Naturism and Topfreedom: How Naturist Men Can Help (and Hurt)

DC Volleyball 1 FC
Sand Volleyball Courts, Peter’s Point, Rock Creek Park and Potomac Parkway, Washington D.C. May 2016. One of the more common “criticisms” of my walks through urban places is that I shouldn’t walk bare-chested where men don’t appear bare-chested. Aside from the obvious fallacies in that argument, I offer this photograph, taken less than a mile from my M Street walk, right in the heart of the city. Male bare-chestedness has become so normalized we don’t really see it anymore.

 

Right up front, the effects of the naturist male voice in the topfreedom conversation is a delicate subject for me.

Delicate because I personally appreciate the backing of naturists who support topfreedom for authentic reasons, (body positivity, gender equality, etc,) but I also hear a chord of inauthenticity from some who identify as male naturists.

I haven’t done the exact figuring, but I would guess that a majority percentage of my blog and Twitter followers are people identifying as male naturists.  Some of these men have provided me with invaluable and practical lessons and information for furthering the cause at the legislative and public level.  I thank these folks deeply.  Some of these men feel a strong sense of fairness, and hold that men and women should be treated equally under the law.  Again, thank you.

But I have this nagging feeling that a portion of the male naturist support of topfreedom is not so much because they value equality, but because they see topfreedom as a means to push society to eventually accept full public nudity.

In this regard, the support feels disingenuous.  I say this with a pit in my stomach, because frankly the topfreedom movement needs all the support it can get.  But one of the big pushbacks we get is that allowing women to go bare-chested means we will have to let men bare their penises, which scares people into disallowing topfreedom, which cements inequality.

But beyond the fear it creates, the you-get-this, we-get-that dynamic is troubling in its own right if you really sit with it.

Why troubling?  Because it says that true equality is still an uncomfortable proposition even for some people supposedly supporting it.  It’s like saying, well, okay, you can have topfreedom but only if men get something more too.  Because the idea of men and women having exactly the same treatment under the law feels weird.  It’s never happened!  Gender equality has never actually happened, in all our history, in the land of the free.  And as we get closer, some people feel uncomfortable about the power shift.

I’ve even had people, including several naturist men, go so far as to tell me what I should really be fighting for, the implication being that they know what should be important to me better than I do…

I’ve gone nude in several naturist areas.  Once, at an east coast beach, I was one of maybe five nude women to at least a hundred men.  Gawkers wandered around trying to peep us, some wearing t-shirts but no pants.  I saw a couple cameras furtively recording images.  Eventually a man sat near me cross-legged and began masturbating.  Not one single man told him to stop.  I approached him and said quietly, so only he could hear, “This is why women don’t come to nude beaches.”  And he actually told me, erect penis in hand, that it wasn’t what it looked like, that he was “adjusting” himself.

At another east coast nudist area, again far more men than women, I ended up literally surrounded by men all thanking me for coming and being nice to them and telling me how nice my breasts were (apparently this would encourage me to come again?) until finally a patriarch of the group entered and pointed out the ridiculousness of the image, and asked them all to give me some space.  He apologized, welcomed me, offered his help if I needed it and left me in peace.  I hadn’t felt threatened, everyone was trying to be nice, it’s just that everyone felt so urgent to get women to participate that it felt pushy and forced, which has the effect of keeping women from participating.

That’s how it feels here on the blog sometimes, like I’m standing in the middle of a circle of penises.

I enjoy being naked.  I really do.  And I enjoy being naked in a social setting.  I have no problem with nudism.  But no one enjoys being coerced or forced or pressured to do something.  Neither do I personally appreciate being manipulated.

This blog, and my passion, is asserting that all people should be treated equally under the law.  This DOES NOT MEAN that men and women have to act the same way or become equivalents.  It simply means that all people have the same freedoms and choices under the law, and that equivalent acts are treated the same way legally.  Period.

DC Volleyball 5 FC
Sand Volleyball Courts, Potomac Parkway, Washington D.C. Memorial Day Weekend, 2016. We rode our bikes across the city, through a Harley-Davidson gathering, past a dozen police officers, to this beautiful spot in the shade. It was hot and humid, but we had a blast.

Body positivity is a huge deal to me.  I love the feeling of freedom I experience when bare-chested.  I wish everyone could feel that same joy, but the bottom line is that everyone gets to choose how to use their freedoms and no one should feel pressured.

So, to naturist men, if you truly support the ideas of female body positivity and gender equality, please, continue to lend your support with awareness to how easy it is for a person to feel coerced or forced.  And please understand that if you are raising the topfreedom flag simply because you see it as a strategic move that will win you the right to go fully nude in public, you’re actually doing topfreedom and gender equality harm.

I don’t say this lightly.  We really do need the support of men.  But women need to feel that the topfreedom movement is about women and women’s needs, and about correcting a social and legal imbalance.  If women feel they are playing into the hands of some ulterior motive, they will never participate.  Who would?  If women feel they are being pressured into topfreedom, they will never participate.  This is a slow, patient social movement.  It has to be.  When women feel comfortable and secure, they will participate.  If they are not participating, it is because they don’t feel safe and secure yet.

So guys, please be aware of your energy.  This is not to say that men can’t talk to women on a nude beach, or can’t approach a topfree woman (I love talking to people), but check your motives before you approach.  We will sense your authenticity or lack thereof, and it will inform our decision to participate again in the future far more than whatever vocal support is spoken.

I would appreciate it if this comment thread does not become a debate over the legitimacy of social nudity.  This is not the blog for that conversation and I am not expert in those topics.  I defer to Young Naturists of AmericaClothes Free Life and other nudist forums for those conversations.   But I am more than happy to moderate a conversation on the role of naturists and authenticity in the topfreedom movement.  Men are a vital part of this movement, but not the primary direction deciders.  This is a woman’s issue, and it is a woman’s conversation.  We have been told for centuries that our bodies are dirty and shameful.  Overcoming that stigma is going to take a lot of personal and collective work.  The most supportive thing for men to do is protect the space, be patient, spread the good word gently, model civility, prioritize true equality, and allow us to do the work without pressure.

After all, naturists ostensibly understand the most fundamental issue… the joy and freedom one feels without clothes.  So without pressuring people, let’s celebrate that commonality, express those joys in positive, civil terms and work toward making women feel legally and socially safe.

Thank you.

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72 thoughts on “Naturism and Topfreedom: How Naturist Men Can Help (and Hurt)

  1. You challenge us again to consider our motives. Thank you.

    I freely admit that I consider feminine topfreedom a giant step on the road to acceptance of clothes-freedom. However, the next and final step should not be “penis freedom” only, but full and equal acceptance of nudity as a legitimate life choice. But that is not what you are advocating, and I respect that.

