Thoughts about nude beaches

I visited a nude beach in Vancouver a few weeks ago. The experience was interesting, to say the least. The beach was well-populated but not crowded — enough space between parties for some mediocre privacy. Half of the people there were nude. Of that group, maybe 20% were female. My friend and I were the only two completely naked ladies — every other female was wearing a bikini bottom. Aside from my own, I didn’t see a single pussy.

During the few hours that I spent there, my dominant opinion of the situation flipped back and forth multiple times, between:

A) I feel powerful. Mirror, mirror, I am a the fairest of them all in a sea of beer bellies and flaccid penises. I think that a flaccid penis is the antithesis of (Western) masculinity. Of course, that’s something we’re socialized to think, not an inherent truth. Seeing men completely naked in a non-intimate setting — exposed, vulnerable — made me feel immensely powerful. Never in my life had I felt as though I was in the position to critique the body of another sex from afar. Every man that walked by me was at my mercy. Is this what the world looks like through the male gaze?

B) I feel threatened. This place feels like a playground where men can parade, like animals, uninhibited by societal expectations to cover their genitals. A full-frontal display of manhood, with the added bonus of naked women. This place feels like a hunting ground, and I’m the prey. This is the most dangerous game.

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