57 Comments
Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

Well thought through. Thank you for posting this.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

Thanks for bringing your voice to Planet Nude, Jeff! I remember you had made a Venn diagram at one point, about nudity, sex, and shame - I think it’s a wonderful illustration that goes along with the point you’ve expressed so well here.

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author

Oh, I should have thought to include that in the article. It was so long ago that I'd forgotten about the Venn diagram.

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Happy to add this if you want to send it my way!

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

Solid post.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

Really appreciate your perspective here. It’s something I think about a lot, too, and that causes me stress because of the way many nudists present the non-sexual nudity as a morality test, complete with its own shame and dogma. Thanks for balancing the conversation and advocating for something kinder and more human.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

Agreed. They place this morality test on men, insofar as male arousal is perceived as inappropriate. I think it is a sign of virility and healthy.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

"So it’s best to just tell them that it’s fine and normal to find it sexual at first, as long as they behave respectfully. That way, they’ll feel safe to have the experiences that will help them to learn to separate sex and nudity."

This is a paradigm shift. Arousal can be an involuntary response. It happens very often to me when I am completely alone, in nature or at home. When it occurs, it is my conscious mind/will in the moment that will determine my behavior that follows.

This realization really only pertains to men because we are the human beings that display the result of any arousal, voluntary or involuntary. I have read a lot about, "what if I get aroused?" and each time the response is, "cover yourself until you are no longer aroused...or, roll over on your blanket...or, go take a swim..."or, some such thing.

This response is not inviting at all, in fact it exacerbates the trepidation held by aspirants wishing to experience social nudity. I know, at my beginning, I didn't want to chance getting aroused in the situation and being shamed for something that is as natural as being undressed. And, isn't getting to our most natural state of being the point?

I know this for myself, I am a healthy adult male and all of my body works as it should, thank you God!

Therefore, I still have to manage my arousal states when they occur.

This line of thinking is very helpful...and when I have the chance, in the future, to talk about social nudity with other non-experienced people interested in the lifestyle/activity, I will promote this line of thought.

Let's kill the Buzz Kill response and think differently.

Thank you, Jeff.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

Agreed. Male arousal is natural and a sign of virility and healthy. I think male sexuality is too often shamed and seen as deviant. Whereas female sexuality is protected and encouraged. This is a double standard.

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I do hear a LOT more attacks on male sexuality than on female sexuality. (That may just be the people I hang out with.) You can predict a person's entire political ideology based on what kinds of sexuality they disrespect - or if they don't attack sexuality at all.

It doesn't matter what kind of sexuality one prefers. There is always someone else who will hate you for it.

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For every pleasure a man has, it is to be considered a 'guilt.' But every pleasure a woman has, it is to be considered The Way. An avalanche of shame is unleashed upon a man who is enjoying himself. They want us to feel guilty for enjoying life. They want women to be the gatekeepers of sex and sexual enjoyment.

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Women are the gatekeepers of intimate heterosexual activity. It has to be that way. Consent is crucial above all else. The problem is that there is disapproval of the very idea of heterosexuality. Some feminists have proclaimed all heterosexual activity to be a kind of rape. To them a penis is a weapon. A visible penis is a gun taken out of its holster. An erect penis is brandishing a loaded and cocked gun with a finger on the trigger.

It doesn't represent a majority of women but does represent a significant portion of the female "intelligentsia."

If you are a heterosexual male, there are schools of feminism that will automatically hate you. Not as dominant as one might think but they get all the press. Hate gets more clicks and makes for a better lead.

If you are anything other than trad heterosexual, everyone on the cultural right will hate you.

Accept that no matter what you do someone will hate you, and just move on. Don't let it bug you. Find a niche where you fit in and let the rest of the world f*** itself.

Illegitimi non carborundum!

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Jan 15·edited Jun 9Liked by Evan Nicks

Good article. I think a major problem - one with current generations - is that there is no opportunity for non-naturist to experience non-sexual nudity, through out life, without going to a naturist/nudist venue or event. Most millennials and all of Gen-Zers never got to experience showers after PE class and most member gyms now have private showers. When Gen-X and Boomers grew up, they had such opportunities. Hell, Boomer boys and men were required to swim nude both at the Y and at some schools.

