Writing a regular column such as this requires devoting a good bit of time to research aimed at generating new grist for the mill, new topics for articles that hopefully readers will find useful or at least entertaining to read. The world wide web is of course an invaluable resource in that endeavor.
Last week while perusing the web I happened across a rather appalling example of a “nudist” blog hosted at the microblogging and social networking website Tumblr. I had long believed that there no longer existed anything at Tumblr that could possibly surprise me yet I was proven wrong by the discovery of Libertine Nudist Couple.
Beyond simply the title, the curators of this particular blog clearly identify themselves as “nudists” in the very first sentence of their introductory boiler plate information –
“We are a nudist couple and have no shame about nudity and sexuality: we like sex in public, on the beach and around our nude pool, we love group sex and swinging.”
Without getting into the whole morassic discussion of what it means to be a real, a true, or an authentic nudist, spending about 30 seconds at Libertine Nudist Couple is sufficient to form a learned opinion that the curators definitely fall well short of any definition of the term nudist.
The first clue of what the blog is about is the banner image. It depicts a group of about a dozen naked young adult males and females. All of the males save one are sporting an erection. The theme of the blog, as evidenced by the soft porno images posted throughout is obviously not Nudism but sex.
A more apt title for the blog might have been Libertine Hedonist Couple but of course that likely seemed a bit too redundant to these swingers and they apparently opted to use nudist in the title instead.
Before going around representing yourself as say a CPA or an attorney, you must complete the necessary educational qualifications and must take and pass an exam before being admitted to practice. It’s actually unlawful to represent oneself as a law enforcement officer when one isn’t. Yet there is no such bar of admission to Nudism or identification as a nudist.
Anyone can simply choose to identify as a nudist and the rest of the world is pretty much then left in the position of accepting his or her word for it. It isn’t necessary for example to belong to any organization or to present a photo ID in proof of the assertion.
By the same token, under those circumstances it seems perfectly fair and proper that others evaluate a self-identified claim based on the person’s words and deeds. Since Nudism is an established subculture with a set of established philosophies and recognized rules of etiquette it seems rational to expect that anyone identifying as a nudist should embrace and conform to those things. Consequently it really isn’t judgmental in the least to state the opinion that the curators of a blog like Libertine Nudist Couple are garden-variety swingers, not nudists.
Having said that I am not judging swinging, people attracted to swinging, or public sex for that matter. I’ve always subscribed to the Thoreauvian ideal that people should be able to do what they like as long as it doesn’t injure someone else. Whatever floats your boat. Public sex is illegal but if you are willing to accept the consequences of your behavior if you get caught then go for it.
I do however expect intellectual honesty from people. I’m downright bigoted when it comes to people representing themselves as something they very clearly are not. If you are a nudist then be a nudist. If you are a swinger then be a swinger. Name it and claim it. Say it loud and say it proud. Don’t co-opt the label nudist just because you feel your lifestyle choices need validation or that it somehow makes what you do more acceptable to the popular culture.
Another nudist weblog I visited recently has an entire page devoted to articles on sexuality and sex positivity. The curators there seem to believe the nudist community treats sex as a taboo and that it’s wrong that the discussion of sexuality is off limits in nudist circles. They evidently presume it’s their responsibility to right those perceived wrongs by giving their readers a healthy does of sex positive, sexuality-themed articles.
By implication they seem to believe that traditional nudists are sexually repressed and in denial of their sexuality. That’s a naive perspective and articles on sex and sexuality on a website held out as a nudist site is just misguided.
Nudists are not asexual. They are not sexually repressed, frigid, prudish about sex or otherwise pathologically broken. Like everyone, nudists are sexual beings. They simply distinguish between the simple, non-sexual form of nudity that defines Nudism and erotic nudity, a difference that is real and not really all that abstruse.
Nudists have sex, they even reproduce just like textiles do. They just don’t combine sex with the practice of Nudism. They believe sexual activities are to be enjoyed in privacy just like most responsible adults in our society do.
Since 1929, nudists in this country have struggled to sever the pervasive simplistic link between nudity and sex, the idea held by most members of popular culture that nudity is always sexual. A part of that has been the establishment and enforcement of self-imposed rules within nudist clubs and resorts that ban overt public sexual activities. While those rules might seem too ultra-conservative to some, the rules exist for good reason.
Well into the 1950s police were still raiding nudist clubs seeking evidence that mainstream society “just knew” was there to prove that nudists were sexual perverts who formed clubs as a means of satisfying their depraved, immoral sexual appetites.
Nudists were quick to recognize the need to exercise strict control within to avoid being closed down from without. For most of the history of the movement overt public sexual activities as well as exhibitionist and voyeuristic behavior have been forbidden.
No matter how well-intentioned, attempts to incorporate a discussion of sex and sexuality with Nudism is simply a bad idea. It serves only to create more hostility and intolerance of Nudism among the general populace. It perpetuates the misconception that nudity is always sexual.
Sex positivity is not a neutral concept and has never been a nudist issue. The concept, that all sex as long as it is healthy and explicitly consensual, is a positive thing, was created by feminists to counter the “slut shaming” of women who desired to explore their sexuality. There is nothing at all wrong with embracing sex positivity but using Nudism as a soap box for promoting what is a personal view and individual issue that really has no relation to nudist culture is simply wrong on so many levels.
Just as there is nothing shameful about nudity there is nothing shameful about sex or sexuality. Humans are sexual beings. A person’s willingness to contemplate and possibly explore his or her sexual feelings and attractions are one of the keys to experiencing satisfaction and peace of mind, both in and out of the bedroom. But sex and sexuality are not part of Nudism which has been from the very start about non-sexual nudity.