Gender balance in naturism

Recently a post here had a comment that brought up the naturist gender balance issue, suggesting it could actually be a matter of gender discrimination (against single men). I wrote a long reply and suspected it should be a regular post. The issue is one of the biggest problems facing U. S. naturism, and has been for a long time (like decades). It’s a very difficult issue to deal with. But the issue hasn’t been discussed much here (except for this and this), so let’s have another look at it.

It’s very wrong and unfair for a naturist club to exclude men entirely for gender balance reasons. There definitely needs to be more flexibility. But the issue is a very tough one. Here’s the main problem: If there are “too many men” at a naturist club, event, or even a clothing-optional beach, then many other men, as well as women, will be considerably less likely to participate.


This isn’t mainly because of homophobia (although that could be a small part). It’s because in most places there are about as many women and men in the population. So in many other social settings, it’s normal to have a fairly equal gender balance. And that’s a very good thing, because women and men often have somewhat different attitudes and approaches to life in general. Consequently, many people positively enjoy getting to know and socialize with people of a different gender than their own. (Of course, some social organizations are exclusively single-gender by design, and that’s OK. But some men and women simply don’t enjoy socializing with people different from themselves, and that’s unfortunate.)

When is some particular imbalance “too extreme”? That really depends on who you ask. A ratio of 10-to-1 or even 20-to-1 men over women may be acceptable to some men, and even a small number of women. But probably not in most cases. What about 5-to-1 or 3-to-1? That may be acceptable to more people, but still unacceptable to others. Closer to 1-to-1 would be much better.

The big problem is that people who find a significant imbalance unacceptable are much less likely to participate in naturism. Obviously, that hurts naturism, even for people who aren’t bothered by imbalance. Why? Because it makes naturism a lot weaker than it should be. Fewer people who participate means there will be fewer naturist clubs and fewer clothing-optional beaches. Worst of all, a (not unreasonable) perception will be perpetuated in the general public that naturism is a weird, fringe interest that appeals only to very few people. You can depend on that.

For naturism to be as strong as it needs to be in order to survive and, hopefully, prosper it must attract as many people as possible (for the “right” reasons). I’m sure there are many, even in a country like the U. S., who have few or no problems being naked around others. There have been surveys that show many people have either been naked at clothing-optional beaches, or would do so if it were convenient. But they still don’t participate in naturism very much, if at all. One reason is that too few naturists means that most others know little or nothing about naturism. However, even men and women who have tried naturist activities often skip participation because of imbalances.

This past summer I started a Meetup group for naturists in my general area. I didn’t exclude single males. Almost everyone who joined was male. Most did not have partners, naturist or otherwise. There were hardly any hetero couples, and even fewer single women. In spite of offering several events, there was very little interest. It’s my impression that most other naturist Meetup groups have had similar results. One of the problems here is that the nearby population density is low, so people are fairly spread out. So why would people be motivated to drive 50 or 100 miles to an event if a significant gender imbalance was likely?

There are a few ways to deal with the problem. Naturist clubs and resorts should never absolutely exclude single males. But they could schedule different times and events when any trustworthy naturist could attend, regardless of gender – and other times when some gender balancing is required. Clubs could do more for hetero couples where only the man is a naturist. In that case the woman will generally want to remain at least partially clothed. So the club should relax as much as possible any expectation for the partner to be fully naked, except in swimming pools and spas. That should help more women be willing to participate. Any woman who’s hesitant about experiencing naturism will probably feel considerably more at ease if she’s accompanied by a male friend or partner.

Clubs could go further and schedule events for couples (whether partnered or “just friends”) where nudity isn’t required at all, and club staff or other naturists could lead discussions of naturism and show online videos that demonstrate many aspects of naturism, including naturist women who give their perspectives. YouTube has somewhat relaxed its policies on nudity, so now there are many good naturist videos available. Another possibility for clubs could be to require men by themselves to be fully naked when it’s warm enough and there are shady areas to avoid excessive sun.

There are now what I call “naturist gateways” – activities where nudity is sensible, encouraged, and not uncommon. Some of them are things that naturist clubs could schedule as special events. For example: naked yoga, naked fitness and exercise, body painting, life modeling, etc. Some of these are things that actually attracted many people in the early days of naturism. Anyone who learns about such things may well want to try some of them at home. As a result, they can become more comfortable with nudity and therefore more interested in naturism generally.

But individual naturists, too, should take some responsibility. Everyone who wants naturism in the U. S. to be successful, should make improving gender balance a priority. Single male naturists who aren’t in a committed relationship but are dating should make an effort to find dating partners who’re at least willing to participate in naturism even if remaining partially or fully clothed. Whether or not you’re looking for a relationship, you can at least try to find a female friend (or relative) who’s not interested in a relationship but willing to come along, even if preferring to remain all or mostly clothed.

There are various reasonable ways to approach this. To begin with, don’t be afraid to discuss naturism with at least some of your friends and acquaintances. You’ll have to do that if you want to find someone to accompany you in a naturist activity. It may be better not to do that in some circumstances, such as in a place of employment, or anywhere important relationships might be affected. But there are lots of alternatives. Perhaps you often see the same people at a gym you go to. If you live in an apartment building, you’ll see other residents more or less frequently. Probably you’ll occasionally have informal conversations with some of them. If the facility has a swimming pool, that would be an ideal place to get to know others. If you’re considering a move to another residence, definitely look for one with a pool.

If you’re not already a member of a naturist group, definitely look for one or more to join. The lack of gender balance in such groups is certainly a problem. But the best way to deal with that is to find women who aren’t members, yet may be open-minded about naturism and willing to consider it. Also, some group members are probably acquainted with such women – perhaps friends or relatives they’ve already discussed naturism with. These members would likely be happy to introduce you. And you won’t have to worry about revealing your own interest in naturism to current group members.

Another approach is to find a social group of some sort that’s reasonably gender-balanced, such as a political, hiking, or running group. You may see others in the group only occasionally, but there will still be plenty of time to get to know people. Some may not like the idea of naturism at all, but probably many others will at least respect your opinion, even if they aren’t personally attracted by naturism. Some might even know of one or more acquaintances who’ve enjoyed a clothing-optional beach or other naturist activity. (“Oh, one of my nieces seems to be into that sort of thing.”) They might be happy to introduce you. Such acquaintances probably also know others who are naturist-friendly.

The general idea here should be pretty obvious. Take advantage of your current social network – and try to expand it – in order to find others who are at least willing to learn more about naturism. Social networks are the main way that good ideas get transmitted.

60 thoughts on “Gender balance in naturism”

      1. “When is some particular imbalance “too extreme”? That really depends on who you ask. A ratio of 10-to-1 or even 20-to-1 men over women may be acceptable to some men, and even a small number of women. But probably not in most cases. What about 5-to-1 or 3-to-1? That may be acceptable to more people, but still unacceptable to others. Closer to 1-to-1 would be much better.”

        I’m a male, an African-American, and a long-time nudist. What bothers me is the elephant in the room: the ratio of white people to non-white people is typically 90-to-1 or more. To those who think that banning men is the solution to gender imbalance: How would you feel if you were rejected because there weren’t enough non-white people?

        1. That is a serious problem, of course. But have you actually been denied admission to a naturist place because of being African-American (and not because of being male)? If so, was it recently? If the place is managed by a prejudiced person or persons, it’s still wrong, but more likely in certain parts of the country.

          There are also very few hispanics, asians, and any other non-white ethnicity. Same problem.

          Do you know African-Americans who participate in naturism at clothing-optional beaches, outdoor activities (like hiking), etc.? If not, the problem may be, at least partially, lack of interest. Some ethnicities tend to be strongly religious, which could affect attitudes towards nudity.

          If you are acquainted with African-American naturists, how about encouraging them to go with you to places where you feel very outnumbered?

          1. I think I see a pattern here, and we need to be careful about assuming “discrimination” when imbalances exist.

            For instance, are women discriminated against because there is a strong imbalance of men vs. women? Some men believe they’re the ones discriminated against – even though they’re in the large majority.

            Are young people discriminated against because there is a strong imbalance of people over 40 vs. people under 40? I don’t see many claims of discrimination on either side here. It’s just that one side chooses non-participation because of the imbalance, and that’s also true in the female/male imbalance. In fact, most naturists want to see more participation from women and young people. Discrimination doesn’t seem relevant in these cases.

            Women probably choose not to participate because of the imbalance. But maybe the imbalance exists because women choose not to participate. The truth is that causality runs in both directions. This situation is known as a self-fulling prophecy, or more commonly a “vicious circle”.

