Photo by Ky, used under Creative Commons licence.

My mate Emma thinks I’m a right idiot, becoming a naturist. She thinks my naturism is just really, really naive.

I know because she told me. Not just like that — it was more like a series of mentions in chats. If I put it all into just one speech, here’s how it goes.

‘Liz, you are being so very naive. OK, so there you are all at the naturist club with no clothes on, and I know that you think you’re all feeling free and I’m sure that is what you’re personally doing, but it’s not what the men are doing and it’s not why they’re there.

‘The men are there because they want to see naked women. It’s what straight men do, any chance they get. It’ll never change. You’re being too trusting. You’re imagining everyone’s like you. But this naked world you’re describing isn’t normal. It could never exist’.

She thinks my naturism is just really, really naive.

I think she’s wrong. I put her view down to inexperience. But I’m leaving it out of our friendship. Here’s why:

  • …it’s me who’s changed my perspective, not her. I don’t have the right to drag her with me
  • …I can’t just demand that people I like — or even people I love — agree with me about everything
  • …she’s not telling me what to do, and wouldn’t do unless I asked her.

I don’t want to argue with Emma. When someone’s been with you for years, and the friendship is tried and tested, it takes a bigger deal than this to be worth the damage. Like always, though — there’s benefit when people disagree. Sometimes the disagreement pushes things into your face that need to be there. Could she be right? Are naturist women just being naive?

Well… what about this?

‘If I tell the event organiser that I’ve a man a couple of times not to stare, that man should be told he’s not welcome here. And sadly, I guess the organisers have to do the speech at every event, reminding the men that staring’s not allowed’.

Or this?

‘My problem is the men who stare at your breasts, or as you’re getting in and out of the pool. That is a huge deterrent as to why I don’t go very often’.

When I read both these statements online, I practically dropped my tea.

Writers of the above, whoever you are — listen up. Something bad is happening to you, and here’s what you should do about it:

  1. Recognise that you are being exploited
  2. Go straight to the top. Find the organiser’s office, or the manager’s — right now. Tell them that men who are not naturists are being admitted to naturist spaces. You don’t have to be nasty about this — but don’t be too nice either. It’s making you unsafe. How do I know? Because, In a naturist environment, that ‘organisers’ speech’ you mention would not be necessary. Not even once.
  3. Tell the organiser/manager that they need to sort this unpleasant problem out or you won’t be back.
  4. If they don’t sort it out, publicise the fact, because other naturists need to know and avoid this ‘event’, or this place, or whatever it is. And you’ll be needing to get together to create some new and more enjoyable events to go to.
  5. Don’t visit after that. It’s a crummy place anyway. You’re being told it’s safe to be naked there. It isn’t. Let’s hope it closes down.

‘Naive’ is a cruel word. It’s not such a terrible thing — just a kind of innocence. But it’s innocence out of time, innocence late in the day, when you’ve grown up and need to have wised up. And when you won’t let yourself see, as an adult woman, that you are being sexually exploited, it’s wise-up time. (Though the breaking of trust is a horrible thought, and a painful one, and that’s why it’s hard to confront).

But is it naive to believe in and seek out a naturist environment? I don’t think so. Sisterhood and brotherhood are real. It isn’t naive to expect naturist men not to stare at you (‘not to oppress you’ is a different, and a better, way to put it)… not one tiny little bit. It’s just that not every man is a brother — or at least not every man is, yet. HARD PARA
 How I have come to believe this is hard to explain in the bottom two lines. I’ll be needing a bit more space, and a few more hours and a few more thoughts. But I’ll definitely be giving it a try.

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