Can the clothes free community survive if we go off and hive

Many months ago last winter in fact I posted a poll on the state of fragmentation in the clothes free community. I have not taken it down though I have thought about it many times. A recent post on the blog for a clothes free group geared towards young adults made me realize it continued relevance. It also got me think can the clothes free community survive if it’s simply break off is special interest groups?

American society and to a lesser degree North American society has long tradition of being more individualistic and less institutionally connected. We show a strong penchant for grouping together with our “own” kind (an innate human tendency) and less of a multi generational bent. So it is not at all surprising when any group decides to restrict its membership to a single group of people in order to cultivate a sense of belonging and community for those who fit the group criteria. Consider this recent comment on the YNA blog.

… it needs to come to the realization that there is adult nudism, gay nudism, young nudism, and public nudism (Bare to Breakers, WNBR, etc). There is no longer a “one size fits all” definition.

The question arises can the clothes free community survive if it adopts this social pattern as standard operating procedures? If each special interest group hives off into its own what then will hold the community together. How can we rally support for any clothes free cause if all we have are special “clubs”? Is this the future? Gay naturist, young naturists, straight naturists, Christian naturists, senior naturists, white naturists, student naturists, rich naturists all gather in their own groups to cultivate a sense of community while the clothes free community as a whole disintegrates? Is that strategy to get new people in clothes life bode well for the long term future of the clothes free community?

I ask all these question because I think what is happening in the clothes free community reflects a bigger social trend. I believe leave that trend towards hiving with thinner and thinner networks of people sorting in group of people only like ourselves will have huge ramifications for the clothes free communities.

Instead of focusing on our differences and the challenges they present. I think we should try to find common ground to bring groups together. I realize it is easier to grow community if those belonging to the group are like us this principle has been used for many years in many different circles to grow groups expediently. But is it effective? Is it effective when we realize that these groups often wax and wane over time and if they disappear and there is no connection beyond the group what happens to the clothes free community then? Is it effective when this approach reinforces the kind of separation that the clothes free community experiences from broader society? Is it effective to reinvent the wheel to reach every new group we want to engage in the clothes free life?

Maybe we should take a page for the South African naturist playbook and focus on regional as opposed to demographic groups with a strong connection to an umbrella group. Most of the decision making and oversight should remain with the regional groups so special regional issues can be addressed. This approach I believe allowed the recent establishment South Africa’s first official clothes ing optional beach.

The alternative in my opinion is the clothes free communities disintegrates into a fractured powerless and ineffective set of cliques and special interest groups which eventually become irrelevant. So what do you think?

About the author: Earl D

Founder, editor in chief, news curator

21 thoughts on “Can the clothes free community survive if we go off and hive”

  1. Itscoldiniowa avatar David Francis says:

    Earl, you’re a good writer.

    1. Earl D avatar Earl D says:

      Thank you David appreciate the feedback

  2. I guess what I was getting at in my previous comment is that all the individual nuances and requirements (aside from the ones that are for precaution, given the nature of things), actually make me feel more self-conscious and uncomfortable. I worry that something about me will tick someone off and that I’ll get thrown out of a group. I worry that if my faith or my age or my status isn’t exactly right, that I won’t be able to be part of community at all. That’s really what I’m struggling with.

  3. I haven’t joined any groups yet, so my reflection speaks more to things I’m struggling with at the point of entry. As a newbie, here is what has been happening for me as I search for in-person clothes free social opportunities:

    Website #1: “Welcome! We’re a nonlanded group in the area. We meet on Saturdays to have lunch together. Couples only. Also, last time we touched this website was in 2010.”
    — Close web page.

    Website #2: “Local young naturist group! Ages 21-29.”
    –Well I won’t qualify for that forever. Should I bother? Do I get kicked out when I turn 30? Do they have a system that emails alerts when people’s birthdays come? And then they know I turn 30 and that it’s …. TIME…? Where’s the 31-55 group? Open new tab.

    Website #3: “Christian naturists!”
    –Well I’m not sure my current beliefs fall into that category…? Too hard to figure out. What kind of Christian, anyway? Catholic? Protestant? Do they care? Meh. Ctrl+W.

