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A house divided cannot stand -what’s up with the clothes free community

Recently a clothes free blogger Naturist Philosopher made a very compelling analysis of the state of the clothes free community, indicating reasons why it was not thriving. I have read and observed this and some of the other commentary within the clothes free community for sometime. So I thought to share my observations on the matter. Note:This is my observation and not intended to match anyone else reality. It may well be biased or incomplete but it is still mine.

20140218-175614.jpgAbraham Lincoln in his speech A House Divided made as candidate for the U.S. senate aptly describes the current state of the clothes free community in my opinion. Drawing of the teachings of Jesus, Lincoln made the case for the end of the division in the country regarding slavery. Leveraging the thoughts of the previously mentioned blogger, I believe the only way the clothes free community will thrive is to reduce internal division.

Let me take a moment to address those divisions which in reality are very natural human behavior. Nothing feels better than to belong, it makes us feel good. But we also have a tendency to make very thin distinctions within the groups to which we belong. We see this in general society and it is evident in the clothes free community as well. So here goes.

Non religious nudists/naturists rail against religious counterparts blaming all Christians for instance for the actions of their institutions. Various naturist groups, organizations and clubs eager to secure their piece of the pie challenge the credibility of others. Family nudists and nudist couples feel their experience threatened by singles. Female naturists are intimidated by males. Clothes free bloggers undercut, undermine others going as far as to copy content and bad mouthing to get attention for their individual sites. Gays and lesbians are not always welcomed by straight nudists. Young naturist criticize older ones as out of touch. Older nudists criticize younger as being impetuous. Newbies run afoul of long time nudists. “Lifestyle” enthusiasts say those who pursue non sexual nudity are prudes.. Nudists with piercings and tattoos feel persecuted by those without. Those more open with the practice being clothes free chide those who for whatever reason must be more private. Clothes free activists challenge the passivity of others. I could go on but I think you get my point.

Chart of clothes free community
Image courtesy of @ibanSaram

All this fragmentation creates a real problem for clothes free community. Simply put there is no real community just a bunch of groups each pursuing their individual agendas. Multiple groups swimming in their own pools. The result is an inability to speak with one voice about anything. Groups can’t even agree on how to advocate for the cause and regularly demean each other’s efforts. A good example is the clear failure of the recent White House petition.

So the pressure being put on clothes free community from the non clothes free and increasingly gymnophobic society continues to spread. This has resulted fewer public options to be clothes free and greater acceptance of banishing those who want to do so. While mainstream media seems to be engaging with clothes free living most of it is distorted and sexual in nature. The end result is a that the practice of clothes free living is at risk of being marginalized out of existence.

When all is said and done I do not know where this will lead, but I do know if there is any hope for a vibrant ongoing clothes free community things have to change.

To paraphrase Lincoln,

I do not expect the clothes free community to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do hope it will cease to be divided.

What do you think?


About the author: Earl D Verified member Moderator
Founder, editor in chief, news curator

34 thoughts on “A house divided cannot stand -what’s up with the clothes free community

  1. Upon reading the comments section I can easily conclude that the premise of the article is accurate. The internal conflicts are alive and active. My suggestion to bring the nudist/naturalist movement into the open is to study and mimic the tactics of the LGBT community. They were a persecuted minority, but now they are mainstream accepted. Learn from recent history. What did they do? One thing that happened in their community was that celebrities and other notable people came out as members or supporters of the LGBT community. Celebrities influence the opinions of the general public. It they are doing something then the general population wants to copy them and be included.
    Will somebody with celebrity connections please go talk to them and get them interested?
    Also stop the infighting as to who is more right, and just accept all types of nudity/naturalism (not sexuality) as part of the overall community and work together for the common good and advancement of the cause!
    History has shown that an effective military tactic is to “divide and conquer”. We are currently doing that to ourselves. It’s your community movement. Work together or watch your movement slowly die.
    You have a choice to make for yourself and the nudist/naturalist movement.
    This is just one member’s opinion!

