It would seem that society has developed an assumption that it is ones right to have that which they find offensive hidden from their view. Such is the case with viewing another human being in his/her natural state. That one has the right to have anything they find to be offensive restricted so that they are not affected by that which another might want to do. That it is somehow the responsibility of the actor to read the mind of each person he/she might encounter and accommodate that person’s unknown expectations of that which they might consider acceptable. It is like a person should be held responsible for a wreck that resulted from another person changing lanes without signaling. You should somehow know that persons mind, and know they were going to change lanes and therefore should adjust your relative position to facilitate his/her un-communicated intentions. This is of course ridiculous. The responsibility to hide is not the case for other things. Most would argue that a person has the right to present themselves in public with facial piercings that the vast majority would find offensive to view. They would further argue that nobody is forced to look; they could turn their head and look elsewhere and therefore no actual offense has been committed. The exception comes when one is a naturist. Generations of being hidden in public due to propagation of puritanical views developed during the Victorian era have caused the majority to assume that the public sight of a human body is offensive.
“We are the only species on the planet that can’t walk around the way we were created.”
– John Moyer
Fear and the associated feeling of shock or being offended should not obligate another person to acquiesce and relinquish their beliefs in favor of yours. Consider the following scenario.
Dee is afraid of heights. Because her fear is real to her (and she has not faced it) she finds it offensive to see someone on a ladder. While walking with her children in the neighborhood she sees a cable guy on a ladder and is aghast! She reacts to protect her children from the offensive behavior by covering their eyes so they too do not have to feel the fear and shock of seeing this offensive sight. This lady is not without power and has some friends in state legislature. She lobbies to pass a law so that this horrific sight does not have to befall anyone else. With nobody lobbying against the law (not taking the prospect seriously) it passes. The newly enacted state law states that …
“A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly climbs a ladder above the second rung in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.”
Problem solved. Ladder climbing has been confined to a person’s private residence and a few camps located in rural areas gated and hidden from public view by vegetation and privacy fencing. The shock and horror has been alleviated. Some decades go by with the law in place and all is well. In fact many other states have adopted similar laws. There are a few new municipal laws in place that attempt to curtail the new private clubs popping up at the edge of towns where people can go and drink beer and watch others brazenly climb ladders and poles for which they are paid enough to feed their drug habit. It is shameful work and they must deaden the psychological pain and self worth problems. The gawkers find it preferable to see these climbers in person instead of watching their pornographic climbing on the internet. In the suburbs we find Dee’s daughter is walking her children in her neighborhood she happens to notice a man though his window. He is cleaning his ceiling fan and is on the third rung of a ladder. The drapes are not completely closed and of course she covers the eyes of her horrified children. They must be right? They have been taught since the start get down from there, you should be ashamed of yourself… you know it is rude to climb. Can’t keep children from climbing things … don’t they know anything? Well the police are promptly called. The man is charged with public height (I considered using getting high in public but that is a different issue). He attempts to defend his case by saying that it is totally natural to climb a ladder in order to reach tall objects and that people have been climbing heights since Adam and Eve. His defense was unsuccessful and after his punishment he is now registered as a public height offender.
Fear can cause ridiculous things to become normal. Victorian era puritanical thinking has propagated through generations to seem correct. However it began with fear and shame (not a moral beginning).
Fear can be debilitating but should not be accommodated by law. I have a relative [Brit] that is very afraid of clowns. I hear many people are. The fear is called coulrophobia. It would be considered ridiculous to create a law prohibiting people from dressing like clowns because some have a phobia of same. It is [to me] the same with gymnophobia [fear of nudity] which is what a vocal percentage of the population present. We should not make laws preventing a human being from being as they were born, simply because some others suffer from an un-natural fear.
The most shocking thing that is learned when public nudity is experienced is that you are not as shocked as you thought you would be.
Society should not make laws that accommodate the individual fears and feelings of “being offended”. It is not possible to assure that nobody will be offended by anything. For everything that offends one person there is another person that is offended by the opposite. The concept of “Equal rights” goes out the window and power and connection governs. The above scenario may seem ridiculous because it is not about nudity. However, it is only reasonable about nudity now because it has in fact happened. Nudity is natural and healthy and is not to be hidden from view. It is only offensive to those that do not face it for what it is (Natural).
