Over three years ago this was a draft post after seeing someone ask this question online. Is nudism just an excuse for closet exhibitionists and swingers to justify their lifestyle? Three years later the question of the connection between nudism and sexuality is even more relevant. Recent events have caused me to take another look at this subject. There are some today who suggest there is no inconsistency between the practice of nudism or naturism and sexually driven nudity practiced in the swinging lifestyle or exhibitionism.
Re-examining the question
The tipping point for the re-examination was the report of a tragic killing at a swinger resort which described as a nudist campground by the newspapers. But the same papers list activities at the facility that sound more sexual .
Upcoming events include a “festival” devoted to partner swapping, as well as a “festival country sexy,” a “festival fantasme” and a “festival érotique.”
We should not dismiss the fact that three lives were lost in this tragic act involving an alleged sexual relationship triangle. However there is another tragedy here. It is the continuing tortured history of connecting nudism and sexual activity. Writer Brian Hoffman has chronicled this in his book Naked a Cultural History of American Nudism. This led me to the conclusion that looking at the history of nudism, the mix of sexual activity and nudist practice has not been good for the image of the practice. Here are some thoughts from Hoffman.
..many leaders feared that the original ideals and principles of nudism would be lost to an unregulated market of magazines and films that linked nudity and nudism to the commercialization of sex. For decades, nudist leaders and advocates had struggled to balance the movement’s therapeutic goals and its family-oriented recreational character with the erotic appeal of its magazines and camps. Naked a Cultural History of American Nudism
Although many nudists criticized Lange’s sensual photos and worried that they would lead nudism away from its familial character and respectability, Lange’s influence continued to grow in the nudist community.
Naked a Cultural History of American Nudism
However, some do not agree with my conclusion. Popular blogger,writer and self-described naturist Jill Page suggests purists find the mix of sex and nudism disagreeable. She uses the phrase “libertine naturism” to describe as a totally compatible expression of sexual activity and nudism/naturism.
Some naturists are already saying that Adam et Ève is a place for “swingers” as opposed to “nudists,” as if one cannot be both a swinger and a naturist.
I respectfully disagree. There are people who combine the two — and why not, as long as it is between consenting adults? We talked about the “libertine” naturism issue here recently when such a camp — the Diamant Noir — opened in France. – Nudism/Naturism: Tragedy at a Quebec campground
I do not consider myself a purist by any stretch, and I am a regular reader of Page’s posts. However, on this matter I must respectfully disagree. Though I understand the conclusion she comes to through her “libertine” views, I simply disagree. I don’t understand how the partner swapping event described by the papers as scheduled for the venue, reflects naturism or nudism. But that is my opinion, and it does depend on the definition of nudism used. If nudism is defined as being nude in social company regardless of the intent then there would seem to be no issue. But is nudism simply the act of getting naked without any consideration of intent? Yes, I know it is difficult if not impossible to tell the intent of an individual. But here we have group of people at a venue with a clearly stated intent. Still Page is right in one respect, we live in libertine times.
Libertine- a person who is morally or sexually unrestrained – dictionary.com
The reality is we live in a libertine age. A time not too different than the sexual revolution of the 60s. Which the nudism movement had to contend with in its effort to keep the practice family-oriented. But now everything is up for grabs. Even what constitutes a family. This is an an era when everyone defines things through the lens of their own experience. This is the singular characteristic of the postmodern age. Deconstruct everything, and if there is an undefined vacuüm be assured someone will put their definition on it. Nudism is subject to this postmodern deconstruction. Without a clear definition, anyone may define it as they see fit, and they have. It is hard to know what nudism and, to a lesser degree, naturism, is anymore.
The folks at the swinger resort in question seem to make use of the postmodern ethos as they define their brand of naturism through a libertine lens.
naturist camping for liberated people – Camping at Adam and Eve
Promotional images from the venue web site don’t seem to reflect something other than clothing optional/clothes free nudism or naturism.
What matters and why
Why does it matter? I would share a personal experience to explain. Two summers ago while at a clothing optional nudist venue I met a young woman, who had travelled solo to the venue for an event. She connected with me and a female friend who was also at the event. The woman shared that she wasn’t a newbie to nudist activities. However, the companion she had expected to be with her backed out at the last-minute. She was feeling a bit isolated and vulnerable. So when a “nice looking” couple invited her to join them for dinner, she gladly took them up on the offer. As she shared in conversation it came as a surprise to her, the dinner invitation came with some unexpected after dinner desserts. Here was a person who was just enjoying being clothes free, with nothing else in mind. But she was confronted with the expectation that being naked was a precursor to sex. That’s why it matters. Conflating the two activities can create a confusing and potentially dangerous environment for everyone.
