Has Nudism Lost Its Soul?

FOR DOWNLOAD MORE GALLERY I was recently alerted to this article: Nudism - The Radical Tradition.
In the mid 1990's Hilary and I decided to join the "organised" naturist movement. From historical accounts of radical nudism I felt hopeful that we would meet some fellow spirits, or at very least a circle of intelligent, liberal, open-minded people. The general tone of CCBN literature and the fact that the organisation lacked a democratic constitution should have sent alarm bells ringing. Our first encounter with "organised" naturism was when we attended a CCBN swim where we found a preponderance of males. Where, we wondered, were all the naturist women? The idle conversation in the sauna revealed a very conservative membership far from our expectations. We winced at the homophobia and range of conservative prejudices on display. There was little evidence that this weekly, clandestine, social nudity encouraged the development of any real friendships outside the confines of the leisure centre. It did little to break down the social isolation of the naturist and certainly did nothing to influence ideas in the outside community. Clearly, all was not well with contemporary British naturism.
From my own experience, the same can be said about American nudism.

Let me preface my comments by saying that I see a lot of hope for naturism in America, particularly through the work of The Naturist Society, The Naturist Education Foundation and The Naturist Action Committee. Movements like The Body Freedom Collaborative exhibit some of that radical attitude that the writer found lacking in British Naturism. While the American Association of Nude Recreation espouses all the right naturist philosophies, the emphasis is more on the commercial nature of the lifestyle. And Clothes-Free International is all about selling memberships to get access to the photos and videos, but in the process they do manage to get out a positive message.

When I made my first visit to a nude swim in Columbus a couple of years ago, my first thought was "you need more women here". Males outnumbered females at least a 5 to 1 ratio, and oftentimes higher. While there is nothing inherently wrong in getting old (I'm 54), the average age of the men in the pool had to be about 60.

I'm glad I found the Columbus swims because they got me started in social nudism, but the events were so male dominated that I never felt comfortable bringing my wife, who resisted for a couple of years.

After every swim many of the participants gathered at a local pizza joint, and that was the extent of any real socializing. The pool venue was just a pool - there were no other facilities such as a sauna or exercise room to stimulate conversation. In the pool, like clockwork every swim, the water volleyball game dominated the evening. The sense that I got was that everyone was just going through the motions, putting plastic over the windows, setting up the net, starting the game, keeping score, and then tearing it down and covering the pool, and uncovering the windows.

I will say that the local Columbus swims are welcoming to anybody. If you are a single male interested in social nudism, it's a good starting point.

Certainly there is no apparent homophobia in the Columbus groups, since there are several gay men who participate without prejudice. I will say that at least one Midwest landed club openly discourages gay couples from attending, which is unfortunate.

Basically, nudism in Ohio is very socially isolated. Aside from some ads in naturist publications, and a crude web presence, most landed and non-landed clubs do very little to make contact with the outside world. From my experience, enthusiasm is often met with suspicion and skepticism, and an unwillingness to change.

Certainly, at least here in Ohio, social nudism needs to reinvent itself, or it will just fade away.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , FOR WATCH MORE VIDEO