            Exactly the same situation with the imbalance of young vs. old.

            Is there really “discrimination” in naturism based on religion? Or do people with certain religious beliefs refuse to participate?

            The same question can be asked regarding imbalances related to color, ethnicity, etc. In modern times – going back centuries, but still a small period in the history of the modern human species – social nudity has been a controversial issue in most cultures. The degree of controversiality varies a lot between different social categories. And this degree directly affects motivation to participate in naturism.

            In fact, this situation also explains a lot about why so few people, in most societies, don’t participate in naturism. People in general tend to “follow the crowd” and so are averse to being part of a small minority. But the minority is small mostly because of the follow-the-crowd preference.

          2. I really dont think discrimination even comes into this particular subject. Indirectly perhaps when clubs need to keep the balance but they are not suggesting that single men cannot be members. They manage the issue with waiting lists so men can get in but may need to wait. I can appreciate the logic – there is no other way to do it.

            I believe I am looking at this from a different angle to most people in that I dont think acceptance of nudity is the key. In any public leisure club the the same inbalance will be apparent because some single men have a certain mind set. The difference with naturist clubs/beaches is a naked woman is going to feel more vulnerable and ‘oggled’ than in a clothed environment.

            So from my viewpoint the single aspect that needs to change is the attitude of some men and no matter what we do, I can’t see that changing. It’s part of the human condition and a lot of women simply don’t want to put themselves in the position where they feel they are being stared at or approached.

            I fear it is something we are stuck with and clubs do the only thing they can to help members feel relaxed and comfortable.

          3. I’d be interested to know whether this situation is the same in countries like France, Spain, Germany, Croatia, etc. Is gender imbalance much the same everywhere? Are single men considered to be as serious a problem?

    1. Many clubs now are not picky about full nudity, for either men or women, except around the pools. If there are some that still try to enforce full nudity, they’re probably not going to change, because (they think) “it works for them” and their existing customers. There’s no known cure for stupidity.

  1. Loved the article..thanks….
    I have only been to nudist beaches so far….they’re great and have their place…
    I am a single male, and personally have been hesitant and that I would not attend an atmosphere of a family gathering alone…my belief is that if the ratio of single and paired males increases dramatically, things change, and your over all attendance would in fact decrease. The Ponderosa has the same problem…too many male go just to oogle at the fence and have seen males pair up after they have entered the grounds forcing a number participants to decline in some of the activities. Maybe, singles, male,female or whatever have a designated area ….. Decide on the long term outcome

    1. There’s a lot of variability from country to country and, of course, even within a country. Much depends on the general culture of each country. Most of N. America tends to have many more hang-ups about nudity than countries in Western Europe. In England and Spain, nudity in public isn’t even illegal, unless it deliberately causes “distress” to others. Eastern Europe, on the other hand, tends to be even worse than N. America. And so does most of the rest of the world too, for that matter. There’s a lot of stupidity in the world. The problem for naturism in countries like the U. S. is that some men are obsessed with seeing naked women – because nudity is so repressed outside of naturist places.

  2. This seems to be an issue in every country. Even the Dutch have many more male naturists than female. However you must not assume all women are anti single men. We have 3 naturist male friends who are all widowed – my wife gets annoyed at the way they and others are treated by some naturists. They are not single by choice – their wives died and they became single men.

    Last night we had our naked regional Christmas Dinner in a pub. It did not matter that there were more men than women – we all had a good evening. I think some of the staff at the pub will try naturism after meeting us last night. (They did not realize that there are two naturist clubs within a mile of the pub!!!)
    We live about 25 miles north of London.

    1. It’s not that women (partnered or not) are against single men. Single men may be a problem for women on a clothing-optional beach, because there may not be much to deter some men from being uncivil. But in a club or resort, men who don’t behave respectfully are usually dealt with. The problem is “too many” men. What may be “too many” is hard to pin down. But in general, both men and women would like to socialize with people of both genders. A large preponderance of one over the other tends to violate that preference.

  3. I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve read on this subject – and even written about it myself. So, obviously, it’s a matter that has concerned Naturist groups the world over for a very long time.

    The suggestions given are great in theory, but not new – they have been tried by many groups with varied success. After giving this subject a lot of thought and much research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the approach that the Naturist community is taking is all wrong. It’s like the old saying: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got”.

    I believe we need to stop worrying about gender imbalance – full stop! Stop trying all the worn-out tactics to attract more women, curtail single males, etc etc. I believe the real answer is in the short phrase under the title of your blog: “Let’s Normalize Nudity”.

    We need to abandon the efforts to create a better gender balance and, instead, focus our energy on transforming society’s attitude in general toward the naked body. We need to work towards removing the Victorian puritan mindset of false modesty and body shame that has permeated modern western culture and get our society to realize that seeing a naked body is nothing to be ashamed about, and nothing to be embarrassed about. We need to make nakedness into a dress-code that is just as unremarkable as shorts and t-shirt. Once we have achieved this, I’m convinced that the gender imbalance issue will simply vanish!

    Why? Firstly, because normalizing nudity will remove the mystery, the “forbidden fruit” characteristic that encourages people to associate nudity with sex.. When the naked body becomes a common sight, what reason will there be any more for guys to go to places frequented by Naturists just to ogle at nude bodies? Human nature compels people to try and taste that which is forbidden and hidden. And, secondly, when the naked body becomes a common sight, people will finally realize that the “ideal body” that is constantly pushed in their faces by the media, fashion and cosmetic industries, fitness and dieting industries, etc, is nothing more than commercial hype that is simply unattainable by the vast majority! And women are, by far, the most affected by this!

    Those two issues appear to be the most common reasons given by women as to their reluctance to go naked. Fix those and you’ll fix gender imbalance. Let’s Normalize Nudity!

    1. “Normalizing nudity” is a great slogan. It’s also a great objective. BUT: What is the plan to achieve the objective? This seems like a chicken/egg situation. If nudity were “normalized” (to a sufficient extent), there would be more naturists, more naturist clubs and parks, more gender balance, etc. (Or maybe such things wouldn’t even be needed.) But without a plan to achieve the objective, it won’t happen, and so the results won’t follow. On the other hand, if the objective to begin with is to recruit more naturists (somehow), there will be more clubs and parks. That’s just economics: increased supply follows increased demand – not vice versa. Promoting more gender balance in existing facilities is one way to have more naturists: all the women who aren’t interested now but might be with better balance. Failing to improve balance certainly isn’t going to result in more naturists.

      I wouldn’t say there’s any country on the planet where nudity is actually “normalized”, but some countries, like France, Germany, England, Netherlands, Spain, and maybe a couple of others come a lot closer than the U. S. So what’s the situation in New Zealand? According to your website, “it is legal to be naked in appropriate public places, such as beaches”. Is that as far as it goes? Is nudity OK in most public parks? What’s the next step? Would an organization like yours be viable in a large country like the U. S.? Your organization seems to have the objective of making nonsexual nudity acceptable just about anywhere in public. That would make private naturist clubs and resorts unnecessary. But even so, will women as well as men be able to be naked without harassment? (Even fully clothed women now endure a lot of harassment.) What, exactly, is the plan to make nudity “into a dress code that is just as unremarkable as shorts and t-shirt”?

      I’m not trying to put down your ideas, just trying sincerely to find out how they’ll be carried out.

      It seems to me that solving the problem of normalizing nudity will require much effort on a number of smaller sub-problems. Improving gender balance is just one of the sub-problems. Other sub-problems include relaxing anti-nudity laws, correcting common misunderstandings of naturism in the general population, developing a more successful public relations strategy, making naturism more appealing to young people, educating local public officials on the economic value of naturist travel and recreation, establishing stronger and more effective naturist organizations, neutralizing or eliminating religious objections to nudity – to name just a few. The existing naturist organizations in the U. S. have failed to do any of this.

      Efforts to address each of these sub-problems tend to supplement and reinforce each other. Is there some magic super-strategy that will normalize nudity without addressing the sub-problems? Changing a society’s existing opinions on controversial issues is extremely difficult, and typically requires lots of organization and money – from enough people who want the change to happen.

      Because there definitely are many people who don’t want the change to happen.

      1. What is the plan to achieve the objective? That’s a great question. I’m trying to think of an analogy. The plan is like a river that has many streams feeding into it, but care must be taken to avoid bursting the banks! The plan is to gently, but firmly, push the boundaries of nudity acceptance. It is to use whatever means available to educate the public that nakedness is not offensive and that the sight of a naked human body is not abhorrent, nor will it cause life-long trauma to children. The plan also includes allowing members of society to see naked people in appropriate public spaces enjoying normal, wholesome activities devoid of any sexual connotations – hiking, cycling, swimming, picnicing, you name it.