  2. Sorry, @Skyclad Pagan, but my perspective is exactly the opposite. I have visited nudist clubs in my area and they were very nice and the people were very welcoming (which is a consideration when you’re an African American — but that’s another discussion), but I always felt enclosed. I simply don’t like walled-in resorts, clothed or nude. I enjoy beaches, backpacking, sailing, all preferably nude. I want to see nudity normalized; not locked away behind privacy fences, but stretched out in downtown parks as in Berlin. I am not willing to concede that nudity must be a private pursuit, only shared by like-minded people so as to avoid “offending” anyone. I am offended that I have to wear clothes when mowing the lawn in my own back yard on a 90 degree day. You ask “In short what does Nudist Philosophy and Lifestyle offer me that I can’t get by simply sitting out on a beach?” As far as I am concerned, nothing. That’s what I mean by normalization. I want to take nudity out of the realm of a philosophical pursuit and make it a part of everyday life. Then those who wish to explore the other aspects of the traditions of freikorperkultur can be free to do so, but those of us who just want to catch some rays in the park at lunchtime can be free to do so as well. Until we as nudists/naturists decide that any way to be naked is good, not just our preferred way, we will never be a movement, just a collection of Balkanized and marginalized tribes fighting amongst ourselves.

      1. Hopefully talking about it can help encourage more African Americans to give naturism a try, but I don’t know how typical my experience has been. Like many kids, I didn’t like wearing clothes. Unlike most of them, that never changed for me. I discovered that enjoying being naked was an “ism” when I was in my twenties. My first experience was at Assateague National Seashore and after going alone and spending a day at the beach nude, I was hooked. Assateague is a very long beach, so it’s easy to be alone, but after a few solo visits there I was ready to try “social” nudity, so I made the trip up to Gunnison Beach in New Jersey. I found the people there to be some of the nicest I’ve ever met. It seemed that every time I went I was drawn into a friendly group and made to feel very welcome. There were few other African Americans there (some, but not many), but it didn’t matter at all. My experience at local nudist clubs (Washington, DC area) has also been very positive. I’ve visited a few different ones during open houses and have never had a negative experience. I have not ruled out ever joining a landed club, but as I mentioned in my original post, I am really a free-range naturist and I don’t like being fenced in. Also, my wife is not a naturist, which limits my options. If any of the clubs were clothing-optional I might be able to convince her to join, since she is nudity-tolerant, but a club where she would be expected to be nude at all times is probably a no-go. Which also brings me to the subject of why my experience may differ from that of many African Americans. Frankly, the world in which I have spent most of my life is much more white than black. Every school I attended from elementary school through college was at least 70 percent white. Most of my friends, including my best friend (with whom I share many of my outdoor activities and who has seen me naked more than anyone except my wife), are white. So, I am not intimidated, nor do I feel uncomfortable, in a venue where I am the only African American, or one of a very few. Many African Americans have had experiences leading them to be very wary of such situations. Considering the demographics of naturism/nudism, my comfort level has been a big advantage. The African American community tends to be very church-oriented and socially conservative. Wanting to be naked outside is often viewed as just not “right.” This seems to be changing, but even more slowly than in the general population. If I could send one message to other African Americans concerning naturism/nudism, it would be that it’s not “nasty” and it’s not about sex. It’s about being in nature in your natural state. Once you’ve gone swimming naked in the ocean and lain on the beach feeling the sun warm you all over and the breeze caress your whole body, you’ll never want to wear a bathing suit again! By the way, don’t worry about the white folks. Nudists are amazingly friendly and accepting for the most part. (Unless you’re in the deep south, but then it’s not about being black; they don’t want anyone to be a nudist.) So, if you’re curious about nudism, look up the nearest nude beach or little-used nature preserve and maybe go for the first time on a weekday when it’s not crowded. Maybe go online and check out naturist forums; you may find another black naturist you can trust in your area to go with you. Just try it and you’ll be very glad you did!

    1. I strongly agree that “walled in” naturism is not very satisfactory – there is no sense of liberation in it, Also the more we retreat into such places the more textiles will believe we are hiding something disreputable.

    2. I agree with you totally. This whole idea of body shame isn’t a natural thing, it’s a learned and conditioned concept enforced upon us by society. It’s stupid! Just because other people are ashamed of their bodies doesn’t mean that we have to be ashamed of ours. And as for being shocked by the sight of a nude human body, well that is plain nonsense too. We each have a body, so it’s not like they haven’t seen a nude one before. And if they have never seen another person nude before, then they must be living under a rock.

