a place, that's why I don't work in my garden naked under my neighbour's kitchen window. Although I'm tempted, because they have seen me naked before. I think it has something to do with personal space. More on that elsewhere.

    I do not go shopping naked, I'd certainly get arrested if I did, and would find that counter-productive to the enjoyment of the rest of my life. I see a shopping centre as the private space belonging to the shop/company, which we enter to buy stuff, more or less.

    I most certainly do go naked hiking and do not hide whenever I see anybody, mainly because I'm not doing anything wrong, but also because it's a public space and I have the same rights as everybody else to enjoy that public space while I am not harming anyone else.

    In terms of what we should be pushing for, I think if you want me to specify what "I want", then that is for naked hiking to be acceptable in all lands in the natural environment. This would include mountains, woodlands, fields, around lakes, beaches, etc. etc. I see this as entirely reasonable and does not conflict with any other vested interest (such as shopping centres). This is also related to how being naked is a natural state and how being naked in nature is just right.

    In terms of what we need to do to achieve this, so that the puritans cannot close off the beaches to naked people, etc. then I think we need to take a leaf from the negotiators handbook. Aim high and hit the bulls-eye.

    Naturists and the like are generally non-confrontational people and want to compromise where possible. However, it is not possible to negotiate with someone who is diametrically opposed to your point of view and to compromise and to then get what you want. The very nature of compromise insists we aim for something we don't want, our extreme position, if you like, and this is what Stephen Gough is doing (imho).

    We have to aim high, compromise, and to then settle for what we actually want.

    • I also think a person should be able to change clothes in a parking lot without being arrested. Or go get the mail at the box without needing to put on pants. Nudity should not by 8tself be a criminal act anywhere.

    • I agree. All we really need is freedom from arrest. If a few people don't like nudes walking in the hills or cutting the grass that is their problem, I don’t like it when they do (xyz) but I have to put up with it. It does not matter what x, y or z is but they are not arrested for it.
      It is truly bizarre that over 1000 of us rode nude through London the other day to applause and cheers from about 100,000 people with smiling police looking on and not one arrest, after all, we jammed up London’s streets very effectively. Nude walkers don’t jam the hills.

    • Maybe the law is different here but markets must follow laws regarding customer policy. Businesses are not able to do as they please. Since there is no restriction a man being topless, I feel that doing so increases body acceptance the more often people see a shirtless man where they dont expect. This has proven so as clerks and customers who have seen me before are very nonchalant about it.

    • I'm very much on the same page with you regarding walking venues Richard. I think that is an entirely reasonable and achievable objective and a healthy direction for naturism to take.

      I can imagine those that would still kick up a stink. Recreational fisherman spring to mind. Not all, but some I suspect who don't always have that much regard for the natural environment. They're often the ones who litter remote locations with beer cans and other trash, including cigarette butts.

  3. Society will require that nudity has a time and place without resort to the law. Restaurants, shopping centres etc. already require a dress code quite separate from the law. In that respect urban nudism will not catch on in the sense of nude people in the supermarket or on the train. People generally dress to suit their social environment but not because they fear arrest. But urban nudity should be possible and acceptable, I live in an urban area and manage to work in the garden nude by a mixture of screening and better still, acceptance by the neighbours. We were able to walk and sunbathe nude in public parks just as we did prior to the London WNBR; no arrests, no shocks, the world did not end.

    Life should always be about balance of opinions, rights against responsibilities, consensus. The problem here is with arbitrary arrests or censure. This is an old problem, in 1793 William Blake wrote “And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds, And binding with briers my joys and desires.”. They are still at it in a society that has moved on.

    • During my life the social customs restraint on what is worn where and when has changed drastically. Years ago one did not go downtown without a suit on. Today a jogging outfit or a blouse with the above mentioned form fitting heavy tightslike pants are fine. I go to the market shirtless to push it further. The laws are rigid custom is not.

    • Just as an aside Howard, I totally agree with you in terms of nudity in your own urban garden. As I was writing I was thinking more along the lines of George Davis and his thoughts on urban nudism. I applaud his ideals, but it's difficult to see them working in many cities.

      There is a part of me that very much likes the idea of being able to strip off in a city park at lunch time and catch some sun. There's another part that knows unsavoury things already occur in city parks. Adding nudity into the mix won't help. I agree with the argument someone clothed can get up to as much mischief as someone not. Even so, certain individuals within society always push the boundaries and I can easily imagine that occurring within that context.

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