Today’s Women on Wednesdays post connects with a major theme running this week on clothesfreelife.com and in the community: use of pictures. This week’s Talk Up topic is: Are nude pictures important to naturism? Do we need naked pictures to promote clothes free living?
For today, I share my reflections on something related to that general theme: the case of men who claim to be advocates for women’s clothes freedom or top freedom and post naked or topfree pictures of women. To be clear, I am not referencing porn/sex-inspired accounts. In this post, I write specifically on non-sexual accounts of male advocates for female top/clothes freedom.
What I share in this piece is simply my experience of these accounts and what their posts brought up for me. Of course, my experience cannot speak for others nor does it determine what is right or wrong, good or bad. I simply share some questions and thoughts that have been sitting with me for the past few months.
The way that I came about clothes free life was through the Internet, specifically the Instagram accounts of @nakedsoulyoga and @clothesfreelife, @clothesfreeyogi, @iamreneewatkins, @earthing_earthling and a few others, all of whom shared their own images depicting their own clothes free stories. Their images and the words they put with them gave me the idea that perhaps clothes freedom was something I could consider for myself.
When it came to accounts of men who posted pictures of naked or topfree women in the name of top/clothes freedom / naturism / nudism, I had a different response. I felt quite uncomfortable, even discouraged especially in my early days of clothes free living. In my current season, such posting practices simply feel “off” to me, and I have felt this way for quite a while, but could not figure out why.
In rummaging through the Internet, I came across a piece in the Huffington Post titled, Why Dudes Are Posting Almost-Nude Photos Of Female Trump Supporters On Social Media, which speaks on the practices of the Twitter account “Babes for Trump.” (No, my piece is not about Donald Trump, although we WILL make naturism great again. And yes I did make a meme of that, and no I’m not going to post it here. Maybe later.) Anyway, the author of the piece says of the Twitter account “Babes for Trump”:
“The account, that is run by men, houses dozens of images of conventionally-attractive women baring it all in the name of supporting Trump. The photos range from women covering their nipples with Trump stickers, to others where support for Trump is expressed through campaign slogans Sharpied onto women’s butts.
The four college men behind Babes For Trump, which is also on Snapchat and Twitter, wouldn’t disclose their names, but told The Huffington Post their goal was to “create a unique platform for college students, primarily women, to express their political views.”
Further down into the comments, I saw this response:
That’s when it hit me that this is one major reason why the flood of images of naked or topfree women, even by the most well-meaning, does not resonate with me. What I am seeing is the selection of women that he, the account holder, made based on his own individual filters, perceptions, preferences and biases. It is he who looked at the world and chose particular women to embody his thoughts. Even with text on the image or with the tweet, the woman in the image is silent to me, because the words across her face are his.
The question I’m always left with is this: What would she say to me if she and I spoke directly?
When men use their accounts to constantly post / repost pictures of topless or naked women, it reminds me of how the society in which I live uses women’s naked bodies to sell ideas and products (seriously, what’s with naked women + cars or watches? How did that even become a thing?). So, when I came across clothes free life via social media, those posting practices just made me think that women’s bodies were being used to promote the consumption of naturism or topfreedom. What would I do with a photo stock of naked women?
In contrast, when a woman chooses to share her own story, on her own terms, it goes from “woman for consumption” to “idea for consideration.” Watching women (and men) share their own authentic stories of everyday clothes free living is what made me consider it as a possibility for myself. It’s what made it human and alive.
It’s essentially the difference between seeing “50 pics of Agatha topless in public!” versus watching @ToplessTopics’ Periscope and Vimeo footage where Cleo talks about issues of importance to her as well as her own experiences in naturism and topfree movements (she even has guests from her circle of family and friends!). It’s the difference between seeing a WordPress blog repost pictures of women and reading Gingerbread’s own WordPress where depicts her adventures and talks law. Even women’s own shares sans images inspire me, whereas some guy using an image of a woman to promote “naturism is great!” does not move me.
I remember when I was in middle and high school. Every time (every time) I had a crush on a guy, my friends would go and tell the guy (I had some terrible friends.) But you know what the funny thing was? The guys NEVER settled for the hearsay version. Every single time (EVERY TIME!) they confronted me directly, because they wanted to hear me say it myself. (Ugh!)
That’s how I feel about women’s topfree / clothes free stories. I don’t want some random guy to metaphorically run up to me in the hall and be like, “Hey guess what!! Did you hear???” No.
I want her to tell me herself.