Although I am 37 I am lucky enough to grow up at the tail end of an era of acceptable "non-sexual nudity". While I did not shower during P.E. (I admit, I sometimes skipped P.E in high school, lol) from 11 to 14 I did attend YMCA sleepaway camp that had an open communal shower room. And we were expected to shower naked, before bed. I do remember some of the new kids were nervous at first, but after the first two nights, they were fine with it. And although we were all into puberty at that time, no one thought about the nudity (from what I remember) in a sexual way. While showering, we would even talk about movies, music, that day's activities, whatever nonchalantly. Later when I was 14, we took a trip to New Hampshire to go hiking and rock climbing along the Appalachian Trail. We were camping out a little off the trail next to the river, and the counselors let us skinny dip. I think some of us brought our swimsuits with us, but thought nothing of wearing them since we were all guys, and have seen each other all naked anyway.

It is experiences like these that I think help me and older generations separate the non-sexual nudity and sexual nudity, and due to panic "stranger danger" younger generations, at least in the US, don't have.

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I think this is a big part of why younger generations are less comfortable with being naked in front of others. I didn't have that when I was growing up. It wasn't until I was in my mid 20s and I started swimming at a local beach that had communal showers that I experienced casual nudity around others. That was quite a big step for me in becoming comfortable with nudity and eventually becoming a nudist.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

I'm glad you made it, and sorry that growing up you didn't had an opportunity to do it earlier. It did get me thinking, that maybe that is why so many young (and older) people who do partake in naturism, or at least quite a bit of people I meet at the two camp grounds I frequent, "Solair" and "Dyerwoods" tend to be military or former military. I never serve, but I think it is no secret that in the military their are showers are communal, same as with the boy scouts; and I have met a bunch of former scouts too, and families who sons are current scouts. Firefighters too, as well as nurses, EMTs, doctors, etc. Those who are in situations were seeing the nude human body in a non-sexual situation is common place.

And bouncing back to those in military, I think it is more so for those who serve overseas, in a culture that has different attitudes to nudity than in the US. I am friends with someone (he is not naturist, or considers himself one) who is former military and he was station with his family for two years in Germany. There he went to the FKK beaches and later mix gender saunas with his family, and that give him and his wife (his kids were young at the time) a new perspective on nudity. And although as I said he is not a naturist he is open to having a family vacation at a place like Cypress Cove.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

I agree. Even today at a few fitness centers I have used while traveling there were signs to cover up in the locker room while changing and to not walk around naked. The world has gone crazy. I think some of it stems from the fear and hysteria about sex abuse, homosexuality, and the growth of religious zealotry. It’s insane. Growing up as a boomer I had little privacy at school, camp or home. There were times I didn’t like it but all in all it was good for me.

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It's not the "world". It's only the English-speaking nations I find. I was just in Austria, it is the opposite. But in the US, UK, and Australia (a country that I hear is the worst) it is all hysteria.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

I do see younger men becoming more self-conscious and more susceptible to body shame. On the other hand, I see more women going to spa-type places that encompass nudity. I'm not sure what to draw from either of these except that things will keep changing.

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Jan 16·edited Jan 17

I think tiktok. I'm not on the platform, but from the bits I do see, there seems to be a bunch of young men with perms, makeup, nail polish, and designer clothes.

And I hope you are right. I hope it will bounce back to where both genders see body shame as stupid, and the Puritans will get out of the way and stop promoting the message that all nudity is sexual. I see that message coming from both the left and the right.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

A wonderful post, and as others have mentioned it's a good look into some of the double standards even nudists can carry.

I would like to point out, however, that there is an extremely fine li e when it comes to erectikns/arousal in social nudist spaces/situations. Does it happen? Of course. However, it's next to impossible without it becoming a multiple incident thing to know if someone with an erections is just having an involuntary reaction, or if they are doing it purposely to GET a reaction. I bring this up because there is a known individual on Wreck Beach that pretends to get 'accidental erections, but will then parade around proudly displaying himself. He chooses times to be there when he knows fewer regulars are there, and has been known to make many people, particularly women, extremely uncomfortable.

