This is sort of a slow starter, so I hope you will “bare with me” until I get to the twist!

I was chatting with my millennial friend Addie the other day about outing oneself as a naturist through social media, noting that we both work in education related fields that frequently involves working with minors, and a well-intended misstep could easy escalate into an unintended kerfuffle. In fact, I endured one such incident about a year ago when my naturist platforms became entangled with my professional profile; when Facebook algorithms grabbed my Instagram data and started asking all my professional colleagues to follow Naturist Dan!

I found the glitch and disabled the effected accounts for a few weeks and essentially shrugged it off as, “Well now, there are a few more people who’ve seen my naked ass than existed three days ago.” One never knows the long-term implications of such an episode, but at the same time, I’m finding that one of the benefits of aging is caring less and less about such things, as my professional endeavors are gradually taking a backseat to my ambitions for personal fulfillment. If I had a therapist, I suspect he’d say that I’m making good progress with that.

It’s here in the conversation where a reader will typically chime in to admonish me for not coming out with the Full Monty, proudly posting photos on any social media platform that will allow full-frontal nudity, while fervently proclaiming, “I’m a naturist dammit! If you don’t like it, don’t look at me!” I’ve been the direct recipient of this sermon on repeated occasions, and I get it! We can’t fully normalize social nudity if we are apologetic at best; coy at least about revealing our identity. In my case, even if the platform allows it, (e.g. Twitter) I have yet to post personal photos that reveal genitalia, nor am I willing to let anything out there that could be picked up by facial recognition software. I’m really not eager for someone to go searching for my latest bio pic before an upcoming professional presentation, only to find me butt naked at the swim-up bar at a Mexican naturist resort. (Thank you Google Image search… you’re miraculous!)  In fact, that would be awkward even if I had swim trunks on!

But here’s where the conversation gets interesting!

As the youngest of four, my older siblings were young adults during the Summer of Love. Despite the fact that we lived only an hour away from the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, I don’t think any of them were “cool enough” to really get into that scene, nor did they exploit the era of “any California beach could be a nude beach!” Truthfully, we were a blue-collar, Protestant work ethic, All-American Family, and the social norms of the household were extremely clear. “Thou shalt not bare thy ass in public, and should you choose to have sex before marriage, you are destined to burn in hell!” By the time I came of age, the Moral Majority was on the rise and Family Values were the heartbeat of every political campaign. With the sudden proliferation of AIDS, the once common bathhouses of San Francisco were shuttered as dens of promiscuity, and the Summer of Love gave way to the Cold War on Sexuality. “Put your clothes on, cut your hair, and get on board with Nancy Reagan’s message about abstinence and maybe we can save ourselves from the moral collapse of America.”

I mentioned Addie at the front of this piece. (You can read her guest blog posts here and here.) She is roughly the age of my own children, and embraces a similar ideology of my own children. She is neither promiscuous, nor is she narrowly conservative. And thus, given her moderate live and let live perspective, the knockout punch was her consternation as to what exactly the average rank and file human thinks naturists do when they get naked together?

Of course, any seasoned naturist knows that you have to be careful when choosing your nakation destination, should you inadvertently stumble into a swingers retreat when it wasn’t your desire to make new friends with immediate benefits. But Addie’s immediate counter to that was, “But why the hell should anyone even care about that? How many 25-30 year olds haven’t been to a social gathering in the past ten years where casual sex and hooking up with a new acquaintance was simply part of the third beverage and beyond protocol?!?” Just who chooses to participate, and what benefits they are willing to provide is a matter of personal preference, but am I just being delusional when I observe that anyone outside of today’s super-conservative religious enclaves has long since accepted today’s terms of casual sex, and even the stigma around “open relationships” has increasingly morphed over to, “Yeah…  I guess if it works for them… whatever.”

So, as I scroll through innumerable memes on Twitter with catchy sayings like “Nudity doesn’t equate sex,” or “Newd isn’t Lewd,” it suddenly occurs to me that the social construct of promoting social nudity is even more complicated than I thought!

To that end, I thought I would see if I could create a new set of guidelines to help us all get on the same page. Let’s see…

  • Sex before marriage = Well, of course. Expected.
  • Sex on the first Tinder date = Acceptable.
  • Sex on the second or third Tinder date = Required!
  • Party with alcohol = Expect unauthorized physical contact
  • Party with more alcohol, and good friends = Expect marginally authorized physical contact.
  • Party with LOTS of alcohol = Make sure you choose a house with enough bedrooms!
  • Come out as a naturist to your friends = Expect your friends to ask, “Are you a sexual deviant? WTF??”
  • Get caught naked on the internet snoozing on the beach = Get labeled as a sexual predator and banned by all social media as a menace to society, and maybe even lose your job.