    What we men must all ask is whether our support comes from a desire to gratify ourselves, or a sense of social injustice, or a love for the health and freedom that comes from unchaining our bodies and minds from the “moral need” for body coverings. If it’s the first, then we’d better expand our circle of empathy or no one will trust us. Yet I like to think that, over time, our words and actions reveal our real motives.

    I pray that more of us men will do the hard thought and self-examination that has led me to embrace #freethenipple as a needed human right.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Thank you. Many many men support equality with authenticity and genuineness. I am surrounded by men who seek equality for equality’s sake. And there exist women who do not value equality as well. But in order for our society to evolve toward true freedom and equality we each, as you say, have to do the work individually to make sure we are operating authentically. If we are, all well, proceed. If not, then I simply ask people to sit with it. Thank you as always for your close reads and thoughtful comments.

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    2. I fully agree with every word of that.

      On a personal level, to your point “What we men must all ask is whether our support comes from a desire to gratify ourselves, or a sense of social injustice, or a love for the health and freedom that comes from unchaining our bodies and minds from the “moral need” for body coverings.” my answer is that my prime motivation on this and many other issues is a sense of social justice and a more general demand for freedom for all to do what they like provided it does not harm others, with your last point in the sentence as a secondary motivation.

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      1. As a further aspect, I regard gender equality, which is Gingerbread’s aim, is an important issue in itself. The fact that success in this campaign is likely to help the further purpose is an incidental bonus from my point of view, not a main motivation for me in supporting Gingerbread’s brilliant work.

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  2. I’m pretty disappointed with this edition. You’re essentially lumping all nude men as naturists. This is no more true than saying all female strippers are naturists. There are people who behave badly when publicly nude, both genders. At beaches, resorts, even something like WNBR. They’re not naturists.

    Yes, naturists would like the right to be nude, if desired, anywhere they go in life. And yes, it can be seen that top freedom is a thin wedge to help that effort. There’s nothing wrong with that. That might not be your aim, but it’s the aim of a great many. Men and women. So for naturists, the normalization of a body area that used to be hidden, is a battle won.

    As far as men who think breasts equal genitals, well isn’t that what your actions are about? To educate them otherwise? Please continue the education.

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    1. Hi Jim: if you look a bit closer, you will see that I refer to people who identify themselves as naturists. On Twitter for example, you will find many of my followers to include in their profile statement some iteration of nudist/naturist. That’s absolutely fine. I believe in the beauty and freedom Of the human body. But some of those same men, self identified naturists, speak words that say I am supporting topfreedom because it will help me be naked in public. That tells me the depth (or lack thereof) of their support in gender equality. The cause happens to help them so they support it. Otherwise, they don’t care so much. I’m not saying this of all naturist men. I’m saying there are men who identify as naturists who say things like this and I am asking them to check their motives because these statements are tangibly hurting efforts to establish gender equality around topfreedom. I’m saying it would be refreshing to hear more people say you know, equality is enough, equality is so important that we will work to establish it because it’s right and fair and true. Naturists who claim to have this deep appreciation of their freedom when unclothed have an opportunity to share that joy by establishing equality and creating environments that make people feel safe and non-sexualized. I have read articles discussing the challenge and controversy of naturists controlling behavior on nude beaches, but the fact remains that if people behave poorly on nude beaches and the leaders of the movement don’t do anything about it, women are not going to take part. The leaders of the naturist movement have an opportunity to model for others that their motivations include inclusiveness and equality. As far as grouping “all nude men (on nude beaches and established nude recreation areas) as naturists” I didn’t, and feel free to teach me the difference between nude, nudist and naturist but again this blog is not about the merits of naturism as much as it is about balancing a social inequality. Men have been able to enjoy barechestedness for 80 years and it translates into things like confidence, body image, health and well-being, breast feeding shame and so on. How about we let things balance out before pushing on through to the next thing? Women clearly don’t feel comfortable going bare-chested yet, so let’s wait until they do, even if it takes 80 years, before pushing them into accepting and feeling comfortable with complete public nudity. We are already asking the world to change how it sees the female body. Let’s be patient during this adjustment.

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  3. I don’t know exactly what you mean, but I have a reasonable idea. I am a wheelchair user and have had numerous people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do, or how I should do what I am doing, over the years.

    Stick to to YOU want to do and how YOU want to do it and only take the advice YOU think is helpful or useful.

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  4. I find it funny and sad at the same time that women have to fight to go back to dressing the way they used to dress for thousands and thousands of years. And the way many women dress in the world today. As a short, overweight man I keenly sympathize with your quest for body image positivity. I have to fight the same fight myself. Keep fighting the good fight and I will keep my penis under wraps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could stop shaming people for their bodies and just let people enjoy their lives in the bodies they were born into? It’s an intoxicating thought. I think we are heading in the right direction. At least we are having the conversations. That has to be worth something. Thanks again and be well.

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  5. One way to turn someone away from some purpose is to frighten them, or make them feel ashamed of it. People are frightened to appear naked, or even bare-chested in public, and many would be ashamed of themselves if they did. The only way to get them to join in is to show them that there is nothing to fear, and nothing to be ashamed of. You’re right when you say that the “energy” of the men who consider public bare-chestedness of women only a step toward some other goal (such as full nudity in public) might turn women away from ever attempting going bare-chested, because it frightens them. Going bare-chested might itself be frightening to them; going completely naked – something they (you) would thus feel coerced to do – is unthinkable.

    On the other hand there are men who have been fighting their own fights for a long time and are now – in the midst of this change which they deem a step towards the goal they have been pursuing – being asked to lessen their enthusiasm; to act as if this new trend is commonplace, when it is anything but. It’s a very delicate issue indeed.

    I don’t think much will change, though. Some braver women – like yourself – will drive the change, until the enthusiasm of enthusiastic men wanes by a notch. Then some less brave (but still very brave) women will join the movement, and so on until bare-chestedness of women really is commonplace. I don’t believe anything will happen to stop this change because there simply is no basis of any kind for that to happen. There might be lawsuits, incidents, but the change will eventually happen.

    And for the better. I don’t believe it will help, but for lack of anything better that I can do – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, and hope nothing I say or do scares anyone away.

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  6. I don’t see topfreedom as a “step towards” wider acceptance of naturism as much as they are two causes rooted in many of the same values. If a person really holds naturist beliefs, it follows that they would likely support topfreedom too. But it’s good to be mindful that the converse is not necessarily true. Equality is worth fighting for on its own.

    I enjoy reading this blog. Thank you for letting us know how we can best help.

