Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Note on Prudism

I guess I've talked about this before, but it's a trend that keeps coming up again and again. Specifically, it's the tendency for some (thankfully not all) nudists to act as if it's their duty to police every instance of nudity that comes up - in movies, magazines, news stories, and especially publicity stunts - and to make a judgment, based on whether the nudity is pure or sexualized, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for nudism. I find this troubling because, though there are legitimate reasons for separating sexualized instances of nudity from nudism (which is non-sexual - as you hear constantly), the way this is practiced often reinforces sex shame. Can nudism not coexist with sexualized nudity? Does all nudity have to be nudist nudity in order for it to be acceptable nudity? Or does the existence of sexualized nudity somehow stain nudism?

I don't think it does. Nudism is non-sexual nudity. The existence of nudism does not depend on the lack of sexualized nudity. I am a nudist, and I am a sensualist. I love nudist nudity. It's liberating, it's free, it represents body acceptance, it feels great, it's natural, etc. But I also love sexualized nudity. Sexualized nudity is hot, plain and simple. I won't give up one or another, and I don't believe I have to. I understand the difference between the two, and I'm not willing to make such a significant sacrifice (both types of nudity are very important to me, spiritually) for the sake of those who are too stupid (or, in their defense, merely inexperienced or uneducated) to know that difference.

And yes, there is a fuzzy area between the two edges of nudity. It's not always clear if a given instance of nudity is pure or sexualized - or rather, there are a number of cases where it could be both, and that may depend on a particular observer's reaction. I don't see this as a problem either. Why do people assume "sex" when all they're given is "sexy"? Sure, sexy is a stop on the route to sex, but the route is not the same as the destination, and very few times does one reach that destination - very few instances of "sexy" lead directly to "sex". Think about it, what percentage of the times you see an attractive person (on the street, on TV, in a magazine, wherever) lead immediately to sex? If a nudist happens to be sexy, whether in a picture or in person, why is this bad for nudism? It's not even about sex, it's about a fundamental aspect of the human experience - the sex drive, which doesn't automatically shut off when you enter nudist grounds. And yet, that's not an embrace of sex within nudism - again, sexy is not sex. It's simply saying that sexy is okay, and that the mere existence of sexualized nudity is not a bad mark on nudism, and that nudists don't have to denounce it in order to get "nudist points".

Nudism is not about sex. Nudity is not equivalent to sex. Nudity alone does not necessarily imply sex. Alright. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's go further. Nudity can sometimes (certainly not always) be sexy, and there's not a thing wrong with that. Got it?

(And I'm sorry. By continuing to argue this issue, I'm just mashing the concepts of sex and nudism further together. But I'm only trying to mend the damage that has already been done in trying to "purify" nudism of sexuality. And I don't entirely blame those responsible for this, since it, in turn, is an act of trying to mend the damage already done by society with regards to its twisted notions about sex and nudity. But the fact that sex and nudity are not equivalent is elementary. Prudists seem to be hung up on that point, reiterating it ad nauseum, blaming all of nudism's troubles on its confusion with sexuality in mainstream thought. But the problem is not that people think nudism is about sex - that is an erroneous belief that is easily corrected. The reason it remains problematic is because of our stubborn and unhealthy attitudes toward sex (where sex is involved, accusations are about as bad as convictions, thanks to our active - and naughty - and guilt-ridden - imaginations). The solution is not to wash our hands of sex, but to approach it and try to fix the problem - not by foisting it on someone else (like the perverts, for example), but by facing it head-on and refusing to propagate the dysfunction.)

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