    Website #4: Clothes free barbecue in the park! Also, you have to come in pairs. Don’t come by yourself; that’s weird. Pets OK.”
    — Sigh. Open new tab. Tweet something random. Close laptop. Put on stretchy pants. Go to yoga.

    And so forth.

    There are many good intentions behind groups. There can be powerful impacts. For me, I’m currently just struggling with even getting my foot in the door at all, because the divisions and individual group requirements for what I’ve found in areas nearby are exhausting.

    It reminds me of when I first went to college, and there were all these individual student groups tabling for new students to join. “International Student Organization. International Students on Campus. International Freshmen, Sophomores and Transfers who live on the 2nd floor of Dorms #2, 3 and 4 and are in one or more programs housed under the Department of Linguistics. Oh, and Friends of International Students.” Eventually I just went to the dining hall for lunch with my roommate. And honestly? The upper staff/administrators have no idea what any of these clubs are. Then they get complaints that the university isn’t catering to students’ needs and interests (and they are actual legitimate concerns), but it takes years and a lot of work to get them to come together and decide on 2 key requests for the student population as a whole rather than more specific interests. And that’s on a compact campus.

    I don’t want to have to take 10 personality tests to figure out which group(s) I can possibly join for lunch and yoga. And I don’t want to pick and choose between groups. Who to identify with today? Which dues to pay this year?

    This is just what has been coming up for me over the past couple of months. Again, more a reflection on the point of entry, the beginning of the process. I don’t know what all this means for the future of the clothes free community. I’m still simply trying to join the community in-person at all.

    1. Thanks for adding the perspective of a newbie to clothes free living I have written in the past on how the labeling could end up being a discouragement to those exploring the clothes free life. Search purists for that post.

      1. That was helpful, thank you. I checked out the other posts and gained a bit of inspiration from those shares.

  4. Antandrian says:

    I go to a small, informal nudist group for younger gay men in my city in Australia, so a classic splinter group. Gay men characteristically are more explicit in their social chatter than would be acceptable in almost any non-gay social milieu; we wouldn’t be welcome in a heterosexual environment nor would we feel comfortable in one. But emphatically, we aren’t exclusively just members of this small group and no other. I have participated in the city’s nude bike ride and would do so in any other such public event, and have recently signed a petition to push for a legal clothes optional beach in our state.

    As other commenters have stated the nudist ‘establishment’ is just that, dominated by late middle-aged heterosexuals who seem to have an uncontrollable desire to limit and control the whole movement as though it was their personal fiefdom – a complete turnoff.

    In this era of internet connectedness there is no reason to be disconnected from wider campaigns and initiatives just because you normally only mingle with a small group of similar nudists. An Australian nudist entity within Facebook keeps me posted on anything like the beach petition that is happening.

  5. Pipermac avatar pipermac5 says:

    I think that this “hiving-off” is just an extension of our society’s penchant for “hiving-off”. We have lost the greater sense of “community” which our parents and grandparents enjoyed, where families were multi-generational and often lived in close proximity to each other. Families are splitting up and everyone is going their own ways. We are witnessing the rapid growth of “retiree” and “55+” communities, and that also reflects the dominant demographic in nudism. Rather than relating to and being comfortable with younger people and their families, our elders are distancing themselves from those who are our future. I live in a “55+” RV community (textile), and most of my neighbors want nothing to do with younger people and their families. I am quite the opposite. I attend a multi-generational church, and I love the family atmosphere there. By the same token, I love to see young families at my favorite nudist resort. I received a darling family picture of one of the young families in my church, and even if I get no other Christmas cards this year, I have already received the very best.

    I think we also need to quit bickering among ourselves about who “qualifies” as a “real” nudist, or a “true” nudist, or a “genuine” nudist, or a ________ nudist (pick your own adjective). We have argued endlessly about what kinds of behaviors are, or are not acceptable in a nudist environment. We like to say that “a real nudist wouldn’t_______”(fill in the blank), based on our own opinions. We have to get over that mentality of judging others, because we are destroying our own community by means of our own prejudices.

