Family Skinnydippers

205 Arguments in Support of Social Nudity
as presented by The Naturist Society

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 Nudity is often more comfortable and practical than clothing
 Naturism promotes mental health
 Some observations on the nature of modesty
 Naturism promotes sexual health
 Naturism promotes physical health
 Naturism is socially constructive
 Naturism is healthy for the family
 Naturism is especially consistent with feminism and the struggle for women's freedom
 Naturism is more natural than clothes-compulsiveness
 Accepted clothing requirements are arbitrary and inconsistent
 Naturism is growing in acceptance
 Constitutional support for Naturism
 Additional legal support for Naturism
 Historical support for Naturism
 Historical origins of the repression of nudity
 Christianity supports Naturism
 Personal experience supports Naturism

29-49. Naturism promotes sexual health.

29. Nudity is not, by itself, erotic, and nudity in mixed groups is not inherently sexual. These are myths propagated by a clothes-obsessed society. Sexuality is a matter of intent rather than state of dress.

In our culture, a person who exposes their sexual parts for any reason is considered to be an exhibitionist. It is assumed that they stripped to attract attention and cause a sexual reaction in others. This is seen as a perversion. Hypocritically, if someone dresses specifically to arouse sexual interest, they are considered to have pride in their appearance. Even if they get great sexual gratification out of the attention others give, there is no suggestion of perversion or sexual fixation.

30. Nudists, as a group, are healthier sexually than the general population.

Nudists are, as a rule, far more comfortable with their bodies than the general public, and this contributes to a more relaxed and comfortable attitude toward sexuality in general.

31. Sexual satisfaction in married couples shows a correlation to their degree of comfort with nudity.45

32. Studies show significantly less incidence of casual premarital and extramarital sex, group sex, incest, and rape among nudists than among non-nudists.46

33. Studies have demonstrated that countries with fewer hangups about nudity have lower teen pregnancy and abortion rates.47

34. Clothes enhance sexual mystery and the potential for unhealthy sexual fantasies.

Photographer Jock Sturges says, "our arbitrary demarcations [between clothing and nudity, sexual and asexual] serve more to confound our collective sexual identity than to further our social progress. America sells everything with sex and then recoils when presented with the realities of natural process." 48 C. Willet Cunnington writes: "We have to thank the Early Fathers for having, albeit unwillingly, established a mode of thinking from which men and women have developed an art which has supplied . . . so many novel means of exciting the sexual appetite. Prudery, it seems, provides mankind with endless aphrodisiacs, hence, no doubt, the reluctance to abandon it." 49

35. Clothing focuses attention on sexuality, not away from it; and in fact often enhances immature forms of sexuality, rather than promoting healthy body acceptance.50

36. Complete nudity is antithetic to the elaborate semi-pornography of the fashion industry.

Julian Robinson observes, "modesty is so intertwined with sexual desire and the need for sexual display--fighting but at the same time re-kindling this desire--that a self-perpetuating process is inevitably set in motion. In fact modesty can never really attain its ultimate end except through its disappearance. Hiding under the cloak of modesty there are to be found many essential components of the sexual urge itself." 51

37. Clothing often focuses attention on the genitals and sexual arousal, rather than away from them. 52

At various times in Western history different parts of female anatomy have been eroticized: bellies and thighs in the Renaissance; buttocks, breasts, and thighs by the late 1800s (and relatively diminutive waists and bellies). Underwear design has historically emphasized these erogenous body parts: corsets in the 1800s deemphasized the midriff and emphasized the breasts--using materials including whalebone and steel; the crinoline in the mid 1800s emphasized the waist; and the bustle, appearing in 1868, emphasized the buttocks.53 Bathing suit design today focuses attention on the breasts and pubic region.

E.B. Hurlock writes: "When primitive peoples are unaccustomed to wearing clothing, putting it on for the first time does not decrease their immorality, as the ladies of missionary societies think it will. It has just the opposite effect. It draws attention to the body, especially for those parts of it which are covered for the first time." 54 Rob Boyte notes wryly that "textile people, when they do strip in front of others, usually do it for passion, and find the bikini pattern tan-lines attractive. This is reminiscent of the scarification practiced by primitive societies, and shows how clothing patterns become a fetish of the body." 55 Havelock Ellis writes: "If the conquest of sexual desire were the first and last consideration of life it would be more reasonable to prohibit clothing than to prohibit nakedness." 56

38. The fashion industry depends on the sex appeal of clothing.

Peter Fryer writes: "The changes in women's fashions are basically determined by the need to maintain men's sexual interest, and therefore to transfer the primary zone of erotic display once a given part of the body has been saturated with attractive power to the point of satiation. . . . Each new fashion seeks to arouse interest in a new erogenous zone to replace the zone which, for the time being, is played out." 57

39. Differences of clothing between the sexes focus attention on sex differences.58

Psychologist J.C. Flügel writes: "There seems to be (especially in modern life) no essential factor in the nature, habits, or functions of the two sexes that would necessitate a striking difference of costume--other than the desire to accentuate sex differences themselves; an accentuation that chiefly serves the end of more easily and frequently arousing sexual passion." 59

40. Many psychologists believe that clothing may originally have developed, in part, as a means of focusing sexual attention.60

41. Partial clothing is more sexually stimulating (in often unhealthy ways) than full nudity.

Anne Hollander writes: "The more significant clothing is, the more meaning attaches to its absence and the more awareness is generated about any relation between the two states." 61 Elizabeth B. Hurlock notes that "it is unquestionably a well-known fact that familiar things arouse no curiosity, while concealment lends enchantment and stimulates curiosity . . . a draped figure with just enough covering to suggest the outline, is far more alluring than a totally naked body." 62 And Lee Baxandall observes, "the 'almost'-nude beaches, where bikinis and thongs are paraded, are more sexually titillating than a clothes-optional resort or beach. What is natural is more fulfilling, though it may not fit the tantalize-and-deliver titillation of our consumer culture." 63

