- Naked social protests in Australia
- A naturist event in an Australian bar
- Why to go to a nude beach
- Exercising rights to be naked
- British skinnydipping
While, sadly, it’s now autumn – and getting steadily colder in the northern hemisphere – spring has arrived in the south – together with good weather for outdoor nudity. So we now have naturist stories from Australia, and should see many more until spring comes again in the north.
- Why Australians are so obsessed with naked protests – from Extinction Rebellion to saving the seals
Why are British tabloids so obsessed with hyperbolic headlines? The answer: it’s probably, just about everywhere tabloids are found, for their lower-class readership. The use of nudity in social and political protest is a worldwide thing, so it’s clearly not an “obsession” unique to Australia. A notable example is the feminist group Femen, which is presently headquartered in France – but has no official presence in Australia. Still, Australia, with its streak of cheekiness and impudence, is no slouch in the naked protest department. The most current protest mentioned is in support of Extinction Rebellion, which calls for more serious government action to deal with climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation. Although the Australian demonstrations seem well-attended, there appears to be little if any full nudity.
Previous Australian protests that have involved some amount of nudity have included World Naked Bike Rides and demonstrations by supporters of PETA. But, of course, those demonstrations are hardly restricted to Australia either. While some naturists may not fully agree with the objectives of these protests, it’s worth noting that the International Naturist Federation defines naturism as “a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment”. So there’s a certain logic to dispensing with clothing in order to support respect for the environment.
More: Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters strip off for ‘Nudie Parade’ through Melbourne
- A Sydney bar is holding a naked Sunday sesh
Australian naturists aren’t all about serious issues. Some, at least, are more into pursuits of an alcoholic nature – beer especially. A bare beer bash, in other words. According to the article, “If you’ve ever wanted to have a beer in the buff with your friends, here’s your chance. Stitch Bar in Sydney’s CBD is holding a one-off event later this month [October] where you can have a few drinks on a Sunday arvo in the nude.” So if that’s your thing, you can – together with friends – get besotted as well as bereft of clothes. Cutely, the event is called “Bottoms Up Sydney”. The sponsor of this “sesh” is the group Young Nudists of Australia (YNA). The group’s spokesperson, Matt, is quoted remarking “We’ve seen it happen in France and in the UK and across America”. “Across America”? Really?
It’s unfortunate that young people feel they need to gather in a bar to enjoy nudity with others like themselves. Naturists need to be rather concerned about the view expressed in the article that “when most of us think of nudists, we tend to picture, how should we say … slightly older people.” It’s hard to deny that there’s now a lot of truth in that about many naturist venues, whether they are nude beaches or naturist resorts. But that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: believing it – whether correctly or not – makes it more likely. If you expect that you’ll be naked and surrounded by people of a very different demographic than yourself at a naturist venue – when being socially naked is already an anxiety-inducing prospect for you – why would you bother? And if you happen to be female, wouldn’t the other expectation – that most others present would be male – be even more daunting? This seems to be the predicament that naturism finds itself in all too often these days. However, the next article makes a very good point that naturists ought to be emphasizing.
More: ‘Bottoms Up’ Sydney reveals plans for nudist bar
- Why I Went to a Nude Beach in Greece, and Why You Should Too
Adelaide, the author of this personal essay, doesn’t explain how she happened to be seeking out a nude beach in the first place. It’s particularly puzzling because she writes in some detail about the distress she’s experienced as a young woman from the feeling of being objectified simply as a result of wearing clothing she finds comfortable. For example: “I’ve been getting catcalled since I was 13, and yet also grew up avoiding looking at my full naked body in a mirror because it disgusted me. … I’ll do anything to look like society’s current female ideal, but thanks to the double-edged sword of femininity, I know looking hotter will only make the world see me as less of a person.”
It’s hard to say whether that’s a realistic fear for women at nude beaches and other naturist venues in the U. S. Probably it is at some and not others. And just as probably it is what most women with no experience of naturism are likely to expect – in any country that lacks a flourishing naturist subculture. So they never try to find out. Now, Greece is not known as a naturist-friendly country, such as France or Croatia. Nevertheless, it does have nude beaches in out-of-the-way places. And the one Adelaide chose to visit first must have been exactly what should be the norm. In her own words:
“this is the first time since puberty that I’ve been in a public space and not felt objectified. There are plenty of male nudists on the shore and in the water near me, but none of them give me a second glance; there is no double-take that I am an expert at spotting whenever I’m wearing a low-cut shirt, no catcalls that set off the fight-or-flight response in my brain, no one is “distracted” by me just trying to live my life. And now I’m wearing no clothing at all … I am no one’s plaything, I’m not an object to be stared at, my body belongs to me and me alone. We are all just human beings, normal bodies that don’t need to be sexualized or degraded. Here, I can let my guard down, for the first time in what feels like forever.”
So, is Adelaide’s advice good that you should go to a nude beach to escape feeling objectified (if you’re a woman)? At most established naturist parks and resorts it probably is. However, it’s not such a sure thing where nude beaches are concerned. Many times the experience may be as positive as it was for her, but that’s not guaranteed. Perhaps she was just lucky. But if it doesn’t work out for the first beach you try – then try again at another. Or ask advice from a naturist who knows what specific beaches are like. Why bother seeking good naturist places at all? According to Adelaide, “Because everyone deserves, even just for a few hours, to feel full ownership of their body and even be able to celebrate it.”
- Making Progress for Nudie Rights
The writer starts by making some good points about promoting naturism.
- “Evangelism drives the people who are already nervous about it away.”
- “We need to desensitize the general public [to nudity].”
- “The aversion to nudity is a learned reflex that can be extincted with enough exposure of a non-threatening and positive manner.” (This is known as “exposure therapy”)
- “What is needed now are more opportunities for nude and clothed people to interact in an environment that feels safe for both.”
What follows are several examples of these ideas in action. (1) World Naked Bike Rides; (2) San Francisco’s Bare to Breakers foot race (or ramble); (3) Naked hiking; (4) clothing-optional beaches. This article is a bit rambling – but worth the time. There are links out to some of the writer’s related blog posts.
The main point remains that nudity needs to be normalized by developing more opportunities where non-confrontational interaction is possible between people who enjoy being naked and the general public. There are a number of other examples that can be mentioned:
- the Burning Man event
- body painting
- social and political protests (see article above)
- life drawing and painting sessions
- Seattle’s Fremont Sumer Solstice parade
- Key West, Florida’s Fantasy Fest
- A mass skinny dip is taking place near Manchester next month
The event is actually in the town of Warrington, about midway between Manchester and Liverpool, on November 1. It’s just one local event that’s part of the Great British Skinny Dip series. Such events, sponsored by the British Naturism organization, are held at various places in Britain on different days. During colder times of the year, they’re held indoors, of course, in commercial pools that set aside times specifically for naturists. Some of the events welcome entire families. However, individuals under the age of 18 aren’t allowed at this particular event, unfortunately. That’s probably because ignorant people in the area are hostile to naturism, especially if children are involved. (Here’s one example of this problem from March of this year. In that case, fortunately, children were allowed to attend.)
More: Great British Skinny Dip is taking place right near Liverpool