      If nudity was more mainstream, most people wouldn’t mind it all, I’m certain. They just have to see it more often each day. TV shows like “Naked and Afraid”, et al, are a step in the right direction but the foolish pixelation of body parts turns into a peep show, which detracts from showing the true nudist /naturist lifestyle. I always find it odd that you can sit in your living room, on any night of the week, and start flicking through the channels. Within a few minutes you are sure to find someone pointing a gun at somebody else and that seems okay with most people. Nobody bats an eye at that. But as soon as they see somebody in the nude, they are all upset. Go figure! As John Lennon once said “The human body is not obscene, violence is obscene”!

    3. NRVS1 I’m in complete agreement! Here in France we have some very wishy-washy laws about nudity wherein, technically speaking, you can be arrested for walking naked from your bathroom to your living room without your robe, if you can be seen through the windows of your house. Being nude isn’t illegal, but lewd or obscene behaviour is and unfortunately, lewd and obscene are left to the eye of the beholder. I like working nude in our garden, sitting on the steps outside in the sun with our cats, walking in the countryside along winding, narrow lanes but I’ll be damned if any of that is lewd or obscene! Instead of making the nudist/naturist movement more popular, the people in the movement need, legally speaking, to strive to decriminalise nudity so that it can be considered the commonplace and natural occurrence that it is. Have you ever stopped to think that the clothing industry is the only one in the world that has laws forcing people to use its products?

  3. Want to really save Nudism? Bring back the concept of secluded clubs, lodges and resorts. Fantasy like get away from it all and away from prying eyes where your safe with entirely like minded and be yourself.

    Out in ‘back woods’ lonely hiker explorer nudism isn’t good. Its rather lonely and guess what ‘nature is a bitch’ you can gett chiggers, ticks, Lyme disease and parasites up your urethra if not careful.

    Bring back the likes of Sunny Palm Lodge and take the Resort/Lodge concept to the next level but into the 21st century. How about a nudist commune/gated community or even a town.

    It’s human nature to ‘desire or want’ that thing (anything) that is secluded, exclusive, expensive unique and we tend to ignore ‘common’ item even though that may be comparable or even surpass that unqiue in quality.

    So why do you think the Nudist Philosophy and Lifestyle will be spread by opening up more nude beaches, more public lands to Nudism? In short what does Nudist Philosophy and Lifestyle offer me that I can’t get by simply sitting out on a beach?

    If you truly want your cause to spread… you gotta do a little marketing.

    Vast majority of people according to demographics live urban or suburban in the USA. They are tired, exhausted during the week.. They are looking for escapism. Something different. Something they’ve never had before. Give them that and thet will embrace it.

  4. I agree that people and groups putting each other down is destructive. But debate and having a variety of groups within naturism/nudism is not a problem. In fact, intelligent debate and discussion combined with a variety of options in the clubs/resorts strengthens the movement because it provides people with the ability to chose what they want.

    I think the biggest problem is, and has always been, naturists’/nudists’ unwillingness to be open about their creed. Most of them are unwilling to publicly engage in advocacy and debate. That limits awareness of the movement which results fewer converts and less credibility with authorities.

    1. Thanks for the comment. The challenge I think is that openness does not have the same consequence for everyone. I believe that needs to be understood. And accepted in order for everyone to be engaged. Otherwise some folks will be hesitant.

  5. If you understand what changed you can reverse the changes.

    The first change that happened to nudism in the USA was Woodstock. After Woodstock, it became harder to get large groups of young people together and harder for young individuals to agree on anything. Nudism has to be individualized and customized. Spa and Wellness amenities should be added. We should compete for a larger share of total vacation spending. Camping has been updated into RVing but do we have the capacity in place to serve the demand?.

    The second change in the USA was the end of the golden age of nudist magazines when they were replaced by Playboy, Hustler, and Penthouse. The nudist message lost its voice. We need to make our lifestyle known to a new audience. One avenue to use to educate the public is to scan old nudist books and magazines for an online library.