    I don’t know of anyone who likes to be discriminated against, yet, we are all to willing to discriminate against others. The favorite group to discriminate against in the nudist community is men, particularly single men. Why is it “okay” to discriminate against single men, while single women are welcomed with open-arms? Is it going to get to the point where single women have their own hive, single men have their own hive, young couples have their own hive, young families have their own hive, and older nudists have their own hive? Swingers and “lifestyle” nudists have already gone off on their own. Should we also ban gays to their own hive? Where has the sense of “community” gone? Aren’t we all just people who like to live our lives clothes-free?

    Last, but certainly not least, are my two favorite pet-peeves, body-part shaming, in particular penis-shaming, and using the phrase “non-sexual nudity”. Half of us have a penis, myself included, and it is a normal part of our anatomy. We need to learn basic penis-physiology, so that we know what is “normal” and what is not. Telling the world that we engage in “non-sexual nudity” is denying our core, inherent sexuality, and really does very little to assuage their concerns that they might be accosted sexually or see something which would make them very uncomfortable if they were to try it themselves. Wouldn’t it be far simpler to say “There is no overt sexual activity associated with nudism”? I don’t check my sexuality at the gate, nor do I go looking for sex when I go to a nude resort. I go there to enjoy being clothes-free without having to be concerned about where it is “appropriate” or “not allowed”.

    We have the power to pull our community together, and we have the power to splinter it, and we are doing a damned-good job of splintering it. When and where will this madness stop? We need to either accept and embrace each other with open-arms, or we might as well put our clothes back on and go back to living as textiles. I have made my choice – come one, come all, we are family, and let’s all get naked together.

    1. You have made some interesting, useful and important observations to consider. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. I’m not going to dispute that inclusiveness is generally a Good Thing. I also think you’re right that “hiving off” into niche groups that never interact is not ideal for any community.

    Where I think you err, in this assessment, is in suggesting there is a single cohesive “clothes free community” speaking with a single voice. There isn’t and there never was – the closest things we have in this part of the world are AANR, TNS, FCN, etc. and they certainly don’t represent everyone, or even the majority.

    Cultural diversity is a good thing. It is better to have a lot of different groups that get along well when they happen to do something together, rather than one or two monolithic groups that insist on homogeneity.

    There are a few cases were we should speak with one loud united voice – such as designating more public beaches and spaces as clothing-optional.

    Regarding the need for groups with some demographic target to them, it’s important to understand that “standard naturist culture” is, at least in much of North America in 2014, not very welcoming to folks under 35. There are notable exceptions (Freedom Fields in Tamworth, ON for example) but a lot of naturist parks have a strong bias towards a 50s-60s, cliquey, often male-dominated culture. Younger adults (and particularly women) find this so uncomfortable that they either never go in the first place, or try once and don’t come back. The fact that people inside that culture often fail to recognize this is proof of the need for *some* groups with *some* demographic restrictions.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Let me say this is not directed at your group. It is an issue I have been raising for quite some time as you can see from the related posts. I am actually all for cultural diversity. What is don’t think works is demographic separation. Sometimes I think society mistakes one for the other the other and as a part of society clothes free people do the same. If I follow your reasoning then if young adults of color are uncomfortable with your group it would be make sense for them to form a separate group with only people of color that they feel comfortable with.

      I agree there is not one clothes free community but that is exactly my point, can the cause survive is we don’t have any unifying connections. If everyone goes off in their own pods because they are uncomfortable with some other group. How is that diversity? How is that helpful? That is the question I am asking.

      1. kffbs says:

        I suspect that our group is part of what sparked the renewed interest in this particular topic, so perhaps I should clarify our stance.

        We get along just fine with other clothing-optional groups. We go to shared events, and to parks, where all ages mix together.

        Within our group, we ensure that we have a balance that is comfortable, relaxed and supportive from the perspective of women and trans* in the 18-30s age range.