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  7. I’m a south-european man, and I am not a nudist, however I tried it a couple of times in my life. In my region there are opportunities to go nude in a lot of places, and barechestedness is legal or at least tolerated almost in each place where it is allowed for men, too. (in the cities it’s usually illegal for both men and women to go shirtless, even if it is often tolerated for the men). Mostly, the nudist places are of two different types: clothing optional and nudist-only. In the first kind of places you may find roughly 50%-50% men and women, in the second ones mostly gay men, but also there it can change from place to place. The reason why I follow your blog, is that I really think that both women and men should have the right to choose how to dress or not to dress. And I like to follow what is happening in the USA, because soon or late it will come to us. This time I have to disappoint with you, because I don’t think you should choose who should support you and why. As a european man I won’t ever have your same interests in this cause, but I would like to keep following you on this blog, and to support you. Please keep fighting for your cause and don’t worry about peoples who are trying to help you, even if they have other interests. They aren’t your enemies.

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    1. Thank you. I never declared them my enemies, goodness no. I’m asking people to sit with their motivations for supporting the cause, and to ask if they are being genuine. This is a difficult standard to move in the United States, so many people have for so long felt that women’s bodies are shameful and dirty. We are just getting to the point where we can get politicians and police chiefs to talk about the topic without blushing. Complicating the conversation by having people saying, yeah, give women the right to go bare-chested, and then we can talk about everyone going fully nude is too much too fast for the United States right now. That’s what I feel is most important to express. It’s funny that you as a European are looking to the U.S. to lead the way, because I’ve been holding up the lessons of Europe to the authorities here as an example of how modern cultures can navigate the female body haha. I traveled to the Netherlands recently and was just blown away by how uneventful a bare-chested woman is there. People are just so mature and kind to each other. It was beautiful. This is in general, public beaches, parks, spas, etc. So yeah, I’ve been like, let’s be more like that here in the U.S.! So no, I’m not declaring anyone an enemy. I’m simply asking people who say they support equality to really support equality, and to be patient while we try to correct a social imbalance 80 years in the making before pushing for the next thing. We haven’t even come close to getting topfreedom yet. Thanks for your time. I appreciate your comment. Be well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for your answer. To be honest, I am not looking to the U.S. to lead the way, but in fact I see that U.S. “is” leading the way, and not in the direction I would like it to go. When I was a little child I went to the beach, and I was playing on the sand, surrounded by different women, some in swimsuit, other in bikini, and several of them were tanning without top. Some of them were shaving their armpits, other not. On the streets in summer it was common to see women without bras below their dresses. It was pretty normal. In the TV, in the Magazines, it was also common to see women’s nipples.

        But in the last few years we are facing a big cultural crisis in Europe, I think, or at least in the region where I’m living. More and more you see censored nipples in the TV, young women are not allowed to post pictures of their breasts in the social media, and they are starting to think it is something to be ashamed of, and body hairs are definitely a big taboo.

        At the same time the migration from middle east is challenging us: recently I’ve heard for example that some muslim men does not allow their wives to drive a bicicle because it is too attractive for other men. This was really strange to me, because no holy book of any religion is saying something like that.

        I was looking for an answer to my questions, and just surfing a little bit on the internet, where I found first news about the “free the nipple” movement, and then I came somehow to your blog. I’m just following you because I think you are doing a cultural fight and you are not fighting against the laws or the establishment. I am really convinced that if our culture is evolving, the laws will then follow. Thank you for what you are doing.

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        1. Thank you. I agree this is and should be a cultural challenge. The laws should protect equality. After that each person should be allowed to use her or his freedoms as the individual sees fit. It is a fascinating social adjustment, it can be very uncomfortable to watch women feel forces of shame encroach on them. I’m hoping enough women realize what they are losing to resist.

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  8. As a social naturist, I may find the intellectual concept of freedom to go nude attractive but, when I think about how a large portion of the population would probably behave under that paradigm, I cringe. Your description of your experience at a nude beach speaks to that. Certainly I don’t think masturbation should be something that people should be ashamed of. It is a normal part of a normal human life. But not in public. Likewise, unwanted attention is harassment and so we all have to be aware of how others are responding to our attention. It isn’t so much their own “energies” that naturist men have to be aware of at nude beaches, as the “energies” of the women (and others) that they are interacting with. It isn’t so much body acceptance that we need as human acceptance. Accept and respect and recognize the humanity of the person you are interacting with and regardless of how they or you are dressed, you have a good chance of accepting them for who they are and being accepted for who you are.

    I think that is what Gingerbread means by “being genuine”. If you are talking to a woman who is a topfreedom activist about how wonderful her activism is and she is cringing and leaning away and looking for a polite way to move away from you, then she doesn’t believe you are being genuine. It isn’t your right to make her believe you are being genuine no matter how genuine you may truly be. Part of being genuine about topfreedom (or should we call it topequality if it is about equality more than freedom) is being genuine about respecting other people. To be genuine about other people you have to be ready to let them be if they are not interested in interacting with you.

    These behaviours are something that will take decades to learn across a wide enough portion of the population to make public nudity a non-issue, I think. Yes topequality will lead in that direction by giving people a chance to question their attitudes toward women but that is a small piece of the clothing freedom puzzle. And yet it is a wonderful and whole puzzle in and of itself. So given the long term need for social change before clothing freedom can be achieved, I agree with Gingerbread that topequality should not be seen as just a stepping stone toward clothing freedom. Like I her I avoid discussion of the two together because of the number of people it might frighten off. Topequality is worth achieving all on its own.

    This is true because fairness is worth achieving separately from freedom. They are two aspects of a moral society. A third aspect of a moral society is respectfulness. Each is worth achieving for its own sake in steps but too much of any one at the expense of the other two and you end up with a dystopia. Perfect fairness without freedom or respect and you end up with a society where everyone has nothing; where everyone starves together. Too much freedom without fairness or respect and you end up with a society where bullies run rampant. Too much respect without freedom or fairness and you end up with a Theocracy.

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  9. Not wishing to add to the penises surrounding you but… three things on people, practice and principle.

    My take on the “chord of inauthenticity” that you sense is that it is both real and somewhat inchoate. The “naturist males” I’ve met in the US and EU come from so many points of departure that it is tough to distill a stereotype – from extreme body-shame upbringing to extremely liberal post-flower-children, from rebellion against religion to fed up with secular sexism, from “always nude” activists to “only beach” part-timers, from born-again anti-pornographists to poets of “living in harmony with nature,” from still-adapting cultural immigrants to people like you encountered in the Netherlands who would probably be surprised to be considered particularly advanced, “mature and kind” etc. etc. Each comes from somewhere to where they are now. What’s common is that attitudes about “topfreedom” always seem to be a subset of the overall outlook.

