Saturday, August 7, 2010

Principles in Practice

I recently stumbled upon this video, which I have actually seen before. In the video, a young female student decides to "experiment" with nudism after reading a positive article about it in a magazine. At the beginning of the video, she makes the necessary disclaimer that it is not meant to be a "sexy" video, but a serious one (although there is obviously some humor in the video, so I'm not sure how serious it's meant to be taken). And the video is recorded strictly from the shoulders up, so it's not the least bit prurient.

Still, at least to my eyes, this is clearly a very attractive young woman - and she's naked! I can't help being excited by that thought, and I don't feel ashamed to admit it. The video would still have merit if it were recorded by an old naked guy, in terms of being a nudist experiment, but it would lose the charm of being recorded by an attractive young woman. That "charm" is not connected to the nudism. Does it interfere with the nudism? I think there are many who would make that argument, but I disagree.

It's true that people confuse sex and nudism quite a lot, and that has a tendency to harm nudism (and by extension, nudists) in the public eye. But it's also true that people have very low opinions of sex and sexuality and sexual feelings and sexual desire. The fact that I am attracted to the young woman in the video does not blind me to the [non-sexual] merits of nudism. My spirits are brightened by her attractiveness, my mood is lightened, and I have a better time watching the video than I would were it recorded by an ugly old man. I am not reduced to an unthinking animal, either, just by being presented an attractive face - or, in a hypothetical different case, an attractive body. I can admire attractiveness, while retaining my humanity and reasoning faculties.

For this reason, I don't think beautiful people are antithetical to nudism. Nor are sexual feelings in complete opposition to nudism. Nudism is not about sex, and not all nudists are magazine models, so these things should certainly not define nudism, but I feel no reason to exclude them from nudism, either. So although this is not meant to be a "sexy" video, I think part of its appeal is related to "sexiness", but in a very different manner than a pornographic video would be. I think this is a distinction we should acknowledge, because only then can we accept my vision of sensuality without falling into the trap of no-holds-barred animal sexuality. It doesn't have to be either porn or "dry", it is allowed to exist somewhere in between. Life is sensual, and sexual feelings are everywhere - that doesn't mean they should always be accompanied by sex in its strict definition. We can be turned on without being turned loose, and that's something we should allow ourselves to admit.

[Digression: It's true that there are some people who behave inappropriately - if they see an attractive woman, they'll make a rude comment, or worse. And this will in turn encourage the woman to view any form of sexualized attention as a bane. The result being that they will be less likely to show off for others (a loss for everyone), and that if anyone does acknowledge their feelings, even in a polite manner, she'll be more inclined to view it as a negative thing. This is how sex negativity digs its roots in. Negative sexual behaviors are generalized to sexuality - blaming the attraction and not the rudeness - and thus positive sexual behaviors are marginalized. The side effect of this attitude is that it encourages more negative sexual behavior and discourages positive sexual behavior simply as a result of expectation - if "all sex is bad", then any sex that occurs is labeled bad. And even good sex will begin to take on a reputation as being bad. And without that distinction between good behavior and bad behavior, less people will see the importance of staying on the right side of the line. I think part of the solution to this problem is to educate people about sexuality. Teach guys to be open but polite about their sexuality, and teach girls to accept the compliments while they reject the harassment.]

While I'm talking about this video, I might as well analyze the young woman's conclusion. She doesn't have the best things to say about her experience, even though she appears to enjoy it. She says she couldn't relax while being naked, and that it was too cold to do any hard work (she was trying to study while naked because she read that it helps concentration or something similar). This is disappointing because, as a nudist, when a non-nudist decides to "experiment" with nudism, I want their experience to be positive! But anyone, even a nudist, can have a "bad" experience being naked - and one experiment is not always enough to discover the positive effects of being nude.

For one thing, the young woman in the video says that it was too cold. Even as a nudist, there have been times - sitting in my own room, at my computer - when it was just too cold to be naked. I do believe that your tolerance increases the more time you spend nude, but sure, the point of getting naked is not to endure uncomfortable temperatures. This could be fixed with a bump in the thermostat or, as the woman in the video herself speculates, trying it again during the summer.

I noticed that towards the end of the video, judging from the text on the screen, the girl's parents come home, and this prompts her to quickly scrounge for her clothes and get dressed, in order to avoid being "found out". Of course, if you're afraid of getting caught, you're not going to be very relaxed. Some people do get naked for that specific thrill, but nudists generally do not. Nudism is not meant to be a secret sport, and it can be practiced best when there's no threat of being caught, and you can just relax and do your thing.

On the other hand, especially for those who are new to the naked life, just being naked can itself give you a thrill. It's a very sensual experience, considerably for those who are not used to that kind of direct stimulation from the environment, sans clothes. Plus there are certain ideological connotations to taking one's clothes off - the idea of rebelling against society, a symbol of freeing oneself from constraints, and potentially, a feeling of naughtiness for those who still associate disrobing with making love - that contribute to the feeling of excitement that nudity brings. All of this together could make it quite hard to concentrate on doing work, for the newbie. But they can also be examples of the intrinsic joy of being nude. Despite the young woman not recommending her experiment at the end, the final text in the video indicates that she did have fun. So maybe she's not completely unaffected by the merits of nudity. And after all, if it's fun, it ought to be worth trying (and again)!

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