So while I agree that shaming someone for their body reactions is wrong, there's a danger that we can fail to confront or handle problematic people out of fear of not wanting to 'shame' them. I've seen this on Twitter before I left that platform as well. People advocating for erections to be completely acceptable on open beaches or other social nudist situations, and using some of the arguments I see here as ammunition to support it, and that's not in the spirit of acceptance, but a backhand attempt at a sexual addiction to become commonplace.

In the end it all comes down to respect, empathy and compassion... But we also have to be on guard against people that will happily use those things against us.

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deletedJan 15
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It is because empathy is a rare commodity these days.

"I'm going to do what I want to do and to hell with you if you don't like it." There is also the corollary trend of being outraged at every little thing that annoys or you disagree with. Or even performative anger as a political tool.

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Yes, that behaviour is definitely not on, and I agree, I see a lot of people on twitter saying normalize erections, without any nuance, and basically being exhibitionists. A nuanced approach is harder to police than a black and white one, and as you say, you have to look at if there's an ongoing behaviour pattern instead of once-off arousal to know if it's accidental or deliberate.

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Here we almost get into the realm of thought crime. Unless the person is fluffing themself, wagging it in someone's face or deliberately posing in high visibility spots, you cannot know if it is deliberate or not. It is easier to require that all erections be concealed than it is convince the members that, "He doesn't really mean it."

Businesses must create rules that maximize membership. There is also the matter of the personal morality of the owner.. The owner will presumably set the rules so as to attract the clientele they are after. Allowing erections would attract one clientele but drive away a different clientele. I know many women who would never go back to a club where they saw an erection and neither would people with families. That's lost revenue. It also skews the gender balance. Eventually you'd have a gay resort and/or a swinger resort.

For free range naturism at beaches or hot springs or just on the trail, there are two considerations. Encountering a strange naked man with an erection will be viewed as aggressively sexual and a rape threat by most women, including nudists. It also turns what might be legal behavior into definitely illegal behavior. It will be seen by court as lewd conduct which is illegal even where nudity might be legal.

My suggestion is to keep it suppressed if there any chance of an encounter.

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My default mode is to ALWAYS consider the feelings of others in general encounters. I always have a cover-upnif I'm out in the wild in the nude. Always. It's not an attack on my free expression, it's general societal respect.

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I think of it as empathy. Empathy is a social lubricant that keeps us from brutalizing each other. It seems in very short supply today.

It is kind of like playing loud classical music. I may love the music. It may be beautiful music. There is nothing inherently wrong with playing loud music. But my neighbor may not enjoy it, so why subject them to my music unless I already know they don't mind it? Otherwise, play it quieter or wear headphones.

Would I want them blasting death metal at me? No. And that's why I think of it as empathy. Try to put yourself in the other guys shoes.

My favorite coverup is a hat. For me, a hat is essential for hiking. It is a coverup that says, I'm naked but I'm not doing it for you to see my genitals. I'm not some pervy forest flasher. On the very few times I've used it, if a conversation ensued, I discovered I no longer needed it.

Pulling on a pair of shorts is awkward and implies you don't want them to know you are naked. That is fear based and not respect based.

OTOH, I've had people go by quickly with their eyes fixed straight ahead or averted. For them it was probably a good thing.

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In my neck of the woods, not physically covering your genitals can lead to arrest very easily, soy preferred is a towel or wrap. Quick and easy and I do it casually, not hurriedly or shamefully, but to show that I do respect that coming across a naked person wasn't an expectation.

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State of California does not have an anti-nudity law. It has an anti-lewdity law. There's even a famous letter from the Sheriff stating that nudity is not illegal in the national forest. The state of CA only has an ordinance against nudity in state parks - which gets ignored at Black's Beach. The county of LA only has an ordinance against it in county parks. The city of LA is similar. That's why we can have the WNBR. (Those ordinances were directed at hippies in the 60s.)