    So I think you are right that there’s a danger of consciously or subconsciously appending an ulterior agenda. That said, “naturist males” seem acutely aware of “male gaze” issues so (like Jim here earlier) want to be counted among your undisputed allies. But naturists also hate to be lumped with swingers, so should be especially sensitive to the unhelpfulness of characterizing bare-chested equality is as “nudism-lite” or the first step toward a minority “lifestyle” choice.

    The difference in practice? At a picnic this warm Memorial Day weekend, a bunch of us were kicking around a soccer/football with some of the kids. One of the dads lifted the front of his shirt to mop his sweaty face and, seeing that, one of the younger girls did the same. Simple, natural, and nobody scolded her that, because she was a girl, she shouldn’t do that. That’s gender equality at the learning level. I’m quite sure it didn’t occur to anybody that she was a nudist-in-training.

    Had it been a mom mopping the sweat? It didn’t occur to anyone that the dad risked being arrested or that he might appreciate being told “how nice” his chest was. Being likewise unremarkable for a mom is gender equality at the legal and social level. Incidental, without consequence, without agenda.

    The overlapping principle for bare-chest equality and nudity is that people should have the choice to clothe their own bodies as they wish without hassle from others, and then be judged on behavior. What surprises me in your commentary is that the “naturist males” I’ve encountered are usually quite expert in helping to gently create and manage a comfortable and secure space of choice and civility, but the reminder to “be aware of your energy” and to realize that ”the topfreedom movement is about women and women’s needs” is really important.

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    1. I love the intellectualism of the comment section on this blog. I think it’s my favorite thing about doing this. The term naturism or naturist seems impossible to define really, because of the diversity you mention. So many people have so many ways of approaching being clothes-free. And I totally understood even at the time it was happening that the circle of men around me were really just stoked and excited to have women (not just me) taking part. So I wasn’t offended, and I personally didn’t feel threatened, but the part of me that observes all this from the perspective of a topfreedom proponent saw in that eagerness an impediment to other women joining. It goes without saying some women would enjoy the attention. But I suspect many women find that type of dynamic intimidating, men too, and so part of the purpose of this article is just to ask the eager beavers, recognizing their good intentions and genuine excitement, to take a breathe and remember how much it takes for some people to even conceive of going bare-chested. So I don’t want to chase away the excitement over the thought if normalized bare-chestedness, but simply to draw attention to the fact that that very excitement could delay or derail progress. Which you and other commenters on this thread clearly understand… It just bears repeating. Thank you.

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      1. OK, we hear you and will curb our enthusiasm. I’ll just have to store all the “Gingerbread for Governor” yard signs that I ordered until the next Maryland election cycle… 🙂

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      2. There is the old joke that somewhat defines Naturism and the difference between us and nudists. “Nudist like to be nude, Naturists like to be nude and make speeches.” But seriously, The official definition of Naturist is [b]”Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature. It is expressed in common nakedness, associated with self-­respect, as well as respect of people of a different opinion and of the world about us”.[/b] The “naturist” men from Gingerbread’s beach encounter may have been nude but not Naturist. A Naturist is nude in harmony with their surroundings not in anyway for sexual urges. I understand what Gingerbread is getting at elsewhere in her post, but in a way it’s like the Feminists out there that are saying “there are more important things to fight for than bare breasts”. Yes there are! but these things are not mutually exclusive. A topfreedom activist can fight for the right to bare chest AND the countless other offenses that punish women for being born female. And a Naturist male can fight genuinely for female topfree equality AND total body(and mind) freedom of nudity.
        Thank you Gingerbread, for all that you do. I look forward to each intellectual workout that is this blog.

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        1. Thank you, for the insight and the joke. Just to clarify, I have met many wonderful men and women, both in person and through the blog, who identify as naturists, who have been genuine and supportive. My article is to ask people who identify as naturists (so not me defining all nude people as naturists, they are defining themselves as such), to really sit with why they are supporting topfreedom. The reason this is becoming important is because we are finally getting decision makers to have conversations about gender equality and topfreedom and one of the things I have heard quite often is a fear that allowing gender equality in topfreedom will result in complete social nudity, and to these politicians and police chiefs and actual decision makers who voice this fear, hearing even one voice cheering us on because “this means we can be naked in public” is enough to prove their fears and fight topfreedom. So please please please understand that I and I’m sure other topfreedom activists appreciate and openly need the support of the naturist community, but please also understand how critical it is to get that message right and to understand the nuances involved. I’m talking generally, not just to you, John. You get it. I know. And most people here do. So thank you, as always, for your well-crafted comments.

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  10. Thanks for your post, and for the education. As a “naturist male,” I have often seen many of the incidents you describe — gawkers, discrete cameras, over-enthusiastic welcomes, and it’s always males (not that I even needed to mention that). It makes me embarrassed and ashamed of my gender. Of course, it doesn’t happen all the time, some places are better than others, etc. And you’re absolutely right — if women don’t feel comfortable and secure, they won’t participate. And a lot of men aren’t doing very much to make women feel comfortable and secure. Or even safe. Often, they do the opposite.

    I appreciate the education. I’ve never been in your shoes, or the shoes of any woman, and neither has any other man. Although I can try to imagine what it’s like, I will never actually know what it’s like to be one of the few women at a predominately male nude beach, or being the bare-chested woman surrounded by bare-chested men. I will never truly know the feeling of the unwanted attention, vulnerability, harassment and potential fear. (I remember the “Yes All Women” topic on social media a year or so ago. I realized that every woman I know or have ever known has probably been sexually harassed or threatened or worse during her life, and that is something they have to deal with every single day of their lives. I don’t know what that’s like. No man knows what that’s like. But now I’m aware of it. And I’ll never say, “I know how you feel,” if I don’t truly know how you feel.)

    On the question of equality, it comes down to this — if we are equals, and you can do something, I should be able to do that, too, whatever it is, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual preference, hair color, height, weight, whatever. If you can do it and I can’t, we’re not equal. Period.

    Honestly — and this might be part of my late-life continuing education — I never equated female bare-chestedness as a step toward full social nudity. It’s just equality. If you can take your shirt off in public, I should be able to take my pants off? That just seems like a ridiculous stretch of logic. Like, if women can vote, men should be able to vote three times.

    Thank you for your thoughts and your perspective. I don’t represent all men (and I hope they don’t represent me), but I’m learning.

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    1. Just a question: why are the nudist community not trying to solve these troubles? Why are you not isolating the exibitionists and the voyeurs? And first of all, why are you not going to the nudist places with your wives and daughters? If you build a social place for males only, a woman will always feel afraid to go there.