    The third in the USA was the Meese Commission on Pornography. The year of the report was the year that many nude beaches saw their peak attendance. It’s easy to disprove their false findings. In the US in 2002 the birth rate for Caucasian girls 10 to 14 was 0.2 per thousand. For African American girls 10 to 14 it was 1.8 per thousand, or 9 times higher. A small fraction of one percent of pornography depicted African Americans vs their 13% share of the US population. Pornography reduced sexual violence by magnitudes. The nude human body is not only not harmful it is clearly beneficial to society.

    In 1981 Pope John Paul II said, “the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty.” We must get the message out that nudism has a positive impact. It is our contribution to mankind’s bright future.

  6. @Boyd Allen
    Your problem would be solved if you’d stop calling yourselves “Christian Naturists.” Instead, call yourselves “Naturists” as the rest of us do and, in the unlikely event that anyone asks or cares, reluctantly mention that you’re a Naturist who, oh by the way, happens to be Christian. Then, immediately CHANGE THE SUBJECT.

    In short, if your goal is to parade your religion (or your sectual orientation) in nudist/naturist circles — and especially if you aim to convert others — then you’re being deliberately divisive and will be correctly regarded as such.

    1. Very late response here: Jennifer, we understand what you’re saying, but I doubt that Boyd and his friends proselytize about Christianity a lot while enjoying a weekend at a nudist venue. Their organization and website are simply a support group for those individuals who find themselves in a situation that isn’t addressed or understood by their fellow Christians.

      As a minority among their peers, the assurance that they’re not ‘sinful’ and that there is actually justification for their ‘deviance’ can be hugely important to someone torn between what they’ve been brought up to believe and the reality of what they themselves feel to be right.

      Consider: Devout Catholic women who do not wish to become pregnant, want to follow the Church’s teachings, and need someone to demonstrate that the ban on contraception is a relatively modern invention of ONE Pope, and that the Pope’s ‘infallibility’ is also a recent concept. Those women need to know they are not alone, nor are going to go to Hell for not wanting to whelp endless spawn.

      From our own experience, probably most nudists (in the US anyway) would identify themselves as Christian, but most are likely not sincere enough about that to be terribly concerned about Biblical justification for their enjoyment of social nudism.

      But some are, and for those folks the discovery of a group of devout Christians who can answer their questions must be, can I say it?, a Godsend!

  7. I’m from New Zealand and my philosphy is exactly that of William Scuby – don’t cringe, don’t act guilty. Just do it, bold as brass. If no one ever pushes boundaries nothing will ever change.

    On the subject of fragmentation and mutual group hostility, it is a predictable phenomenon of social psychology. When people make closed little groups based on a canon of intense, non-mainstream beliefs, that is what they do – they fall out and splinter off into even smaller groups. The evangelical Christians are an obvious example, but it can happen with political movements too. I avoid membership of any groups because I want nothing to do with the control, the rules, the bickering, the committees, the cliques. My advice is affiliate yourself with loose organisations like the Free Beach Group and avoid the closed clubs and societies, they are intrinsically claustrophobic, parochial and the ring-leaders are quite often more interested in maintaining personal control over their little patch than the wider task of social normalisation of public nudity.

    I think the way forward is mass events like the world nude cycle events, that are open to the general public – there is no membership, no screening, no control, and it is all very much in the public eye in urban centres, and not at all sexual like nudist beaches tend to become. Anyone can be a nudist for the day, and having done so, hopefully they can see the unreasonableness of legal compulsion to wear clothing at all times.

  8. Jesus himself said “I came not to bring peace, but rather division.” The only ‘peace’ he brings is between you and him personally. And the Christian church has been that way ever since it began. War and division will always exist in our human system.

    What is needed is a definite manifesto for nudism and naturism that needs to be followed and adhered to by its practitioners. We need to be taking some steps back and look at what made the nudist movement so appealing back in its heyday during the late 1890s to 1970s. Back then it was all about health, family, community and spirituality. It was a philosophy of life than a ‘lifestyle’ (a word that has been lumped in with the likes of swingers and hedonists).