        If you want to “Normalize nudity” it’s never going to happen by promoting clubs and resorts where Naturists are hiding behind tall fences and hedgerows to avoid “offending” the public. The seclusion of clubs and resorts only serves to strengthen, in the minds of society, that social nudity is shameful or weird and must be kept hidden from “normal, decent people”. So, no – we’re not interested in promoting club membership or secluded resorts. And we are opposed to designated “nudist beaches” because that would mean that all other beaches would become, by default, non-nudist beaches. That would be a major step backwards in New Zealand. The more that clothed and unclothed people can share the same spaces together, the more normalised nakedness will become as a viable clothing option.

        I don’t know of any Westernised countries where nudity is totally normalised. Some countries, such as the ones you mentioned are making progress, but a long way to go. In Germany is was quite common at one time to see naked people sunbathing in city parks – I’m not sure that is still the case. But there are certainly other people groups, such as the Amazon’s Z’oe tribe, where nudity is simply a normal, everyday part of life.

        The situation in New Zealand is much the same as the UK. We have no specific law that forbids being naked in public spaces. There are laws against doing indecent acts, but they apply whether you are naked or not. But, as will all dress codes, there is a time and place for everything. We’re certainly not advocating (at this stage, anyway) that you can go walking around the main city streets and shops naked. You could certainly be charged with disorderly conduct for that. But it is perfectly legal to be naked on any beach, hike forest tracks, ride the cycle trails, swim in rivers, work in your own gardens, etc.

        From what I understand of U.S. law, the rules are much more restrictive. America seems to be still bound up in Victorian puritan attitudes far more than other countries. In some states I understand you will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for nothing more than being naked in a public space – even without doing anything sexual! So America certainly has the additional burden of lobbying for a law change, as well as changing public attitudes.

        One of the biggest challenges we face in New Zealand is not so much public attitudes to nakedness, but the fear of offending that is carried in the minds of our Naturist community. A lot of naturists here still don’t understand their rights under the law – even those in charge of some naturist groups. So part of the plan is to educate the Naturist community and to embolden them to keep “pressing the boundaries” without going too far and bursting the banks of my river analogy. That would be a disaster!

        The sub-problems you listed are all part of it and very important. Public events like the WNBR and Street Bodypainting expos, ec, all contribute to the plan to normalise nudity in the minds of society. And, like the U.S. our Naturist Federation has achieved almost nothing in that regard – they are too focussed on the club scene. So, no, I don’t think there is any one single super-strategy. Just lots of streams feeding the one river!

        I did write an article some time ago about this, although some of my thoughts have progressed a little since then: https://www.haurakinaturally.nz/future-of-naturism

        But, getting back to gender imbalance, when we started Hauraki Naturally there was a perfect 50/50 gender balance: zero males and zero females! But what happened? Males started joining but females didn’t. Why? And so to say that “The problem is ‘too many’ men” just doesn’t wash with me. There has to be a variety of other factors at play. Maybe it’s a simple as the “effort in/enjoyment out” ratio – maybe women generally don’t get the same enjoyment or benefits from naturism as men do, in proportion to the effort required to partake in it? Who knows? Even the various women I’ve asked, both Naturists and non-Naturists, can give me a definitive answer. And so I’m no longer that concerned with it any more. I believe that concentrating our efforts on normalizing nudity is better bang for the buck!

        1. If you want to “Normalize nudity” it’s never going to happen by promoting clubs and resorts where Naturists are hiding behind tall fences and hedgerows to avoid “offending” the public. The seclusion of clubs and resorts only serves to strengthen, in the minds of society, that social nudity is shameful or weird and must be kept hidden from “normal, decent people”.

          I have to disagree with that. Until nudity actually is normalized, clubs and resorts have a legitimate role to play. They shouldn’t be dismissed – at least not until normalization is achieved, and probably not even then. They provide a “safe” place for people who are curious about naturism, but for various reasons of their own don’t want to be naked in public places. They provide a good way for people to meet actual naturists, learn what naturism is really about, become comfortable being naked in the presence of others, get over any problems with body acceptance, and various other reasons. They help people get enthusiastic about being naked, so they are more likely to also enjoy nudity in suitable public places – and to work for increasing the number of such places.

          People today – not at all only naturists – visit private clubs and resorts because they have things to offer that people can’t enjoy in public places near where they live. For example: good beaches, great scenery, special sports facilities, specialty restaurants, etc. Or perhaps parents simply want to leave their kids with relatives for a few days and get away to a place they can relax as a couple. Clubs and resorts of any kind often are intended for people with special interests, such as playing golf, skiing, etc. For naturists, it just makes sense to want to be somewhere most others share the pleasure of being naked. That wouldn’t be true at pubic parks or beaches even if nudity is a perfectly acceptable option. Wanting a good place to find new friends who’re also naturists is a very sensible reason for going to a naturist club or resort.

          there are certainly other people groups, such as the Amazon’s Z’oe tribe, where nudity is simply a normal, everyday part of life.

          Of course, that’s how humans in warm climates have been for most of their history, until the past few millennia. But such people, unfortunately, are extremely rare now.

          From what I understand of U.S. law, the rules are much more restrictive. America seems to be still bound up in Victorian puritan attitudes far more than other countries. In some states I understand you will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for nothing more than being naked in a public space – even without doing anything sexual!

          Correct, and such laws are absolutely disgusting. That’s really hard on naturism, and it is why what may work in NZ, England, etc. to normalize nudity often is nearly impossible here.

          Males started joining but females didn’t. Why? And so to say that “The problem is ‘too many’ men” just doesn’t wash with me. There has to be a variety of other factors at play. Maybe it’s a simple as the “effort in/enjoyment out” ratio – maybe women generally don’t get the same enjoyment or benefits from naturism as men do, in proportion to the effort required to partake in it? Who knows? Even the various women I’ve asked, both Naturists and non-Naturists, can give me a definitive answer.

          Wouldn’t figuring out why this happens allow you to almost double the number of people who become naturists – and therefore accelerate the normalization of nudity?

          1. Yes, as I mentioned below, it was probably a bit over-the-top to say that normalization is “never going to happen by promoting clubs and resorts”. You are right – they do have a part to play – for now.

            But what about into the future? Will taking your clothes off be a sufficient enough reason to belong to a club for like-minded people when being naked is normal in society anyway? If folks want to get away for a weekend without the kids, then any resort could be fine, as nakedness will be acceptable in all of them. Specific organisations catering for naked people should become as scarce as those for t-shirt and shorts people! That’s the goal, anyway.

            As for your last question, yes you could well be right. But figuring out the answer has proved a virtually impossible task for a long time throughout the world by better brains than mine. So that’s the reason we’re taking this other approach.

          2. Will taking your clothes off be a sufficient enough reason to belong to a club for like-minded people when being naked is normal in society anyway?

            People join special-interest clubs for social reasons. There are all kinds of clubs: gardening, running, politics, arts and crafts, hiking, etc. It’s possible to pursue any of these interests by oneself – and generally that’s what most people do. But joining a club allows for social bonding based on shared interests and the opportunity to learn from others with more experience. Club members usually have more enthusiasm and experience in their particular interest than random others who may also have the interest. Some members may join specifically to meet others who can provide information and advice. Are such reasons not sufficient for naturist clubs to continue existing even if nudity becomes “normal” and acceptable in most places?

            In the not-so-distant past, higher percentages of women, as well as entire families, participated in naturism. I know this from personal experience. Young people may not know this. If you go to a naturist club or resort these days, you see mainly older people. Why? I think it’s because older naturists are more likely to have their partners with them. Young men interested in naturism don’t have female partners or friends willing to accompany them – so they are less likely to participate at all.

            What’s changed? I think that feminism and “me-too” attitudes are a significant factor – and understandably so. It seems that significant percentages of women have experienced sexual harassment or even assault. Many carry defensive tools if they have to be out alone by themselves at night. Is it any wonder they’re reluctant to participate in naturism if most other participants are male? And if it continues that most participants in naturism are males, I am very certain that nudity cannot become “normalized”. How could it be “normal” if it’s mostly males who are naked?

