We live in a world where women’s bodies are constantly either sexualized or dehumanized – or often both. We are not allowed to exist independently of the social (particularly male) gaze. Whether we are leered at and pursued against our will, or we are ignored and dismissed, or we are mocked or ridiculed, there is one thing that is true for almost all women: we are not allowed to live freely in our bodies and our lives. We constantly have to adjust to protect ourselves, to shield ourselves, and to make ourselves less of a target as we go about our daily lives.
We live in a society where girls as young as 5 years old think they’re “too fat.” Girls and women are constantly told that our bodies aren’t “good enough” – in a myriad of profitable ways by a myriad of companies and institutions out for our money, and often by family, partners, friends, and even random strangers in some bid for power or other reasons. Boys and men are socialized to think that girls and women should all look a certain way and that our lives and bodies exist solely for their benefit and pleasure. Many boys and men measure the worth of girls and women by their appearance. This whole system is painful and disrespectful and destructive for everyone.
One of the few safe places in the world for women and our bodies are family friendly nudist resorts and camps. Can you even imagine a place where it would feel safe for a woman to walk naked and alone down the street in the middle of the night and be completely free from fear of being accosted or attacked or engaged with in any undesired way? That’s hard to even imagine for a woman fully dressed in most areas! But that’s the reality at the nudist resort. Because the nudist resort is the one place on earth where women’s bodies are not sexualized or dehumanized, but rather respected and honored.
Hearing non-nudists spreading misconceptions that nudist resorts are for swingers or saying things such as, “you can’t unsee that” – is painfully offensive to me. Not only the ignorance, but the denigration and disrespect of something that is actually so beautiful, innocent, natural, and even healing. It is like thrusting the typical patriarchal and misogynistic values of our society onto a place that in more ways than anywhere else in the world has made strides in escaping that suffocation of fear/control of the natural human body. Honestly, how dare anyone exclaim that the sight of another human being’s naked body is repulsive? That is a HUMAN BEING! Which is something that nudists seem to recognize more than other people do – the sacredness of the human being and the human body. We see the person rather than the social status or whatever privilege their body may or may not confer upon them in regular society.
And then come the “sausage” jokes. Sigh. Some people cannot conceive of an innocent, respectful, honoring, natural view of nudity. They feel obligated to tie nudity to sexuality – and in their discomfort, to start making jokes and innuendo. Women can’t go topless or naked in most places because of this sort of sexualizing of nudity. Even men are denied an innocent enjoyment of their natural, naked bodies. Many men feel emboldened by our typical social values to be crass, obnoxious, and entitled to vocally sexualize and judge female bodies, whether they are naked or fully clothed – which makes it challenging and often fearful to live in a woman’s body in this society. How can we live powerfully and authentically when we aren’t even allowed dominion over our own bodies?
Nudists know that nudity does not equal sexuality – and, perhaps more importantly, that nudity does not equal any sort of consent. Not consent to look, not consent to touch. Nudists seem to understand basic human dignity and respect in a deeper way than most people. Perhaps nudism isn’t for everyone, but it sure would be nice if non-nudists would develop this level of understanding of respect, consent, and what nudity means/doesn’t mean. Maybe then one day, we could all feel safe and free to live in our own bodies and lives as we so choose.
And one day, I’d like to talk about women’s sexuality and empowerment … which is a whole other topic!