    If we want to be moving on, we need to learn to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Not every single nudist man is a troublemaker and a pervert. Not every nudist couple are swingers. Not every Christian nudists are bigots and prudes. What happened to “innocent till proven guilty”?

    Let’s learn to put aside our egos and politics and work together in the nudist world to make our way of life more accepted as well as acceptable.

    1. Anthropologically/Sociologically speaking, the circles are in the right order. That’s why I put them that way when I made the graphic.

      However, it’s not necessarily a point worth debating — I could have just as easily done it the other way around.

  9. As I already stated on Facebook in my post in the ‘Intelligent Nudists and Naturists’ group. I don’t care about anybody’s additional lifestyle choices, but I do care about incorporating them in a lifestyle that is a non-sexual oriented one and force it upon others. In my opinion has to stay ‘clean’. As long as people within or outsiders will or try to bring the sexual aspect in to it, I will be fighting them. I don’t feel any threatening from people who are different, to get back on the subject, I just want this lifestyle to be generally accepted and not only over here in the Netherlands, but global.

  10. What’s happening among naturists may well reflect the difficulties the Christian churches are experiencing: division and being seen as irrelevant. Certainly the “revolt” against “organized religion” parallels the difficulties orgs like AANR are having. But something interesting is happening among believers: folks of various denominations are beginning to talk to each other and get beyond historical differences to focus on the foundations of our faith. Perhaps it’s time for lovers of nudity, whether they call themselves “nudists” or “naturists” or “clothes-free people” or no label at all, to focus more on what we do have in common.

    1. Thanks for the comment I agree with your analysis and comparison with Christian churches as well as your response to find the common and focus on that. This is what I try to do personally and the community I try to cultivate with this site.

  11. I’ll have to agree with the concerns pointed out here. I am a Christian Nudist and leading a group of Christian Nudists through a group called Christian Nudist Convocation, I find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. First of all, being nudists, we are automatic “hell fodder” for main stream Christianity. But as a Christian, we are cautiously viewed by nudists as Christians who are trying to “get them saved” like as if we are bicycle riding door knockers and won’t let them drink beer. Personally, I’m disappointed because I was hoping they would offer me a beer.
    We find ourselves “standing in the gap” to borrow a phrase from the Old Testament. We act as ambassadors with the “Voice of Reason” for the nudist community to the clothed Christians, and a “Voice of Reason” for the Christian Faith to the Nudists. We try to be a safe place for both sides. It’s a balancing act and we try to keep the two sides at peace. That is our part anyway, I hope we are helping….some.

    1. Thanks so much for this comment I can certainly relate to what you describe. The house divided is also from Christian scripture. I left out direct reference to it in the post so as to not have folks go off track when reading

      1. Simple nudity is not an offence/crime in New Zealand. However, due to the stigma that has built around nudism, many people associate it exhibitionism, sexual predators and, in general, something that is ‘simply wrong’. I believe that part of the reason for it is that nudists have excluded themselves from the general society by ‘hiding’ behind a fence, in clubs or in parks. Many nudists seem to think that what they are doing is wrong. As a result, when they are nude on the beach, they put on clothes as soon as a textile comes a little close. That appears to show that the clothes-free lifestyle is under pressure from both the overwhelming censorship on TV.
        Nudists can change this by not hiding behind a fence (as long as it is legal to do so). Be more open about their lifestyle choice, be willing to defend that choice and be tolerant towards other people that don’t care about your choice, but don’t want to, or haven’t yet made the same choice. This means that mingling clothes-free and clothed people should be more promoted and encouraged. A recent example, and something that makes me go back every year, is Ngatuhoa Naturally. This is a yearly event in the middle of the bush with plenty of hiking opportunities and other activities. There, you just wear what you like and nobody cares. Some are (almost) always nude, others wear something as protection from the sun, and others may wear something because that makes them more comfortable. There is basically only one rule: Don’t be offended by nudity. It provides for an extremely relaxed environment and I would hope we can move more towards that kind of integration into the general society.

        1. Thanks for the comment things are pretty intense here in the US I don’t think what you describe in NZ would be possible at the moment. I think the clothes free community needs to do a bit more work on its own stuff first.

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