          3. “People join special-interest clubs for social reasons. There are all kinds of clubs: gardening, running, politics, arts and crafts, hiking, etc. ”

            Yes, that’s true, but you’re talking about clubs for a specific activity, not dress code? Are there T-shirt clubs, overalls clubs, swimming togs clubs, suit and tie clubs, etc, where people who wear those things gather to socialize solely on the basis of their particular dress code? I haven’t heard of any – certainly not here in NZ. Why would being naked, as a normal and unremarkable state of attire be any different? It is at the moment, because it’s uncommon in the general public arena. But in the future, if and when it is eventually normalized, I don’t see a reason for such clubs to continue. In fact, here in New Zealand, those who visit naturist clubs are now far outnumbered by those who prefer free-range naturism., especially young people. Why spend $400 a year to join a club of old folks just for the privilege of taking your clothes off, when you can do that in many places anyway?

            “Young men interested in naturism don’t have female partners or friends willing to accompany them – so they are less likely to participate at all.”

            Outside the clubs, they do. Here, anyway. Maybe not in America??

            “What’s changed? I think that feminism and “me-too” attitudes are a significant factor – and understandably so.”

            Hmm – I’m not sure I go along with that. Maybe it’s a factor, but not a significant one. Surely women won’t be harassed or threatened when accompanied by their husbands and partners, yet I’m finding a lot of married guys whose wives won’t share their Naturist interest. Some even actively disapprove of their male partner’s interest in Naturism. Out on the beaches I often see m/f couples , either by themselves or in social groups, and groups of female friends, but significantly more single males.

            I’ve noticed also that on the World Naked Bike Rides in various places around the world that they do attract a good proportion of female riders. Safety in numbers, I guess?

            This is obviously a many-faceted issue with no easy answer!

          4. I think the analogy between nudity and wearing T-shirt/shorts/etc. is too weak. That’s why there can be naturist clubs but not T-shirt clubs. Would you say that not having food is analogous to having food? Until nudity is normalized, most people won’t agree that wearing nothing is analogous to wearing something.

            I also think most people won’t agree that nudity is “normal” until about as many women as men actually feel free to go naked in public. It’s sexist to discount the preferences of women. Something’s wrong and not “normal” if many women are afraid to go naked, even though they don’t object to seeing nudity. Was it “normal” when women were unable to vote, even though they had no objection to voting? In the past, the barrier to women voting was bad (masculinist) laws. The barrier to women going naked now – in addition to general social disapproval of public nudity – is bad behavior of men, or at least the legitimate fear of it.

            And even when and if normalization happens there will still be a large proportion of the public in most places that won’t go naked in public, but might at private clubs. That will be especially the case in places where conservative religion is strong. I doubt such places will change in the foreseeable future, at least not in the U. S. and many other countries. Yet there are lots of religious people who enjoy nudity in private or in naturist clubs. They just keep it a secret, and will continue to do so as long as their religion disapproves. And by the way, most naturist clubs don’t require large annual fees, just reasonable daily fees, exactly like non-naturist resorts and campgrounds.

            “Young men interested in naturism don’t have female partners or friends willing to accompany them – so they are less likely to participate at all.”

            Outside the clubs, they do. Here, anyway. Maybe not in America??

            Wait. You just wrote that you’re “finding a lot of married guys whose wives won’t share their Naturist interest. Some even actively disapprove of their male partner’s interest in Naturism. Out on the beaches I often see m/f couples, either by themselves or in social groups, and groups of female friends, but significantly more single males.” And you said earlier, regarding your organization, that “Males started joining but females didn’t.” Isn’t all that evidence of partners or female friends not accompanying the men?

            Quite definitely in the U. S. and many other countries the female partners or friends of (young) naturist men seldom accompany them, at either beaches or clubs. This actually is somewhat different from how things used to be here. Some years ago when I was in grad school, there was a nice lake on campus. Many people – about as many women as men – liked to sunbathe or swim there naked. It didn’t appear to matter whether or not a woman was with a partner. The lake is now usually dry and little used, so comparisons aren’t possible. But at both clothing-optional beaches and naturist clubs I visit, there are now far fewer women and families than single men, and that’s different from the past.

            There must be a reason for the change. I happen to think modern feminism – which is by itself a good thing – has something to do with it. Today’s comment from Robert Finney demonstrates that it is possible to do something about female non-participation – if the willingness to do something is there. What’s necessary is to understand the causes for non-participation and make appropriate adjustments. British Naturism has “an ongoing initiative to try and attract more women into Naturism and to help build body confidence.” I don’t know how successful that’s been, but at least they’re trying. Having women in the organization willing to work on this seems essential. See https://www.bn.org.uk/campaigning/womeninnaturism/.

            I applaud your efforts in NZ. They could well be a good start. My doubt is that they will achieve normalization by themselves.

          5. “Is it any wonder they’re reluctant to participate in naturism if most other participants are male?”

            So, we get back to my point that the effort by males to get women into Naturism is somewhat futile: women won’t join in because most Naturists are male – but most Naturists are male because women won’t join in! And yet, as I mentioned earlier, women still don’t join in even when there’s a level playing field to begin with.

            Just to respond to the matter of membership fees, all clubs in New Zealand restrict day visits to those who are members of other clubs. Newbies who are investigating Naturism as a lifestyle can have up to a maximum of three day visits, after which they are expected to join as a member. Auckland Outdoor Naturist Club charges $400 per adult. Other clubs in New Zealand may be a little less. There is one Naturist holiday park in New Zealand at Katikati that is open to the public without a membership structure.

          6. Naturist clubs do have fixed costs to cover somehow, but probably rely on long-time members. I just did a quick scan of some NZ clubs. (There were 17 that turned up. Considering the population of NZ, that’s quite a large number!) It does seem that most are “member-owned and operated”. So policies reflect just what the members happen to want, but day visits by non-members are sometimes possible.

            It looks like the Katikati Naturist Park is more of a commercial operation and welcomes day visitors for only $20 per person-day. Also, I see some places where membership is only about $200 per year. Apparently a NZ $ is about 2/3 of a US $ – so prices are pretty cheap. I could get a whole year membership at a low-price place for what it costs me in gas and day fees to visit a nice park here for the day. (Except for the plane fare from California to NZ, of course.)

            Do you know whether the clubs are at least somewhat gender-balanced?

            The situation is different here in the U. S. At least in California, all naturist clubs welcome day visitors during the warm season. Camping is often cheaper than State Parks. One reason for welcoming infrequent visitors is that things here are very spread out. Anyone who doesn’t live pretty close to the club may find the cost of gas to visit is more than the day fees. Most other states are the same way. Simple economics is a big factor.

            as I mentioned earlier, women still don’t join in even when there’s a level playing field to begin with.

            Wasn’t your level playing field when you started out with 0 members? 0 is a rather small sample size.

          1. Sadly, that’s a common complaint, Todd. In their efforts to combat gender imbalance some clubs (not all) discriminate against single males, including those in a relationship whose partner will not participate. I have even come across a man who left a club after his wife died because he was then made to feel very unwelcome.

            Clubs have the right to make an effort towards gender balance, but resorting to single-male discrimination flies in the face of the Naturist ethic.

      2. Of course there’s no plan. Nudists have neither the population nor the resources to even think about a plan and most nudists really do not want it to be normalized.

        Normalization depends on people getting used to seeing/experiencing something. Then it becomes normal. I think it is a matter of waiting for social evolution to occur and that is by no means guaranteed.

        It is interesting that the highest profile “normalizing” events for nudity are almost all initiated and pursued by people who are not nudists. WNBR, Naked Hiking Day, Nude Shakespeare in Central Park, Spencer Tunik photoshoots, All were primarily organized for reasons other than promoting nudism and most participants aren’t nudists.

        1. Of course there’s no plan. Nudists have neither the population nor the resources to even think about a plan and most nudists really do not want it to be normalized.

          On what basis do you think nudists (naturists) don’t want nudity to be normalized? Do you think naturists wouldn’t like to be able to let their friends and relatives know they enjoy nudity? Do you think they don’t want to raise their kids to be body-positive? Do you think they wouldn’t like to enjoy hassle-free nudity on hiking trails, nearby beaches, city parks, etc.?

          The problem in the U. S. these days isn’t that most naturists don’t want nudity to be increasingly normalized. The problem instead is that most naturists are either too apathetic or too discouraged with the decline of organized naturism in the past several decades to work on plans to turn things around. And a big part of that problem is that too many naturists are sitting on their bare butts because they want to “let George do it” instead of taking any action themselves.

