The American Association for Nude Recreation has promoted nudist family values at its nudist resorts and clubs since 1931. Whatever the level of amenities offered, all clubs are expected to adhere to AANR’s principles and standards, honed from 79 years of experience. Our clubs foster a wholesome, nurturing environment for members and their families. With limited exceptions, parents are welcome to bring their children to AANR clubs.
(Source: “Nudist Family Values | American Association for Nude Recreation.” Nudist Family Values | American Association for Nude Recreation. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.)
While the American Association for Nude Recreation continues to endorse wholesome, family-friendly nudist environments at its affiliated clubs, some nudists seem to believe the time has come for that to change.
Recently I read a blog post bemoaning the termination of the then AANR executive director near the end of 2014. What I found a good bit more compelling reading than the post itself were the comments it generated.
Some of those commenting seemed to feel that the AANR policy requiring all member resorts and clubs to adhere to the organization’s long-standing family-friendly nudist principles and standards is behind the times and needs to be changed. Since 1931, according to the quote from AANR’s website, with limited exceptions, parents have been welcome to bring their children to ANNR clubs.
The times they are a changin’
Citing the fact that nudist culture has changed over the years and is now represented by more diverse groups, one commenter suggested that AANR should not continue forcing family-friendly standards on resorts and clubs that might wish in their own financial self interests to cater to a different clientele.
It is true that AANR in recent years has severed affiliation with several clubs and resorts. AANR discontinued affiliation with one resort that began openly catering to swingers, one that hosted a fetish group and another where the owners decided to ban children altogether.
I’ve never read an account of the first real nudist outing held on American soil organized on Labor Day weekend 1929 that suggested children accompanied their parents to the gathering. Neither have I seen anything to indicate that children accompanied their parents to the first regular nudist club that was founded the following year.
Given the times I’d suspect children were not included on those early naturist gatherings for obvious reasons. From that day to this opponents of social nudity have consistently advanced the opinion that mixed gender nudity unleashes rampant lust and all manner of sexual debauchery and I feel quite certain those naturist pioneers excluded children so as not to provide their critics opportunity to accuse them of being pedophiles on top of all the other charges of perversions they were accused of.
The point of all this is, I suspect wholesome, family-friendly nudism came into vogue during the tenure of Ilsley (“Uncle Danny”) Boone, who became president of the American League for Physical Culture (later the American Sunbathing Association and still later present day AANR) in 1931. For one thing that seems to fit AANR’s claim that the organization has promoted nudist family values at its nudist resorts and clubs since that year.
Since it would seem that naturism in this country did not begin as family-oriented nude recreation, I’d allow that departing from that concept on the individual or resort level would not necessarily be a departure from the historical roots of American nudist culture. However, I really can’t agree with the opinion of one of those who posted a comment on the article I referenced. The suggestion was that AANR should allow membership to any club or resort that identified with nude recreation to include those who might cater to swingers, BDSM or sexual fetish groups or to more narrowly defined naturist groups like those part of the LGBT community. Here is why I disagree.
Firstly, I think we have to consider why American nudists embraced family-friendly nudism to start with. As mentioned, opponents of naturism have from the beginning linked opposite sex social nudity with sexual activity. It seems plausible that casting nudist culture and nude recreation as a wholesome, non-sexual activity suitable for the entire family was one attempt to combat those accusations. It was perhaps an attempt to practice and project a high degree of moral rectitude in the hopes of gaining respect for nudist culture.
Despite the consistent practice of non-sexual, family-oriented social nudity by nudists over the course of many decades, to this day many textiles still refuse to believe that social nudity is not synonymous with sexual activity. But can you imagine the outpouring of condemnation from those who oppose nudism if AANR began embracing and accrediting resorts or clubs that openly promoted the swinging lifestyle or groups that practiced BDSM or sexual fetishism? Likely you would see the birth of a determined movement to close down all nudist resorts and clubs in the country, reminiscent of the angry villagers armed with torches and pitch forks from an old Frankenstein film.
I’m a very open-minded fellow. While the swinging lifestyle holds no personal appeal to me I certainly have no objection to those who practice swinging or any other activity confined to consenting adults for that matter. But I don’t support AANR accrediting resorts or clubs that cater to that lifestyle because it isn’t nude recreation. The focus is not on the enjoyment of simple social nudity but on the experience of multi-partner sex and that just isn’t what nudism is about.
Similarly, I have no problem with a resort or club that decides embracing the swinger lifestyle community is the best means of financial viability. I merely say, don’t continue membership with a nudist organization and please don’t identify as a nudist resort or club when your facility ceases to be about nude recreation.
Finally, I don’t see any advantage to the nudist community splitting itself up into separate categories with resorts and clubs becoming segregated based on things like age, family status and sexual orientation. In theory at least, one of the most important things nudism is supposed to be about is embracing and celebrating diversity. Separate little groups based on personal proclivities is the antithesis of that concept. Lack of unity within the nudist community is already a huge issue as is and one of the principal reasons why nudist culture continues to struggle to attain wider mainstream acceptance.
I do agree with many of the comments I read connected with the mentioned blog post that related to the need for change in this country when it comes to a national nudist presence. For some time it has seemed obvious that what is needed is one single unifying national organization focused on the expansion of opportunities to enjoy nude recreation and advocacy of changes in archaic laws in this country that criminalize mere nudity.
It seems evident that the days of national organizations that focus chiefly on accrediting and supervising nudist clubs and resorts or publishing print magazines is numbered. Also being a part of organized nudity in this country has become a rather pricey proposition whether you are speaking of paying dues to one of the existing national organizations or visiting a local resort or club. As the membership bases of both the national organizations and individual clubs continues to deteriorate, it is bound to become pricier still.
There is no argument that landed resorts and clubs served a purpose in their heyday and made important contributions to nudist culture. Yet it seems that more informal connections like home-based non-landed clubs/travel clubs are the future of nudism in this country, along with more exploitation of public lands for nude recreation use. The viability and the relevance of a national nudist organization is increasingly going to depend on how much value members feel they get for the cost of their dues with respect to effective advocacy.