Turns out, I guess, that nudity doesn’t equate to casual sex. For most people in 2019, casual sex is just an everyday thing. But if you dare to take off all your clothes and simply go for a walk in the woods or take a nap in the sun! What the hell were you thinking?

Photos in this post are from vintage naturist magazines located on the web.. If you find one the violates copyright infringement, please notify me and I will remove it immediately.

32 thoughts

  1. We love the angle of this blog post! It’s so very true and we’re deeply sad that we didn’t come up with it first 🙂

    Today we’ve slowed down a bit when it comes to partying all night, but during the last 15 years or so we’ve indeed stumbled upon many people having sex in the toilets of a bar or club or someone else’s parents’ bedroom. And that was all pretty much socially accepted. But dare to do so at the toilet of your local naturist club and chances are that you’ll be banned for life.

    The fight to unlink nudity from sex has taken some weird twists and not only has it become quite unhealthy in some cases (we hear about resorts where even holding hands is something to avoid), it also often failed to catch up with modern times and standards.

    As for the first part of this article, it’s another huge misunderstanding that nudists don’t need/want privacy. Especially on the internet. We get those messages too… “Hey you’re a nudist, why don’t you show us your boobs?”
    The thing is that those questions don’t come from other nudists but from people who just don’t understand that nudism has nothing to do with posing full frontal nude on the internet. No, we have no shame about our bodies, but therefore we don’t really feel the need to put all of it online. If you want to see us naked, come find us at the nudist resort.

    Lastly, we also have a blog post ready about nudity and sex and given your new insight here, we’re now strongly considering rewriting a part of it. Thanks a lot for that (which we certainly don’t mean in an ironic way)!

    1. HAHAHA!!! I would feel bad for you that I got there first, but you guys are our heroes, so… no sympathy for you!!! LOL Seriously… it is SO gratifying not to be the lone voice in the wilderness on things like this. And notice, I avoided the weirdness of people who claim to be deeply religious who are a bit less than chaste as well… at least… until now. 🤔 Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Hardly wait to meet you this summer… Someplace!

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  3. I can easily think of at least three reasons for this paradoxical situation:

    1. Young people, especially millennials (and I know, being the father of one), have relaxed and generally sane attitudes about sexuality. So why do they balk at mere nudity? I think the fact that most active nudists/naturists these days are old enough to be their parents or grandparents is a big part of this. Making this even worse is that the male/female ratio is heavily tilted towards males. These demographics just don’t appeal to young people, especially young women (so young men also aren’t interested).

    2. As you’ve pointed out in February, there’s an absence of children in naturism. The general public believes this is because exposure to nudity isn’t good for children. So thinking of naturism and liberated sexuality in similar terms sets up a huge cognitive dissonance problem. Organized naturism needs to counter this by making a concerted effort to bring families with children back into the fold to blow up the idea that naturism and families don’t mix. (Young folks either already have kids or are thinking about having some.)

    3. There’s just a huge amount of sloppy, irrational, inconsistent thinking rampant in most human societies today – especially in the U. S. Critical, reasoning thought processes are simply absent these days. So people can’t even perceive how liberated but healthy sexuality that still retains taboos on casual, non-sexual nudity is just plain crazy.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it does help a lot of millennial naturists… had I come across your posts earlier, I’d be a lot more confident about myself.

  6. IMO, NaturistPlace01 has hit it on the head with point #3. Irrationality has become like errant car alarms in the early 90’s: so commonplace that if you didn’t screen it out you’d never get anything done. That’s the underlying reason people have no problem with casual sex but freak at the thought of social nudity. They aren’t intellectually capable of seeing the inherent contradiction.

    But it’s not confined to naturism. It’s pervasive in men’s locker rooms. Google “men towel dance in gym” and see what you find. It shows up in men’s bathrooms as well. Guys stand in line for a stall while a row of urinals stands largely empty.

    What’s even more alarming to me (probably a result of my previous work in Social Services) is that guys who go to such lengths seem totally oblivious to the fact that their behavior practically screams “I don’t want anyone to see my genitalia!” I.e. they choose behavior that DRAWS attention to what they’re ostensibly trying to divert attention from.

  7. Addie makes an excellent point in the sixth paragraph. Why would the application of the “third beverage and beyond protocol” have any connection with the clothing status of the people at the social gathering?

    I’ve been to numerous nudist social gatherings over the years at which a particular time or place has been designated for those wishing to apply said protocol. My personal experience with this is that having such a designation actually moves the rest of the social gathering further toward a ‘G’ rating.