          It’s necessary to look back at history. Naturism arrived in the U. S. only around 1930. In the early days there were big legal hurdles to overcome. Until the 1950s it wasn’t even legal to send naturist publications through the mail. (Comstock Act) But soon thereafter, that problem, and many others, were overcome, and naturism began to take off. Clothing-optional beaches and new naturist parks sprouted up during the 1960s in many parts of the country. From the 60s to the 80s Black’s Beach and others like it became far more popular than today. There was nudity on colleges campuses in the 70s. (Saw it with my own eyes.) Lee Baxandall became active back then and started TNS. There was plenty of online naturist activity in the 1990s (Usenet and CompuServe) even before the Web existed. And yet later in the 90s things started to go downhill, and have ever since.

          I don’t have a good idea of what changed, except the U. S. became much more conservative, starting with Reagan. However, the point is that in the early days naturists had neither population nor resources to promote naturism and social nudity. But it happened anyway and picked up steam over the 50 years following 1930. So it could happen again.

          Normalization depends on people getting used to seeing/experiencing something. Then it becomes normal. I think it is a matter of waiting for social evolution to occur and that is by no means guaranteed.

          “Social evolution” doesn’t just “occur”. It happens when enough people feel motivated to make it happen. That was the case for naturism in the period from 1930 to the 1990s. Then the motivation seems to have substantially evaporated. The rise of the Radical Religious Right, thanks to Reagan and others of that ilk, probably had a lot to do with it. They were (and still are) clearly quite motivated. Politics is a big factor. We’ve got raging culture wars, because that distracts people from more important social and economic issues. Social nudity is one casualty of those wars, since naturists are afraid to “come out”.

          It is interesting that the highest profile “normalizing” events for nudity are almost all initiated and pursued by people who are not nudists. WNBR, Naked Hiking Day, Nude Shakespeare in Central Park, Spencer Tunik [sic] photoshoots, All were primarily organized for reasons other than promoting nudism and most participants aren’t nudists.

          And to that you can add naked body painting in Times Square, Bare-to-Breakers, the Fremont Solstice parade, nudity at Burning Man, and more. But here’s the thing: nudity is increasingly less common even in most of those events, especially female nudity. The reasons, at least in the U. S., are probably much the same as for the decline in naturism. But it’s true that many of the participants in those events don’t consider themselves naturists (or nudists). So why haven’t more naturists participated? That’s a good question. However, part of the answer must be that most of those things are infrequent events that generally happen only once a year, and only in a few specific places. But naturism is a lifestyle that is best experienced on a regular basis, even (indoors) during the winter.

          In the U. S. both national naturist organizations have significantly atrophied and lost membership during the past couple of decades. The truth is that, at least in a country as large and spread out as the U. S., organization only on a national or large regional scale is not a good way to proceed. It needs to start at a local level, based on the efforts of individuals who enjoy social nudity (whether or not they regard themselves as “naturists”). There need to be “grassroots” local organizations, which in turn should be encouraged and supported by state and regional organizations. The initiative needs to come from individuals who enjoy social nudity enough to put in the effort.

          I can’t say I know how to help that happen. But it doesn’t appear that naturist blogs, newsletters, and naturists on social media online can be effective in this effort. Unless, perhaps, they find a way to work together on the task.

    1. Thanks. I hope that all who consider these issues will come up with ideas they can use to help deal with the problem. Naturists need to decide that the situation isn’t intractable, because there are ways to handle it.

  4. Ok – yes – to say that normalization is “never going to happen by promoting clubs and resorts” is probably a bit strong. But the truth is that clubs and resorts certainly do very little, in New Zealand at least, to promote the normality of a clothes-optional lifestyle in public spaces. Yes, they do have a role to play at present, but as nakedness becomes slowly more accepted, the need to join those clubs will fall away and, I suspect, they will disappear.

    1. Here’s something to think about: Naturist clubs are naturist ghettoes. They are the result of nudity NOT being normal.

      A club owner/manager who is aggressive about getting people to the club ***who are not currently self-identified as naturists*** and who is active in the community is going to help with the normalization process.

      The club can’t merely be an inconspicuous place to get naked without being busted. That spotlights the abnormality of it. It has to be a resort first – and by the way – you get to be naked while you’re here. If they were to sponsor naked activities outside the facility, so much the better.

      1. Here’s something to think about: Naturist clubs are naturist ghettoes. They are the result of nudity NOT being normal.

        That certainly was true in the early years of U. S. naturism, as in most countries where naturism exists at all. For a long time, naturist clubs were ghettoes, of necessity. But that was increasingly less true in the U. S., starting in the 1960s. And it need not be true today. Yes, of course, almost everywhere (except backcountry hiking and camping areas and a few clothing-optional beaches), naturism is most easily enjoyed in private homes and clubs. I can’t envision open nudity becoming “normal”, at least in the sense of being common in many places and acceptable to most of the population. Not in the foreseeable future, anyway. To imagine nudity becoming common and widely practiced in public will long remain a fantasy, albeit a pleasant one.

        It could, however, become “normal” in the more limited sense of being legal in many public places – as it is in the UK and parts of a few other countries. But even if nonsexual nudity became legal in the U. S. and therefore a little closer to “normal”, naturist clubs will – and should – continue to exist. People simply like to socialize mainly with others they have a lot in common with – in terms of hobbies, demographics, economic status, personal beliefs, social categories, etc. That’s why private and semi-private clubs and organizations exist, always have, and always will. Birds of a feather, you know.

        But I quite agree with the rest of your comment.

        1. Your reply seems quite contradictory. On the one hand you say that Naturist clubs as Ghettos “was increasingly less true in the U. S., starting in the 1960s. And it need not be true today.” But then you go on to describe, at length, why naturism is still best enjoyed behind closed doors!

          That’s the point that Fred was making. It’s enjoyed by people in clubs, private homes, etc, because they fear the general population regards the practice as not “normal”. That’s why clubs are hidden away, most in remote places, surrounded by tall trees and hedges, away from people they believe may be offended. They were then, and they still are today – at least the few that remain in New Zealand are.

          In my own experience, here in New Zealand at least, that fear is merely an assumption in the minds of some (not all) naturists. In practice I’ve found it very uncommon here to meet a clothed person on a forest walk or river trail who shows the slightest disapproval of my lack of clothing. The vast majority of naturists here no longer prefer the clubs. They are the domain of oldies and some couples whose female partner wants the security. There is a steadily growing appreciation of the legality of being clothes-free while in natural environments, or on your own property, without the need to be “in hiding”.

          What seems to be holding you back in the U.S. are your prohibitive laws, brought about by a society who automatically equates nudity with sex. And no wonder – seeing as the U.S. is the world’s most prolific producer of porn. And so I have to agree with you when you say that “to imagine nudity becoming common and widely practiced in public will long remain a fantasy.” But just realise that that may be true for the U.S. It’s certainly not that bleak here!

          1. Perhaps you should read what I wrote again, a bit more carefully. There was a period of time – roughly from the 1960s to the early 90s – when naturism was slightly more tolerated in U. S. society than before or since that time. The situation now is less benign in most parts of the country. And I thought it was clear enough that I was describing only the U. S. Certainly not much of Western Europe or New Zealand.

            Also, I did not write that in the U. S. naturism is “best enjoyed behind closed doors”. In fact, with few exceptions, naturism in the U. S. at present can ONLY be enjoyed without fear of legal hassles “behind closed doors”, i. e. not in most “public” places. It’s not simply a matter of fearing that the general population regards open nudity as not “normal”. It’s a fear of fines, arrest, and possibly even “sex-offender” status.

            On the other hand, hardly any women, especially younger ones, now participate in naturism – unlike several decades ago. I gather the situation in NZ may be similar. Their fear isn’t legal consequences or not being “normal”. It’s the not unreasonable fear of unwanted sexual attention or even rape. Prominent men in recent years have lost their jobs simply for being a bit too touchy-feely with female colleagues. Many women are afraid to walk around their neighborhood at night, and if they must, they carry their car keys in their hand as a weapon.

            It’s the sad truth that, for whatever reasons, nudity is quite controversial in this country. In some cases the situation is even worse. In one of our most backward states – Utah, where the Mormon Church reigns supreme – a person may not be naked in their own home in the presence of their own children. A woman in that state was cited and fined about two years ago for simply being topfree in her own home. In your country that may be hard to imagine. And in most places in the U. S. things aren’t quite that bad – but close.

            About the only places here that are somewhat safe for “public” nudity are remote hiking and camping areas in the woods, and a very small number of clothing-optional beaches. Our state of Florida has perhaps the country’s best physical climate for naturism, an area about 2/3 that of NZ, a vast coastline, and many private naturist B&Bs, clubs, and resorts. But only 4 recognized clothing-optional beaches. And only one of those has a large number of users.

