Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fitness, Virility, Nudism, and Revolution

Honestly, I considered shooting these without the erection. I even considered putting on a pair of briefs, to cover the nudity and make them more accessible to a wider audience, as a "safe" demonstration of the aims of fitness and physique. But in my work, the art always runs the show. The shots were just more interesting with the erection, and I find it counter-productive to cover up the human body when you're putting it on display. These shots are honest, and if some people can't handle the truth, then it's their misfortune to be distanced from it.

As far as realism goes, it's difficult to keep up an erection for an extended period of time when you're exercising (the rest of your body needs that blood flow), but this isn't a documentary of a fitness regime, it's a symbolic representation of what fitness stands for. What it aims for. And, quite frankly, I think there's a sexual component inextricably linked to that. It's not PC to say so, but I'm concerned with reality, not illusion. There's something instinctively sexual about the virility of a finely toned body - by the presence of the erection, I'm merely making explicit what usually remains implied. And while some will argue the merits of a more subtle approach, part of my intention is to force people to think about that sexual link, when most of the time it passes through the subconscious mind unnoticed.

I think the ancient Greeks understood that the human body is a work of art - especially when sculpted to perfection (and I'm talking about flesh, not marble). They painted and sculpted representations of it, but they also celebrated its source, in the form of athletic competitions ("Olympic Games") that were an equal blend of aesthetics and practical demonstration - the virtue of beauty not just as a theoretical principle, but as a pragmatic one as well. I might gain some enemies by saying this, but I think this is what modern nudism should be about. We should resurrect the ancient Greek ideals that link beauty with bodies. I'm not opposed to the principle of body acceptance - I think people who do not have sculpted physiques should in no way be criticized or disadvantaged, or made to feel inferior, and there's no reason their bodies can't be celebrated as beautiful in their own way. But I don't want to pretend that there are not benefits to be gained from putting physical work into your body, and that one of those benefits is the aesthetic principle of beauty.

I would love for modern nudism to incorporate the tradition of admiring beautiful bodies into their curriculum. It doesn't have to be in the form of the much-maligned beauty pageants of the past, but sports competitions - like volleyball tournaments and nude races - are a great start. It may even be a good way to get younger demographics - athletic types more or less in the prime of their youth - to join nudism. Along with this adoption of the notion of "body beauty" it would follow that cameras and nude photography would have to be re-accepted into the lifestyle. Instead of a blanket prohibition, there would be an allowance for those wishing to capture the beauty of the human body on film. I find few themes more inspiring than beautiful bodies photographed in the practice of nudism, and yet modern nudism is a huge obstacle to this discipline.

I feel as though it is not "kosher" to talk about beautiful bodies in a climate where body image disorders are an epidemic, and especially not to talk about the sexual appeal of bodies when you practice a lifestyle that goes to great pains to divest the public of the notion that there is any intrinsic connection between naked bodies and sexual feelings. I do not intend to be a maverick, a subversive agent, though it may be true that I am. I am certainly not unsympathetic to the plights of those who do experience body image distortions, or an inordinate amount of stress and pressure to adhere to unrealistic standards of beauty, or to those who do practice a lifestyle centered around nudity that would be thrown into chaos and destruction with the introduction of sex.

I am merely acting from a perspective in which aesthetic, erotic beauty - of the human form - is a priority. It is a priority to me because it affects me very profoundly, in a way that I could only describe as rapturous. Happiness is a vague and elusive feeling. Companionship is hard to find, and rife with complication. Beauty, in my eyes, is pure, and total. I choose to pursue it, and yet I find my pursuit frustrated at nearly every turn, by outside agents - agents of a society that is either prudish to an extreme, or otherwise obsessed with vulgarity. I do not prioritize the pursuit of beauty over the well-being of others, but neither do I believe that the pursuit of beauty is inherently damaging to others. To whatever extent beauty may cause another problems, I am willing to address those problems and search for a solution whereby the suffering of others, and of society on the whole, is alleviated, without obstructing the pursuit of beauty, and without contributing to societal decay by humoring the toxic neuroses of others.

Tell me, then, how there is anything wrong in what I am or what I do, or those ways in which I might propose to remodel society, or certain subsets of it, for my convenience, but not my convenience alone? And if there is nothing, then please explain to me why the public obstinately refuses to stand aside of my way.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Storm

I consider getting caught in a thunderstorm to be a rite of passage for the summer. Some people are afraid of thunderstorms - I'm not. They invigorate me. So I'm not daunted when I'm out getting exercise and a storm moves in. I think it's thrilling. And there are times when it's more inconvenient to be getting wet - if I've been exercising in the summer heat, I'm likely to be covered with sweat anyway. And minimally dressed (although not as minimally as would be ideal).

It would have been nice to frolic in the rain naked, but at least the car windows fogged up enough to offer me some privacy. Perhaps if I had not been alone, I might have been inspired to engage in some "illicit activity". That's what life is all about, after all. What better way to spend a stormy summer afternoon? As it was, I took advantage of the situation to snap some rare pics with my cell phone.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Stranded in the Fitting Room

With no clothes! I had to sneak back through the store, and grab something to put on, before anybody saw me.

