What is Sex-Positive & Is it Good for Nudism?
What is sex-positive?
Sex-positive means acknowledging and respecting that everyone is unique in their sexual identity, orientation, and myriad of sexual desires. Sex-positive says it’s okay to be hypersexual, and it’s okay to be asexual (ie, no interest in sex). Gay, straight, bi, transgender, intersex, polyamorous, monogamous, BDSM, fetishes, kinky sex, vanilla sex. Basically, as long as it’s between consensual adults, it’s all A-okay. This means completely refraining from shaming or judging a person for their sexual activities and preferences. It’s important to note that the “consent” aspect rules out sex with animals and children. (There are debates about what constitutes consent, but I’m not going to get into that.)
As nudists and naturists, there is always the need to emphasize that nudism is not about sex, since nudity and sex are so inextricably connected in people’s minds. But we, as an organization, are sex-positive. Our philosophy is, whatever you do with your sex life is not for us to judge, nor is it any of our business. We welcome everyone, including swingers, as long as they behave and abide by the rules at events. (I mention swingers because they have always been present in the nudist community. Unfortunately, nudist clubs occasionally become swinger sex resorts.) We don’t care what they do behind closed doors. Just don’t mistake us for a sex-party group.
So nudism is not about sex or sexuality. And yet, what we uncover that bothers everyone else, are the genitals and female breasts (at least in part because they are considered sexual). In America I’d like to think we have gradually become less prudish about showing skin as bathing suits went from modest one-piece body suits to the teeny bikini. But genitals and female breasts have continually remained taboo. Do our hang-ups about sex cause our hang-ups about full-frontal nudity? Take a look at this quote from an article about sex-positive activist Betty Dodson, where “nudity” can just as easily replace “sex,” and it’ll still be true:
“But on the other hand, I must admit, if I think about it carefully, we are collectively hung up about sex nudity. We’re embarrassed by it. We hide it. We stigmatize it and we collectively support the facade where in public we all treat it as socially unacceptable. Nevertheless, it is very much a part of us. We can’t escape it; it is always with us. We can try and suppress it; we can try to hide it, but in the end, it will always come back to haunt us.”
Is the sex-positive movement good for naturism? In my opinion, absolutely. Perhaps in releasing our shame about sex, we can also release that shame about nudity, our bodies, and the genitals we are always trying to hide. We can accept that sex is part of being human and hopefully learn to be as comfortable with our sexual parts as we are with the rest of our bodies. Aren’t some people opposed to trying nudism because it involves exposing particular parts, rather than because it reveals body fat or flaws? Because they are more self-conscious about their genitals?
In my research on sex-positive, I also came across this quote from Betty Dodson herself:
“If we could grow up knowing that the genitals are beautiful parts of our bodies, we’d be proud, we wouldn’t have shame, we wouldn’t have sexual guilt.”
It’s worth repeating: Genitals are beautiful parts of our bodies. Yes! For all those sex-positive educators and activists out there, please teach people this. The naturists, as well as a lot of other people, will be forever grateful. The sex-positive movement can benefit us all. Goodbye body / sexuality / genital shame, hello sex-positive, body-positive world.
What do you think about the sex-positive movement / philosophy? Should nudists embrace it, and do you think it benefits naturism?
[Source of graphics above: http://dumbjerkontheinternet.tumblr.com/post/20981926723/i-made-these-with-the-intention-of-turning-them]
About the Author (Author Profile)I'm Felicity, author of Felicity's Blog and co-founder of Young Naturists America. I write about nudism and naturism in today's world along with issues like top-freedom and body acceptance, and various naked topics. Enjoy, and leave a comment when you've got something to say! :)
Thank you for your post and website. I just discovered it. I grew up in the traditional textile family. The only time I saw anyone nude was the very rare occasions I saw my mom getting into or out of the shower. I never saw my brother or anyone else nude.
I suffer from a very low self body image of not knowing how I looked compared to other boys. As a result I suffered from simple tasks such as going to the bathroom for fear of someone seeing me. I just turned 26 and still struggle at times with this simple task. I've gotten a bit better with it but it's still a struggle.
I hate feeling like I am judged based on my body. I'm not overly obese but I am a little big. I feel like my life would have been so much easier growing up if I had grown up in a world where nudism was accepted because I would have a much better self confidence by being able to know how my body compares to others and knowning that there really isn't any difference.
I like to practice nudism when I'm home alone and I do sleep nude whenever I get the chance. I live in the city and never get the chance to go outside in the nude. I have never been to a nude gathering because I have never seen a girl in person nude and I fear getting an erection.
I'm glad you posted this. I think sex positive education is an important issue. I believe you're correct - in a more sex positive world, simple nudity wouldn't be an issue.
It's also the case that the people who are more open about and comfortable with sexuality are the ones who can most easily understand and appreciate the distinction between nonsexual nudism and more sexualized nudity, and behave appropriately for the environment. One of the features consistent across all sex positive communities is a strong emphasis on respect for others, which means having the self control to follow the norms and rules laid down for the event. And it's very hard to imagine anyone in those communities complaining about the existence of a nude beach, even if it doesn't interest them in of themselves.
By contrast, the people who cause problems are the more sex negative types. They're the ones who see *everything* through the lens of sexuality, usually projecting their own repressed thoughts onto everyone around them. They can't deal with naked people without bring sex into it, therefore they can't imagine that anyone can, and since sex is automatically so shameful and wrong, they fight us. To the degree we can promote sex positivity, we can minimize the influence of such people.
Unfortunately, what seems to happen is that a lot of nudists - when they talk about this issue at least - are so adamant about non-sexuality that they come across as being sex negative. Which puts us at odds with people who should be our natural allies. One of the things I love about YNA is that it is sex positive, but you can see a lot of the sex negativity I'm talking about in the criticisms that have been leveled at it.
