The Weekly Nudesletter
Vol. 2, No. 1
January 4, 1999


Article: On Going Naked

Nudity in the News

Nudity in the Media

On Going Naked

"Why?" is the question they always ask when they find our you're a nudist, or simply enjoy going about your life without clothing. (See our media section for a newspaper feature mostly based on this question.)

There's nothing you can explain about it that will convince people who are determined to remain dubious or even hostile regarding the pleasures of nakedness. Only the experience itself is really convincing, if one is willing to try it.

But sometimes a skilled and enthusiastic writer who can describe his or her own experience in glowing terms will convey enough of the essential idea to nudge people with an open mind and some spirit of adventure to give it a fair try.

Someone, for instance, like the young woman, Jan Gay, in her book, On Going Naked:

It is one of the grandest feelings in the world to go around without clothes.
Jan didn't discover this later in life. Like many children in our society, she was raised in a strict, religious environment that strongly discouraged nudity. Nevertheless, also like many children, she had early and very positive experiences with nakedness:
One of the clearest recollections of my childhood is of a summer storm when I ran out naked into the yard to feel the rain pelting on my body. The grass was newly cut. Little pools had formed on the hard turf. I rolled over and over in the puddles. When I was discovered the cut grass clung to my hair and my wet body. I was spanked, but I have never forgotten the pleasure of that afternoon.
As a teenager, living in a foster home in the U. S. midwest, life seemed pretty bleak, and (like many other teens) she flirted with thoughts of suicide. Nudity was one of her few pleasures:
Once during this period, in a spirit of daring, I stole a rowboat, crossed to a sandy island in the Kaw and there took off my clothes to lie in the sand for an afternoon. I was extremely unhappy, with that desperation of adolescence which does not know where to turn for understanding or guidance. I thought of jumping into the muddy river and trying to drown. I went to sleep lying naked in the sun. When I wakened I was more tranquil and found it possible to return and endure my uncongenial surroundings a little longer.
She was hooked. As a young adult, though she had not yet discovered "organized nudism" she still loved to be naked. Not for sexual reasons, but just for the pleasure of it:
There followed years of greater freedom to go naked when I chose, so that whenever I found myself in any isolated field or forest, or alone and unlikely to be disturbed in a room of comfortable temperature, I took off my clothes.
Jan's book has many other stories of nakedness enjoyed in out of the way country places and even in the heart of New York's Central Park. When she finally did discover that there was such as thing as organized nudity, she enthusiastically visited nudist parks, particularly in Germany, France, and Scandinavia.

Of course, many young people today either have a decided aversion to the idea of nudity, or at "best", conceive of it only as a sort of sexual adventure. Perhaps Jan Gay is of an earlier generation - maybe a child of the 60s? An earlier generation, yes - much earlier. In fact, she grew up early in this century, and her book was published in 1932.

She was one of the pioneering "nudists" in the U. S. Only a handful of nudist camps existed here at the time, and her book was one of the first published here - or anywhere in English - about nudism. Even in Germany, where it began, organized social nudism was only about 25 years old at the time. The nudist movement here enjoyed a springtime of a few brief years of public curiosity and interest before the iron fist of puritanical moralism came down and nearly stifled it entirely, until a gradual and modest revival in the 50s.

Nudity in the News

Cougar hot springs
Chalk up another small win for naturism. On November 4, the Naturist Action Committee issued an alert regarding a potential ban on nudity at Cougar Hot Springs in Oregon (also known as Terwilliger Hot Springs) Little more than a month later, on December 7 at a meeting with Forest Service representatives, it was announced that there would be no ban on nudity. Here's a perfect example of government working properly in response to constituent action. More reason to support NAC, which coordinated the action from a variety of interested naturist groups.

Utah State Art Department defends nudes
This is definitely a (positive) twist on stories about nudity coming out of Utah. In a December 8 story from the Associated Press, it is reported that a vandal twice pulled paintings off the wall of the Utah State University Art Department in Logan and laid them face down on the floor. In response, the Department chairman had the six paintings locked in a display cabinet on the first floor of the building - a much busier spot than their previous location on the second floor.

City of Changchun defends nudes
On the other side of the world, in another location where one is surprised to hear of any defense of nudity, a December 18 report from the Zinhua news agency states that two six-meter-high nude sculptures of a male and a female have become objects of civic pride. Officials in Changchun, a city of two million and capital of the China's Jilin Province, at first were afraid of widespread objections. Instead, a poll indicated a majority of residents were favorable to the statues, which dominate the city's Culture Square. The sculptures have even become a tourist attraction. A local sociologist offered the opinion that the acceptance of the statues marked a change in attitude of Chinese people. "Behavior patterns and old ideas have moved on and there is a greater appreciation of artistic beauty," he said.

Someday perhaps we'll have as much tolerance even in the U. S. of A. (See the story in Vol. 1, No. 16 on attitudes towards artistic nudity in Texas.)

But DHL does not defend nudes
Here's a little more data on attitudes towards artistic nudity in the U. S.: If you happen to appreciate it, then you might want to think twice about using DHL Worldwide Express for your next shipment. Salon Magazine has a feature article reporting that DHL has a stated policy of reserving the right to open any shipment to search for photography or artwork containing nudity - which is automatically considered "pornography". In one such instance, they reportedly returned a package shipped by a noted photographer, Craig Morey, because it contained a few artistic nude photos.

According to the article, DHL does this "as a customer service". We suggest you visit their home page and leave them a comment telling them just what you think of their "customer service".