            However, in many places the situation isn’t quite as bad as you might imagine. During the summer, I have no worries about being naked outdoors on my own unfenced property when not visible from the street. And many of our naturist clubs are not “hidden away, most in remote places, surrounded by tall trees and hedges, away from people”. Usually anyone (male or female) is welcome to visit, provided they’re not convicted sex offenders or rapists. No membership in a naturist organization required.

  5. This is the same question asked again a different way. I only know of one organization that did something that worked about the gender balance. It was Cycling UK. Go back 15 plus years ago there were lots of couples and family members but those who really rode on rides were 90% male. Over the next 15 years the number of females on rides (not members) increased to one third. I have been on rides where there were more women than men and there is no problem.

    About 5 years ago I asked on of the National Executive of Cycling UK what did they do. It was both simple and difficult. Cycling just as naturism was very male dominated at top level. They just started to think about women and get them involved. It could be PR or events that were female orientated. The effective change was lots of little steps. Two simple examples are; men in general are faster than women. More slightly slower rides, etc, etc. Women also in the real world do more of the child welfare and cooking. Cycling UK also found that female orientated PR helped but did not effect male membership or male recruitment.
    Regards
    Robert Finney

  6. Just thought of another thing naturist clubs and resorts could do to encourage women. Simply make the initial tour and first two or three day visits free. Full nudity would be optional. Gives the person a good chance to see what the facility is like, answer any questions she might have, meet active naturists, and find out how comfortable it can be to spend time around others without clothes.

    1. That’s a good suggestion. Do you think women would take that up as a solo visit? Or is it more likely they would only go with a partner or friend? If the latter is the case, then clubs here already do that in effect if the friend pays the day fee. Clothing is usually optional for newbies except in the swimming pool.

      As for whether or not the clubs here are gender balanced – I’m not sure as I’ve never belonged to one – only visited a few by invite on occasion. However, I’ve just sent that question out to a lot of club members I know of, so will be interesting to know those stats.

      Yes, clubs do have overheads to meet, which are covered by member fees. And you’re right, Katikati is a commercially operated camping ground. In my opinion I would say that any club that wants to reach out to the general population to promote naturism would be well advised to consider restructuring their constitution to operate in a similar way to Katikati. That wouldn’t be difficult. Some, however, have become quite cliquey and unwelcoming, sadly.

      “Wasn’t your level playing field when you started out with 0 members? 0 is a rather small sample size.” That’s irrelevant – it isn’t a survey, so “sample size” doesn’t come into it. The fact remains that when we started out there were no members – a clean slate. So there was no overwhelming male dominance. Yet it was males that started joining up – not women. And that happens frequently – even with groups started by women! Bay of Plenty Naturists is run by a woman. They have a better gender balance than we do, but still hugely dominated by males.

      1. Do you think women would take that up as a solo visit? Or is it more likely they would only go with a partner or friend? If the latter is the case, then clubs here already do that in effect if the friend pays the day fee.

        Probably some of both cases. Two or more first-time women together would all not have to pay. Women not first 3 times and men who came along would pay for themselves, as usual.

        The thing about member-owned and operated naturist clubs is that they’re sort of like extended families. Most members know and like each other. They’re less confident about “outsiders” – especially if some members feel a need to be secretive about enjoying nudity. If the members own the club, then for better or worse they get to make the rules. Lots of private clubs, not just naturist ones, are strict about who can join. Many private clubs are actually single-gender only, by choice. Why would father-son or mother-daughter activity clubs be any other way? In this country we have the single-gender “American Association of University Women”, for another example. (Edit: Actually “men of good conscience” can join the AAUW. But I think that few do. One purpose of the group is to offer college scholarships to women. But socializing among women is also a purpose.)

  7. It’s not going to change for a very long time. Even with trying to normalise nudity, can we wait 200 years or so for that to permiate into society? So we can talk about education and normalising as much as we like but it isn’t going to fix the problems we have right now.

    I’m not a social naturist at all. But I’m not a particularly outgoing person even in non nude situations so I’m not sure thats relevant. My wife isnt a nudist but she supports my choices and we have been together to a few clothes optional events. And what I notice at such events is the gender balance. No single women. A few couples – some both nude and some like me and my wife. But a great number of single males. Now whist many of those men may have been genuine nudists simply out to enjoy the environment in their skin, simply observing them (I am very much a people watcher) and over hearing conversations it was clear that a large number were not particularly genuine and any woman seeing and hearing what I did would certainly be put off attending these functions, clothed or otherwise.

    So I apo0logise if I seem to be generalising too much but it is a fact that many men will join in with events simply because they think there will be naked women they can look at. Where there are women on their own they will often be approached by single men who make them uncomfortable. I have seen it and I have been told by women that they are made to feel uite uncomfortable.

    Which means, unfortunately, that certain members of my gender are responsible for the way women feel. Not all men of course, but the point I am making is it’s the behaviour of some men that cause the gender imbalance we will always have. And I really don’t know what the answer is to that except to limit the number of men at official clubs and events and if you do that, how do you know you are excuding the rights ones?

    The only thing I can imagine that might help is to encourage the single men to find women who are willing to join in even if clothed. It doesnt even mean they have to go as a couple, it just means they arrive together and make up the numbers. It’s not ideal and it’s not easy to find someone who might be willing to try it but I cant think of another practical way.

    It’s for the reasons above that I dont go to clubs or nude beaches. I just dont want to see the behaviour of some men. The c/o event I have been to with my wife, I will continue to visit because the nature of the place means there is room enough to keep away from people but still enjoy the place.

    Other than that, I enjoy my nudist while I am at work – it’s the kind of job where the oportunities are quite frequent. But clubs, beaches? I dislike them for the same reason women do!

    1. I think you make a number of valid points, and the gender balance problem is definitely a legitimate and large concern. Naturists need to have very extensive and candid discussions among themselves about whether and how to do anything about the problems that naturism faces, especially in the U. S. but also in many other places – where it even exists to any real extent. (Naturism has no real chance in conformist societies and cultures.) But it’s not enough to simply enumerate all the problems. The discussion needs to include creative ideas on how to deal with the problems. It’s all well and good to enjoy nudity in private. But naturism needs to be much more than that.

      1. Theo is correct about the fact that a number of men go to naturist locations simply to ogle at women – and other men. But as I mentioned earlier, this simply wouldn’t happen if nudity was commonplace. It doesn’t happen in the rapidly disappearing primitive cultures that still live naked most of the time, and it didn’t happen in ancient times in European cultures such as Greek or Roman, where social nudity was commonplace in certain circumstances. But in modern Western society the damage has been done – mostly by religion, I dare say. And Theo is right – it’s not going to change any time soon, unless genuine Naturists take an active role in dealing with it. Two approaches come to mind:

        1. Deal with the perpetrators. By simply staying away from clubs and beaches because of the behaviour of some men is admitting defeat before we even start! Go to the nudist spots and confront the perverts face on! Pull out your camera, take their photo, get their car licence plate numbers and dob them into the police. In New Zealand, the police welcome that kind of action from the Naturist community.

        2. Bring your kids up to see nudity as normal. Kids brought up in a naturist environment grow up to accept the naked body as normal and unremarkable. They don’t see it as some sexual thing to ogle at. In generations to come, these kids will replace the perverts as they fade away into rest homes and small wooden boxes!

        Seriously, though, the Naturist community has to be pro-active in effecting change. Other minority groups and marginalised people have done it – and so can we.

        1. a number of men go to naturist locations simply to ogle at women – and other men. But as I mentioned earlier, this simply wouldn’t happen if nudity was commonplace.

          No, of course it wouldn’t happen if nudity were commonplace. But it certainly isn’t commonplace now – and can’t be until the various existing problems (e. g. religious oppositions and behavior of many males) are dealt with.

          It doesn’t happen in the rapidly disappearing primitive cultures that still live naked most of the time, and it didn’t happen in ancient times in European cultures such as Greek or Roman, where social nudity was commonplace in certain circumstances.

          What those examples show is that nudity isn’t incompatible with human society. But the examples are so radically different from essentially all current societies, that the point is basically irrelevant.

          But in modern Western society the damage has been done – mostly by religion, I dare say.

          Some or most existing religions clearly deserve a large part of the blame. But forms of religion whose primary function is to provide needed comfort and solace to people don’t need to be incompatible with social nudity. In fact, naturism could definitely enhance that function.

          simply staying away from clubs and beaches because of the behaviour of some men is admitting defeat before we even start!

