- British Naturism campaign for women in naturism
Women in Naturism – the relaunch
BN, the national naturist organization of the UK, is not only concerned about the level of participation by women in naturism (only 30% of BN membership), but they appear to be making an effort to do something about it. BN member Donna Price has volunteered to help restart BN’s “Women in Naturism” campaign. The article mentions several possible approaches: “organising specific gatherings for women, speaking about Naturism in the media, encouraging Naturist women to bring friends to events or clubs, and participating in women’s groups on- and offline to spread the word”. Cited as a first step is: creating “a national network of Naturist women, with the aim of putting them in touch with others in their own areas or areas that they may be visiting.”
This ought to be extremely important. Why? The most likely reason is that women seem to be considerably more reluctant than men to attend a naturist activity, nude beach, resort, or local club by themselves. And that’s probably because of the existing preponderance of men at any of those things. (Example) If a woman happens to have a significant other or good friend who is an active naturist and can accompany her, the gender imbalance is less of a problem. Otherwise, the imbalance is probably a major deterrent. So the best solution could be to enable women to get in touch easily with one or more current women naturists to go with them when exploring naturist opportunities.
One assertion in the article is questionable: “It is a fact that Naturism appeals more intuitively to men than women.” Is there actual evidence for this “fact”? The gender imbalance isn’t good evidence, since there are a number of other possible reasons that the imbalance exists. One or more of these other reasons, such as negative body-image or fear of harassment, may explain the imbalance, even if naturism is equally appealing to women and men in the abstract.
- Women’s feelings about naturism
From a Woman’s Perspective: Nudism
This is actually a September 2012 article from the Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA) website. It’s been reposted in various places since then. I’m including it here for its relevance to the preceding article. A large number of women comment on their naturist experience in a variety of categories:
- My first time fears
- Accepting my body
- Single issues
- Nudist families and their children
- How to get started
The comments aren’t entirely about women’s initial fears and difficulties of getting into naturism. But there is one theme that appears in the background of many of the comments. The theme can be expressed as concerns women have about their bodies, in terms of safety and personal dignity. Women worry about their safety from unwanted attention, harassment, or even physical harm. But they also worry that, without the “protection” of clothes, their bodies may be regarded as mere objects for male attention without concern for a woman’s personal dignity, and that they will be judged based on specious cultural standards of “attractiveness”. The fact, of course, is that the concerns are usually unwarranted when only “genuine” naturists are involved.
The second of these worries, especially, is a lot more relevant for women than for men. Men also are often uncomfortable about their body’s appearance. However, in most existing societies women’s bodies are fetishized much more than men’s bodies. An example of this is the fact that there’s much less male nudity than female nudity in movies. In order for women to become comfortable with naturism it is, unfortunately, necessary to be able to immunize themselves against this cultural reality. This is easier to accomplish with organized assistance from women who’ve become at ease with naturism and their bodies. Naturist men should also help in this task, since doing it shouldn’t be solely by women. However, one suspects, naturist women have advantages in being able to handle it.
Women shouldn’t be too quick to assume that male naturists, for voyeuristic reasons, want more women to participate. The truth is that both women and men are more likely to participate in naturism if there is more equal gender balance. This is especially important for encouraging more young people to become naturists. As it is now, the most prominent demographic at many nude beaches and naturist resorts is older men. That’s just not likely to lead to increasing popularity of naturism among young people of either sex.
- Nudity in New Zealand
How a beach becomes nude, and why people like getting naked in public
So, why do people like getting naked in pubic – at least in New Zealand? In the opinion of the president of the Auckland Naturist Club, “I tend to think clothing-optional people are more friendly than the other people. There’s something about it, it’s hard to explain. When you have people around with no clothes on who are comfortable with it, they seem to be much more open and social – not in a provocative way – just in a friendly way.” This observation about naturists is pretty common, and it’s probably true. After all, people enjoy being naked because it’s relaxing, and who wants to be rude, argumentative, or confrontational when one is trying to relax – especially when naked?
The answer to the other question – how does a beach in New Zealand become nude? – is much vaguer. Often it “just happens”. There aren’t any “official” nude beaches near Auckland, and probably not elsewhere in New Zealand. And it can happen because “There is no specific offence for being naked in public” – in the words of one police spokesperson. Clear illegality is present only if there is “indecency” or “offensive behavior”. This is also true in many US states and Western European countries. The problem is that these terms are vague and subjective. But for now, that seems the best that naturists can expect.
- Body acceptance
Baring all: Could naturism be the answer to body confidence?
It’s encouraging to read positive stories about naturism in conventional print media, like newspaper and magazines. But they’re relatively rare and usually superficial, especially in the US. And they often seem to have a subtext like “Can you believe that sensible people really do this?” Or they contain neutral-sounding commentary, but the writer or reporter concludes, after having spent a few hours socially naked, with a sign-off such as “It was interesting, but I don’t think it’s for me.” The situation seems to be a little better in the UK. The article here, from a Scottish newspaper, is a good example. It’s based on interviews with two naturists and a photographer who makes nude portraits for women that are not in the “boudoir” style but instead are intended to demonstrate the subject’s body-confidence. The naturist interviewees don’t say anything that would surprise other experienced naturists. But their comments might be informative for people who have no idea what naturists actually believe.
- Ever-changing attitudes to simple nudity (sort of)
Naked Came the Strangers
This article is a good example of the kind of story about nudity that’s common in the US. It’s somewhat of a pseudo-intellectual rumination that appeared (unsurprisingly) in the NY Times. The writer focuses on the type of nudity that appeared in the late 1960s at events like Woodstock. In some ways, a little progress has been made. For instance, “The women who would have been violating decency statutes by going topless at Woodstock in 1969 would now, in a majority of American states, be free to bare their nipples in public.” (While that may be correct in legal terms, the supposed freedom, obviously, is almost never exercised.) It’s not clear how much lasting effect Woodstock-like nudity has actually had, although public nudity does occur in limited circumstances, such as WNBR and occasional special events in New York City. (None of this is mentioned in the article.) The writer concludes, of course, with the sign-off that seems de rigueur in the US:
“I could never have been one of those naked people at Woodstock or Altamont or anywhere, really. … I went swimming with a group of pals who first removed their bathing suits and slung them, as was then the custom, around their necks. It did feel thrilling and slightly illicit and pleasurable, as everyone promised, that unfettered freedom of bobbing around naked in the ocean. But if I am being honest, it felt much better afterward to get dressed.”