The Weekly Nudesletter
Vol. 2, No. 3
March 11, 1999


Article: The Augmented N-Scale

Nudity in the News

Nudity in the Media

The Augmented N-Scale

In our last issue we considered the N-Scale, a tool for rating yourself and others on fondness for nudity. It's a good start, but if you're reading this, the chances are that you fall at the high end of the scale. So here we are, all bunched up together between a score of 5 and 7 (the highest).

It's sort of hard to measure your "progress" when the range of scores is that narrow. In order to remedy that, herewith we present an augmented scale that interpolates a few more milestones on the road to perfect nudity.

5. Uses home spa, sauna, and/or pool nude occasionally with family and friends. Would go nude outdoors in very remote beaches, hot springs, forest areas if encouraged, but may not have actually had occasion to do so within the last few years. Occasionally nude at home for no particular reason. Probably not comfortable being nude with strangers of the opposite sex.

5.5. Is reasonably comfortable with being nude around strangers in a friendly environment like a nudist club or camp or an established nude beach, but does not choose to visit such places except on rare occasions. Prefers to use private spa, sauna, or pool nude with family and friends. Deliberately nude at home sometimes when relaxing. Nude outdoors in remote locations at least once a year.

5.8. Uses established beaches, hot springs, and other outdoors locations nude several times a year. Doesn't mind being nude with tolerant strangers in most situations. Deliberately nude at home often, though not necessarily whenever possible.

6. Prefers to be nude at home when circumstances permit. Encourages other family members to do likewise. Hardly ever uncomfortable being nude around tolerant strangers. Visits established outdoor nude locations regularly, if available.

6.5. Doesn't always insist on being nude, but strongly prefers it. "Nude when possible, clothed when practical." Definitely belongs to at least one nudist club or organization. Subscribes to at least one nudist publication.

7. Goes out of the way to be nude. Actually prefers to be described as naked rather than nude. Doesn't mind at all being naked with others who are fully clothed. Sometimes pushes the limits a little in being naked around people. Tends to bring up the subjects of naturism and nudity with friends, associates, or even strangers at any opportunity. Has this recurring feeling that it's just not possible to be naked enough. Inclined to write effusive letters to the editor, Web pages, etc. about the wonders and joys of nakedness.

Nudity in the News

The nude art wars
Is the Sistine Chapel the next target? One would have thought that the traditional place of nudity in serious artistic work was well established. Think again - this is the U. S. of A. we're talking about, not Vatican City. And the Philistines are on the march once more. (For earlier stories, see Vol. 1, No. 16 and Vol. 2, No. 1.)

Tasteful art work on public display which happens to contain nudity has been challenged in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Bowling Green, Ohio, Annapolis, Maryland, and Shelton, Connecticut.

According to a February 16 Associated Press story, a classical depiction of a discretely posed male nude by a female artist was briefly on display in a state office building in Maryland's capital. But it was "quietly removed" when complaints began "rolling in" immediately after its unveiling in a group of varied landscapes and other traditional scenes. The painting was replaced with one of a cow. How fitting.

In Yellow Springs - home of traditionaly liberal Antioch College - another female artist found that a nude woman in an oil painting of hers on display at the village hall had been covered over with paper. Fearing for the painting's safety, the artist removed it. Officials deny requesting removal of the work, though they maintain that three village employees had complained it was "objectionable". (From the Associated Press, February 8.)

And in Bowling Green, another Ohio college town, a display of nude figure studies in a county office building by yet another female artist has "created a brouhaha" according to a February 12 article in the Toledo Blade. But this time officials stood their ground and refused to remove the work. According to one administrator, "Some people will object to anything involving human art forms. But it would be inappropriate to tear down this artist's work. That would raise some other serious issues." Indeed.

In Shelton, the art in question was a somewhat better known item - Michelangelo's David. It seems that a 15-foot copy of the work, was located in an office complex but visible from the street. The father of a 10-year-old girl who was "offended" at being able to see the statue from her school bus insisted that the school board change the bus route. "You have to look at it through my daughter's eyes," he's reported to have said. But who taught her to be "offended" in the first place?

Romeo and Juliet too risque for some in Oklahoma
It is, after all, a play about a liason between barely pubescent teenagers, but it seems to be the very brief nudity in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version of the Bard's drama that set off a fundie minister in Shawnee. According to the Rev. Phil Ellsworth, pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship Church, continuing to show this movie in high school Freshman English classes is "tantamount to condoning pornography". (See the original January 26 article from the Kansas City Star.)

Fortunately, the school district didn't agree with the preacher. According to a later article, on February 2 they decided that the film's educational value was more important than a few seconds of skin. High school students themselves summarized the decision best. According to one freshman girl, "We're young adults. I think we can handle a lot more than he thinks we can." And a junior boy added, quite sensibly, "Why are we so offended by sex and nudity? It's a natural part of life, so why not learn about it in school rather than somewhere else?"

Perhaps it's some parents and preachers who can't really deal with art - or life.

