As recent news accounts have vividly demonstrated, opposition to clothes free enjoyment of public lands continues. While arguably the country has become more politically and socially liberal and progressive, paradoxically when it comes to nudity, society in general seems to be growing ever more puritanically conservative.
It seems that those today who find nudity offensive and inexorably connected with sexuality aren't content to simply apply their moral and modesty paradigms to how they live their own lives. They appear determined to enforce their standards on everyone else. Scientific poll data has confirmed time and again the country as a whole is becoming more secular and less religious so instead of the religious right, it seems new forces are now at work in opposition to the use of public lands for naturist activities and nude recreation.
An entire piece could be devoted to theories about why society and social norms are moving further right, but suffice to say society in general seems more uptight about nudity than has been the case in several decades. Not only that but people who insist that public nudity is offensive and indecent are organizing and speaking up loudly. Government bureaucrats are listening.
In this age of excessive political correctness no elected official or government appointee wants to risk finding himself on the wrong side of a social issue. Those complaining loudly about the nudity at places like public beaches that have been clothing optional for decades are getting what they want. They are getting the clothing optional status revoked.
Since the mid 1970s when San Onofre State Beach was first opened to the public, a relatively small portion on the far south end of the beach was always clothing-optional. Not anymore. Citing how changing times had made the beach less isolated and more crowded the director of the California Parks and Recreation Department revoked the policy. Since 2010 park rangers have been citing visitors for nudity.
Just this year, the National Parks Service announced that nudity will no longer be allowed on traditional clothing-optional portions of beaches at Fire Island National Seashore. Right now Mazo Beach the only legal public nude beach in Wisconsin, located along the Wisconsin River in the northwest corner of Dane County is in the media spotlight. Citing increased arrests for drug use and public sex, Wisconsin authorities seem to be moving toward revoking clothing optional use of that beach.
[MORE from Dallas Nudist Culture Examiner: Stopping the loss of public clothing optional recreational areas]
Naturist and nudist organizations take the lead in defending the rights of naturists to access and use public lands responsibly. The Naturist Action Committee, a political adjunct to The Naturist Society, was founded for the specific purpose of meeting the challenge of anti-nudity laws and regulations that threaten clothing optional recreational choices and the naturist way of life. The American Association for Nude Recreation also has a strong commitment to promotion of nude recreation in appropriate settings on public lands and asserts the rights of nudists where needed.
There are other organizations that work proactively to educate the general public on the naturist/nudist lifestyle and that organize fundraising and volunteer projects that demonstrate naturist concerns for the environment.
Just about every organization has been criticized at one time or another for not doing enough. No organization is perfect and sometimes the criticism has been justified, but not always. The national and international naturist organizations have made important contributions and chances are had any one of them not existed, there would be far less freedom to enjoy nude recreation than there is.
Some reading this may never set foot on a public clothing optional beach or have any intention of doing so. They visit a local landed nudist club or resort for nude recreation. Why should they care whether access to public clothing optional beaches ceases to exist? The answer is simple.
In the not too distant past, there was a concerted effort on the part of many local governments to categorize nudist clubs as sexually oriented businesses so that the clubs would have to apply for permits to operate. Had that movement been successful, clubs would have eventually been regulated out of business which is exactly what the governments wanted. The American Association for Nude Recreation played a key role in helping to stop that before it got started.
What if you don't visit clothing optional beaches or nudist clubs? You are perfectly happy enjoying your nude time in your own home and backyard. What possible benefit would you get from joining a nudist or naturist organization? While the right to be nude on private property may seem secure now, what if opponents aren't satisfied with attacking only public nudity? Who can say that the definition of "private property" can't change? In fact over time things have changed.
When it comes to nudity, it isn't private property now but "public view" that determines whether someone can be offended and whether authorities take action on complaints. In most areas today public view is defined as "a space that is easily viewable by the general public without the aid of binoculars, telescopes or other devices."
Imagine that you spent thousands of dollars to install a pool in your backyard and to build an appropriate privacy fence so that you could enjoy skinny dipping and nude sunbathing. Now imagine someone purchases a neighboring lot to your property and builds a two story house? One day there is a knock on the door. A police officer tells you there has been a report that you were observed naked in your backyard and a neighbor who was offended has filed a complaint. Do you think the police officer will tell your neighbor to stop looking out her second story window into your backyard or tell you to stop going nude in your own backyard?
Consider a similar scenario except this time your neighbor "peeks" through a tiny crack between two boards in your privacy fence, sees you naked, takes offense and calls the police to complain. He didn't use binoculars, a telescope or any other device. Don't you think that the police might consider that you had been nude in the "public view?" These are the kinds of issues a naturist or nudist organization might be able to help with.
What organization you join if you choose to join one is completely up to you. Research them and see which one you think best fits your circumstances. A nudist who primarily goes to landed clubs might prefer the American Association for Nude Recreation. Someone who goes to a favorite public, clothing optional beach would likely consider The Naturist Society a better fit. Yet another person who travels and visits nudist resorts or naturist centers abroad might find the International Naturist Federation the best choice.
Which organization you choose isn't as important as choosing one and joining. No, you don't need to be a card carrying member of an organization to enjoy being nude but when it comes to preserving your rights to do so, there is as it's often been said, safety in numbers. The more members an organization has, the stronger advocate it will be for the rights of people to enjoy their preferred lifestyle.
Whether you are a nudist, naturist or just a person who enjoys being nude, there are some good reasons you should consider joining one of the naturist or nudist organizations. They have and will continue to work to educate, advocate and defend the rights of individuals to live the nudist lifestyle.
The slide show included with this article, offers several of the options available to those interested in joining a naturist organization.
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Please consider taking our 6 question poll on whether the government should provide more legal access to public lands for clothing optional recreation. It takes only a minute or two. Once you take it, please tell a naturist or nudist friend about the poll.
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