Fans of Urban Nudism
Is public nudity a bad thing or a good thing?
Opponents of public nudity make four kinds of claims, all of them flawed or ridiculous:
Claim 1: Public nudity is bad because religious texts say so.
Analysis: The religious texts that condemn public nudity were written by ancient priests who, like everyone of their time, understood very little about the real world, and lacked methods for testing the validity of claims. Their concepts of “sin” and "truth" were drawn from their misunderstandings and fears, not from any objective evidence.
Claim 2: Public nudity is bad because famous psychologists have stated that the sight of the human body damages children mentally.
Analysis: Mid-20th Century “pop” psychologists (like Joyce Brothers and Benjamin Spock) are to blame for much of today’s fear over children being exposed to nudity. These media celebrities did no research to determine the actual effects of nudity. They, like the ancient priests mentioned above, mistook their own dark fantasies for evidence. Long-term studies in the 1980s and 1990s show the exact opposite of the claims made by sensationalists like Brothers and Spock.
Furthermore, the notion that seeing the human body damages the minds of children is ridiculous. Do puppies get damaged by the sight of naked adult dogs? Do young dolphins get damaged by the sight of naked adult dolphins? Does any animal get mental damage by seeing the bodies of their own species? What an absurd idea! Any species that developed such a handicap would soon be overrun and replaced by another species that didn’t have that handicap. Humans would have died out hundreds of thousands of years ago – in the era before clothing was invented – if their offspring had suffered brain damage from seeing naked adults.
Claim 3: Public nudity is bad because it turns heterosexual men into rapists.
This claim is a product of the overstrung imaginations of extremists across the political spectrum. They want us to believe that the sight of naked women causes heterosexual men to become so excited that they lose all their inhibitions and become rapists.
Analysis: The claim conveniently overlooks the fact that rape is far more common in our taboo-ridden society-at-large than it is at nudist gatherings, where there are lots of heterosexual men and naked women. It also ignores the existence, throughout human history, of tribal societies (such as the Nubians) in which public nudity is routinely practiced, yet rape is not prevalent.
Claim 4: Public nudity is bad because it causes traffic accidents.
Analysis: This claim has been used by politicians to justify criminalizing nudity. For example, San Francisco’s anti-nudity law states: “[Public nudity] creates a public safety hazard by creating distractions, obstructions, and crowds that interfere with the safety and free flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic…” However, those who make this claim are oblivious to the fact that such distractions are the result of the novelty of public nudity in a society plagued by anti-nudity laws. When public nudity becomes commonplace, it will no longer distract onlookers.
Public nudists respond as follows:
Public nudity is GOOD because…
… it accustoms people to the sight of the human body and thereby reduces feelings of “body shame”. Body shame – the anxiety and embarrassment many people feel when their bodies are exposed and seen by others – originates from child-rearing practices in prudish families. It is an emotional illness that impairs the ability of both young and old to form close relationships, creates conflict and disruption in families, and sometimes leads to criminal activity and even to suicide. Public nudity counteracts the psychological damage done by the nudity taboo and by prudish parenting because it makes onlookers aware that most public nudists are friendly, sensible people with fewer hangups than the scowling, chronically-angry prudes who oppose them. Prudish onlookers cannot avoid noticing the joyful support that public nudists get from many other passersby, and this forces them to consider the possibility that prudishness isn’t necessarily healthy, or fun, or popular.
Public nudity is good because it brings a new sense of freedom to a society beset by threats, fear, and the stress of change. Many people feel boxed-in and helpless. Stress brings an increase in anger, hostility, violence, and rejection of rationality. It is causing our society to splinter and to look for relief in the wrong places – for example, in ideological extremism, in mean-spiritedness, and in violence, depression, and suicide. Public nudity is a freedom that only a few people in our society have been able or willing to experience, but that many people yearn for. It is an antidote for the chronic anger that goes hand-in-hand with prudishness.
Public nudists aim to erode and eliminate the nudity taboo and the laws based on it. When this is accomplished, our society will be cured of prudery and will become a happier place.