How do we encourage more women to try naturism / clothes free living?
Spoiler alert: I don’t know.
I don’t have a catch-all answer to that complicated question. However, this tweet reminded me of why this question is so challenging:
Feminism is worthless without intersectionality and inclusion. pic.twitter.com/PbwBg4Vfzu
— Feminist Apparel (@FeministApparel) January 17, 2017
“Feminism is worthless without intersectionality and inclusion.” Right on. In fact, the same applies to naturism overall as well as the question around women. One cannot address the topic without taking intersectional investigative approaches. Clothesfreelife.com emphasizes this often, and today I draw attention to it concerning women. Because we aren’t just one thing, are we?
So, what are some other factors that could impact women’s participation in clothes free living?
Ethnic, social, religious and familial backgrounds can contribute to our preferences. Some women do not wish to attend events predominantly represented by one ethnicity. There is also the issue few naturist resources acknowledge the history of clothes free living in other cultures. So, it can appear that naturism does not “belong” to other cultures.
In other cases, parents/guardians perhaps touted that wearing clothing best demonstrated modesty. I remember this from churches past. The smarter you dressed, the more salvation you received. So, certain religious attitudes could impact considerations. Everything from childhood instilled by family, friends and others in community experiences create impressions on us.
Engaging naturism in certain ways can require significant investment. Think about it: joining a national organization, membership to the local nudist resort, cost of travel. As much value as these elements bring, economic reality can create barriers. For example, I reside in a city with very high cost-of-living. In addition, my student loans demand a significant amount of my paycheck each month. I can only imagine the cost of living for those with children or other family members in their care. Medical bills, car notes, rent, the list goes on. Clothes free home events or visiting a clothing optional beach might be more budget-friendly.
Some people live in areas where nudity results in imprisonment, even death. In such cases, most people, including women, would do everything possible to avoid those consequences. Where I live, technically women may walk about bare-chested. But, I never do so alone for safety reasons. While I, myself, know that my breasts should not invite violence, others do not agree. They believe that exposed female breasts invite commentary and action. Still, in other cases, people simply might not know about naturism at all. This was the case for me where I grew up. There was no such thing as clothes free living. Walking about naked, even at home, just wasn’t thing. Heck, we even kept our shoes on inside the house!
Another important consideration is past experiences. If some women had negative experiences such as abuse (sexual, verbal, other), this could contribute to discomfort. That unease with standing nude in the presence of others could connect with previous body shaming experiences. I received my fair share of body shaming both at school and in familial contexts. Before saying, “I love you,” if they ever did, those family friends made sure to note my fat. For other women, perhaps someone took advantage of them. This could contribute to a reluctance to engaging in social nudity, or not. For some of us, it doesn’t.
Any combination of factors could impact how any woman feels about clothes free living. As much as we share in common, we also have individual experiences and responses to those experiences. Some people mention age as an issue. But, when I really observe, women (and men!) of all ages express concerns about their bodies. Little girls, teenagers, young women, middle age, old… people from all categories express body concerns. Why? Because of so many intersectional concurrent contributing factors. We are never only one thing at any given time; we are living, breathing, dynamic beings.
There are also societal impacts. Media and advertising often use women’s nude or nearly nude bodies to sell products and services. Society also tends to frame women either as goddesses/saints or evil witches. In addition, people (especially men) often feel the need to comment on our bodies. Many naturists and nudists do this, too, which only brings more attention to our bodies. Rarely can we women just be human and receive love and respect for simply being human. All of these things can contribute to discomfort concerning individual and social clothes free experiences.
Finally, I should add that some conceptions of naturism exclude some embodied experiences. Since many hardcore naturists insist that one must hate clothes and always live nude, they miss other lived expressions. Some women might not post about it or put images online. And can you blame them? Even online naturists and nudists disrespectfully poach and re-frame images for their own purposes. We also receive unsolicited offensive messages for sharing online. So, while some women might not post online, they embody it where and when they can and choose. They live it. I have friends who live clothes free, they just don’t scream about it online.
When we ask the question about women and naturism, we must remember the complexity of the issue. In addition, we must acknowledge and respect that some women simply do not choose naturism. And there is nothing wrong with that. Honestly, prepare for any possible variety of responses from women about clothes free living. Remember that we are not just one thing or one homogeneous group. We are dynamic and varied. We are human.
I never again want to hear, “Well, women are just naturally less open and confident than men.”
Stop this lie forever and connect to what’s really happening in the world.