Thursday, August 31, 2017

Benefit of the Doubt


Let's start with the basic assumption that, with the exception of asexuals (whose unique needs deserve special consideration), most people desire sex (setting aside, for the moment, the reasons why, as well as any moral judgments of that fact), and that when performed properly (which is to say, in a way that is most beneficial to its participants), sex ought to be both physically pleasurable and psychologically satisfying, with a minimum of adverse side-effects. This is the ideal case; however, this should not be construed as implying that there is necessarily anything fundamentally wrong with a sexual act that does not fulfill these goals - provided it is still consensual and generally harmless. It may simply be a sub-optimal encounter. After all, everybody has off days, and you often have to experiment to find what you do and don't like.

This is the basic foundation for a sex-positive framework. Not all sex has to be good - and bad sex needn't constitute soul-crushing trauma. But sex should at least strive to realize its greatest potential. Although it can be twisted around and turned into a weapon to selfishly satisfy one's self at the expense of doing harm to others, this (alone) should be considered an unnatural perversion. At its core, the purpose of sex is to make people feel good. And this is a good thing. But believing this doesn't require one to turn a blind eye to the potential risks and dangers of sex - a uniquely intimate act in which we may engage (intentionally or otherwise) with people we do not fully know or trust. A sex-positive doesn't believe that all sex is sunshine and rainbows - just that all sex should be sunshine and rainbows.

Towards that end, a sex-positive necessarily supports and advocates for the adoption of safe and responsible sexual behaviors. You may note, with some irony, that the groups who campaign against making sex safer and more pleasurable for its participants all too frequently espouse toxic beliefs in the (alleged) shamefulness and sinfulness of sexual activity. This is no coincidence. If somebody doesn't want you to have sex, they're going to want to make it as dangerous and unpleasurable for you as they can. Sex-positives want you to have all the sex you want to have (whether that's a little, a lot, or none at all), and they want it to be as safe and pleasurable as it can be.

Safer Alternatives

While emphasizing the importance of responsible behaviors - being informed, attaining consent, and using safe practices - we can still acknowledge that the sexual impulse is a wonderful thing, and that there are myriad ways to indulge in it without shame or guilt, that can mitigate if not completely eliminate many of the risks and dangers. Consider voyeurism/exhibitionism and the sharing of pornography online - taken together (as they go so well together), they can be seen in the form of the mutual sharing of flirty and erotic pictures that young people frequently engage in, and that we thoughtlessly caution them against. Yet, like masturbation, these are harmless, contact-free behaviors that can alleviate sexual tension without risk of pregnancy or the transmission of disease.

We live in a black and white culture when it comes to sex. A culture of extremes. Abstinence or addiction. Prudishness or perversion. It's like there's no room to get your feet wet in a safe environment - you either stay on shore, or you dive into the deep end. This is dangerous for individuals, and dangerous for society. We should embrace the middle zone - the grey area of sensual eroticism in everyday life. Like wearing a short skirt. According to society, this is either an excuse to be sexually penetrated against your will (i.e., rape), or else a completely nonsexual desire to stay cool in warmer weather. Why can't it be cool and flirty yet still not consent (i.e., to be raped), and we just leave it at that?

If you look at approaches towards nonstandard sexual behaviors - that is, behaviors not consisting of the typical routine of two people rolling around naked in bed - instead of a flirty middle ground of eroticism, you see them construed by a conservative echo chamber as bastions of perversion. An act that results in teenage pregnancy, for example, while socially condemned (depending on who you ask and where you live), is the result of an otherwise normal impulse (which was merely insufficiently guarded against), but heaven forbid, using a condom would have been an unholy transgression against God! To say nothing of performing in a context where a screen (and countless miles, not to mention at least some semblance of anonymity) separate all participants. But no, only whores and perverts engage in those acts (unlike, you know, the girl who dropped out of high school to have her baby, and the deadbeat who skipped town after knocking her up - bastions of virtue, am I right?).

