The more time I spend observing the discourse among the average nudists/naturists online the more I believe the quote from Shakespeare “The fault lies in ourselves” applies to much of the online naturist/nudist community as it did to the fictional characters. Simply put what I observe lessens the hope I have for the growth of the cause of normalizing simple nudity through the use of online resources for promotion and engagement. Why you ask? Reason two it’s us versus us.
Naturists/nudist online are highly opinionated but unwilling to engage that which doesn’t fit with their group or individual interests, opinions or worldview.
Naturist/nudist groups and individuals seem to be more preoccupied with this us versus us in-fighting than promoting issues and values that help mainstream acceptance of clothes free living. This seems particularly true in the online space. Hear are some observed conflicts. Nudists versus naturists; purists versus non purists; established versus newbies; young vs old; young vs young, sex positive vs non sexual; open minded vs prudes; global vs national; individual freedoms vs common good.
All across the online space there are confusing and even conflicting expressions of what it means to be a nudist or naturist. Is it any wonder then that a celebrity mother who is comfortable with her home being clothes free should shun any notion that she is a nudist. Here are few examples of the us versus us in-fighting I have observed.
global versus national
A British naturist who was blocked by an American nudist venue where she had hoped to vacation expressed a concern for how the venue presented itself on social media. It was an earnest effort to express the global impact of how naturists present themselves on social media.
That’s disappointing @LBNudist which I’d hoped to visit on my trip over to #Seattle last August have blocked me. I guess I won’t be welcome on my next trip over after all @FelicitysBlog @jblumyna @AANR_Int @AANR_WestRegion @WorldNaturism pic.twitter.com/bb19tM8yPY
— Socks off (@Socksoff1) February 6, 2018
This concern devolved into another conflict stream that resulted in more blocking of nudists from one by nudists from another group. Seems to me that this pattern can only lead to a negative outcome for the promotion of simple non sexual nudity and clothes fee living.
young versus young
Recently we reposted the post below from the now defunct young naturist of America NY Instagram account.
A day after it was reposted we received this message from an individual supporter of Florida Young Naturists.
This is an image from Florida young naturiSt, i know multiple ppl in this image, and the person you tagged stole it and doesn’t have consent to use it, so niether do you, not your fault, but thought you should know. That group is created by a scam artist
Notice the vitriol in the language. There was no account for the value of the post creating the intersection between clothes free living and body acceptance. But what about the young naturists using the photo with out permission? Well I did a bit of research and found that the image is broadly available on the internet with no attribution to the Florida Young Naturists. My inquiry asking if other groups or individuals using the image were given the same warning that we were given has not received a response.
purists versus non purists
We posted a positive report of naked dining event in Bristol which was tweeted like most of our posts. It was an opportunity to celebrate some positive press and acknowledge the hard work of the event organizers.
Inside Bristol’s first ever Naked Dining event (via Bristol 24/7) https://t.co/qtV866Iz6G
— Clothesfreelife (@liveclothesfree) February 21, 2018
A twitter follower responded
Not sure I like the idea of staff being clothed. If it’s a health & hygiene thing I’m not sure I’ll be visiting. Or is it likely they can’t find staff who are prepared to wait on nude, the chef/s is another matter that has to be a health & hygiene issue.
— Stevieatkin (@StevieA53630214) February 21, 2018
The moment for congratulations was lost by the knee jerk expectation to have restaurant workers be naked to validate the event. It was reminiscent of the clothing optional versu clothes free conflict observed on social media. Naturist purists raise concerns that true naturism does not include clothing optional possibilities.
individual freedom vs common good
One naturist tried to establish a common definition of nudism to confront the appropriation of the term by sexuality oriented segments of the online space.
That elicited a tweet storm response from another nudist claiming the original tweeter was imposing unnecessary rules and regulations.
Oh and no disrespect, but starting a statement with 'No disrespect" Doesn't leave it void of disrespect. Look through some lenses and you could probably put together a statement, with some forethought, that doesn't come off, even a little, disrespectful.