Political nude protests in Guinea
The latest use of nudity in political protest is also from an unlikely place - the West African nation of Guinea. According to a December 21 Reuters' story, 21 women were arrested in Conakry for protesting in the nude against the detention of an opposition leader. The charges were "public disorder and offending public decency", but the matter seems to be much more serious than most previous nude political protests. The protest supported Alpha Conde, who had been a leading candidate in the December 14 Presidential elections and who was arrested a day after he lost the election. There has been violence and even killing of innocent bystanders in protests elsewhere on behalf of Conde.

Nude PETA protests intensify
Nudity remains a staple in the public relations campaign being waged by PETA against the use of fur in women's fashions. (See Vol. 1, No. 16 for previous stories.)

In fact, the protests are becoming quite numerous, and no longer focus only on celebrities preferring to be naked rather than wear fur. Protests have recently been staged in Michigan, New York City, and Aspen, Colorado. You can keep up to date on such actions at PETA's Fur is Dead campaign page, in addition to their main site.

Even in chilly Copenhagen, four men and two women wearing only underpants staged a protest outside a fur auction house in temperatures around 0 degrees C, according to a December 14 Reuters' story. And in Milan, Italy, socialite Marina Ripa di Meana joined other protesters by baring her breasts to photographers and television cameramen with the violet inscription "No Furs" before a performance of Richard Wagner's "Gotterdammerung" at La Scala opera house.

More about Lori Graves
Speaking of protests and activism, it seems there is more to the story of Lori Graves, the young woman in Moscow, Idaho who beat a charge of "indecent exposure" for going topfree, as we reported in Vol. 1, No. 17. According to this article of December 5, Lori has a rebellious streak. She has also joined Earth First! protests against logging and demonstrations against an Aryan Nations parade in Coeur d'Alene. The article reports that a cross was burned in the front yard of her home and a Molotov cocktail thrown onto her porch, causing fire damage, just after the results of the topfree prosecution were announced. (But the attacks appear to have been more related to her visit to Coeur d'Alene.)

Lori was also present in a recent incident at a local watering hole when some of her friends (but not Lori herself) were charged with trespassing for refusing to leave after a group of about 20 men and women enjoyed a bit of dancing at the bar topfree.

Nudity in the Media

Asking why
In Vol. 1, No. 16 we reported on legal hassles encountered by southwest Florida's Southern Exposure nudist club near Naples. In addition to the news story listed before, a background piece appeared a few days later, on October 25, in the Naples Daily News. The title: "Nudists struggle to shake the image that their lifestyle is lewd."

The title is a little misleading. The article isn't so much about what nudists are doing as it is about the reporter's attempts to find an answer to the question "why?" Of course, there are dozens of possible good answers to this, and the reporter (Ralf Kircher) managed to elicit a number of them. It's a fair and balanced article. But at the end the reporter doesn't seem to have found a persuasive answer. Unfortunately, no one seems to have suggested to him he might have been equally unsatisfied had he tried to answer the question, "why not?"

What's that old Chinese saying? Something like, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand."

Not exactly a new idea in Australia...
A "men's movement" group in Australia's somewhat conservative state of Queensland has proposed to local schools a program for teenage boys they call "Empowering Youth". The idea is to take the teens camping in the outback, far away from the normal school environment and discuss with them a variety of topics of great concern to people of that age - such as homophobia, sexually transmitted diseases and morality.

In other words, offer the kids an initiation/rite of passage experience to mark their coming of age as adults. Something the Aborigines (to say nothing of countless other cultures) have been doing for thousands of years in the form of the "walkabout" and similar ceremonies.

Is there anything "new" in this? It's hard to tell, as details of the proposed program in this November 22 article are rather sketchy. From the reactions of some of the people quoted, however, it appears that nudity might have been part of it. "The idea was fraught with danger," is how the reporter summarized many reactions. One legislator put it thusly: "Initiation ceremonies and the idea of having adolescent teenagers running around the scrub in the nude worries me a little." Not mincing words, a spokesperson for what appears to be Australia's equivalent of a U. S. right-wing "family values" organization put things more bluntly: "It (a camp) is not the place to discuss sexuality issues. A whole lot of kids together at that stage (of their adolescence) - their hormones are running wild and they could be influenced by certain discussions."

Imagine that. Discussing subjects of keen interest to the kids might influence them somehow. Wouldn't that be the whole point? Certainly, participation in any program like this should be with parental approval. But wouldn't it be great if this sort of thing were at least available?

Naked Natalie in the news
We told you in our last issue that Joe & Natalie's Naked Page was a good site. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article on December 5 seems to agree. If you're already familiar with their site, this is interesting to read for background on Joe and Natalie Chandler. It's particularly noteworthy that they live in a small southern town, yet seem to be tolerated by the locals, though considered a bit unusual. As one of the locals put it, "They are artists, and we all know artists are weird. They are just additional strange people who wander around downtown." (Usually not in the nude, however.)

Movie ratings
Here's an article entitled "The misratings game" - by a writer from a conservative state (Arizona), published in a newspaper in an even more conservative state (Utah). It is of no particular merit, and its slant is predictable: the awful Hollywood marketing machine is using ever more bad stuff like nudity and violence to sell movie tickets. It whines that movie ratings are becoming increasingly more tolerant of nudity - what would have received an R rating 25 years ago gets only a PG-13 or even PG now.

The only reason we mention the article at all is that this seems like a good sign to us.

There is one thing amusing about it. Early on, the writer asks, rhetorically, "Have the standards of the American public changed that much in 25 years? Or is Hollywood up to something?" The answer he wishes to persuade the reader of is the latter. Yet just a little further on he mentions two noteworthy movies of the 60s, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Blow Up", which because of their frankness supposedly brought about the MPAA rating system. He observes: "By today's standards, neither of these films is particularly startling. But in the mid-'60s, they were revolutionary."

In other words, our cultural standards have changed! And in the direction of a healthier tolerance.

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