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      1. The nudist community is trying. In private clubs it is not such a problem because at the first offense the offender is escorted off the premises. However on public beaches that allow nudity it is much harder to control. Until an offense breaks the law it must be socially discouraged and even when the offense does break the law, either the witnesses may be reluctant to report it for fear of losing their naked spot or the law is reluctant to respond. Very few nudist places are for males only. But the social “catch 22” that is the subject of this blog often discourages female participants. Thus when a woman does participate she may be overwhelmed by “overly-enthusiastic” attention – genuine or not.

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    1. Thanks for writing. Some, yes, but I think it’s more nuanced than that. I really do think a lot if men who call themselves naturists believe in the power of being clothes free. A lot of them are overcoming negative body image and bullying themselves. Men take a lot of negativity for their bodies too and at some point I believe many naturist men realize they do have the power to immunize themselves against shame. And in the excitement and rush of this realization they wish to share it. That’s beautiful actually. Some nude men at nude beaches etc are frauds, of course. Frauds exist in every other aspect of life after all. It boils down to those of us who seek authenticity to at the very least model the behavior and serve as examples of what we wish to see around us. I appreciate your time. Be well.

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  11. It’s very difficult to know what to say. As a man, I think you are incredibly brave and I wish you lived in my community. I think it’s entirely right that women should be able to go wherever they like without covering their breasts. I don’t see it as an equality issue however – as I see it it’s a basic human rights to behave however is comfortable and desirable provided that our behaviour doesn’t harm others. I know some people argue that nakedness harms others (children are often specified as particularly vulnerable) but I think their arguments lack validity. I have been a naturist for decades and I have 13 grandchildren: none of them are worried by my nakedness and they are far more interested in what I can do for them. Nakedness in itself harms no-one in itself. Unfortunately it is true that because it is unexpected many people are disconcerted by encountering it and being disconcerted can make people angry. As a man I also know by bitter experience that male nakedness is frightening for some women when encountered in unexpected circumstances. Men can also find it challenging and may respond accordingly by aggression. The trick would be to make it expected, and I can’t help feeling that people like you are helping to bring that about even if it isn’t your purpose.

    Needless to say, as a man who wants to go naked the genitals are a focus. Not sure why, though male genitals are rarely comfortable in clothing – especially western-style tight clothing. Maybe we should wear skirts (without knickers, of course). But of course the desire to go around exposing one’s genitals is much more complicated than mere comfort. So it does not feel wrong to compare exposing breasts with exposing penises. I would not consciously try to enrol breasts-are-healthy campaigners to a campaign to be able to expose penises, but the thought is bound to occur. I don’t know what it feels like to want to expose one’s breasts (obviously) but I can’t avoid thinking the two impulses may be comparable. It’s a real privilege that I can expose my chest in most circumstances without being criticised, but I wish very much I could go further.

    It is also relevant that the idea of women’s breasts being exposed arouses complicated emotions in men because, at least in our society, breasts are erotic. I like looking at women’s breasts. It’s more than an aesthetic thing (many women have told me that they like looking at naked men, but I suspect it’s not the same: looking at naked women is much more compulsive than looking at Michelangelo’s David or even Botticelli’s Venus). Possibly this is a thing women can’t identify with, though women I have discussed this with don’t want to agree with that. So when I support a campaign for women to expose their breasts I feel two-faced. I think it’s a good idea on principle; the trouble is I also feel it’s a wonderful idea for me personally. So I suspect my own motivation. That said, the idea of sitting on a beach masturbating in front of a woman with exposed breasts feels (to me) disgusting. Not that I particularly object to masturbation but it seems to me that a message is being conveyed which is likely to be upsetting to the victim (and it does feel as though she would be a victim). At the very best it’s appallingly bad manners. And I have to say that I see it as extreme: I don’t feel like masturbating in such circumstances at all (and I spend plenty of time on nude beaches). I feel rewarded and comfortable, but not aroused. Arousal is about relationships in the end, not visual images. (That might not be true for a teenager, for whom the sight of naked breasts would probably be very exciting. But it doesn’t last long if you frequent nudist beaches. Or if you just grow up.)

    Sorry. All this is very confused. I wish you lived near me and we could discuss it ….

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    1. Thank you for making such a thoughtful and thorough comment. Isn’t it funny that so many of us have that “if it makes me happy it must be wrong” reaction? I’m responding to your comment that you enjoy looking at breasts. I do too! They’re great. But so are hair and lips and legs. We enjoy looking at these things and still respect the autonomy I their owner. So I have no problem at all with you wanting to see breasts on the beach. That’s not a conflict to me. The conflict I have is with people who say they are fighting for equality or whatever they claim but are really only using the cause to further their own cause. It’s disingenuous and ultimately fuels the detractors of topfreedom by allowing them to provoke some slippery slope panic. As to women enjoying the sight of a male body, no, it’s pretty much the same haha. It can be pretty visceral and basic. Which is proof that in the presence of those visceral sensations of arousal and appreciation we can still behave… Women have been doing it for decades. Many men do it too of course. Where are you from?

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    1. Thank you. I’m having trouble loading the entire statement but the short statement is concise, clear and logical, and presents a strong standard. I will look at this more closely in time. I appreciate you sending this to me.

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  12. It seems that whenever I see a news story on Facebook that concerns the Top Freedom movement, I will find that most of the comments from women below the article are saying that it is “disgusting” behaviour, and suggesting that the movement is being run by (A) women who are exhibitionists (sometimes a certain crude word is used instead of “women” or (B) men who just want to ogle (which always strikes me as odd, because you never see any men involved in the story). A tiny minority of these female commenters even go so far as to say that if men are going to be allowed to see female breasts in public, then they, the women, should “get” something too, like the ability to see penises in public. The logic fails me here. Even if the movement were about allowing the other sex to “ogle” you (which obviously it isn’t!) since when is a penis the equivalent of breasts?
    Sometimes I get the feeling that I should just avoid reading the comment sections of news articles! But it is clear from them that some women too think of baring their breasts as a step towards full nudity for both sexes. But it is perhaps significant that I don’t think any of the women saying this are naturists themselves and therefore don’t have the same perspective that we have.
    Yes, I am male, and while I would certainly like the right to be nude in public, I don’t see the Top Freedom movement as a step toward that goal. Many is the time on a hot summer day I have seen men and women walking on the city sidewalks with many of the men topless–but at the very least the women have to have a bikini top or a halter top to hide their breasts–and while many of these women may be doing so because of the “body shame” that society has taught them all their lives, I’m sure that a lot of them would actually prefer to uncover simply to be more comfortable. But the fear of being arrested forces them to be physically uncomfortable.
    As for what I could do to help the Top Freedom movement, I’ve often wondered how I can. Not being a woman, I suspect that going top free amongst the women would be a minuscule gesture at best. And even if I don’t do that, I could still voice my encouragement–but if none of the women know me, how do they know I’m a genuine supporter of their cause, or just another man who wants to ogle. I am a naturist, but they wouldn’t know that.
    And, by the way, concerning the masturbation incident that you mention, the only time a man needs to “adjust” himself is when confining clothing has forced his anatomy into an awkward uncomfortable position. But I suspect you already know that.

