Saturday, May 17, 2014

Nude News Roundup

I should probably do this more often - I've only done it once before. But I get a newsletter in my email from every so often which is a roundup of news articles appearing across the internet with news involving nudity that could be of interest to nudists (which the site caters to). I guess it's just kinda fun to chime in on these topics and take a chance to address my opinion/reaction to these articles.

San Francisco Police Chief Spells Out Bay To Breakers Rules: ‘Nudity’s Not Okay’

This is a short article, so I don't know all the context, but this is pretty infuriating. When Scott Wiener (of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors) nuked the last standing public refuge for nudists in this country by ruining San Francisco's long-standing tradition of tolerance for public nudity (in certain areas), it was said that this would not affect special festivals, just everyday nudity. And here we have the police trying to crack down on public nudity in one of the most popular festivals in San Francisco where public nudity (see "Bare To Breakers") has been a tradition. I hope there's a mass protest and scores of naked people show up for the race. I would if I lived in San Francisco - I wish I did live there, so I could join the protest. The police chief's comment is pretty moronic (and confusing) though, because he refers to people who "might not have six packs" seemingly suggesting that they would frighten or traumatize "kids and families". Real paleolithic thinking there...

Stunning Nude Photo Series Will Make You Think Twice About The 'Ideal Body'

This is great, really. There should not be a single ideal, and people of different body types should be able to feel confident, and represented in the media. However, the article has a very obvious anti-skinny slant in its use of words like "skeletal" to describe mainstream models, and its references to "plastic surgery" and "eating disorders". I support acceptance of differing body types, but body acceptance entails acceptance of skinny bodies just as much as the more full-figured varieties. I'd like it if we could get rid of this idea that "fat acceptance" has to come at the cost of cutting down skinny people. No, that's not okay. The goal should not be to redirect the abuse in the opposite direction, but to stop the abuse altogether.

I Saw a Penis on Primetime UK Television. So What?

Lol, this kind of sounds like a line I remember Brian using on Family Guy. Not sure if it really counts as news. But then, I guess that's kind of the point. I think it's great that a TV program can show nudity honestly, without getting all in a huff about it. When the subject of nudity comes up, and you have to bend over backwards to avoid showing specific parts of the body, it just feels really fake and contrived. I can imagine the reaction that people living in this never-nude society for long enough would have if they visited a nudist resort - they'd be like, "oh my god, I've been looking at naked people on TV for years, but I never knew about those parts!"

Well, except for the fact that porn is so ubiquitous these days. I think it's unfortunate, though, that we associate honest nudity solely with pornography - and we really do. The solution is TV programs like this one, who are willing to show honest, unflinching nudity in a non-sexual context, wherever it comes up in the course of a show, and without shying away from it. Nudity is a natural part of life. Everybody gets naked to change their clothes sometimes. Everybody showers in the nude. (Well, barring an extremely neurotic minority). Let's get over it, already. Naked bodies are not some huge secret that nobody should be allowed to see!

"Advocates...believe nudity reflects a decline in society as a whole."

Typical conservative hogwash. The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Oh my god, people actually get naked on TV! Oh noes!!!1 Except the irony is that there is very little actual nudity on TV in America.

" drives every atom of western culture in the modern world."

This is a separate issue (and it's a shame we have to bring it up in a discussion of non-sexual nudity), but so what? Sex is pervasive. Sex is ubiquitous. Sex is kind of a big deal. And that's the way it's supposed to be. It's only centuries of religious fundamentalists and moral conservatives preaching about the purity of our divine souls and how we have to reject the pleasures of the flesh to gain a seat in an imaginary heaven that have made sex this bad thing. That sex is more visible than ever now is not an indication that our civilization is in decline, but rather that we're becoming evolved. Unfortunately, though, I would argue that our attitudes toward sexuality are diseased. We don't need less sex. We just need a healthier relationship with sex. One that wouldn't encroach on the ability to display a human being's unclothed body without causing people to get in a fit because the only thing they can think about is sex (and gawd, how horrible that is!).

Stunning Nude Photos Explore The True Power Of Stereotypes And Labels

This is actually a very fascinating photo project. I wish I could do projects like this, that combine nude portraiture with some intriguing, thought-provoking, socially-conscious theme. I guess I do sometimes, with my own self-portraiture, but it'd be nice if I could find the opportunity to photograph other people nude.