San Diego County, OTOH has a local ordinance. Men have to wear a thong (and women must at least add pasties) for their WNBR.

If you were to simply wander nude down a random LA street and someone complained, the police might show up if they weren't busy. Most likely they'll tell you to get dressed and don't do it again. A ticket for disorderly conduct, causing a traffic hazard, or disturbing the peace is also a possibility. (Don't get huffy or uppity or they'll find more serious charges or look for an excuse for an arrest.) And then the ticket gets thrown out but you've had the hassle of fighting it.

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There's definitely a time and place where it's appropriate to cover it up, but I hope over time more understanding will emerge around this topic, so that it won't be seen in such a threatening way. But erections are only one small part of what I'm talking about. I'm talking more broadly about shame surrounding sexual feelings in naturism, whether or not an erection happens to be present. That's the bigger issue I think we need to deal with. If people need to cover an erection to make others feel comfortable, that's not a big problem, but if they're made to feel ashamed for the feelings that created that arousal in the first place, then they're unlikely to stick around long enough to get past that stage.

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"Erection control" is something one learns quickly. It is one of those "automatic" functions that's really voluntary, at least once you are past the hormonal craziness of growing up. If you don't want to learn it, then you won't.

When I was taking nude acting lessons we had some breathtakingly beautiful people in the class. (Right next to Hollywood and near Disney. Duh!) Yeah, I felt some lust. I never felt bad about feeling the lust. Lust is preprogrammed into every human being. I'd probably feel as much lust if it were a textile class.

My theory is that if nudity is really accepted and normal, one ought to be able to do anything naked that one can do while wearing clothes. Anything else is saying that nudity makes some things inherently and inevitably sexual, so those aspects of normal behavior cannot be allowed in the nude.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

Thank you for raising this. It is naive to assume that every person arrives at a place of social nudity with the same intents, both male and female. I appreciate you noticing and naming the difference.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

GREAT POST - with lots of solid points and considerations - very much appreciated!

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Jan 15Liked by Nudist Jeff

Thanks for a great post with wonderful insights. My very first time nude at a naturist club as soon as I stripped off my clothes and stowed them in my car I felt nervous and self-conscious. As I walked to the pool area I started to get an erection. I was mortified. I turned around and went back to my car and got in. Everyone said it won’t happen. But it did. I started my car and was getting ready to leave when someone knocked on the window of my car. I looked puzzled. I opened the window. A much older gentlemen said “I was watching you from my cabin. Is this your first time?” Well, thank God for that man (Walter). He encouraged me to give it a go. He said just cover up with the towel and get to a lounger and lie face down until it goes away. I did that and it did go away and as they say the rest is history. Twelve years ago and it has only happened one other time when the wind blowing on me after swimming caused a reaction. I handled it the same way--flipped over and it went away. Saying it won’t happen does not make newbie calm because they don’t really believe it.

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No, they won't believe it, and sometimes it does happen, as happened to you. Saying it won't happen is just sweeping it under the rug and hoping, because people feel uncomfortable talking about it. But we do need to talk about it, because it's a fact of human biology. We need to be understanding and have policies in place so that people won't feel uncomfortable, and won't be left not knowing what to do if it does happen.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

It only means that you are a healthy man. Male sexuality is stigmatized. While female sexuality is protected and encouraged. There is a double standard.

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Jan 15Liked by Evan Nicks

Excellent post, Jeff. Thanks.

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founding
Jan 15·edited Jan 15

Thanks Jeff for this read, and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really, really like your perspective on "broadening the lens" to be inclusive of sexual nudity as a time and place for it, in respect. That actually rings pretty close to home for my own self-shame for being slightly aroused. We cannot deny human nature nor our thoughts, but thoughts aren't actions as you've said.