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    1. Hi, and thank you for reading and commenting. You will find elsewhere on the blog some articles about how men can most meaningfully (in my opinion at least) support the topfreedom movement. Generally I find appropriate gestures of support (thumbs up, non-creepy acknowledgement and encouragement, kind non-sexual compliments) and strong modeling of mature behavior for other men are the most valuable things, but I’ve written of other things as well. Your comment is well crafted. I do not, in fact, read the comments under most articles regarding topfreedom anymore. I will tell you why… from my metrics I know that more than 100,000 people visited my blog in two days after the Pittsburgh walk, all from Facebook referrals. Two days, from a social media site that doesn’t allow nipple photos! So ponder this, how many people saw the Facebook post for 100,000 of them to actually click over to the blog? A million? And of those million, I got maybe 500-1000 comments on the Vice article. That’s some percentage of one percent. It feels like a lot to read it all in a row, but just the sheer magnitude of social media makes these voices sound louder because we hear them all at once. But all along I’ve been saying that most of the reaction I get on my walks is neutral to positive, with a small percentage of negative, and a very small percentage of vitriol. So a million people see the post, most, per normal, basically are neutral within some range, like whatever, and move on to the next FB post. Some are like yes! Go get em. And some small fraction are like you’re a demon, die. The vast see of neutral people aren’t going to expend the energy to comment. It’s a non-issue, why bother saying that. So by definition, the only people left to comment are the people who feel so strongly in either direction that they are driven to expend the energy to comment, and fear is the biggest motivator of all, so of course the comments sections are going to be full of the fearful mid-brain folks voicing anger (and anger is fear). It’s not just topfreedom, of course, any comment section anywhere is full of scared people being vitriolic. I’ve also found that when I engage these people civilly (you can find this on my YouTube comment sections), within a half-dozen comments we have found a civil tone and some common ground, showing me that 1) it really was fear based and 2) they didn’t feel all that strongly about it, not enough to sustain the anger through a quiet conversation. So yes, it’s hard to read, but this experience has taught me a lot about staying calm under pressure and scrutiny and I can tell you, the comments sections are not representative of how people feel, they are skewed to the most passionate voices only. That’s my feeling anyway. Thanks again… be well.

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  13. Some people are crude, base, selfish, and creepy. And it only takes a few of them to ruin it for everyone else.

    It’s up to the rest of us to show them that kind of behavior is unacceptable. To that end, and as usual, I applaud your efforts here (as well as your supporters).

    🙂

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  14. I admit I had a tough time reading this post. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me when women reveal the sexual abuse men are willing to inflict – but it always seems too. Thank you for standing up for your, my wifes, and my daughter’s rights. I couldn’t agree more thoroughly with you. Equal rights mean exactly that. The same application of law with no regard to the gender of the individual. I shall keep your post in mind in my desire to see everyone wearing as little as they desire to.

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  15. One thing that I’ve noticed as a naturist female is that, after the guys (or other women) initially check you out (normal human curiosity), they tend to gravitate naturally to the “more interesting” personal attributes, like face and eyes. You sense right away that it isn’t fake or that it requires some great effort to counter primal urges. It is one of the things that allows me truly to relax and enjoy various (especially outdoor) leisure activities. Even when conventionally swimsuited in other places, I am somehow constantly on guard.

    I suppose it sounds weird that a naturist woman is just as hesitant to be bare-chested in public as others.

    This could change if my own experience mirrored yours. My comfort in a naturist space is mainly due to being confident about being surrounded by people, including naturist men, who have already thought a bit about inter-personal respect. So the risk of running into that one person who ruins your day is minimized. For the moment, I am not so sure I would/could be as comfortable bare-chested at a public park or beach as I am completely bare among naturists, but I also think it is about expectations and social reactions so, if there are enough like-minded people in a public place who act and react as normally as you have found, I’d be more than happy to join in.

    I guess, legality aside, what I am wondering is how to know when and where there is enough of a bubble of progressive people around so that I don’t worry? Even if there were one or two other women already bare-chested, I would be too. Maybe we need some way to signal each other so we can drop tops together, without having to be as individually organized and courageous as you? Also, with family usually around, I’m not keen to risk some “incident” just because I am bare-chested.

    Probably a different blog topic. Really enjoy reading about your experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for responding. Yes I believe that when we reach some critical mass we will feel a collective shift and more and more women will feel comfortable going bare-chested. One of the reasons I walk in crowded places and city streets is to make it feel even less unusual on beaches. Many women already remove their tops and lay face down at beaches and even community pools. The general populace doesn’t have that far to go to normalize to bare-chestedness where people swim and sunbathe. Numbers will help, as you say if one or two others were doing it, or someone was doing it first and women could watch and see everything is okay… It will be easier to take that step. That’s the reason my blog exists, to kind of be that first so others might feel more comfortable in time. But it is critical that each woman feels it is right for her and at the right time, so it will be a patient process. We have a lot of tradition and collective expectation to adjust. May I ask where you live? State is fine, or city and state, just so I can have an understanding of your surroundings? It’s exciting to hear from you. I’ve been hoping the female naturist community would begin reaching out to me, if even just to chat. It seems that women who already know the joy and freedom will have a smaller mental leap to make to at least understand the nonsexual motivations people might have for going bare-chested. If you would rather not share your information through the comments feel free to email me at breastsarehealthy@gmail.com. Thank you! Be well.

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      1. It’s ok — I live near Kelowna BC in Canada, with work often taking me to Seattle, Toronto, NYC and LA. Up here, being bare-chested is of course legal but still not normalized. During travel, with limited naturist possibilities, being bare-chested is an option, but it then often means coping with the patchwork of local US rules that you know so well.

        I responded here in the open comments on purpose, and with a smile, since it felt a bit like being the second bare-chested woman in the park! Facing my fear. But I also think its indispensable to “normalization” to talk things out openly and together, both between genders and among age groups. That’s hard to do in a real park. Your blog is kind of a virtual “public park” where people see how it can work, make contact and listen to each other, and maybe actually begin to define a public consensus that will bring the “collective shift” you mention.

