Femme Fwd: A Radical Approach to Gender Imbalance in Nude Spaces
If you’ve followed Just Naked since our inception this year, you may have noticed that our events have slowed down in the last couple of months. This is partially due to the fire Lea and I (Adam) suffered in August, but mostly because we’ve run into a roadblock that deserves contemplation. Can we talk about gender imbalance? While the concern is not new to nude communities, we’re going to try a new approach. If you have an interest in lending your voice, please take a moment to fill out the feedback form at the end of this letter. Your input is greatly appreciated.
There are more men than women in attendance at social (ie platonic) nudist events around the world. This may come as a surprise to the uninitiated, particularly when their first attempt at social nudity lands them in a crowded Brooklyn apartment full of dudes. While this reality is depressing for anyone, it has the potential to feel threatening for a woman, no matter how well the men in attendance behave. If she shows up at an event and realizes she’s outnumbered, she’s likely to be guarded. Even if the men are approachable and kind, she will certainly wonder why there is such a gender gap. Is she missing something? Is this safe? These are valid questions, yet there are few valid answers to this conundrum out there.
Clubs in the past have tried throttling male membership, raising prices for men, or reducing prices for m/f couples, but these solutions each have their own downsides. We think it’s time for a new approach. Rather than discussing why this problem exists, or debating the validity of other solutions, the rest of this essay will describe our plan and invite you to give us feedback. If you’re curious, you can read about this issue on Felicity’s blog here.
When we started, we allowed women to wear bottoms. Society allows men to be topless with no concern, so this balanced power and let women ease into the experience as they felt comfortable. Despite receiving many more applications from men who wished to host, we chose to let women lead most of our events. We figured that an event hosted by a woman would inspire women to attend. Finally, Lea crafted our online presentation to be gentle, feminine, and welcoming to women like herself. This effort did not go unnoticed, and some of our earlier events saw women in the majority. In time, men bought up tickets faster than women, and this exponentially crashed our initial gender parity.
We’re not sure what to do next, but we are sure of one thing: it must appeal to women for us to survive. We hope to accomplish this by initiating Femme Fwd, a program which depends on women to curate our membership. Moving forward, at the discretion of our Builders and readers like you, we will slowly create a new class of Femme Fwd events. These events will only be available to men who are vetted by a woman who has attended our events. This means a man and a woman can come for the first time together (assuming the woman can vouch for his behavior), or a woman can come alone for the first time. A man will not be able to attend a Femme Fwd event alone without filling out a brief application asking who has sponsored him. Once we check that his female sponsor has attended our events, he will have access to attend any of our events alone. Women will be able to sponsor up to three men, and we will disqualify the sponsorship if the woman reports that the man asked her explicitly to sponsor him. We don’t want women to feel obligated to sponsor anyone, and we don’t want them to feel annoyed by constant requests for sponsorship.
We will continue to hold open-to-all events, if only as a control to study the efficacy of our Femme Fwd plan. We will start by creating Femme Fwd iterations of our most popular events (TBA). If the plan is successful, most of our events will move to this model. Gender-specific events will continue, and likely increase in frequency next year. “Intro to nudism” events are in the planning stages, and will likely be open to anyone.
We’re not excited by the extra paperwork this change will mean for us. Processing applications, clarifying with female attendees, and keeping track of this will mean extra work on our side. We expect Femme Fwd events to be smaller at first, which means we’re taking a hit financially as well. We’d hoped to find a simpler solution, as this plan is a quantum leap from our current operating procedure, but we’re just out of other good ideas. Maybe you can help? Maybe you have a word of support for -or against- this plan? Let us know here.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. We’re aiming for a moving target, and progress depends on broad participation. We really appreciate it.