The issue of nudity and sexuality is one that haunts all attempts at normalizing nudity in social contexts. It is also an issue in couple relationships. The problem is that we are all hard-wired, as mature and maturing adults, to respond to visual stimulation, perhaps more so for the male than the female. A naked body is sexual – instinctively. How we respond to nudity is biological, as well as conditioned by our societal programming and the setting (context) within which one
finds oneself when presented with the sight of a nude body. No surprises here.
Being nude in a clothed public space is often about shock and perhaps awe. The Naked World Bike Rides are one example. The approach is different, more of a social party than protest, but the protest is real. The intent is still to challenge society and governments. It definitely isn’t about being at one with nature, about relaxing into one’s body and connecting with one’s inner self. Nor is it about simply being transparent and honest about oneself with others.
There is an agenda, a point that is being made, a protest even if that agenda is driven by the unconscious self. People respond to that protest and typically equate nudity with the protest. Often the focal point of the protest is lost by the impact of the nude body which cuts below our consciousness into gender responses and unconscious personal and collective shadow (complexes) triggers.
Nudity laws first appeared on the books in the Canadian Criminal Code because of Freedomites, a radical sect of Doukhobors using nudity to protest against the Canadian government. Both men and women took part in the naked protests which often included burning their own property buildings. Nudity was all about shock, about forcing the government to do something to honour promises made. Governments rarely respond well to shock confrontations. And of course, governments actually represent the typical psyche of the people for whom they govern.
So, why do we get nude? Why do we want or need,to be nude, especially when society has strictures against nudity? The truth is, in spite of all the words that rush out in defence of nudity, we really don’t know the answers. The truth is, we all struggle with a basic question of identity and purpose. “Who am I, really?” I spend a lot of my time nude. I am learning to respect the need for nudity and perhaps I am also learning, somewhat, where this need comes from. As a result, I do my best to ensure that my nudity doesn’t get in the way of meeting my needs when with others. With most people, I remain clothed though many know I am a naturist and spend time nude. With others, I am comfortable being nude as they are also nude – nudity is something in common, not a challenge.
Obviously I don’t have any answers. What I do offer is simply that each person becomes just a bit more conscious of their intentions and their needs. Perhaps, we can then find the world to be less affronted, shocked, or fearful in response to our nudity.