Being Naked in a Non-Nude-Friendly World

The Greeks had created a word, Gymnosophy to name a group of individuals, in their world at that time – men, they saw as naked philosophers or naked wise men. Now, it doesn’t escape me that among the number of people who have embraced naturism, there are more than a few who would modern-day versions of naked philosophers. Unlike the ancient Greek civilisation, today’s naked philosophers aren’t only men. However, before I get carried away with the topic of gymnosophy, I simply want to set the foundation for the use of the word, gymnophobia – “An abnormal and persistent fear of nudity. Sufferers of this phobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. They may worry about seeing others naked or being seen naked, or both.” Gymnophobia is alive and well, and apparently thriving in the modern world.

Life is confusing and complicated for anyone who begins to think too much and thus find themselves out of the mainstream of society, the collective. It would be much simpler to simply reflect the social world in which a person finds themselves, through action and uncritical acceptance. If everyone is eating at Macdonald’s on Saturday afternoon, then it is right to eat at Macdonald’s on Saturday afternoon. If everyone is wearing blue jeans, it is right and proper to wear blue jeans – wearing black jeans is letting the inner rebel show and thus makes a person just a bit less trusted. Conformity is in.

A walk along a beach will show you that most young men are wearing board shorts for swim wear. As a result, younger males entering into adolescence decide that they “have to” have this type of swim wear. There is no chance that they would risk being laughed at for wearing swim trunks, speedos, or heaven forbid, nothing at all. As a result, most people are making decisions based on what they perceive will be acceptable to the collective. The last thing they will do is to base decisions on what they personally would prefer.

With the “World Naked Bike Ride” making its appearance in cities all over the world, the number of young people getting naked and riding tells us that if the culture permits and accepts nudity, there would be more nudity in daily life, by choice, by individual choice. As more enjoy body freedom, others watching from the sideline will be encouraged to experience being naked, even if only for a few moments in the privacy of their bedroom or bathroom.

The reality is that in spite of the WNBR, society is not nude friendly. Being nude, even at home, requires a leap of courage or a breakdown. Being nude in a non-nude-friendly world, a gymnophobic world, sets one on the edges, outliers of the main social fabric. And, this is not a bad thing. Being an outlier frees a person from being nothing more than a consumer and a mirror. One finally has a rare opportunity to discover the treasure of simply being themselves.

To do the work, the psychological and spiritual work, of becoming more conscious of self and others always takes one on a journey that is difficult, a heroic journey. One can think of any number of stories in which an individual must suffer in order to win the prize of going home, or a golden fleece, or winning a coveted championship. All of these journeys take a person out of the safety of the collective.

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6 Responses to Being Naked in a Non-Nude-Friendly World

  1. Pete Flynn says:

    I like your post very much. When I was teenager, the boys at school had a uniform, even though it was a public school. It generated a dislike in me for penny loafers, button down sport shirts and levis that still persists. It accompanied a “sheeple” mentality that I despised for it’s mindless conformity. I had friends but they tended to be the arts and drama kids. Those were skills I lacked, but they didn’t care.
    Steeple make up the majority of people I think. Most of them are nice people, but they also sustain the mentality. I don’t expect it to change, but love seeing what happened in Spain, which is essentially a clothing optional country now, and the casual acceptance of nudity beyond the beach resort in western Europe. At least if you are a nubile female.
    Public nudity is unfortunately still unacceptable, but at least now intent to offend has become a component of the law. But it doesn’t end the harrassment of nudes, like the gentleman in England who tried to hike the length of British in the nude. He was arrested several times and I don’t know if he actually accomplished it.
    I am hopeful of progress.

    • rglongpre says:

      Pete, like you note, there are slight improvements, especially in mainland Europe. If there is to be any further improvement, it is upon us to lead by example and doing, like Stephen Gough. Leading by example must be done in a mindful manner rather than in anger and frustration. I am so glad that you are hopeful.

      • Steven Pape says:

        Lead by example, yes, but not like Stephen Gough, who has done more harm than good.

        Walking naked past schools at times when parents were taking their children in or out was designed to cause offence. (children would not be offended, but their parents were.)Turning up for court appearances naked so that he would be gaoled, not for being naked but for contempt of court.

        Being naked in public is not illegal in England and Wales. Deliberately causing offence by being naked is illegal. There is a right way and a wrong wat to walk the length of Britain wearing boots and factor 15, but the way Gough did it was not the way.

        We need to make nudity acceptable. The world naked bike ride is one way (I will be riding in Manchester and York). Going out to be controversial is not the right way in my opinion.

  2. phill warren says:

    my twenty-four old son and myself are nudists at home and at functions at nudist clubs. I am able to go nude in my front yard due to trees and no houses across the road. We also have a private back yard where we never go clothed. the neighbors tolerate us as they can only see us through tiny gaps in a six foot fence. my point is when are we going to see more public nudity and dispel this gymnophobia in society.

    • rglongpre says:

      When? Likely not in our lifetime, Phill. That said, there are other options that are there for us until such time.

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