Clothing has even been used (by people) to control others
They say a picture speaks a thousand words. This one tells it all. Consider this … We (our culture) are only different by degrees. The demand (by our culture) that people drape clothing on their body (if only certain “unacceptable parts”) against nature and our own will because someone may be offended is ridiculous. The idea that a woman must be totally covered to prevent man from having impure thoughts is not much different from our attitude of forcing people to cover certain parts. Again we are forced to wear our mask when in public. It is forced morality (term used loosely) to make people do something against their will and unnatural because the culture has developed an unnatural aversion to it. I am offended by facial piercings and ear gages. They are unnatural and offensive to look at. However, I accept the right of people to present themselves in that way. There is no “right” to NOT be offended! There is nothing in the constitution that guarantees the right to not be offended. There are rights that are guaranteed in the constitution: The right to freedom of religion (not freedom from religion as some think), the right to enjoy privacy in all matters in which the rights of others are not violated. Since there is no right to NOT be offended by seeing another human being in their natural state, it would seem to be self evident that one who believes that that natural state is part of a spiritual connection denied when forced to wear clothing and has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, should be able to freely exercise his/her rights (nudity). I don’t believe in a law that forces them (persons with facial piercings) to cover their face because someone (me) might be offended. Yet it is generally held that it is correct to force naturists to cover their natural body because it may be offensive to someone. This aversion is a construct of the mind and can be overcome easily. We all have a body. We were born that way. It is natural. These are prejudices pure and simple. It is narcissistic to presume that to be clothed is right and to be un-clothed is wrong. And yet those that make the laws have done no first hand research on the actual practice or benefits of the practice. Society has dealt the human race a disservice by this puritanical thinking at any scale. In some nudist camps clothing is usually not permitted. It is seen as titillating and therefore unacceptable. It is also meant to prevent gawkers from opportunistic viewing. Some would advocate forcing people to go nude. This is [I believe] also wrong. It would be wrong for me to force someone to be nude because their clothes offend me. Why is it right for them to make me cover myself because looking at me might offend them? The Naturist way is the natural way. Theirs is the mask; the burka …
“To be offended by the visual appearance of another person is prejudice, akin to racism. The right to exist, uncovered, should hold precedence over the right not to view this, for the objection is irrational.” – Terri Webb
We are the only being that finds the natural form (the way we come into this world) repulsive. I submit that we (society) would quickly recover from that disorder if only they were informed and experienced. I would also argue that there is no difference between the scenario presented above (the piercings) and the latter (the naturist). People (if repulsed) could turn away. They do not have to look and therefore no actual offense has been committed. If not for the threat of legal action, the public would have the opportunity to be educated and experienced. Studies have shown that 1 in 8 persons are nudist. If 1/8th of the population were not prevented under threat of punishment the majority would find themselves more comfortable with nudity by shear experience. Instead, the majority has called for laws to be on the books (in most cases) preventing people from being seen uncovered by others. It is entirely possible that the people want the laws to prevent themselves from being tempted or aroused (puritanical).
Those of us that have experienced both sides of the argument know this is not the case. The implementation of these nudity laws create a self fulfilling prophecy in that it propagates the ignorant belief that there is something dangerous or immoral about the sight of a nude. It demonizes the unknown (or in this case the unseen) and attributes freakish social sins to those that would dare to uncover. It is my opinion that Nature should trump convention. That is to say that it should be an undeniable right for one to do that which is natural over that which is unnatural. Nobody should be forced to wear anything to comply with convention. A woman should not be forced to wear a burka whether it is the convention of the majority or not. It should be the right of the individual to wear or not wear clothing; and if someone finds it difficult to look at they should turn their head. I find clothing offensive. Why is it that my rights (to not be offended) are not protected? Shouldn’t people have to shed their clothing to accommodate my feelings? They are actually doing something to offend me (wearing clothes) where I am in my natural state. These are extreme views meant to point out that we should not have to accommodate someone else’s feelings of “being offended” as it is within them to affect the feeling and cannot be someone else’s responsibility to know or accommodate.
There is no direct or indirect harm for someone to see another of their own species unclothed. The case has been made here that it is likely that the harm comes from the normal use of clothing and the sexual exploitation that propagates from hiding the body. It is not my suggestion that people should be nude everywhere. There are conventions for clothing that are reasonable church, weddings, business meetings etc should not change. It is my contention that the legal system should not pick a side and if they do it should be on the side of nature. There are other mechanisms for enforcing clothing conventions. The person that wears shorts and flip-flops to an important business meeting will find himself without a job because he knows it is not professional, whereas that same person walking down a public beach is fine. The same condition should apply for the individual not wearing clothes. It is not that we want to be naked everywhere just not forced (by threat of legal punishment) to be hidden. In an ideal world I should be able to walk to my mailbox without being arrested. If someone comes to my door and looks in the front window of my private property I can be charged. If someone climbs my privacy fence and peers over to find me tanning I can be charged. It is impossible for me to gauge whether a person of whom I have no knowledge that might happen to peer at me might also be offended and therefore take action to hide myself from someone I don’t know is there. In other words to be truly within the laws I must remain hidden at all times just in case.
“Nature was naked, and I was also. It was too lazy, soothing, and joyous-equable to speculate about…Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature!—ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness then indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.” – Walt Whitman
It is a sad society that believes that to hide is good and to be naked (natural) is bad. Most naturists (me included) find it sick (unhealthy) that some cannot be comfortable with our own bodies or those of others. Some argue that the practice of seeing others nude is dangerous to children. Actual studies on the subject prove the opposite. Children raised in a natural environment have less problems with body image and are almost immune to disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia and cutting. Some argue children in a natural environment are ripe for exploitation and pedophilia. Social disorders like that are also rare among naturists and are arguably exacerbated by the alternative. Realistically though, any adult who had sexual desires for a child would be spotted right away in a society which by its nature offers nothing with which to hide.
“What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and the skin is more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?” -Michelangelo