When will we take responsibility for ourselves?
That question goes for naturists/nudists as well.
For anyone who missed it, Twitter was lit yesterday with a variety of discussions, including the issue of clothing / clothing optional / mandatory nudity and how clothes women wear force men to be voyeurs.
The original image:
“Join the movement. We’re about being free spiritually and physically cloths on or off! If women don’t want to be ogled, they should just get naked; nothing can possibly deflate voyeurism better…Once the element of “tease” is gone, the voyeur must turn elsewhere.”
Note the hashtags on the image: “Nudist, Nude, Beach, Hot, Girl, Naked, Naturist.” Note also the reference to “girl” rather than referring to us as women. For those who don’t know, that’s a big NO. Anyway.
@ Liveclothesfree picked up on this and decided to ask actual women how we felt about such a statement. While some men have responded to such claims this way (either directly in yesterday’s conversation or at other points as I have observed whenever these discussions rise, major leaders agreeing):
@Liveclothesfree This is especially true for me, since clothed women make me think lustful thoughts while nude women do not.
— David Colantuono (@David4Nudist) November 1, 2016
here is what women said about it:
— The Muse (@The_AmusingMuse) November 1, 2016
— The Muse (@The_AmusingMuse) November 1, 2016
@Liveclothesfree or how about teaching men not to ogle. Once again this is putting the blame and responsibility solely on women.
— Rasheda Beebs (@beebs_in_queens) November 1, 2016
@Liveclothesfree if it were that simple, I'd be all for it. Before that will work we need to stop being objectified and it needs to be legal
— Conci Nelson (@Concisepoet) November 1, 2016
Blaming the individual, whatever their gender, for what they are or are not wearing for someone else's behavior condones rape culture. https://t.co/8QGtuGDQ01
— DJ HeartBeats (@hontouniheart) November 1, 2016
Why does this discussion matter? In the naturist/nudist online context, I see over and over the claim that “naturist/nudists” are more evolved than “textiles.” They claim naturists/nudists are able to look beyond the body, accept everyone and truly be free. However, when I see conversations like this where some naturist/nudist men outright blame women for what we do or do not wear, excusing themselves and their peers, I see that such behavior is not at all evolved as it reflects what happens in the rest of society:
“Textiles” blame their voyeurism and temptations on women being naked
“Naturists/nudists” blame their voyeurism and temptations on women being clothed
What is the common denominator? Blaming women for men’s chosen actions.
To be clear, voyeurism is a choice. It is not just seeing something that crosses the line of sight, it is a choice to linger, objectify and entertain an action. My lived experience is that plenty of men manage to NOT engage in voyeurism, harassment or abuse no matter what I am or am not wearing, in-person or online. I know for a fact that there are some active men in the online and in-person community who would take offense to the notion that a piece of rayon spell-binds them to the point of not being able to control themselves. They make their own choices and their behavior has been quite exemplary. So, if you feel some type of way just because a piece of cotton is touching a collection of cells, you are your own problem and you are your own solution.
I must also note that when such blame comes up in these conversations within the naturist/nudist context, it is almost exclusively placed on women and what we wear. However, when I have gone to social events in person, I have seen men walk around with a t-shirt, socks and shoes on and just their penis hanging out. I have also seen men wear sarongs and walk about bare-chested. I have seen men wear shorts on a clothing optional beach. I see men fully clothed everyday. None of the naturist/nudist men who make these claims about the threat of clothing ever talks about what men wear, and neither does the rest of society. In both naturist and “textile” cases, people focus almost exclusively on women and place the blame on us.
Naturists/nudists also need to get this: making the issue exclusively about women, blaming us and what not, is a huge disservice to men and those who identify as other genders who have been abused. It is a painful disregard for their experiences. It is also a highly cis-gendered straight male perspective that ignores everything and everyone else.
The truth is that claiming to be “naturist/nudist” or having “lived” it for 20 years does not automatically make anyone any better or different than anyone else. Naturism is not going to change or save you or anyone else if you do not do the internal work to observe your own mind and heart. I am no different. Just because I enjoy walking around clothes free at home and in social settings does not mean that I no longer have biases or that I never say or do anything wrong, hurtful, offensive or painful. I haven’t stopped judging people and neither have you. My stereotypes and thought patterns did not magically change or dissolve without internal inquiry and work and neither will yours.
If we truly want to create positive change, we have to do the work of getting present to how we are being and what we are doing in the now. We have to stop blaming other people and excusing ourselves of responsibility. We need to do the work.
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