While I also really appreciate the comments to this post and I agree with most of them, and certain points in all of them, I'm noticing that the majority of these are from men talking through the eyes of men. No I do not have a problem with seeing a dude aroused but some families might. Some pre-traumatized women (and men) might. We don't know others' lives or their histories or whether or not they have talked to their kids about what boners are. So again, there's a time and place imo, because it's a matter of respect for the unknown. Also, to add to this, I remember listening to Scott Cline's New Nudist podcast once upon a time and they had several episodes on penises in naturism. They were actually pretty fun episodes but I remember Stéphane Deschênes talked about how there's a difference between male arousal and full blown, mast is up and ready to go, erection. The latter is rare and the former is more common, was what was argued. The misnomer that seems to pop up is that any arousal is shunned in the naturist community and I don't think that's true from the majority of opinion. I think when they talk about male arousal, they mean guys who are fully erect, not partial, and are parading it around. Now that can trigger trauma for someone and that is not okay.

But to bring it back to Jeff's original point, shaming someone for naked sexuality is potentially going to do more harm than good. But sexualizing nudity is different from nude sexuality, just like his example of early indigenous tribes. Again, like already mentioned, it's about conditioning. Thanks Jeff, great article and I appreciate bringing up a potentially controversial topic!

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That's a very good distinction, and I wish I had thought of that when writing this. Physical arousal is a spectrum, and there's a big difference between slight arousal and a full-blown erection. The former is a lot more involuntary, and can come from simply seeing something you find sexually arousing, but it generally won't proceed to the latter without some amount of conscious sexual thoughts.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

Really good points on all things. Thank you for your voice.

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Thanks for the informative article. Your points are very well made. I recently invited a new friend to a bi and gay men's nude cookout and pool party when the weather turns warm again and his first concern was that he might get aroused. After we discussed the issue he felt more comofortable giving it a try. I didn't try to pretend it would not happen but assured him as long as his behavior was appropriate there would be no issues with others in the group. It was good to read your points and the comments of others on approaches to handling this issue in nudity.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

I'd like to quote you in an article I am writing for the Bulletin.

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author

Yes, I'd be more than happy for you to quote me

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

Context is everything.

I suppose some people don't understand context and some people intentionally ignore context. The former I understand because context was often difficult for me when I was young. I was not a socially competent kid. The latter are people who don't want it to be so, they already have an absolute yes/no belief system and compromise is not possible.

I was a stripper as a young adult but I was also a nudist and an art model. I understood the difference between erotic nudity and ordinary nudity quite well. Accepting that difference rather than denying it enhances one's freedom to be both in different times and different places..

The funny thing is that the only time I have ever had an unwanted erection was when I was an 18 year old freshman with no experience in coed nudity. I'd taken a work study package and the job I had chosen was art model. That first day was terminally embarrassing but it never happened again. Good thing, or the professor would have fired me.

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16

Nicely explained article & the thoughts. Ultimately it's all about one's mind. It's not important as to whether someone is clothed or nude to occupy the mind about sex. The sexual thoughts are always in the mind irrespective of clothing status. It just depends on how someone can manage these thoughts.

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Jan 16Liked by Evan Nicks

I like that this topic has been coming up in a few different places. I think it's a difficult topic to write about while balancing all the views and nuances. Sexuality is a core part of our identity, just as are ethnicity, values, class, gender, religion, culture, etc. It actually can't be erased.

Seeing as it's our bodies that are exposed when we're naked, it makes sense that an erection can become the visual part of the conversation when it comes to sexuality because talking comfortably about sexuality is something that most people avoid. No, women don't have a similar biological flag, but given that an erection can come from multiple sources, I would gently question on if men want to have it defined as a flag?

I do think that both men and women can come to social nudism and show physical cues that show they are more likely looking at it for ways to pick up. Those are what I believe guidelines are set out for because of the social stigmas that exist. Similarly, because of the sociocultural ways that sex is weaponized -- mostly against women, but also against certain types of men -- there will be different kinds of reactions to an erection, particularly to a full-blown erection.

There's nothing particularly worrying about an erection. It's really the person behind the erection to be worried about. And if there's reason to worry about that person when they're erect, there's also reason to worry when not. So yes, discretion needs to be applied and most women I know in naturism have empathy for a man who gets one. Yet it would also be naive to give a hall pass to everyone, given the way the rest of the world operates. Being watchful is appropriate. Being kind is also appropriate. I'm glad the person who first commented got helped out by an older person on his first visit.

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