If simple nudity is simply nudity nothing else why does it have to be attached to something else? All over the internet and in social media I see memes pronouncing “nudity is not sex” or something similar. At the same time our social media accounts often get followers who list themselves as both nudist and exhibitionist. As editor of the web magazine I have personally interacted with people both male and female who claim the nudist label but seem to then gravitate towards exhibitionist behavior.
The deriving of sexual gratification from fantasies or acts that involve exposing one’s genitals Free Dictionary
Is it OK for a national Naturist organization to walk in a #pride parade?
— YoungNaturistsCanada (@YngNaturistsCda) June 17, 2017
— Rick or Treat (@RikkuCruel69) June 17, 2017
Why does this matter? Consider this recent tweet from a world naked bike ride group (an event being adopted by many nudists world-wide).
So what if nudists are exhibitionists and riding with naked around kids? We live in a nudity paranoid society that now exists every time the connection is made. It creates an issue of concern for those who say “we need to keep kids safe.” Then simple nudity becomes something unsafe. That is the battle being fought in Ocean City against bare-chested freedom to keep the beaches there family friendly”. Before anyone suggests I am just a nude prude let me say there is absolutely nothing wrong with sex. Everyone is entitled to their own sexual choices. It is the connection between sex and nudism that I have an issue with. It sends a mixed message that we can ill afford to mange even in these “libertine” days. Whether I like it or not western society tends to associate nudity and sexuality. That association already makes it difficult for people to express simple nudity without being considered a sexual deviant. It is not enough to say parents need to watch out for their own kids. What actress Emily Browning said is true we need to acknowledge the reality that people are weird about nudity.
Is naturism or nudism being used as an excuse? Excuse is probably not the right word. To be real sex sells. It sells more than simple nudity. That is why “nudist” venues hold sexually oriented events and nudist magazine accept ads from those advertising swinging.
As decent as possible and not in the mainstream magazine. But we rely on ad income… Case of do you refuse money and go out of business?
— Sam @ Hawk Editorial (@HawkEditorial) June 16, 2017
It seems an association of convenience, one which I personally would prefer was eliminated. It seems I am not alone. Those of us who see nudism and naturism as the non sexual practice of social nudity want to have our practice unencumbered by the sexual association. It only serves to create confusion among the public about nudism and naturism.
Surely once we have read the title of the topic to all nudists and naturists you will quickly come to the head several opinions or experiences about the confusion between nudism and swinger. The sexual connotation that is intended to give a wrong way to a lifestyle and a way of understanding the world. There is a fairly marked current where nudism is mixed with the sexual realm of the exchange of couples or exhibitionism when it really has nothing to do but rather in its real sense are totally opposed. – La confusión entre nudismo y mundo swinger
Given this situation “nudists” who continue to push for the acceptance of a connection between nudism and sexual activity are doing the practice of nudism or naturism no favors. For my part it seems cynical for swingers to hitch their lifestyle to nudism. It seems like an effort to lower the social stigma or gain some measure of credibility. If swingers are confident in their chosen lifestyle, a choice I acknowledge their right to choose, why not just own it outright? Why does it need to be attached to nudism? Nudity and sex yes I understand that it’s how most of the world thinks. But nudism and sex? Why?
It seems to me that the intent is different naked for the sake of being clothes free or naked as precursor to sexual activity. I personally will fight for those folks to live their lives and make choices that they feel are right for them. I just wish they would stand up for that on its own and not pull nudism into it. If you are a swinger be a swinger. If you are an exhibitionist be an exhibitionist! Let nonsexual clothes free living stand on its own without drawing the association. A call goes out to those practicing lifestyles outside the mainstream, swinger, nudist, exhibitionist, naturist. Stand up and define yourself. If you don’t, someone will do it for you. Let your choice, be YOUR choice not someone else’s interpretation of it.
A final note, sincere sympathies to the family members of those whose lives were tragically ended. A sudden loss of life is always traumatic and even more so under the alleged circumstances.