        My main thought on the “smaller mental leap” is that, although naturist women know that being bare-chested can be no big deal, non-sexual and simply pleasant, the “can be” is the hurdle for us. To be present in our “parks,” people accept “normalization” or leave. Women are used to the enforced social pact. In contrast, you are working on broad acceptance of a new public norm that transforms “can be” to the “is” we enjoy as a private norm. Arriving with compatible attitudes, we’ll fit in, but it is new uncharted territory for us too. We can share naturist values and etiquette to inform the discussion, but I feel like I am ultimately inexperienced and would need a serious training session and a manual with talking points to do what you do.

        On the other hand, I have a nagging feeling that our comfortable naturist insularity may be outmoded and unhealthy in a time of booming social networks and changing gender norms, so that’s why I read your blog and hope other naturist women are looking in too and maybe will also get inspired to add to normalizing bare-chests outside the gates.

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        1. I’ve had a couple people bring up the idea of “smaller leaps” recently so I think this is a sign to write an article on the topic 🙂 I spent a fascinating evening on a local beach tonight in the company of four young people between the age of 9 and 15, one girl about 11 years old and the three others boys, who were swimming and came over to see what I was up to. We ended up tossing a football for about an hour. Almost at the end of the thing, one of the boys asked me why my “tits were out” and I told him I was bare-chested for the same reason he was bare-chested and he kind of cocked his head and smiled and said, “Well… that’s true!” And we went back to throwing the football. Their father showed up on a boat eventually, he had been crabbing and had dropped his kids off to swim while he checked his line, and he took the scene in and his kids swam out and climbed in the boat and they waved to me as they left and I could hear them telling him all about it. Nearby was a couple with two daughters, about 6-8 years old maybe, fishing. Otherwise, the beach was empty. So me, two parents and six kids, and it was sublime and relaxed and chill. If the idea never leaves the “gates” as you describe them, nothing ever changes, right? But to the point of how to get started, I have certainly learned a lot about how to be ignored while bare-chested, or how to be seen, and it will make an interesting article I think. Thanks again for writing. I have another commenter headed to BC this August who said she and maybe some other women are planning to go bare-chested and have contacted the police to confirm the legality etc. So if you would like me to pass along your contact information I’d be happy to do so.

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  16. People who promote topfreedom and people who promote naturism should consider themselves allies rather than competitors. Their objectives certainly aren’t entirely the same, but they are related in some important ways, and are generally not in conflict with each other. (And by “people” I mean both men and women.) Whether we’re talking about larger movements such as feminism or gay rights or whatever, the fact is that there are many subgroups with their own special objectives. These things are coalitions, and they derive strength from working together and supporting each other. Just because different factions have slightly different priorities should not inhibit cooperation. I imagine there are feminists who are lukewarm (at best) about topfreedom, on the grounds that it will mainly lead to further objectification of females bodies.

    What naturists and topfreedom advocates have in common, I think, is the overriding need to change prevailing ideas that certain parts of a person’s body (varying by gender) simply should not be seen in public at all, are harmful for children to see, etc. The goal of gender equality implies that topfreedom should be available to women and men equally. But not necessarily anywhere and everywhere. Most naturists are not advocating that nudity (or uncovered penises) should be possible everywhere. The realistic objective is for it to be allowed in “reasonable” places, such as beaches, forest trails, etc. And not in all such places, but at least enough so that people who are desirous of such don’t have to travel an unreasonable distance. Now substitute “topfreedom” for “nudity” and the relationship is apparent. Topfree advocates should note that their own goals will be realized wherever the broader goals of naturists are (e. g. clothing optional beaches).

    This isn’t meant to disagree at all with topfree advocates who feel that some naturists (males) have ulterior motives with respect to topfreedom. Any males to whom that applies certainly need to broaden their perspective and be much more sensitive to the legitimate concerns of the topfree movement.

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  17. A lot of long-winded posts here. I would just say that you are an inspiration to me. I love being bare-chested and pushing the envelope anywhere and anytime I can. It is good to find a fellow traveler on the bare-chested journey. Keep it up and perhaps our paths will cross sometime.

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    1. Hi. Thank you for commenting an for the support. I of course appreciate the thoughtful comments, from those who agree and disagree alike. The thoughtful conversation in the comments section and out In the world is where this issue moves forward as much as anywhere. I am especially grateful for how respectful this blogs commenters are, even when we don’t all see things the same way. Civil discourse :). Thanks again. Welcome. Be well!

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    1. Thank you for reaching out to my blog. Yes, another commenter shared your work here several weeks ago and I compliment it now as I did then. It’s nice to here from you directly. Thank you for taking the time to share this with me/us.

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  18. The naturist world is kind of starving right now, so I understand the desire to co-opt any movement that might move things in a more naturist-friendly direction. And I recognize the danger in co-optation.

    When we go to our local naturist swimming hole, we attract a crowd of the older generations whose kids have grown up. Few families now show up at the venue these days and there is certainly an impression (true or not) that naturism is increasingly marginalized and dying out. These people are so thankful to see us there and quite encouraging. And you can also sense the dismay and urgency in their voices and actions – extra eagerness, willing to bend over backwards to make sure you’re happy there, talking about the past. I certainly want to grow naturism and am hoping that not only will we do it by teaching respect to the younger generations but by a sense of conviviality within all movements that seek body freedom.

    But, it is not my place to take your cause and turn it into my cause. I support top-freedom for its own sake, for the freedom of my daughters to achieve equality in their bodies (at least in this respect), for a saner worldview on the body to greet them when they are adults.

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    1. Thank you again. I appreciate your time in reading and commenting, here and on Twitter. Your message is well considered and insightful. I don’t align as a “naturist” even though I go nude, and I know a lot of people my age and younger who do just that, fluidly moving in and out of clothing, in social settings, camping, swimming, just sitting around watching movies with friends, but the labels naturist and nudist seem to imply some sort of alignment in thought that younger generations don’t seem to subscribe to. For young people, taking clothes off just means you like to be naked and why not? But calling yourself a naturist seems to be a step that doesn’t apply to younger people. Is there an ethos defined by the word naturism? Who decides? Is there a governing body somewhere? I genuinely don’t know. As it relates to topfreedom, I meet a lot more people who would go bare-chested if it weren’t seen as a protest or a statement. So when the act of going bare-chested is only associated with protest or making a statement, that in itself becomes a label, and women hesitate or decline. But if it’s just a question of how are you most comfortable, a lot more women will go bare-chested. So we have to figure out how to leap across this space where going bare-chested is a protest activity, but in order to make it a non-protest activity, we have to do the activity as a form of protest. Nevertheless, we are making progress. Thoughts?