@Pseudonymasaurus Thank you. I really liked your comment. Some seem to be getting caught up in "nudism is not about sex," but that's missing the point of my article. I'm not sure that people open with their sexuality necessarily understand nudism more easily, but with the way sex-positivity embraces respect and acceptance, I totally agree with your statements that follow!
About the sex-negative types, isn't that the way it often works when something so undeniably human is considered naughty, wrong or taboo? In their shame about sexuality, they repress it, and yet I think that just often leads to obsessing over it more! To them yes nudity & sex are probably equally as shameful.
After doing research, I realized that we would definitely define ourselves as sex-positive, and I'm all for supporting it! As eager as some nudists are to separate the words nudism and sex, I think this movement is important and could really help our cause; even if it only creates more tolerance in general and thus tolerance of social nudity as well.
This is a very complex issue. The Judaeo-Christian heritage has emphasised shame. Shame about our bodies, but in particular our breasts and genitals, and our sexuality. As you state, we have uncovered in certain situations like the beach but the areas that remain are female breasts, anuses and genitalia. As naturists we have spent so much effort telling the world we are not about sex (whatever that means) that we almost rendered ourselves asexual. We should be as sexual as the next person. Discussions about these related issues then are good for both.
As far as consent goes, that applies to many other situations than animals and children (what is a child?), including the dead, asleep, unconscious, under influence of substances and those with limited capacity to comprehend and provide informed consent. But consent is never a completely black and white issue either.
Of course, it's erroneous to claim that nudism and naturism have nothing to do with sexuality. In fact, nude recreation clearly contributes to the health of human sexuality, both in body and mind. Read the "205 Arguments in Support of Naturism" by the Naturist Society, which mentions the word "sex", or variations thereof, no less than 152 times.
Humans are sexual animals, but what we do in public, social and work situations is not to deny our sexuality, but refrain from overt sexual behavior.
The sexual orientation of a person should of no consequence in a nudist environment as long as it is not overtly demonstrated in any way greater than is considered acceptable for all. No special accommodations need be made nor privileges extended simply based on lifestyle, nor should any uncalled-for disapproval be shown.The beauty of naturism isn't that we are all the same; it's that such a diverse group of people can get along so much better than in the outside world! The only requirement is that we show a bit of courtesy and respect to each other and mind our own business. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it any more than one's occupation does.
As to whether the sex-positive philosophy is good or bad for social nudism, that depends entirely on whether its practitioners behave themselves as true nudists and keep their personal life personal, like everyone else. The only philosophy important to naturism is our shared naturist philosophy which, in nudist situations, trumps any other concepts of proper social behavior or personal beliefs to the contrary. Some people can't handle that.It seems like nudists talk a lot about sex, but what we're actually doing is trying to explain to those who think EVERYTHING is sex that it needn't be the case all the time. Gay, straight, poly, swinger; it doesn't matter because we're not having a great big orgy! We do our nudist thing and we do our sex thing, just not at the same time. Silly Textiles just don't get it!
@All-Nudist Thank you for your thoughts. It's true that sexual orientation or desires are in a sense irrelevant in social nudism. But I think there's something to be said for the possible benefit to nudism that more sex-positivity might have. If more people (non-nudists) learn to accept their sexuality and sexual anatomy, then nudity may become much less of a big deal. If sex-positive education teaches children to be proud of their genitals instead of ashamed of them, then this could help our cause.
The rules of nudist sexual behavior are self evident. If you wouldn't do it in public with clothes on, don't do it in a nudist environment. I wish everybody would stop denying sexuality on these nudist forums. no wonder men say "I would go to a nude beach but I'm afraid I'll get an erection." Reference to sex in a nudist environment is worse than reference to nudism in a textile environment! I thought WE were the liberated free thinkers.
If you're referring to the lack of open sexuality found in nudist gatherings, that is no different than in any mixed gathering, Textile or not. It's certainly no mantra, just good behavior.There's a big difference between 'no sex' and sex in appropriate circumstances. It's only those who don't know the difference that cause a problem, and only they who need to hear the message. The assertion that naturists are sexless is nonsense.
The sometimes silly behavioral restrictions at nudist venues and all the talk about naturism being non-sexual are intended for one purpose; to get the message across that simply because folks are without clothes, that doesn't mean they can behave differently than they would anywhere else. This needs to be reiterated often because there are always new folks coming in with the Textile attitude that nudism is all about sex.
There are also some who feel that naturism would be more fun with more sex! It very well might be, but then it wouldn't be naturism. Anyone can get naked and have sex; it's called... having sex, and you don't need to call yourself a nudist to do it.
It's not a matter of nudists being more or less sexual, or of being prudes, it's a matter of keeping sexual activity in it's proper place, and that isn't on a pool deck or at the beach. Is that so much to ask? Those who think that it IS too much to ask are looking for something other than naturism, because naturism isn't about sex at all. It's about social cooperation via mutually agreed upon principles of behavior.
The form of naturism that makes up the base of mainstream nudism around the world is styled upon family camping; when was the last time you heard sex mentioned in the same sentence with that? The only difference between the two is the lack of clothing; the behavioral standards are virtually identical.
THAT'S what nudists keep reminding folks about, though it often gets messed up in the translation! It has nothing to do with what people do on their own time, just around other naturists.
Too bad that there are many nudists who so scared when the word sex is said in a nudist enviroment. Some of the most prudish people I have met are in a nudist enviroment. In some cases couples get reprimanded if they even hold hands.
That being said, there should be standards toward behavior in a public nudist setting. We certainly wouldn't want our nudist resorts to turn into enviroments that we see at "gentlemen's" clubs,