Naturists fight back
Not about art, and in fact not even about total nudity - but naturists are opening a new front in the culture/nudity wars with legal actions in Florida and Ohio. Two lawsuits filed recently seek recognition of rights for individuals to determine for themselves what swimming and sunbathing attire they are most comfortable with.

In Brevard County, Florida, religious right-wing pressure led to the enactment in 1995 of a county ordinance against nudity at the traditional clothing-optional Playalinda Beach. Not only full nudity, but even skimpy bathing suits and female toplessness were outlawed. At one point, teenagers and foreign tourists were being cited for wearing bathing attire that wasn't conservative enough for the local fundies. But in last fall's elections, Florida voters passed an amendment to the State constitution mandating equal treatment under the law for women. And now 10 women, most of whom are actually naturists (and including a 9-year-old girl) have sued to overturn several laws and administrative policies which require them to keep their breasts covered at the beach. This is a rather blatant violation of equal rights - men are under no such obligation.

The suit has the support of the local ACLU as well as the Naturist Action Committee. A February 5 article in the Orlando Sentinel quotes one ACLU attorney on the case as pointing out that "Women are simply asking not to be treated as criminals for doing the same things at the same times in the same places as men." It was a similar cooperative effort of naturists and the ACLU that won an almost identical case in New York in 1992.

Midwestern university sued over prudish policies
Meanwhile, in Oxford, Ohio, Dr. Roger Davis a professor of music at the local Miami University has sued the school over a regulation at a campus pool forbidding the wearing of thong bathing suits. Again the issue is not total nudity, but like most of the plaintiffs in Florida, Davis is a naturist and has the support of the Naturist Action Committee in his lawsuit. Policies governing the aesthetics of swimming attire are even less defensible than total bans on nudity - though having at base the same prudish paranoia of human bodies.

While thong bathing suits are not common even in more progressive parts of the U. S., they are tolerated in most places outside the Bible Belt. Not so in southwestern Ohio, however, near Cincinnati, where the university is located. Nearby officials have been known to threaten with arrest even art gallery owners who dared to display art unacceptable to local prudes. One wonders just how much money the University is prepared to spend to fight against freedom of personal expression and diversity.

It may not seem like the most important issue of the century, even for naturists, but this case has attracted a bit of media attention. In addition to wire reports and the articles mentioned below, Professor Davis and his case were scheduled to be featured on the MSNBC TV show "Judge and Jury" on March 11.

Related articles:

Canadian naturists more militant also
Canada is part of North America too. Just as in the U. S. naturist rights have suffered from general prudish attitudes. And just as in the U. S., Canadian naturists are growing more combative.

A beach on Meech Lake, within Gatineau Park near the federal capital of Ottawa, has been used by naturists for 60 years. In fact, the World Guide to Nude Beaches and Resorts lists it as "the oldest established nude beach in eastern Canada." Police harassment of naturists has been sporadic but on the increase in recent years. Now the local Meech Lake Naturist group is pressing for an end to the harassment.

The Ottawa Citizen, in a February 13 article reported on a meeting by naturist leaders with officials of the National Capital Commission that has responsibility for the park. The naturists requested freedom from harassment at the portion of beach where nude use was traditional and to be allowed to post signs advising anyone who might be offended of the presence of nudity.

Unfortunately, the naturists were rebuffed, as reported in this article that appeared the next day. In spite of the fact that the applicable law in Canada is federal, and that nude bathing is tolerated at various other beaches across the country, local officials insisted they could do nothing to help, because "Nudity in a public place is regulated by the Criminal Code."

Some naturist leaders thought that, nevertheless, there were encouraging signs of eventual success. In any case, local naturists have promised to continue to press the issue at public meetings and by confrontation, if necessary, when beach weather returns this summer.

Nudity in the Media

Dr. Ruth says: "Nothing wrong with family nudity"
We reported before (Vol. 1, No. 12) that Dr. Ruth Westheimer has a sensible, unhysterical attitude towards family nudity. She's said it again, in this article on Pathfinder, in response to a questioner who proudly admitted, "We have a 15-year-old daughter (still a virgin) and we all love to go nude around the house when we can."

In addition to giving her OK to nudity within the family, Dr. Ruth added, "If you've never been to a nudist resort, it will be different than just being nude at home, but if you all agree that it's something you'd like to try, I see no reason why you shouldn't." And to be helpful, she even included the URL of The Naturist Society.

The Mazo Beach controversy
You may recall that in April-May of last year, Wisconsin's Mazo Beach - one of the most popular and successful CO beaches in the U. S. between the two coasts - was the subject of some controversy. (See Vol. 1, No. 12.) Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources was under some pressure to clamp down due to various complaints. Nevertheless, the beach remained open for nude use throughout last year.

Well, the DNR has announced changes for this year which will prohibit overnight camping and make beach access substantially more difficult. Midwestern naturists aren't exactly happy about this, but the good news is that the DNR has refrained from prohibiting nude use entirely. That hasn't stopped a few right-wing politicians in Wisconsin from continuing to press for such a prohibition. One, Rep. DuWayne Johnsrud, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, has been very vocal in that endeavor. Johnsrud was a guest on a popular Wisconsin Public Radio talk show on March 1, and got to speak his piece on the matter.