        We don’t exist in isolation. We are the friendly, supportive, safe way for young men and women who are interested (but perhaps a bit nervous or afraid) to see, first-hand, that clothing-optional really is kind of awesome.


        1. I respect the choice your group has made just as I respect the choice some groups make to restrict participation to couples only. I do not doubt you all get along with others. I am asking a much bigger question beyond individual group choices. My opinion is the social phenomenon of demographic separation is bad for society overall and really bad for the clothes free cause because it makes it almost impossible if not impossible to make progress towards social acceptance. But that’s just me. Others I am sure think differently. I think as a society and in the clothes free community we have lost a sense of a common good. It’s become about what’s good for me, and they other folks need to figure out what good for them and how to get it.

          I would rather see a situation where diversity mean something else. Where discomfort is an opportunity to grow. Where we do more than just tolerate each other’s differences from afar while asking society to do the same with us. Where differences enrich rather divide. It’s probably just a pipe dream since clothes free folks are just a reflection of the rest of society, and that’s where society is going. I think it is mistake for US (it’s not just one group as I have said many times in many posts) to not see the writing on the wall this kind separation will lead to. So I ask the question can anything even resembling community thrive or is the course set and unchangeable towards ultimate disintegration of clothes freely life as a broader social effort?

    2. kffbs says:

      “can anything even resembling community thrive?”
      Yes, it certainly can.

      “or is the course set and unchangeable towards ultimate disintegration of clothes freely life as a broader social effort?”
      No, failure is not inevitable.

      Communities form when people have several factors – not just one – in common, and the more their members have in common, the more tightly knit they become.

      The fact that the “clothes free community” is not a single cohesive group is simply a reflection of the fact that a huge variety of people, in different situations and places, all have this one thing in common – but have more in common with more specifically defined groups.

      1. I think you misunderstand my thought I am not suggesting the clothes free community is or should be a single “cohesive” group. Far from it. What I am suggesting is that the choice s not between a single dominant group and a never ending explosion of splinter groups. I am also suggesting that if we want change to happen in terms of broader acceptance of clothes free living history has shown that change cannot come with a gathering around a common good.

        Now will grant that now everyone who participates in social nudity wants that common good of acceptance. If that is the case then the “community” as it is evolving will be the path of choice. But inclusion is no more about everyone being the same and being lumped into one group than diversity is about separation. My mind recalls the separate but equal approach in history of the the U.S.

        So I think we are using similar word but with different intents and meaning. To me thriving community has persons with differences who sometimes create discomfort for each other but are tightly connected (without losing their individual identity )around a common union (read good, purpose unity). Community for me can’t speak for anyone else (I am not promoting AANR or TNS though I have been a member of both); community is much more that occasion interaction with others who are different where we tolerate them temporarily for and ulterior motive to achieve and special interest goal. As I said it may be a pipe dream given the way society and the nudies/naturist/clothes free “community ” is going but that is what I hoped for. I am eager and open to hear from you and others who disagree how that practically happens given the current direction of things.

      2. This idea of separatism ruining community should not be at all foreign to Canadians. You have a separatist movement there. Why should Quebec and the rest of French speaking Canada stay connected to the English speaking folks. If they more comfortable with French speaking people and culture shouldn’t they just get their own country and be done with it? They can have good relations with English speaking Canada or whatever such a country would be called. I hope you get my meaning with all of this.

  7. Chet Kresiak says:

    That’s my quote in your article. My point is that we need organizations which address the needs of all these splinter groups. AANR’s model of serving only its affiliated clubs is dying. We need an advocacy group for body freedom in general. This does not subvert the nudist idea, neither does it expand it, it merely expands the tent and strengthens political power. Somehow people have the idea that if an organization like AANR begins to add lifestyle clubs to its network, then family nudism will disappear. Did family films disappear when the movie industry initiated a ratings system? No. In fact, companies like Disney and Pixar have thrived in a climate of transparency. The American nudist movement needs to wake up to 21st century realities.

    1. While I disagree with you about the ‘lifestyle’ groups I am not advocating for AANR specifically but some kind of umbrella group to champion the cause of all the various special interest groups.

bare your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.