          Yes, definitely. I think many naturist clubs do a good job of handling bad behavior. Public beaches are a harder problem. At least in the U. S., police won’t get involved at (the few) beaches that are clothing-optional unless male behavior is either lewd or threatening to others. Most of the responsibility needs to be on naturist beach organizations to keep bad behavior under control. And the smart organizations know that.

          Bring your kids up to see nudity as normal. Kids brought up in a naturist environment grow up to accept the naked body as normal and unremarkable.

          Yes, of course, but that’s easier said than done. The adults in the family must themselves be comfortable with nudity. And they must defend their feelings about nudity to relatives, friends, and anyone else who questions family nudity. Also, too, children will pretty soon realize that nudity is not at all normal in most of society. At some point, the opinions of their peers usually will matter more to them.

          1. “No, of course it wouldn’t happen if nudity were commonplace. But it certainly isn’t commonplace now – and can’t be until the various existing problems (e. g. religious oppositions and behavior of many males) are dealt with.”

            Exactly – that’s my point! If nudity WAS commonplace now, the problem of bad behaviour would disappear – or at least become scarce.

            “What those examples show is that nudity isn’t incompatible with human society. But the examples are so radically different from essentially all current societies, that the point is basically irrelevant.”

            Not irrelevant at all. Of course the examples are different from our modern western culture – I do realise that! All that point was intended to say is exactly what you understood – that nudity per se isn’t incompatible with human society. And that if society can be shown and re-educated to accept that the naked human body is nothing to be offended over and is, in fact, a healthy way to live, then the normalisation of nakedness is within reach, along with the disappearance of the “ogling” problem.

            “Some or most existing religions clearly deserve a large part of the blame. But forms of religion whose primary function is to provide needed comfort and solace to people don’t need to be incompatible with social nudity. In fact, naturism could definitely enhance that function.”

            Exactly! Christianity, especially, needs to re-examine how much the teachings of Gnosticism (as Paul warned the early church in the New Testament letters) has distorted its understanding of nakedness.

            “I think many naturist clubs do a good job of handling bad behavior. Public beaches are a harder problem. At least in the U. S., police won’t get involved at (the few) beaches that are clothing-optional unless male behavior is either lewd or threatening to others. Most of the responsibility needs to be on naturist beach organizations to keep bad behavior under control. And the smart organizations know that.”

            Totally agree. The clubs here are generally good at dealing with bad behaviour, although merely ogling is harder to deal with. In New Zealand the police will certainly act on complaints of sexual or threatening behaviour on our beaches. We don’t actually have any official c/o beaches here, so the onus is on the general public, including Naturists, to confront any deviants and report them.

            Referring to raising Naturist kids: “Yes, of course, but that’s easier said than done. ”

            “Nothing in this life worth achieving is easy, nor is it impossible.”
            – James May

            “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… ”
            – Theodore Roosevelt

          2. “Nothing in this life worth achieving is easy, nor is it impossible.”
            – James May

            “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… ”
            – Theodore Roosevelt

            Well, it all depends on how one orders the importance of what one wants to do with their life. Is it worth putting one’s marriage, career, or freedom at risk in order to raise one’s offspring to be naturists? Or even to be a naturist oneself?

            There are states in the US where it’s possible to be successfully prosecuted for being naked at home in front of one’s children. That happened about 2 years ago to one woman in Utah, who was only topfree, not fully naked, in front of her pre-teen boys. And it was unintentional, as she was topfree only because that was more comfortable while she was doing some painting. That’s extreme (Utah is a rather bizarre place). But one naturist guy – a computer professional – in a discussion group I had wouldn’t say – even within the group – where he worked, out of fear of losing his job. He was in the state of Massachusetts – which is far less conservative than Utah.

            Many people simply won’t mention their interest in naturism to others for fear of what others might think of them. That’s just how it is, unfortunately. Fear of “effort, pain, difficulty” overrides an interest in naturism. If enough people did “come out” as naturists, that would be great. But it seldom happens, at least here in the U. S.

          3. The U. S. has lots of problems beyond its attitudes towards naturism. Imagine people freaking out if they happen to see someone naked.

  8. I think the real issue is less to do with nudity and more to do with the attitude of a lot of men toward women. Nudist situations just draw some of them out of the woodwork a bit more.

    So basically, it’s the general attitude that needs changing, not necessarily the views of nudity. And with modern tech and easy access to all kinds of nudity, kids are already growing up to see nudity as normal but it’s the wrong kind of nudity. So they still grow up seeing it as a sexual thing. Part of the human condition I’m afraid and I suspect it’s getting worse, not better. If you have the inclination to research whats out there you might be surprised and disappointed to come accross forums that are dedicated to men (and a few women) sharing stories about flashing and exposure and many of those stories center on nude beaches, clubs etc – places where we think we are in good company but clearly there are a lot of unpleasant characters among us.

    I just don’t want to play along with those kind of games so social nudist gatherings just dont appeal to me. Naturism is a personal thing to me. I want to feel free and comfortable and I don’t need to be part of a group to do that. In a social gathering I would end up spending all my time with a wary eye on everyone and it would spoil my enjoyment.

    In my honest opinion, pinning hopes on a plan to change how society sees nudity is doomed to failure. Clubs that limit the number of single men are doing the only thing they can do. Yes there are some undesirable types who will get called out and excluded but the damage is done by then and more women have been put off.

    1. I’m kind of wondering why you as a man would be nervous about other people at a naturist club or private gathering, or even a clothing-optional beach. Women, of course, might be nervous, but a man? Is it in situations where almost everyone else is male?

      And regarding flashing, just how does someone “flash” others at a naturist club or beach? Are they wearing overcoats that they open to surprise people? Yes, actual lewd behavior is possible, but wouldn’t be tolerated at most clubs and many beaches.

      1. I didn’t say I was nervous – I said I would be keeping a wary eye on people. Basically to pick out the ones who shouldnt be there so I can report/avoid/crush nads between two bricks.

        Flashing when naked – ok perhaps that was the wrong expression but it related to the forum I referred to. But in the UK at least, a man can be charged with indecent exposure (or equivalent) on a nudist beach – it’s about the intent and behviour. But these men will go to places where nudity is legal and accepted but use the situation for their own sexual gratifications, if you get what I mean.

        But as I said, nudism for me isn’t a social activity – it’s about personal comfort and I will work nude if I am able to. If a beach was a safe, happy place where everyone behaved respectfully and didn’t encroach on my personal space and enjoyment then perhaps I would feel more inclined to visit one. Clubs is another matter, even if the gender balance thing was working ok, I dont feel particularly drawn to those environments as a place to relax. But that’s just me.

      2. “And regarding flashing, just how does someone “flash” others at a naturist club or beach? Are they wearing overcoats that they open to surprise people?”

        You seem to be looking at the term “flashing” as an inconsequential offence, committed by the mac-wearing pervert of popular myth. Flashing has nothing to do with what a person is wearing or not wearing. It is an act of sexual aggression and it should be taken seriously – especially by Naturists. If someone has a fetish of flashing you can bet there will be problems in their future behaviour. It might not lead directly to rape, but it may lead to things like domestic abuse, coercive control, stalking and sexual violence. And it can, and does, happen in Naturist settings – even clubs and resorts.

  9. Thanks guys. A terrifically well written article followed by an absorbing, intelligently expressed, thought provoking debate/discussion. At the root of this issue, as with so much of what we have to deal with in life, is human behaviour. I’m in Australia and observe more conservatism now than decades ago. This certainly isn’t helping behaviour at unclad beaches et al and only serves to keep naturism cloistered. Gender balance may just be a victim. Nudity as a choice equal to clothing is a delightful aspiration but I think a lot of change in human attitudes will be needed across a lot more generations to get where we’d like to be.

    1. At the root of this issue, as with so much of what we have to deal with in life, is human behaviour. I’m in Australia and observe more conservatism now than decades ago.

      Yes. There’s a distinctly dark side of conservatism – a reaction of suspicion, mistrust, and fear of Others, who are just harmlessly “different”. Different religion, ethnicity, culture, lifestyle, or whatever. Unfortunately, naturism is a lifestyle that is very often mistrusted and feared by people who have a very mistaken idea about what it is. Sometimes even by naturists themselves towards other naturists who happen to have a slightly different, yet legitimate, concept of the lifestyle. Humans are still a rather tribal species.

      1. I agree with you, and Andrew’s comments to some extent, but I’m a little more hopeful than what you’ve both expressed – particularly where Kiwi attitudes are concerned.