42. Modesty--especially enforced modesty--only adds to sexual interest and desire.64

Reena Glazer writes: "Women's breasts are sexually stimulating to (heterosexual) men, at least in part because they are publicly inaccessible; society further eroticizes the female breast by tagging it shameful to expose. . . . This element of the forbidden merely perpetuates the intense male reaction female exposure allegedly inspires." 65

43. Topfree66 inequality (requiring women, but not men, to wear tops) produces an unhealthy obsession with breasts as sexual objects.

44. The identification of breasts as sexual objects in our culture has led to the discouragement of breastfeeding, the encouragement of unnecessary cosmetic surgery for breast augmentation, and avoidance of necessary breast examinations by women.

Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer write: "When a woman learns to treat her breasts as objects that enhance appearance, they belong not to the woman, but to her viewers. Thus, a woman becomes alienated from her own body." 67

45. Naturism is the antithesis of pornography.68

Nudity is often confused with pornography in our society because the pornography industry has so successfully exploited it. In other words, nudity is often damned as exploitative precisely because its repression causes many to exploit it.

46. Pornography has been defined as an attempt to exert power over nature. In most cases in our culture, it manifests itself as an expression of sexual power by men over women.69 Naturism, by contrast, seeks to coexist with nature and with each other, and to accept each other and the natural world in our most natural states.

47. Non-acceptance and repression of nudity fuels pornography by teaching that any form and degree of nudity is inherently sexual and pornographic.

In the words of activist Melissa Farley, "pornography is the antithesis of freedom for women. . . . to treat the human body as anything less than normal and beautiful is to promote puritanism and pornography. If the human body is accepted by society as normal, the pornographers won't be able to market it." 70

48. Naturism is innocent, casual, non-exploitative, and non-commercial (and yet is often suppressed); as opposed to pornography, which is commercialized and sensationalized (and generally tolerated).

In some American communities it is illegal for a woman to publicly bare her breasts in order to feed an infant, but it is legal to display Penthouse on drug-store magazine racks.

49. Many psychologists believe that repression of a healthy sexuality leads to a greater capacity for, and tendency toward, violence.

Paul Ableman writes: "We have divorced ourselves from our instincts so conclusively that we are now menaced by their perverted expression. The blocked erotic instinct turns into destructiveness and, in our age, many thinkers have perceived that some of the most ghastly manifestations of human culture are fueled by recycled eroticism. Channelled into pure cerebration, the sexual instinct may generate nightmares impossible in the animal world. Animals are casually cruel and are usually, not always, indifferent to the pain of other animals. Animals kill for food or, rarely, for sport but they do not torture, gloat over pain or exterminate. We do. What's more, we can tolerate our own ferocity. What we cannot tolerate is our own sexuality." 71

Thus extreme violence is tolerated even on television, while the merest glimpse of sexual anatomy, however innocent, is enough to cause movie ratings to jump.

Continue to arguments 50-61


45. Greeley 74, 83, 105, 108-09.

46. Story, "Comparison of Social Nudists." See also Hartman et al.

47. See Jones et al., esp. 11, 18, 223, 229; "Look & Function" 5; "Nude Beaches Help" 5.

48. Baxandall, "Jock Sturges" 96.

49. Cunnington 23.

50. See, for example, Ableman 85-86; Laver, Modesty in Dress 12; Renbourn 512.

51. Robinson, Body Packaging 32. See also Flügel, Psychology of Clothes 192-93.

52. See, for example, Glynn; Ableman 32-33; Flügel, Psychology of Clothes 25-26.

53. Finch 340-45.

54. Laver, Modesty in Dress 12.

55. Boyte, "Nude Attitude" 28.

56. Ellis vol. 2, part 3, p. 97.

57. Robinson, Body Packaging 67.

58. See Robinson, Body Packaging; et al.

59. Flügel, Psychology of Clothes 201.

60. See for example Robinson, Body Packaging, esp. 19, 24-27, 50-51, 67; Flügel, Psychology of Clothes 25-27, 192; Ellis, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 58-62; Cunnington 50-51; and Laver, Modesty in Dress 36-37.

61. Hollander 643, 644. See also Sisk 898.

62. Robinson, Body Packaging 31.

63. Baxandall, World Guide to Nude Beaches and Resorts 13.

64. See Robinson, Body Packaging 31; et al.

65. Glazer 130, 135.

66. The exposure of breasts is referred to as "topfree" rather than "topless" for two reasons. First, "topfree" is more accurate and puts the emphasis where it belongs, on the freedom of the breasts rather than the absence of clothing. Second, the term "topfree" emphasizes the distinction between the healthy nudity of comfort and convenience, and the fetishized nudity of "topless" bars.

67. Hill 42.

68. For an excellent exploration of the distinction between nudity and pornography, see Nead. Pope John Paul II has also made this distinction. He writes: "Pornography is a marked tendency to accentuate the sexual element when reproducing the human body or human love in a work of art, with the object of inducing the reader or viewer to believe that sexual values are the only real values of the person." (John Paul II 192) See also "Spirituality" 82; Hogan and LeVoir 52.

69. See, for example, Griffith; et al.

70. Condra 133.

71. Ableman 102. See also pp. 102-04; research by Wilhelm Reich.

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