But, to submit my own experience, I've been called a "slut" (lovingly), a "faggot" (not so lovingly), a "woman without breasts and with penis - small one" (by a person whose mind was even smaller), and a "guy/girl/thingy". I've also been called "beautiful" and "sexy" more times than I can count, and "smart" by people for as long as I can remember. My peers in school saw me as "quiet", and my asocial demeanor has sometimes led people to read me as "aloof". One of the things I get called a lot that delights me the most is "ladies" (usually when I'm out with my BFF), since it indicates that either a) I am passing, or b) the person speaking to me is open-minded enough to accept me as the gender I'm presenting as (either one works for me). I've also been called "butthead" a lot, mostly by my older brother, but the last time was probably about twenty years ago.

Woman naked for 50 years

Neat little human interest story. It's interesting to see how a very different culture reacts to someone who in this culture might have discovered they are a nudist. But without a "nudist community" to join, and other nudists to associate with, it's just this weird condition. On the other hand, social standards are so much different that she seems to have been able to get away with just simply not wearing clothes for such a long time, even about the village. Although, attitudes about her "condition" are not necessarily ideal, even in this culture. And for someone who hates wearing clothes, it's unfortunate that she still feels self-conscious around strangers.

But it's worthwhile to note that even she puts on clothes to climb trees (because they are scratchy), but then takes them off when she is done - which is to show that nudists are not pathological about never wearing clothes, and that clothes can be used as a tool to accomplish a job. But that for some people they're just not comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and in most contexts, where they're really not that necessary. I can totally identify with the feeling of just not being comfortable in clothing sometimes, and I wish my community would accept me that way - at the very least in reasonable situations, like in the rain, or outdoors on super hot days, or at the pool...

We Tried It: NYC's Naked Yoga Class

This is actually a great little article about the experience of someone not accustomed to social nudity trying out a naked yoga class. And she discovers that the "elephant" in the room - the fact that everyone is naked - turns out to be smaller than a mouse, because it's really not that big of a deal. People who are used to this are not judgmental, and it's not a sexually charged atmosphere - it's just a regular yoga class where people get to practice in the nude.

Why avoiding sunshine could kill you

Good advice, I guess, but it's presented rather sensationally. Not that news outlets don't do it that way as a rule, but I really don't think it's that healthy to exaggerate the facts in order to motivate somebody to do (or believe) something (especially when the facts are not actually all that well understood). And besides, while it's clear that sunshine is healthy (hello, we didn't evolve from cave trolls), this kind of advice might have the effect of under-representing the potential hazards of too much sun exposure (which is a concern I think that some nudists don't give proper weight to). Of course, it's pretty confusing when one research reports that too much skin exposure causes melanoma, and another indicates that staying out of the sun causes melanoma. What's a person to believe? At any rate, it makes sense that some sun exposure is probably healthy, and too much could plausibly be dangerous, so a smart plan would be to try to strike a balance and go for the middle-ground. Duh?

The naked and the living

Another neat little story, about an artist working with nude life models. I found two things of particular interest in this short interview. One was how much people are socialized to react with outrage to the idea of doing anything related to nudity, but that when they really sit down to think about it, they realize they're actually interested.

"The response changed from incredulity to outrage to curiosity. ... The first person to agree was a writer in her 20s. At first, she was appalled with the suggestion and didn't even finish her coffee and left my apartment. But a few days later she called to say she was ready to pose."

Now if we could just get past the initial incredulity and outrage stage, and go straight to the curiosity. The other interesting tidbit is how the artist first got the idea to work with nude models while hanging out with friends in a clothing optional setting, but when he asked those friends to model for him, they got uncomfortable and refused.

Of course, there are all sorts of individual and cultural variations involved, but as gung ho as nudists are about hanging out in the all together, there's a certain subset of them who get totally antsy when it comes to making any kind of visual documentation of that hanging out. I know some nudists have to worry about how their friends, family, and coworkers would react if they "found out" about their hobby, and some of them are ultra paranoid about "what if somebody thinks sexy thoughts about me?" But really, nudism shouldn't be a secret - how is it ever going to gain wider acceptance if individual nudists insist on remaining invisible? And who gives a flying fuck if somebody sees your body and gets turned on? Big deal. Especially if you're not even in the same room (or hell, even country) when it happens...

Michigan Town Moves 'Blue Human Condition' Sculpture After Backlash

This is ridiculous, but not uncommon. Still, some people need to get a grip on reality. Yeah, I can see how the sculpture could be interpreted as being "sexually suggestive", but I doubt that's its intention, and it's not like it's explicit or anything. Do we really need to police society to the extent that we can't have anything in public that might carry the risk that it could make somebody think a sexual thought? So what if that does happen? This would be a scary move, but given how much sexual suggestion permeates the media anyway, it just seems stupid instead. And watch how the detractors play the "children" card. God forbid somebody's child should see a representation of human sexuality. Doomsday scenario right there, right? Sheesh...

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