A Matter of Perspective

Instead of an easy, stress-free sexual release in the privacy of one's home, without need of a partner, porn use is viewed as an antisocial behavior that belies a poor sexual adjustment, contributes to the oppression and degradation of women (even if the porn involves two gay men), and devalues the concept of sex as a holy union by stealing it away from married couples (are we still living in the Old Testament here?). Voyeurism and exhibitionism, instead of being viewed as a kind of light foreplay, wherein people take erotic delight in the sight or gaze of others - often in public, and involving skimpy clothing (as regularly worn to the beach or gym), if not partial or full nudity - without the need for any kind of mutual contact (or even interaction, necessarily), is instead stereotyped as a disturbing perversion expressed by a minority of social outcasts who maybe don't have enough concern for common decency or the privacy of others.

Aside: I have a hypothesis that the reason voyeurism and exhibitionism are still very taboo in our society (despite other sexual advances our culture has recently made) is because they directly contradict feminist rhetoric (goddess forbid!) - that women are harmed merely by being the object of a man's sexual attention, despite the fact that many women enjoy such attention (in appropriate contexts - not always from strangers), and that in most cases (obviously not including the ones feminists choose for their heartstring-tugging anecdotes), that attention is really very harmless.

Anyway, my whole point is that there is not only one way to view these things. Viewing them as deviations (with a negative slant) as opposed to variations (more neutral-leaning) is not the only possible perspective, or even necessarily the best one. I'm offering an alternative perspective - the sex-positive perspective. It gives people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their sexual behaviors and desires, while at the same time acknowledging the potential risks and dangers of sexual activity, and advocating a safe and responsible approach. It does not use this as an excuse to demonize human sexuality at its core - on the contrary, it seeks to find alternative ways for human beings to seek out sexual satisfaction safely and without shame, that do not erode the fabric of society, even as it asks society to be more understanding and less judgmental of the wonderful diversity of our kind.

My Vision

I want to see masturbation, pornography, voyeurism, and exhibitionism viewed not as fringe sexual perversions, or the outlets of a sexual deviant, but as the relatively safe and healthy practices they are - as stepping stones or learning guides towards the more advanced goal of sexual intercourse. In a sense, sex on training wheels. Sex with bumpers. I want to live in a world where well-adjusted sex is considered to be more than just two people rolling around naked in bed. Even if you allow for this activity to be performed for recreation and not procreation, and expand your definition of what constitutes a couple (i.e., allowing for same-sex pairings), you may be a step above the fire-and-brimstone preacher, but you're still a long way away from what normal human sexuality looks like.

It involves a wide variety of flirting and preening behaviors, and can be part of a person's public persona, or their private lives even outside of interpersonal relationships. It involves things they do alone, in their own bedrooms or at their own computers (and sometimes elsewhere). It involves interacting with people through a digital interface, sometimes anonymously, in ways that would be alien to a pre-internet society. And sometimes this exploration begins from a young age. Yet these things are all normal, and healthy when not taken to extremes (as can be said about anything). I want our culture to acknowledge this, and stop shaming and, worse yet, legislating against people who engage in these behaviors - which, outspoken or not, is a majority of the population.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why Nudism? (Part 3)

I enjoy pointing out the practical benefits of nudism, but the truth is, there are spiritual aspects to it as well. These are things that maybe not every textile will be able to understand, but could be of profound importance to the type of person who makes nudism a priority in their life. I'll be the first to admit that lying naked in the grass can be very itchy (and it's no fun scratching at bug bites for days), but nudism wouldn't be half as compelling if there weren't some mystical aspects to it drawing us away from modern civilization to experience an altered reality that feels somehow closer to our roots. It doesn't necessarily have to make sense, it just has to feel right. I hope to explore this perspective further in some other shots in this series.

I was concerned about making this image too similar to the second one in the series ("Because I don't want any tan lines"); so I consciously flipped my body over, and switched the direction of the diagonal. Visually, they're similar, but the themes are distinct enough to be worth covering separately. I would have shot this one later, but opportunity struck, and I wasn't about to pass it up (unfortunately, it looks like it's going to take me longer than I had anticipated to shoot the rest of this series). I was also considering posing against a tree, but I think lying in the grass perfectly evokes the notion of being "closer to the Earth". I'm sure I'll have another chance to feature a tree in this series, at some point. Here's an outtake from the shoot:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Attention Shoppers

In order to prevent shoplifting, management has requested that customers please remove their clothes before entering the premises. Thank you for your cooperation.

It's fun to imagine - in an alternate reality where nudity simply doesn't carry the stigma that it does in our society - different contexts in which people might be expected to disrobe.

