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Those who are not against us are with us?

I wonder if the 'umbrella' of nudism/naturism needs to be subdivided into various groupings like, say,(arbitrarily here), “exhibitionism/voyeurism”, “private context fair weather sun worshipers”, “public/social nudity fair weather sun worshipers”(public beaches and membership camps), “private maximum opportunity nudists”, “private social-circle social-naturists with a political/social/economic agenda” (my hobby horse), and as in the case of your blog the “private therapy/healing naturists”, ……….. and who knows how many other sub-groupings. (?). My explorations of the many so-called “nudist” sites on the Internet certainly spans a very wide spectrum from the pornographic to the more “philosophical”. Maybe some of the organizations like the FCN need to define a sub-grouping scheme and put their good housekeeping seal of approval on some a[nd] leave the porno sites off the list(?) ─ Through A Naturist's Lens

Should all nudity be included under the umbrella of nudism/naturism?
Image courtesy of Vlado |

A recent interesting post at Through A Naturist's Lens included the above thoughts that were attributed to a reader. Without benefit of the whole context it isn't possible to know exactly what argument the writer was seeking to convey. But one reasonable assumption of the point he was making might be something along these lines.

If exhibitionists, voyeurs, swingers and others are going to identity as nudists/naturists and participate in the lifestyle to satisfy their own unique interests, perhaps the community should create subcategories within the culture of the unclad to distinguish one subgroup for another.

Assuming that was the point being made, it is easy to understand why someone might come to such a conclusion but it isn't difficult to think of an argument for why that would be prejudicial to positive development of the culture.

To create such subdivisions within the "umbrella of nudism/naturism" by implication means that the community would tacitly have to accept that exhibitionists, voyeurs, swingers and any lifestyle or virtually any lifestyle choice involving nudity fall under the umbrella of nudism/naturism. That would be contradictory from a number of standpoints.

[More from Dallas Nudist Culture: Understanding terminology and labels used in nudist culture]

Nudism/naturism is a microcosm of the broader cultures upon which it is dependent. As a subculture it has the underpinnings of a culture of its own, culture defined as an incorporated pattern of behavior that includes thoughts, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies and rituals. A basic, bedrock belief that has defined nudism/naturism since its beginnings is that the naked body should not be understood as exclusively sexual or erotic. The practice of non-sexual nudity is in fact what differentiates nudists/naturists from the larger culture to which they belong.

Everything is defined by something. While the quote, "it is not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you" comes from a contemporary super-hero film, "Batman Begins," that doesn't lessen the truth of the statement. Those for whom nudity is merely peripheral to a sexual agenda or motive can't honestly claim to be adherents or members of a culture that practices non-sexual nudity as its core value. Any lifestyle or life choice predicated on sex or sexuality can't then be rationally placed under the umbrella of nudism/naturism. To do so would destroy cultural continuity and a common agreement on what the culture of nudism/naturism means could not exist.

[LEARN MORE: The WH petition that asks for more clothing optional access to public lands]

Those who exploit social nudity as opportunities to troll for sexual partners or to display their genitals or look at those of others to satisfy prurient interests are either blissfully unaware of or conveniently disregarding the historical context of naturism/nudism. Those who do that are merely appropriating the culture by doing something which has nothing to do with the culture, dressing it up and claiming it as part of that culture, when they aren’t a member of that culture. They are taking nudity, the visual symbol of nudism/naturism and then using it in a completely different context where it does not fit the culture.

The state of being nude is not a universal identifier. The naked body can function as a symbol of ideological difference when nudity is used as a prelude to public sexual activity or used to gain access to a social nudity setting for the purpose of exploiting others to obtain personal sexual gratification.

Being naked in our culture and society is a temporary state which those who practice it enter and exit while maintaining the perspective of the dominant culture from which they approach it. For that reason, while nudists/naturists reject the social norm that says displaying one's genitals to others is immodest, indecent, and shameful or always a prelude to sexual activity, people can't completely break free from all cultural sanctions simply by taking off their clothing.

Nudism/naturism then has always been purposely non-erotic as illustrated by the universal prohibition against overt sexual behavior at social nudity sites that aspire to be family-friendly. In the practice of nudism/naturism sex and sexuality has always been intentionally suppressed through the use of rules.

The non-sexual context is what makes the practice of social nudity in mixed company possible without disturbing conventional sexual morality. It is also a practice on which the hope for greater tolerance of the nudist/naturist lifestyle by larger society is largely dependent.

Perhaps to demonstrate open-mindedness or out of a spirit of inclusiveness there seems to be a willingness by many nudists/naturists to accept anyone as a part of the community that is willing to get nude and claim they are a part of the lifestyle. But following a policy of "those who are not against us are with us" will prove as counter-productive and potentially damaging to the community as it would be if nudists/naturists started accepting blatant pornography which is totally alien to the cultural ideal as nudist/naturist photography.

It is simply a fact of life that social nudity environments offer an attractive space for some individuals to explore aspects of their sexuality that are currently deemed sexually deviant by psychiatry, criminalized or censured by society. Nudists/naturists must continue the past policy of identifying and excluding those attracted to social nudity settings for the wrong reasons. Rather than include them under the cultural umbrella as simply alternative branches of the cultural tree, those who practice wholesome, non-sexual nudity need to actively disassociate themselves from those who would appropriate the culture for their own ends and thereby create a false image of nudism/naturism. The lifestyle is not and never has been just another cultural product open to just any individual interpretation.


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