Just kidding. :p This was a cute dress, but I had the all-too-often problem of not being able to zip it up fully in the back. (I would have thought that my wide ribs would have been balanced out by my lack of a bust, but whatever...)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me"

"...thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

I'm always down for some good old-fashioned blasphemy. I don't like to disrespect other people's beliefs on principle, but when they don't respect my beliefs, turnabout is fair play. I consider sexuality to be sacred, but Christianity views it as a sin. Therefore, any way I can sexualize the Holy Scripture feels righteous to me. If that makes me a devil in their eyes, then so be it.

"Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them."
- Neil Young

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Two More Sides

Obviously reminiscent of this post. This is the "workout" version.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pet Peeve: Defenders of Private Censorship

I've talked about this before, but it's something that comes up again and again, so I think I'm justified in complaining about it again. Let's start with this comic.

Now, I'm a huge fan of xkcd, but just because Randall Munroe made a comic about something doesn't mean that it's beyond criticism.

I consider myself a progressive. I also consider myself to be liberal - but in the sense of being in support of liberty, not in the sense of belonging to the liberal hivemind. There are a lot of things that mainstream political progressives have got wrong. One of those is their single-minded dedication to political correctness. It comes from a good place - compassion for one's fellow man, and a desire to oppose bigots and bullies. But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and this approach all too frequently positions itself in opposition to the freedom of speech.

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I'm a pretty staunch defender of free speech. Now, it's a nice fantasy to believe that free speech can be absolute, but even I am willing to make certain concessions. But there's an important distinction here between singling out specific subjects of speech to be disallowed, and specific ways that speech can be used, almost like a weapon. The fact that you can't shout "fire!" in a crowded movie theater (unless there's really a fire) doesn't concern me - because the subject of fire is not being made into a taboo. You and I can still sit down in a movie theater and discuss fire, we just can't use our speech about fire to create unnecessary panic that could likely lead to distress or injury.

Similarly, I sympathize with the goal of progressives in stamping out hate speech, because when people talk shit about other kinds of people, it's pretty ugly. But the same principle applies. If two people want to get together on an internet forum and discuss the reasons white people should be exterminated, for example, I believe they should have that freedom. It's only when they start using that speech to harass other people, by bullying and directing slurs against specific individuals, that it reaches a point where the impact is wholly negative, and retaliation is deserved.

Now, you might have a hard time figuring the positive impact of letting people speak in support of prejudice (in a non-directly harassing context), but that's built into the very concept of free speech. Either you support that concept or you don't. And if you don't, that's okay - it's a perfectly valid opinion to have. But if that's the case, I would appreciate it if you didn't erode the very concept of free speech by claiming you believe in it when you clearly don't. It makes it harder for everyone else to understand just what constitutes free speech after all. If you support free speech, then you support the idea that people should be able to say things that are offensive. Not because you don't care about people's feelings getting hurt, but because you think the freedom of people to think and say things that might be unpopular is more valuable than creating a sanitized, baby-proof society in which nobody is allowed to do or say anything that carries the remote possibility of offending anyone else.

I know, it's hard to justify the merit of certain subjects like racism, and sexism. In my previous post on this topic, the issue was tumblr's exclusion of speech supporting self-harm and eating disorders. This time, the forum that brought the issue to my mind is reddit, and while I don't know the specific details, I think that it may be related to a similar subject - body shaming. Hell, I'm a staunch opponent of a similar form of hate speech - slut shaming - but I'm not saying that people shouldn't be allowed to vocalize sex negative opinions. I'm merely saying that I think people who do are misguided and insensitive. I may suggest they change their tune (because that's pretty much the whole point of debate), but you don't see me advocating for passing new laws to restrict that kind of speech. It's an important distinction.

In the end, the more exceptions we carve out from the carcass of free speech, the more legitimate the act of carving out exceptions appears to be. And the more exceptions there are, the greater the chilling effect that occurs, and the fewer daring thoughts that fewer daring rebels are willing to express. (Consider the vague and odious - yet nearly ubiquitous - restriction against the "sexualization of minors". It would seem that authorities want to restrict you from even suggesting the possibility that a 17 year old could be sexy, and that's not just ridiculous, it's terrifying! Like, fascist regime terrifying). This is dangerous, because it's exactly what free speech protections were designed to prevent. If you want to harass someone - for any reason, whether it's because of their body or their race or their sex or what have you - then I support you being punished for it. But making any of those subjects taboo means we can't even talk about these issues in anything but black or white terms. And that's completely in opposition to truth and reality. I believe in being free to talk about things as they are, even if sometimes the truth hurts people's feelings. You know, that's kind of a characteristic of truth - and I value truth more than I value people's feelings. That doesn't make me insensitive, because I'm actually a highly sensitive person, it just means I have priorities.