    The verbiage used is usually something to the effect of ” ‘strictly social’policies apply with the exception of ‘X room’.”

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  9. The mention of casual sex implies ranked competitive sex. Sex is sex and how someone engages in the activity is between them and who they let partake in the action. I am a nudist not a prude, though also not a swinger. I keep my pool of partners small, which is my choice. I enjoy nudity because of certain factors (that this blog seems not the place to directly talk about) I don’t like wearing clothes on my lower portions. When the topic of nudism and casual sex comes up I am often reminded of one of my college roommates. He was the type that would change in the bathroom, or stall when we went to the pool, as to avoid me seeing him sans any clothing. However it was not uncommon for him to bring a lady back when I was sleeping and I would wake to him taking part in various activities. Once is an accident but a couple dozen times is something else. This was around the time that I started to engage in nudist activities instead of wish about them, and he thought me the deviant of us. Which I thought odd then and still do.

  10. Yes, interesting twitter reaction to this post. Pandora’s Box is apropos. If a group of pro-nude women in their fifties were sitting in a big circle and were candidly discussing this issue from their past, AND the twitter participants were listening in, I wonder if they’d believe or disbelieve the ladies.

    1. Hi Clara. Glad you’re following this thread.

      Given our (yours and my) discussions about things like this, I’m curious what you think the upshot of what those pro-nude women would have to say on the matter! 🙂

      (You’re welcome to message me privately if you don’t wish to post that here.)

  11. What I think would be a great idea: Find a hundred young women from a variety of backgrounds and survey them on what they think. The participants need to be randomly selected and questions need to be devised by a disinterested 3rd party, else the survey will likely only find what the question writers assumed the answers would be. It is not easy to embrace objectivity in the design and administration of a survey. We all have ideas we want to confirm rather than taking a blind jump into the deep end of the reality pool.

    Maybe even do a group discussion with any who were interested in participating. It will tell you far more about why women do or don’t go into nudism than any amount of speculation by nudists. If you want to advance a movement, the most important opinions are those of the people who hesitate to join. The opinions those who are already nudists will be different from those who have balked which will be different from those who never thought about it.

    About that sex and nudity thing… Let’s imagine we have gone back in time 100,000 years to the dawn of Homo sapiens. Everyone is nude all the time. Pubic hair and enlarged breasts and an enlarged penis are clearly intended as sexual signals. They serve no other purpose. Why did many different religions insist on covering them? My theory is that they were trying to control the sexual desire that those signals stimulate. (For a whole host of reasons I won’t get into here.)

    Of course, it didn’t work. We are programmed by hundreds of millennia of evolution to visually check each other out as potential partners and no religion can change that. The more you hide a thing the more sensitive you become to it. Hide something interesting and you turn it into forbidden fruit. Hide something connected with a fundamental drive and you turn it into a fetish.

    Social nudity returns sexuality to a much healthier state that existed before clothing messed our brains up. It doesn’t neutralize it. An attractive body is always going to be attractive and may inspire thoughts of a romantic/erotic nature. If it didn’t, the species would die out. The real solution – and challenge – is to raise children and educate adults to be respectful and polite about such things. Not ignorant fetishists chasing after forbidden fruit.

    1. Fred,

      I’ve been thinking about the first two paragraphs of your comment. And I have a question for you… If you wanted to understand, “why women do or don’t go into nudism,” I mean REALLY understand, to REALLY hear them out, to go slow and think about their words and their body language and the intensity and/or softness of their eyes, what questions would you ask women?

      I am not trying to put you on the spot, then skewer you when you answer. A woman sees nudity, nudism, social nudism, male nudity, and male sexuality differently than a man sees it. She will have strong feelings and reactions to each of those subjects. Some reactions will be negative… Will a man truly grasp her negative emotions and why she has them? AND some reactions might just be positive!! BUT she is probably not apt to be positive unless the negative side is truly understood.

      So, what would you ask a group of women in a sincere, humble attempt to understand them?

      Big question, but the rewards might be well worth it!! 🙂

      1. LOL! I’m not qualified to design questions that get to the heart of what women think! Or to interpret the answers. I doubt that there is a single “woman’s perspective” but rather many different perspectives ranging from the boldest to the timidest.

        The very first question we have to ask ourselves is: Why? What’s our purpose? If it is to benefit single straight male nudists, is that a worthy objective? We might benefit women more with female tribal groups featuring nudism. Or by putting the effort into “free the nipple” campaigns.

