A conversation between my wife and I today had me reflecting on a book I read this year called Growing up without shame (by Dennis Graig Smith with Dr. William Sparks). The book is on social nudity and its effects on children. Presented in the book are several interviews with persons (adult now) that were raised in Nudist/Naturist or at least with a casual family nudity upbringing. The purpose is to assess the effect that environment has had on those individuals as compared to the average person in the US. As to that question the result was overwhelmingly favorable toward Naturism vs Prudery (the norm).
However, our discussion was not about the book itself but about the secrecy of being a Naturist. Now remember we would like nothing better than to be completely open to everyone about our lifestyle, but alas, some people are not able to accept the information and fall into the puritan prejudice that you must be doing all sorts of sexual sinful behavior and must therefore be shunned or condemned. Some would cause problems with the law. Although completely legal, the practice of Naturism can leave one defending themselves against charges that associate the practice with sexually deviant behavior.
We find ourselves having to keep secret (from some) and asking friends and family to keep the secret to mitigate the potential of unwarranted misunderstandings. This causes us to limit our openness with certain friends. Those that may (in our opinion) struggle with understanding or react poorly. My experience tells me that we should trust them and let the chips fall where they may. After all if we consider them friends, they must have trustworthy character and if they consider us friends they must have adequate trust in us. The fact is that I am not the only person involved in the decision.
A few of our friends/family have accepted my lifestyle but have expressed that they would feel uncomfortable seeing me naked. I [honestly] don’t understand but accept that they feel that way and do all that I can to make them feel comfortable. This presents a problem. When we have a group of friends over, there tends to be a mixed group. As it turns out, about half are Naturists and the other half are not. There is no problem when it comes to pool time, hot tub or sunning as we don’t have a problem with those that want to wear clothes and they don’t have a problem with those that don’t. Except for the few discussed at the beginning. My wife pointed out that we tend to shun (her words) them because they would have a problem. It is a fact that we would tend not to invite those that we know would have a problem with a mixed group because it would be awkward to request half of the group to acquiesce to the expectations of the few. They (the few) would not be comfortable with the nudity and therefore are left out.
We feel bad about this dilemma, but cannot see a solution when their principals directly conflict with ours or those of our other friends. It is one thing for us to invite those friends over for a meal alone, but quite another when the rights of others are involved. I believe strongly in Naturists principals and that they are right and correct. I defend the application of those principals by my friends and family that share them. It would be improper to [knowingly] place those principals in conflict with the expectations of a few and side against those principals for the sake of inclusion.
Getting back to the book; the other part of the conversation had to do with the children. The one thing that could be considered NEGATIVE regarding the Nudist lifestyle from the perspective of those interviewed was the secrecy. They all stated that they would raise, have raised or are raising their children the same way. They all say that they have compared their lives and attitudes with the lives and attitudes of non Naturist friends and find Naturist results to be much less prurient (sex charged) and more accepting and less judgmental. They are much less self conscious and well rounded.
So the results are all good except for the secrecy. This is another tough problem. US society in general is horribly prurient. The commercials, the songs, the movies; all are sex charged. Nudity is equated with sex. This fact has a recursive affect in that the more we submit and clothe ourselves, the more they use nudity in sexual context to sell products resulting in more prurient behavior and more connection between nudity and sex. The solution is to distinguish between wholesome, natural nudity and sex.
Nothing makes my skin crawl more than any connection between children and sex. There is nothing healthy about the combination. The vast majority of people would agree. The fact that our society in general tends to equate nudity and sex creates a misunderstanding with regard to Naturism and children. Some [in error] assume there is something wrong. I applaud them for their concern however misplaced. Wholesome nudity (the kind practiced by Naturists) has been proven to be healthy for children.
You can see the tension between a natural desire to protect children and the Naturist lifestyle (misunderstood to be sexual) and involving children. The misunderstanding causes the tension and confusion, but secrecy is often easier and more effective than education and enlightenment of those suffering the engrained confusion.
You see we have two conundrums, seemingly without good solutions. If anyone has an idea that does not compromise our beliefs in the Naturist lifestyle please feel free to reply with suggestions.