If I were a little more daring, and had a like-minded accomplice to hold the camera, I could totally see myself walking out of the fitting room like this, just to snap a few pictures among the aisles before I get yelled at. I mean, I might want to do it somewhere people don't know me, that I won't be coming back to anytime soon, but I'd be long gone before the cops got involved. And what's the worst that could happen? An indecent exposure charge? It's all in good fun.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

No Sanctuary

Aw, there ain't no life nowhere.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tanning Outtakes

A couple of outtakes from my tanning session for the photoshoot I posted the results of yesterday. I wasn't originally going to do this shot yet - I only had the bathroom one planned to begin with - as I was waiting for the weather to get a little bit more summery first (it's been cloudy and cool for a few days), but I looked out the window, and I saw some sunshine, and I felt inspired!

I could've picked a better day, though, because after I had everything set up, I found myself waiting around a lot for the sun to peek out between cloud breaks, then rushing to fire off as many shots as I could while I laid in the sun, before it slipped back behind another bank of clouds. Still, all's well that ends well!

This is what happens when you expose for the sun, and instead get shade. However, the mood lighting looks interesting, and I like the improved contrast in the contours of my body. I wouldn't call this shot a failure - more like a happy accident.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why Nudism? (Parts 1 & 2)

I'm very excited to debut a new photo series I'll be working on for a while (I have ideas for at least twenty images in the series). I came up with it while lying in bed one night, having trouble getting to sleep. I think that a lot of non-nudists probably question, "why would anyone want to go nude, unless they're some kind of pervert?" Like you either have to be touched in the head, or have some kind of sexual motivation to spend time without clothes on. On the contrary - this photo series is intended to highlight some of the practical reasons, as well as the physical and psychological benefits, of choosing to go nude in lieu of wearing clothes. Why nudism, you ask? Well, this is why:

I've heard more than one non-nudist confess to liking to delay getting dressed after a shower or bath (one of the few non-sexual activities that give even textiles an excuse to undress), and I can't blame them. Who wants to put on clothes while all your nooks and crannies are still damp? Granted, this is something that's usually only practiced alone in the home, and sometimes under the cover of a towel, but it's definitely one of the more popular (and practical) "gateway drugs" into the world of nudism. Call it "nudism lite". By the way, if you've ever showered in a communal locker room (a practice that's admittedly becoming less common these days), you've essentially participated in social nudism already!

While a core element of the lifestyle (although not every nudist enjoys baking in the sun), I think fewer textiles will be able to get on board with the concept of tanning nude. After all, there is the risk of skin cancer, not to mention the danger of putting your delicate bits through the crisper. But at the same time, many people acknowledge that tan lines are undesirable (albeit except in the context of a sexual fetish), even to the point that some women will bask in the sun half-naked (mostly naked, really) to avoid them. It takes just one more small step to get that coveted all-over tan; why not go the rest of the way?

Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks months!

Thursday, August 10, 2017


On a popular online forum (that will remain nameless), I recently made a comment about how nudist documentaries demonstrate the perfect symbiosis between nudists and voyeurs, but instead of having a critical discussion on a topic of much controversy (as opposed to mindlessly reciting dogma - how un-intellectually-stimulating), the topic was locked (a form of censorship - silencing debate), though not before several dullards deemed it fit to remark on how disgusting children's bodies are, like that makes them bastions of virtue somehow.

Since I couldn't continue the conversation there, I'm going to continue it here.

To establish some context, in response to the question, "why order a DVD of nudist photos?" (a question that baffles me as a nudist photographer - but I guess it's just as hard for me to imagine someone being supremely ignorant of the potential aesthetic appeal of a nude photograph), I replied:

"It's a perfect demonstration of the natural symbiosis that exists between nudism and voyeurism."

To which somebody else (names have been changed to protect the idiotic) felt it pertinent to ejaculate, "people do not go to nudist resorts for your viewing pleasure," apparently reading way too much into my astute observation. Here's my reply:

Thanks for the one-line lecture (by the way, don't strain yourself). But I'm a nudist; I already know that. I don't want to be stared at when I'm practicing nudism (unless I'm engaging in a spectator sport, like volleyball, in which case I don't mind). At the same time, it's human nature to be curious and enjoy looking at naked bodies (whether for sexual purposes or otherwise). We can try to row against the current, and insist that this is some unholy behavior that needs to be stamped out, or we can consider how we might be able to please everyone.

