One of the biggest deterrents to the acceptance of clothes free living is the connection between being nude or clothes free and wanton sexual behavior. In western society particularly North American people have a hard tie separating sex from nudity and being clothes free. For most the only reason to be clothes free is to engage in sex. For many that represents a decent into depravity. Some of that has been blamed on the religious institutions and some of it has been blamed on the commercialization of the human body. In the writer’s opinion both are correct. But the question remains what to do about this situation. My response is two words self control.
Self control speaks to an important characteristic and quality of live that addresses the social conditioning that comes from the religious community as well as the secular or commercial. It speaks truth to the first and scientific reality to the second. Self control means knowing yourself and knowing yourself enough to moderate or control behavior for appropriate situations.
To the moralistic religious folks I want to say that all of the four world religions require its followers to practice self control. The Christian Bible goes as far to state that self control is a gift of the spirit of God Galatians 5:23. This means that if followers of Jesus do not exhibit self control in their behavior, then they need to look to themselves and their relationship with God for the source of the problem. They should not look to the actions, behaviors or dress of others to explain away behaviors they do not control.
Take for instance this moralistic blogger’s opinion about the legality of women wearing legging or yoga pants.
I’m going to be blunt. I find spandex pants (“yoga pants”) to be extremely sexually distracting:
they are smooth (like skin)
they are thin (like skin)
they are tight (like skin)
They basically hug every curve and line of the lower half of the female body, letting you know almost the exact shape and size of a girl’s butt from the back and sometimes even her vulva from the front (especially if she shaves her pubic hair or doesn’t wear underwear).
What doesn’t make sense to me is why it is legal to dress this way in public. It’s basically nudity, and nudity is illegal. Public nudity is referred to as “indecent exposure” or “public indecency”. Matthew’s Problem With Authority
While I can agree with the writer about the forming fitting clothes being next to wearing nothing, I cannot agree with his conclusion. The fact that it is sexually distracting to him is about his self control. The next step in this line of thinking for the religious moralists is always that the clothes free human body is bad and somehow offensive to their sensibilities. So the people who who prefer to go clothes free must be put away, hide away lest they make offense. To this I once again say self control. This is how the Christian bible puts it
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls (Proverbs 25:28 NLT)
So before taking offense at someone’s clothes free body we should all practice self control. As a spiritual (though not religious), person of faith, I found that since I started to practice clothes free living my respect for the human body and my self control has grown. Seeing a nude body neither offends nor does it cause me to lose control over my behavior. Which leads me to the second response.
To the secular folks who have bought into the myth that all we are is sexual animals I would point to the science that shows all kinds of behavior in animals can be controlled. Science shows us that we are conditioned to control our behavior all the time. The difference is this control comes from outside of us instead of from within. The of the fashion industry and other commercial entities have used social conditioning, (sex sells) to condition us into connecting the clothes free body with sex. The result is our view of the human body has become distorted and monolithic.
The sex industry would have us believe that the clothes free body is only free to have sex. Further more in the society where personal freedom is valued above all I should be able to pursue my freedom as I have been conditioned by perceive it. This is a very libertarian view of the world. I often hear libertarian calls for free tied to advocacy for freedom to be clothes free.
This short sighted conflagration forgets that a core libertarian principle is personal responsibility, (self control). You are free to say what you want, to do what you want, but if that might bring any REAL harm someone then you must act with self control and be personally responsible. In fact this libertarian principle would suggest that self control and personal responsibility is a sign of a truly civilized society. This is why overt public sexual behavior is forbidden in genuine clothes free events and communities. Not because people don’t have sexual side but because pursing that without concern for others ruin the experience for everyone. So we take personal responsibility for our behavior. A words to those who call themselves nudists and also post explicit sexual images on their blogs and in social media. You are free to do what you want but take personal responsibility for the impact of you actions.
Note I personally do not espouse libertarian views but I am using them here to make a case for self control.
Now to be honest science can also be used to justify this distorted view of the body as in this small survey of men done by some Princeton researchers. But even this affirms my point that it is about self control. It is not what the woman is wearing or not wearing that it at issue but the uncontrolled mental response of the male subjects. Check out this very body positive perspective from a non moralistic Christian who addresses the study and the subject of dehumanizing objectification
Naturism, nudism, clothes free living or whatever you call it promotes a degree of self awareness and personal control that moves those who genuinely practice the life away from both of these distorted views of the human body and our behavioral response. Most (not all because no one is perfect) people who practice clothes free living have learned what I have that self control is very much a part of the clothes free life. It takes self control to not throw the desire and preference for living clothes free in the face of others. It takes self control to create community for being clothes free where women and families can feel safe. It takes self control to not automatically become sexually aroused when in the presence of other without clothes.
Bottom line is our choice is not between social ostracism or social abandon, but self control.>