Thanks to hard work on the part of The Naturist Society (which is based in Wisconsin) and the Naturist Action Committee, the show was swamped with callers in favor of continued clothing optional policies at Mazo. Even better, on March 3, NAC lobbyist Scootch Pankonin was the featured guest on the program, and another deluge of pro-nudity calls flowed in. Then on March 5 a DNR spokesperson was the guest.

If nothing else, Wisconsin residents are now considerably more aware they still have a great place to go for a dip where clothing remains optional.

New Zealand: a truly civilized country
Some folks say that a country gets the sort of politicians it deserves. There's a lot of truth in that. We'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out how it is that the U. S. is blessed with the likes of Bill Clinton and Henry Hyde. On the other hand, it sounds from this article from The Press of New Zealand that the Kiwis are on the right track.

Bob Harvey, new leader of the Labour Party, is said to have a "habit of speaking his mind and a flair for the striking gesture." As evidence of this, we are informed that when he was invited to open the new swimming pool of the Ranui Nudist Club, Harvey not only accepted, but went native. Afterward he admitted, "In a way I guess one tends to be a little embarrassed about these things when it's public, but it was great."

Hi, I take my clothes off for a living!
Sounds like the ideal job, no? And she's not talking about exotic dancing either. This is an article titled "butt naked" about being an artist's model, by a young Irish lass, writing in the "grrrl thang" column of the Webzine ept. There's not a whole lot of substance in this brief sketch about how "Pearl" got into modeling and what the job is all about. But still, in a time when few people are able to say that they really enjoy their work, it's refreshing to hear: "I must admit, I LIKE taking my clothes off."

Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue features total nudity
Well, not exactly. It depends on whether or not you consider swimsuits that are painted on the models to be total nudity. At the very least, you have to admit, the models featured in this tour de force of trompe l'oeil don't have a stitch on. And we doubt that they'd pass a close inspection by zealous anti-nudity police on most U. S. beaches.

Of course, it's difficult to come up with much praise for the basic premise of the annual swimsuit issue, given its pretty transparent soft-porn purpose. Is this really any different from Playboy? Well, in its own peculiar way, it does make nudity seem a little more "normal" - something you can actually include in a magazine sold almost everywhere and which you don't have to be 18 or older to purchase. And perhaps it will make a few people think of how all clothing is just visual trickery used to hide the truth of the real bodies underneath.

(Note: Lest you be disappointed, be aware that in most of the pictures in both the magazine and the Web site, the models actually are wearing real suits. You may have to look closely to find the ones where they aren't!)

Topless tirade?
In Vol. 2, No. 1 we reported on Lori Graves' topfree crusade in Moscow, Idaho, and a related incident involving some of her friends at a local nightspot. Although Graves' case demonstrated that female topfreedom wasn't illegal in itself, her friends were cited for trespassing when they refused to put their shirts on, despite the objections of the bar's management. A local magistrate subsequently ruled against them on the trespassing charge and delivered a stern lecture, as reported on this February 8 commentary in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

The thrust of the editorial is that topfreedom is not (in the writer's opinion) an issue of any importance. While that in itself is debatable, another statement in the editorial was far more objectionable - and enlightening as to the writer's point of view. It was suggested that the defendants were trying to force their morality on the community, when the exact opposite is plainly the case. And so it is with most anti-nudity laws and regulations.

Of course, we couldn't resist the temptation to use the reply window at the bottom of the page to respond as follows:

Most of the error in your editorial is visible in this statement: "She, and the others who insist on foisting their morality on their Moscow neighbors, enjoy pushing the envelope." Your writer seems ignorant that "foist" implies an intent to deceive, which certainly doesn't apply to the defendants in this case - but probably does to the editorial writer. The word meant was probably "force" - which also doesn't apply to the defendants, but does apply to the writer, who indeed does wish to force his or her extremely narrow-minded "morality" on the community.

More on Princeton's nude olympics
Never let it be said that we report only on the positive stories about nudity. Princeton's "nude olympics", as discussed in our last issue, can hardly be described as the university's finest hour, especially this year. And yet, amid all the notable foolishness of this event, the nudity stands out as the least of the problems - not a problem at all, really. The Princeton community appears to recognize this.

This year, about 300 to 350 young Princetonians participated in the annual rite of passage. From the outside - and especially from the perspective of a nude-intolerant society - it can seem weird. Especially to people who've never been nude in public. But those who participated learned exactly what naturists have known for a long time. As one young woman observed, "It's a little unbelievable when you think about what you actually did. But at the time, it just seemed normal to be naked and running around."

Here's a good story from the local community paper which includes a day-by-day chronology of the event and its aftermath, articles on several previous olympics, and pictures (censored, of course). It seems to put things pretty well in perspective.

And here's one more story from a local paper with a brief overview of the event.

Next year we'll find out whether Princeton students are as bright as they think they are - if they can figure out how to enjoy the "nude" of the "nude olympics" without the booze.

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