Creating a documentation of nudism (featuring only that subset of nudists who are comfortable with their image being recorded - among which I would include myself) enables the curious to get their eyeful in an indirect manner (as opposed to leering over the tops of fences) that doesn't make anyone uncomfortable (except, apparently, overzealous, uninvolved third parties - I applaud your unsolicited outrage on behalf of others, o holy savior).

Instead of demonizing the all-too-human desire to look at naked bodies, we should be emphasizing the contexts in which it is appropriate (e.g., when someone has created a record expressly for the purpose of being viewed by anonymous strangers) versus those in which it is inappropriate (e.g., when you're meeting someone face to face) to indulge that desire too heavily. Or are we such primitive creatures that we can't handle that kind of sophisticated civility, knowing that something can be inappropriate in one situation, but not necessarily verboten in all situations?

This is what I mean when I say that there is a natural symbiosis between nudists and voyeurs. It does not mean that nudists exist for the pleasure of voyeurs. But people who like to take their clothes off and people who like to look at people who take their clothes off have a natural potential for symbiosis - provided the people who take their clothes off don't mind being looked at in certain deliberately constructed contexts (such as the ones I create when I'm modeling for photographs). Which is what we're talking about - people who have consented to be recorded for this purpose. Just because you're not one of those people doesn't give you any recourse to criticize those who are, or - to target the low hanging fruit - the anonymous voyeurs who indulge in it. I only hope your mind is not too feeble to grasp this concept.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Seeing Ghosts

"I don't trust that old shed."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Shirt 'n' Shoes

A nudist micro film:

This would have been a perfect theme for No Pants Day ("it says 'no shirt, no shoes', but it doesn't say 'no pants'..."), but alas, that was months ago. Oh well, you don't need a holiday to celebrate freedom from pants!

No pants? No problem!

It's also a humorous riff on the popular-among-nudists fashion faux pas known as "the shirtcock". Its prevalence is probably due to its convenience and practicality - if you're cold, it's more effective to wrap something around your shoulders than your waist, plus it aids in protection against sunburn. Additionally, nudism offers a unique opportunity to leave your "nether" regions unencumbered and open to the air, so that's probably not going to be the first thing you want to cover up (else you could have just stayed at home).

Of course, "the shirtcock" is a nearly universally unflattering combination (though nudists, generally speaking, are largely unconcerned with appearance). That's why I try to avoid it as much as possible. Contrasted with a t-shirt, I think this hoodie actually looks pretty cute all by itself, and even better when I can leave it unzipped. At that point, I'm still practically naked, but with a little bit of protection from the elements, and the slightest feeling of being dressed (even as I am still totally exposed). In fact, that's precisely what inspired this video/photoshoot - the sense of getting dressed, yet still being naked!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Note on Erections

If you spend any amount of time around naked people, you're occasionally going to see some erections. It's perfectly natural. Be cool - it won't harm you. If anyone is behaving inappropriately, or making you uncomfortable, let somebody know. Otherwise, just relax, and continue to enjoy yourself.*

*Although reasonable, this is a bit of an idealistic fantasy. In practice, you don't see very many erections at nonsexual, nudist functions. While it's true that penile tumescence tends to be relatively rare and short-lived when not in the presence of deliberate sexual stimulation, it's also a fact of life, and you'd expect to see a few on occasion. Therefore it's a bit surprising to me that it doesn't happen more often. I don't know what combination it is of the nudist demographic skewing older and larger (resulting in fewer and less noticeable erections), and people making a deliberate effort to squander any potential stimulation (as I, an otherwise easily excitable individual, not infrequently have to do) - a testament to nudists' ability to keep the atmosphere strictly PG.

I don't doubt that unscrupulous perverts (as opposed to those of us perverts who have scruples) would take advantage of a more permissive attitude, but the fact remains that practicing a more free-form version of nudism (as you can when you're alone), unconcerned with rules or the need to protect the lifestyle's image and reputation - in which you can acknowledge anything that pops up, and a sudden influx of eroticism needn't constitute a crisis situation, so much as an unexpected opportunity for an extra bit of fun - is even more relaxing and enjoyable. It has its time and its place, for sure, but let's not pretend it's any more or less than what it is.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Abandoned

"Better not to know..."

"...better still to forget..."

" of all, to be abandoned."

Tuesday, August 1, 2017