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      1. I have a very hard time with labels and rarely apply the words nudist or naturist to myself. In fact, I’ve really only done so this week, in part because I’m doing my best to put a name to how I move in the world. It’s like shorthand.

        The ethos, as I understand it, is to enjoy being nude in nature (naturism) or in general (nudism), and the main groups that exist are The Naturist Society and American Association of Nude Recreation. The general rules are non-sexual, family-oriented enjoyment of being without clothes. Each has a legal arm that helps influence local lawmakers to ensure that people maintain and even gain rights to being nude in natural settings.

        I think, generally, people have started to eschew labels, but a label at least helps create a unified identity. When you’re in the minority, the label often helps you identify your allies. I agree that comfort is the underlying mechanism for what we’re all doing and I believe that the labels can come with baggage.

        For instance, “nudist” is a quick way to get a laugh for comedians. I actually find it hurtful, because I was born to this inclination. I suppressed it for many years and was miserable. Now I’ve embraced who I am, but shy away from the words that often describe people like me, because they’ve been used as pejoratives. In fact, I think it’s why “naturist” has started to take over – redefinition to slough off the easy laugh. So I completely understand how words bring with them unintended meanings or ideas on how to behave. But in a world where we put language to life, it’s hard to get away from it and then find people of similar mind. In general, I believe where it’s starving isn’t in the name, but in a perception that participation is dwindling. I hope the open-mindedness of the people a decade and beyond younger than I (I’m 39) will pave the way to a freer future.

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        1. I appreciate the work of naturist groups to be sure. The legal arms of both AANR and TNS have helped me with the Maryland Attorney General. And as such the experience and organization and knowledge they bring are great resources. The value there is clear. It seems the challenge is to decouple nudity from sex in a world where children view and normalize pornography and “immodest” women are still seen to be inviting and deserving of rape. It would be great if the naturist world could draw on their positive experiences with non-sexual nudity and body positivity and seek that joy for all and assert the importance of equality under the law as an ideal worth achieving in itself rather than arguing for topfreedom simply as a stepping stone to what some of them really want, which is for men to be able to go naked in public. I think what stands out sometimes is how people don’t realize how obvious that disconnect sounds to me, just speaking for myself here, and how obviously some people struggle, really struggle, with the idea of true equality under then law, let alone in social interactions. (I’m not referring to you. You sound like you get it.) But even when it’s subtle, it’s quite apparent, and worse in the sense that it feels as if the subtlety is designed to camouflage the real intention (which makes it a lie.) I’m finding an asymptotic effect with equality in this regard, where we can get ever closer to equality without actually just declaring and accepting actual equality. And the nearer we get, the more obvious it is when someone feels uncomfortable with the idea
          of actual equality, because their exists a pause, a hesitation, as that person struggles internally with the math, what do I lose if we are equal, how does this effect me, as opposed to people who embrace equality as THE ideal and say, yes, equality first and above all else, and we will figure out the rest afterwards.

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          1. Most people find it difficult to understand just how powerful the norms and customs of a society are for resisting any change. That’s because the norms and customs are learned at an early age, and reinforced throughout life. In addition, norms and customs often benefit some segments of society at the expense of others.

            Change can occur only when there is sufficient total force behind the effort to bring about change. So it is that MEN acquired rights to be topfree almost a century ago, even though this is still an uphill struggle for women. Likewise, LGBT rights have advanced rapidly in the past few decades because so many MEN, as well as women, were advesely affected by the denial of such rights. In our society (as in most), MEN still have more power, unfortunately but obviously. Women still struggle for equal pay, equal opportunities, etc. because of the powerful forces against change, since the allocation of wages, opportunities, etc. is something of a zero-sum game, and MEN don’t want to give up anything.

            Now, the achievement of both topfreedom and expanded rights for full nudity isn’t a zero-sum game. Sympathizers of either sort of rights lose nothing when the other rights are expanded. In fact, both sides gain from the success of the other – perhaps a lot. Nevertheless, the conservative forces against change in norms and customs are still quite strong. In order to conteract these forces, it’s necessary to have as many supporters for change as possible. Nudists and naturists are numerically very weak (though they are a bit more organized). In fact, many people who sympathize with expanded nudity rights don’t want to have anything to do with the “nudist” or “naturist” labels. “Don’t label me” seems to be their mantra. So even when nudists/naturists champion topfreedom (for its own sake), they bring very little additional support to the cause. Sympathizers with the cause of female topfreedom, namely large percentages of women, are far more numerous.

            The support of nudists/naturists for topfreedom should be welcomed, NOT treated with suspicion about motives, because nudists/naturists and topfreedom advocates are natural allies. And allies need to actively support each others’ cause, since allies should help each other, given that their objectives aren’t in conflict. Coalition building is based on finding the common interests of potential partners, and putting those above secondary considerations.

            Female topfreedom advocates should understand that, among nudists and naturists, the argument that topfreedom is a step towards expanded nudity rights is an obvious argument to make. (Just as public breastfeeding rights were a stop towards topfreedom.) And that’s not a bad thing, because winning rights is usually a piecemeal process. The incrementalist argument should, of course, be supplemented with the argument that equality under the law is also a powerful argument, and should be given at least equal weight, since it’s also very persuasive in the case of nudity rights. And there is no logical contradiction between the two arguments.

            It is quite unfortunate that there are nudists/naturists who don’t want their cause associated with the topfreedom cause. I don’t really understand their reasoning, but it seems to be based on the idea that it would dilute and distract from efforts in favor of nudity rights. In addition, perhaps, nudists who are of this opinion are afraid of having their motives questioned, on the suspicion that (male) nudists only care about seeing female breasts. So topfreedom advocates should be careful about fueling this suspicion themselves. Natural allies should recognize that their mutual interest in helping each other overshadows other issues.

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          2. The disconnect is pretty obvious. If you were asking to be able to go pantsless, because we already could, that would be the parallel. I realize I’m preaching to the choir.

            For me, it’s not about going nude in public. I can do that at home and in Vermont, technically could do that in public given how the laws are written. But, for me, on the naturism side, I just want safe spaces in nature (not in public) where we can enjoy it naturally.

            But back to why we’re here. Let’s chip away and get equal rights in this regard. I’m afraid society is so hypersexualized about the breast that it will continue to be difficult (my wife was shamed on a flight by a female flight attendant for breast feeding once – yes, I got our money back for that flight, because we were made uncomfortable and singled out, but even that took a fight and letters to the airline’s lawyers and CEO, while citing the state’s breastfeeding laws, since we were still on the ground when it happened.) And agreed, figure out the rest down the line.

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