        The title of the post is misleading. Casual sex is more of a male thing, a young thing, and an urban thing. Even so, the women I’ve known who were sexually active were still pretty selective. If they equate nudity with sex then they would logically also be very selective about who they were nude with. Most of the USA believes firmly in that equivalency. That could entirely explain the gender imbalance.

        I do remember my own college days. (Decades ago.) There was a nudist club on the Cal State Northridge campus. “Au Naturel” it was called. It had a good gender balance. I believe that having it be an officially endorsed club with faculty advisors “normalized” it. So at least with some college-age females, I think the issue is less one of body shame but more of wanting to stay safely in the norm. Vulnerability may be an issue but these were carefully orchestrated events. No liquor, responsible older types on hand, middle of the day, etc. Much safer than a frat party. Whatever, it worked until it didn’t anymore. Disbanded after I left.

        Once they try, it is the over attentiveness of males that will scare females away. Forever. Every one of whom sees nothing wrong with zooming in on the new girl, like moths to a light. Men do not understand vulnerability. I think this is a big factor in gender imbalance as well. It is tough not to have this happen when the gender balance is way out of whack, so it becomes self-perpetuating.

        An interesting blog post about that here:
        https://www.writenude.com/stop-and-think-before-you-compliment-a-nudist/
        Some of the comments are… amusing.

        There was a survey done by the Federation of Canadian Nudists. The numbers are interesting but they don’t get at what I want to know from my imaginary survey of open-ended questions followed by focus groups.

        https://fcn.ca/resources/Documents/FCN-FQN_2014_Naturism_Survey.pdf

        It gives us a crude idea of which demographics are likely to have engaged in various nude activities but does not give us a clue as to how to change them.

      2. Hey Fred and Clara!

        Delighted to see the two of you bantering here, as I’ve really enjoyed communicating with EACH of you individually. I hope you’ll keep this thread going. Eager to see where that goes.

        Perhaps a point of reference on this blog post would be helpful. The impetus was what we’ve experienced with our own millennial children, along with my interactions with loads of college students over the years as a faculty member. As your commentary was leaning toward “what college boys are thinking about women at frat parties,” (which is a thing, for sure!) I wanted to be clear that was NOT the angle I was going for in my case study of sorts.

        Conversely, I’m simply interested in how social mores have changed since my wife and I were dating. We were both raised in a household where “sex before marriage was among the deadly sins,” not to be committed if you didn’t want to be disowned from your parents. That was a VERY different dynamic with OUR children, and with the exception of a smallish part of the student population, (e.g. very religious, etc), also their peers. The discussion that used to be “waiting until marriage” has morphed into “waiting until the second or third date.”

        I bring this up in the context of consensual relationships, as opposed to random behavior amidst inebriated college kids. I know there’s an entirely new tangent to be had there on the pressure the female feels, even in a “consensual” relationship, but the point I was really driving for is that attitudes about sexuality and nudity have changed a great deal since I was growing up in the sixties, but I find it very intriguing that even generation X, Y, and Z operate on a system of double standards – similar to those that existed when I was a kid, but recalibrated to the new rules of engagement, as it were.

        I hope that makes sense… and that the two of you keep wrestling with this topic. Thanks to both of you for following the blog.

      3. [Putting on social science hat]
        This seems like a study that would be much better done in a focus group rather than by a survey. Probably several groups, participant size about 10-15. And with both a male and female leader. The latter being likely to ask the best questions.

    1. You messed up nothing. I appreciate your question. Mea culpa! I often launch into tangents when I think with my keyboard.

      The most gender balanced social nudity I’ve ever participated in was at a remote hot spring that required substantial effort to get to. It was a young crowd of mixed textiles and nudies with no conflicts between them at all. There was no effort at gender balance, it just was. I’ve been there many times. Maybe unorganized mixed clothing optional groups are the way to go. Maybe bringing people in as couples and pairs of women instead of as individuals is the way to go. Maybe we need to approach the wilderness-adventure crowd.

      There are no easy answers. There is no one reason why men outnumber women. Probably many reasons. The psychology of people is an individual thing and treating “women” as a generic category is reductionist and stereotyping.

      Even if you ask someone what they feel, the answer may you get may not be the real answer. More often people give the answer they think you want or the answer they think they are socially expected to give. Maybe they themselves don’t have a handle on the answer but feel they have to make up something on the spot.

      Perhaps the best way to draw women into nudism is for other women to do it. Men will always be suspected of having an ulterior motive. And sometimes that will be true. How important is it for *women* to have gender balance?

      Maybe, just maybe, women who are drawn to nudism in the current climate in the US are unique and the things that draw these special women in just won’t work on women who are special in different ways.

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