Getting back to the xkcd comic I linked. What's being described in that comic - being shown the door - is what I envision as being a reaction to harassment. Also, I agree with the part about the First Amendment not shielding you from criticism or consequences. But none of this is an excuse for making any topics taboo, which is exactly what these arguments are frequently used for. Also, there's this sticking point about state versus private censorship. Free speech detractors just love to harp on this point - if it's not the government, then it's not an infringement on your free speech. Like as if the government has a monopoly over censorship. The fact that free speech appears in the Constitution means that the government's not allowed to make laws promoting censorship (not that it's ever stopped them). But that doesn't mean that private companies can't have a commitment to free speech, nor that private citizens can't have the belief that a commitment to free speech entails private as well as public forums.

Now, this gets particularly muddy when we talk about semi-public forums - like popular internet forums (also, when private corporations become nearly as powerful as the state, but that's another discussion). If you own some obscure backweb discussion group - e.g., eating disorder haters united - then sure, you can practice a regime of censorship and silence anyone who speaks out in support of eating disorders (the law certainly doesn't prevent you from doing that). But when we're talking about massive, major public forums, like reddit, or tumblr, or YouTube, or what have you, then I think the fact that you're privately owned doesn't exclude you from having certain responsibilities to the public. And I guess we have different ideas of what those responsibilities are - I believe they include a defense of free speech, but the people in charge of these forums seem to have latched on to the progressive idea that sanitizing the public forum so as to avoid offending anybody is a greater priority.

Now, at the end of the day, they may have every right to make that decision themselves - and I will go on exercising my free speech right to criticize them - but the one thing that really sticks in my craw is how frequently these places pay lip service by including in their principles a support of free speech. You cannot support free speech by imposing a regime of censorship. If you don't believe in free speech - that's your right. But please, own up to that belief, and stop going around pretending otherwise. Because the result is just more and more confused people who don't understand what free speech is really about, and who start making a bunch of arguments like the one in that comic, and like the ones that are all over reddit right now.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Second Thoughts on Vice

I stand by what I said in my last post - I don't think the state has any business policing vice. But I was thinking about it, and I realized that I may be giving off the wrong impression. I don't live a life filled with vice - aside from the fact that there are naked pictures of me on the internet, otherwise I'm pretty much a real straight shooter. I don't ingest any illegal substances, I don't solicit prostitutes...I don't even indulge in the legal vices - I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't gamble, I don't even play the lottery. At the risk of sounding like an insensitive prick - and, as a disclaimer, I know decent people who indulge in many of those vices, so it's not as if there aren't exceptions - I think those activities are for the weak-willed and the weak-minded.

Now, I have some pretty liberal views on sex, but I'm not even promiscuous. I'm not a sexual anarchist, I just don't believe in hiding or being ashamed of our bodies or our sexual desires. My approach isn't so much free love as it is sexual innocence - not to be confused with ignorance or inexperience (requisite link). And I want people to know that - that if they get involved with me, whether personally or for business purposes, that's not what they're getting into. I'm not all about vice, I just want to elevate erotic beauty to a level of sophistication. And I don't mean to say that sharing naked pictures, for example, is a vice, but that it's okay, because vice is cool. Rather, I'd prefer to change people's perspective so that sharing naked pictures isn't even viewed as a vice, but a natural part of our social bonding conventions that is not uncommon, and ought to be free from any stigma.

If you ask me, activities like smoking and drinking and gambling - and, yes, even promiscuous sex - are dumb and self-destructive. Just because I think you ought to be comfortable posting naked pictures of yourself on the internet, doesn't mean I'm going to try to entice you into those other vices. The thing is, I don't want the naked pictures thing to be considered a vice in the first place, because frankly, I don't see why it should be. Smoking and drinking destroy your body, and because they're addictive, they should be avoided. Promiscuous sex is forgivable if you're safe and responsible, but it's perfectly possible (and less risky) to have a satisfying sex life while utilizing some discretion. But voyeurism and exhibitionism in the form of photography, or non-contact activities like nudism, is safe and enjoyable - and, if you ask me, wholesome - so long as you don't view the basic fact that human beings are sexual, sensual organisms as itself something to be ashamed of. That way, how you indulge your desires (i.e., whether responsibly or not) determines your moral value, and not the simple fact of having them.

I want people to view me as an example of a good role model. The fact that I embrace the sexual side of my existence is merely a demonstration that I accept myself wholly (instead of living in shame and repression - how is that a good example of living?), and the way that I do it is intended to demonstrate how that part of you can be a source of pride and pleasure. That's why I've always stood behind what I do, and took it seriously - instead of blurring my face out and tacitly acknowledging that I'm ashamed of what I'm doing (I'm not). At the same time, it keeps me from doing anything stupid, because I refuse to do anything that I don't have a convincing justification for. That's why you'll never see me hang my head and apologize just because the wrong person found out what I was doing. I hope that's something that people get from me through my photography and my writing. At the risk of sounding like a lunatic (though it probably won't be the first time), we have a long way to go yet before this kind of lifestyle is free from stigma, but it is my goal to serve the role of a sort of wholesome, family-friendly sex icon.