        In an article I wrote last year I likened the acceptance of the naked human body to the acceptance of those who are members of the LBGTQ community. Prior to 1986, homosexual activity was punishable by imprisonment in New Zealand. The attitude of society in general towards gay people was borne out of very similar misunderstandings as you mentioned above – suspicion, mistrust, and fear of others who are just harmlessly “different”. Today, while there are still some occasional and isolated incidents of hostility towards people of other genders, the LGBTQ people now have won not only a law change, but a huge amount of acceptance and understanding. Yes, it’s taken a lot of hard work and lobbying to shift human attitudes, but the achievement in just 35 years is worthy of note!

        Acceptance of nudity has one major advantage that the LBGTQ folks didn’t have – we don’t have to fight for nudity to be legal! All we have to concentrate on is community acceptance. That will be more or less easy or difficult depending on what part of the country – some areas are more conservative, but many parts are quite liberal and laid back.

        Of course it will take some effort by the Naturist community. Success or failure depends entirely on how determined we are to make it happen, and work together just as the LBGTQ folks did.

  10. At least in the local club I visit, a significant part of the imbalance during weekends is due to a large population of gay males. Without them, it would still be perhaps 2-1 but it swings the balance a bit. OTOH I don’t think there was a discernable population of gay females at all.

    There were lots of young people there. A large majority was from the gay contingent.

    IMHO gender balance isn’t something one can achieve without overtly anti-male discrimination. Unless you plan to have an exclusively heterosexual couples-only club (which was the standard club in the past) give up on gender balance and focus on other things.

    1. Fred,

      At least in the local club I visit, a significant part of the imbalance during weekends is due to a large population of gay males. Without them, it would still be perhaps 2-1 but it swings the balance a bit. OTOH I don’t think there was a discernable population of gay females at all.

      There were lots of young people there. A large majority was from the gay contingent.

      If you don’t mind saying, is your local club Glen Eden or Olive Dell?

      IMHO gender balance isn’t something one can achieve without overtly anti-male discrimination. Unless you plan to have an exclusively heterosexual couples-only club (which was the standard club in the past) give up on gender balance and focus on other things.

      I totally disagree. To do that seems to imply that naturism (outside private homes) in the U. S. (and maybe Canada too) is in effect resigning itself to nearly complete irrelevance before long. It’s already well along in that direction.

      My own observation is that there are only about 3 demographics still present to any meaningful extent in U. S. naturism: 1. Males over about 50 in age, possibly with a female partner also participating; 2. Gay males; 3. A few younger hetero males, usually without a participating female partner.

      This observation is based on what I’ve seen at N. California naturist parks, a non-landed naturist club, and my own efforts to start a naturist Meetup group in the area. (And in that instance, I believe interest has been meager due to the limited demographic.) It’s also obvious in a number of naturist groups on Facebook – none of which have any significant female participation. That’s pretty much true also on Twitter and Reddit.

      If that’s the future of naturism in the U. S., I cannot support it. To be perfectly clear, I absolutely support LGBTQ rights, and have no problem at all with their participation in naturism. But it will be a disaster if no demographics besides that and the other two comprise most of U. S. naturists. If naturism outside private homes has real value, those it appeals to should be a representative cross-section of the whole open-minded and body-positive population. Otherwise it’s just a sort of peculiar cult.

      The current very low female interest in naturism hasn’t always been that way. I think it can be dealt with other than by restriction to couples-only. But that’s a whole other topic.

  11. Women and femmes, above all, need to know they’ll be *safe* before they’ll come to our events in numbers that approach parity. Safe from harm, safe from objectification and harassment. Of course at most of our events they are safe, but it only takes one incident to put a woman off naturism, and she’s likely to tell friends and acquaintances.

    We simply must do better at getting our message to the world! Then and only then, the gender parity problem will solve itself.

    1. We simply must do better at getting our message to the world! Then and only then, the gender parity problem will solve itself.

      Yes, naturists definitely need to improve messaging – by an order of magnitude. Far too many naturists don’t “message” at all, because they think they need to be secretive about enjoying naturism. That’s the first thing that has to change. And the second thing is clarification and enhancement of the specific message.

      But even much more and better messaging, although it will help, probably won’t be enough for the gender parity problem to “solve itself”. Our society is changing and evolving – as all societies do over time. So naturism itself must evolve as well. In what way, specifically, should it evolve? Here’s the thing: in the U. S. it’s quite clear that women in general, and young women in particular, have become much more sensitive to issues concerning harassment, objectification, and equal treatment. This is true in the workplace, in public and private organizations, and in public locations generally. If anything, women’s concerns about these issues are better addressed in naturist places than most other places in society.

      The problem is, first, that naturist messaging now isn’t good or frequent enough. But, second, even if it improves greatly, it’s still up against other changes in our society. Take a look at this important post from Alexis, a female naturist blogger: “Giving Up Nudism?”. Her key point is that “nudism is so tainted with bad connotations, horrible exposure, and an endless marketing from porn sites and news media, there will be almost zero chance the community will be able to overcome this type of view from those outside of our lifestyle.” A related problem is that advertising and popular media in general favor using images of “attractive” bodies of both women and men – often showing as much skin as “acceptable”. The competition to get attention is intense.

      Our society has come a long way from the oppressive religious prudery of the past. Sexuality is now much more openly discussed in both traditional and online media, in public school classrooms, and in private conversations. Exchanging “nude photos” has become almost a “normal” part of dating relationships. On the whole, the trend is healthy and good. So naturists should feel more comfortable and willing to discuss nudity with others. Naturists know the pleasure of socializing naked with people who share naturist principles, camping or hiking naked, or just being naked at home. What’s so shocking to explain that to others? However, as Alexis notes, society’s trend has also enabled pornography that women consider degrading to become much more easily available. So this is how our society has evolved.

      Naturism also must evolve to deal with this new reality. It’s more complicated to say just how naturism should respond. But clearly, part of the message has to be that naturist nudity is healthy and has nothing to do with nudity that’s exploitative or degrading to women. That can happen only if naturists are much more open about promoting what they’ve found to be so good about naturism. Fact: naturism just won’t work if its participants don’t have a very good understanding and respect for “boundaries”. So the message that both men and women need to learn and trust is that naturists fully comprehend this fact – and always act accordingly.

  12. Reading through the contributions on gender imbalance in naturism I wonder if there is any research if this is impacted by a difference in motivations between men and women? Personally I know that from an early age I preferred to be naked and discovered when I was about 12 that this was called “naturism” and was practiced at special clubs. Having tried to join one when I was 17 I was put off by having to bring a girlfriend – and at that age that wasn’t a conversation I felt confident about raising with any female friends! My later experience from naturist clubs, resorts and beaches confirmed my strong preference was being nude but (from a limited sample) female partners willing to sunbathe or swim without clothes were less keen to stay nude for walks, sports or social activity. Although this is anecdotal personal experience the different levels of participation in this discussion suggests this is a general experience. So, are men more strongly motivated to practice nudism? Is this responding to the physical or social pleasure of being nude? Does the additional onus on girls to be “ modest” limit them and conversely do boys get encouraged to “show off”?

    1. Reading through the contributions on gender imbalance in naturism I wonder if there is any research if this is impacted by a difference in motivations between men and women?

      I’d say it’s not (primarily) a biological gender issue, but rather a combination of things. (Of course, since I’m not female, I can’t say for sure.) If you go back through the history of naturism in the U.S., women’s participation was higher the further back you look. (I’ve visited clothing-optional beaches for over 45 years and have definitely seen the difference.) If you look at different age groups, women’s participation rises along with age. And in most European countries where naturism is popular, women’s participation is higher than in the U.S. presently.

      One thing that may be biological is the fact that on average women are smaller and less muscular than men. So they’re more at risk from unwanted physical contact. Rape is a significant concern almost anywhere. In a naturist context, the lack of clothing means less protection against rape or other physical contact. And there is at least the supposition that lack of clothing is more likely to motivate (some) men to engage in unwanted physical contact. In theory and usually in fact, naturist men are not likely to act improperly towards women. But why would women in general fully trust that idea?

      So what would explain the differences between the U.S. presently vs. the past and between U.S. and European countries where naturism is popular? One factor is that the U.S. has (overall) a more socially conservative and religious culture than in western Europe. For instance, women have more freedom to be topfree on beaches in Europe, and there are many more clothing-optional beaches in Europe than the pitiful few in the U.S. Nonsexual public nudity isn’t even illegal (absent offensive behavior) in countries like England and Spain.

      It would be interesting to hear other opinions on this from anyone reading this (especially women).

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