20 July 2012

Five Questions #3

OK, so here, as promised, is my answer to the third of the five questions I promised I would answer.

This one is quite easy for me to answer. But it may be uncomfortable for some to read. So ...

Question 3. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Answer: Have the courage to go nude in public much more.

As many out there will know from previous posts I have no problem with nudity and I have never hidden the fact that I spend a lot of time at home unclothed, or barely clothed. I had a somewhat Bohemian upbringing and was introduced to naturism by my parents at the age of about 9 or 10. As a consequence I have never had a problem with nudity — mine or anyone else's.

However I am acutely aware that many others do find nudity a problem and that the law — often erroneously — acts as if public nudity were illegal, which by default it isn't in the UK. As I understand the law (and I'm not a lawyer so it likely isn't this simple) public nudity only may become illegal if there is intent to harm or disturb people, or if there are complaints; essentially the police generally have no powers to intervene unless there are, or they have good reason to believe there will be, complaints.

Given that others are likely to be upset by nudity and that one wishes to be a good neighbour and not to fall foul of the law, this means that I am a little circumspect about where I practice nudity. Indoors or on the patio where there is little chance of being overlooked is fine; walking down the High Street probably isn't.

So one has to draw the line somewhere. One doesn't go out unclothed. I mostly don't stray down the garden or answer the front door without donning a pair of shorts, at least. And one doesn't entertain visitors without at least a modicum of clothing. But I would like not to have to feel this way.

If I were braver, which is what this question is asking, I would be happier to answer the door, or do things in the garden or with visitors around, without worrying about being clothed. And one would have the courage to demand that the local swimming pool run "clothes optional" session — after all isn't this part of equality and human rights?

Would I be happy to go shopping in the nude? I don't know; it may not be a physically comfortable thing to do, and besides one needs somewhere to keep a credit card. But I would like to think that I could, legally and without upsetting people, if I wanted to. It shouldn't be a big deal.

Sadly too many people still regard any nudity as a sexual act. It isn't. And here, unfortunately, TV and the other media are very much to blame: if they portray nudity it is almost always in a sexual context so we shouldn't be surprised that nude = sex in many people's minds. And as we know there is the misapprehension that sex is dirty, hence nudity is dirty and disgusting ... and we have arrived at prudery. But there is not a shred of evidence that nudity causes harm; if anything the opposite is true as this and this briefing documents from British Naturism highlight.

If anything nudity is less sexual (and much healthier) than being clothed. That pretty girl (or guy) you just saw walking down the street probably looks ordinary without clothes. In the nude state little is left to the imagination, so there isn't the prospect of what's being hidden to titillate us. Once you've seen half a dozen you've seen them all: young or old; fat or thin; male or female; black, white or sky-blue-pink. Clothing is much more sexual than nudity, despite that we all know — give or take the odd scar — what is underneath our clothes. (And anyway scars are interesting; they tell stories!) So where is the problem? Why do we have to hide our bodies away?

I actually think this is important for all of us and that prudery is a major public health risk. I have written here, and in other posts, about how a relaxed attitude to nudity is good for us.

I passionately believe that if we were all more relaxed about nudity and more comfortable with our, and everyone else's, bodies (and sexuality) we would be a lot healthier. Both mentally and physically. If we were we'd find it much easier to discuss our bodies (and bodily functions) with each other and especially with the medical profession — something which doesn't cause me a problem. As an example I had to visit my (very nice, lady) GP a few days ago because of a problem with my male equipment. I had no problem whatsoever being examined or talking to her about it. Why should I? My GP has seen and heard it all before; probably so often she is bored stupid by it. Isn't it better I get a possible problem checked out now rather that leave it to become a serious problem later? You still hear so many stories of people who, for whatever imagined reason, "don't like" to get things checked out and hence end up with major medical problems or worse. It just isn't worth it.

We need to normalise nudity, and sex, not marginalise and criminalise them.

Really where is the problem?

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