— SanFrancis (@VanCityNudist) February 24, 2018
This is like being back in high-school, if you're not cool enough or social enough, you're not a nudist, because this rule is written in digital stone. Well, to the genuine, true, and honest nudists, don't worry, this high-school mindset will keep them held back in remedial. pic.twitter.com/2RXJPTornG
— SanFrancis (@VanCityNudist) February 24, 2018
Now we have to rely on wiki-say-anything-pedia to dictate our ideals with one sentence definitions, then we have to deal with a sort of virtue signaling because one style of nudism fits a set mold?
— SanFrancis (@VanCityNudist) February 24, 2018
naturist vs naturist
One final example which points to our final reason which we will elaborate at in part three in the series. This comes from one naturist’s response to all the gawkers present at WNBR he had organized.
Although the intent for the World Naked Bike Ride is for the right reasons by promoting a greener future by reducing the use of gas and oil dependencies. As well as promoting body acceptance and of others by getting noticed by drivers that we as a cyclists are very vulnerable to cars and trucks; by getting people to use their bikes more and cars less.
I co-organized the Montreal WNBR for 3 years and in that three years it was a complete success. However, I could not help notice the same pattern each year within myself when it came to the general public who were not taking part in the events. The media are one thing — but the amount of others with all the camera click click click… people focusing on bits alone with cameras not taking photos of us for the event, but rather for the body parts. I felt like I was no longer co-organizing a World Naked Bike Ride, but rather a voyeurism event where it was like, “Ohh hey, come gather around and snap photos of the genitals!” Which was not the idea behind the WNBR at all.
To be frank this naturist and I have not always agreed on many subjects related to naturism and clothes free living. However I have always respected his opinion as a genuine and bona fide naturist. I was pleasantly surprised to see him writing about this subject and sharing the perspective that he did. I knew him to be an avid cyclist and someone with love for nature and the environment in addition to being a naturist. So I reblogged and tweeted post on clothesfreelife.com
Another naturist on twitter responded this way to our retweet/reblog.
What a lousy attitude.
— Jim & Becky (@Gromit801) October 27, 2016
us versus us
At issue here is the simple truth, marginalized groups only hurt themselves when they succumb to in fighting and turf wars. This can be observed in marginalized political groups and ethnic groups. As a marginalized group, the naturist/nudist community and associated organizations and groups have little room to undermine all our efforts by perpetuating old and starting new conflicts. There is no room for growth for us versus us.
Being honest this site and I have subject to this kind of infighting as well. People who say they are naturists, regularly try to undermine this site and our efforts. Some copy our content down to layouts and descriptions (signing for updates or community to reproduce the content). All because they don’t they don’t like our editorial stance or feel slighted by the same. This all reflects an astounding unwillingness of some in the online space to support the work of others and collaborate. Rather there seems to be an intensive effort to guard turf, despite the detriment to the common good. It’s us versus us.
To be fair we live in a time where individual opinion reigns supreme. This individual freedom is elevated over institutional association and values. Marc Alain Descamps suggested as much many years ago, there are many ways that individuals can express their participation in nudism or naturism.
However, any movement if it is to be successful, needs two important elements. Common language (talking points if you will) to articulate shared meaning and solidarity of purpose. To be successful as a naturist movement us versus us should transition to us and us. Every movement needs a common language to describe what it is all about. If the words naturist or nudist have no particular meaning then how do we invite people to explore examine and engage. Every movement needs a common purpose. There is that old maxim “if you don’t stand for anything you’ll fall for everything. We see that happening already online as people get hooked by fake “nudists” who are posing as something they are not.
I suspect there are some maybe many people who will regard this call for self examination as an impingement on their individual freedom and rights. They may be right. But consider this, no group, no association, no organization no society, no country has survived when it was driven only by individual right without a great regard for the common good and purpose. This American constitution may be one of the best examples of the instrinsic need for this balance. The individual bill of rights was built on the foundation of a common good, “in order to form a more perfect union”. What does a more perfect union of naturists and nudists look like? Is it more us versus us or something. I have shared my thoughts and would like to hear yours.