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    Naturism is not a spectator sport

    Roni Fine asks: “Can clothes be a choice?”

    How many times have you been caught up in the old argument amongst naturists regarding whether places should be naturistonly or clothes-optional? Would it attract the voyeurs or entice the hesitant person to take part? In an ideal world, it shouldn’t matter who is clothed and who isn’t, but we are not there yet!

    Which side of the argument do you take and have you considered it from all angles?

    Public beaches that allocate us a sectionwhere we can undress, without being marched off to the local police station because someone stopped to look and then got embarrassed by what they saw, are very pleasant. What better pastime than to laze on the sand, take a leisurely naked walk, fresh air caressing the skin, to the water’s edge? Ah, but some beaches attract the local “meerkats” and the tranquillity is broken by their antics. The few, but nuisance, rogue males who haunt the dunes and pop up and down peering at naturists have been reported to actually position themselves within close proximity to others, even families, and do things to themselves that I think should only be done in private!

    This behaviour gives true naturists a bad reputation and frightens away many a reluctant female when her partner had been keen for her to try it out. If naturist beaches attract the “wrong sort” of person, who is taking the opportunity to view the human body with a little more enthusiasm than seems comfortable, then maybe they should not be allowed to share the same areas. We need to protect these beaches, as the local councils will decide to close them to naturism for the slightest of reasons. Even the police can seem to be ignorant of the law and tend to think removing the naturist is the easy option, as not many of us dare to fight back.

    Holiday destinations, especially in warmer climes, are popular but beware of the more liberal-minded resorts that permit quite extraordinary antics on the beach! I am not totally against such behaviour, but we advertise naturism as a safe family lifestyle and a non-sexual nudity, so it harms our reputation to have swingers and promiscuous behaviour taking place under the guise of naturism. Let’s segregate ourselves from them for our own protection.

    Naturist swimming events at public pools seem to work best when they involve membership, as I often hear open events are overcrowded with men, especially those that make women feel uncomfortable as they seem to be there to look rather than swim. Naturist women don’t object to men; it’s only their behaviour that might worry them, not their presence.

    I believe clubs are the best place to practise our lifestyle, as they provide uswith a safe and comfortable atmosphere.

    Where else can you strip naked and feel at total ease? We are all there for the same reason and the correct one: to relax in a naked state without upsetting or offending a single soul. It follows then, that no one should be upsetting or offending us either! We are in the age of “equality”, are we not?

    I am sure we are like many clubs in that we encourage people to attend Blackthorns hoping they will gain confidence and understand why we do it, but if they flatly refuse to try, then why would they want to continue attending? I’ve heard many say they don’t object to us being naked, but it is not for them. But why would we accept this? You don’t join a golf club and walk round the green dragging a set of golf clubs, but never using them! You walk elsewhere.

    You don’t join a weight-watchers group and go along each week munching away on pizza, chocolate cake and ice cream whilst watching the others step on the scales trying hard not to be tempted by these tasty foods! You go to a restaurant.

    Naturism is not a spectator sport and though I don’t want to appear paranoid, I feel uncomfortable if people turn up to watch us rather than join in. I would question their intentions. Wouldn’t you?

    We get quite a few men with reluctant partners and these men are the ones who wish it was a clothes-optional club, so that they could bring their partner and she need not undress and I do understand that. But, (and there is nearly always a “but”, isn’t there?), this is a situation that can easily get out of hand.

    Don’t forget, whilst both sexes might not object to a few clothed women attending, clothed men do not seem to be so readily accepted by either sex.

    With today’s equality acts governing all aspects of our lives, if we allow men to bring non-naturist women then we could not refuse women bringing non-naturist men, and how comfortable would we be with them sat on our patio, gleefully enjoying the view? We have to remember we can no longer legally make exceptions. We have to treat everyone the same!

    We couldn’t say it’s all right for couples to be clothes-optional, but not allow single people the same choice so we could be inundated with clothed males: again, I am drawing on my experience of membership requests at Blackthorns. We have few single women join, but many single men and a fair amount of single men apply who seem to want to view rather than participate. (If any of you are long-standing BN members you might recall my article campaigning for the acceptance of single men, so please don’t think I am anti!) I am all for anyone joining, just so long as they are naturist-orientated and not thrill seekers!

    Try as I might to accept it, I know I feel uncomfortable if there are clothed people amongst us, and my ability to relax is disturbed by those who do not understand naturism and whose views are reflected on their judgmental faces.

    It isn’t that we don’t sympathise with nervous prospective members, and we give them ample time and understanding and a little privacy to try it out at their own pace, and very often they take to it and wish afterwards that they had done it sooner!

    Strangely enough, it is often the clothed person who feels out of place if they attend on a particularly sunny day when everyone else is naked! If that doesn’t make them undress, then maybe nothing will!

    We also welcome friends and relatives to evening socials when we are dressed and always hope they see the normality of naturists and overcome their initial doubts and fears!

    We make allowances for the children, as they are brought to the club by their parents; all we ask is that they are encouraged to enjoy the freedom that this lifestyle brings and most of them do. It is then for them to decide if they wish to join in their own right, as naturists, when they turn eighteen.

    Like it or not, we have to be realistic and accept that there are always the few proverbial rotten apples in the barrel and there will always be people who try to join clubs for the wrong reasons.

    The erratic British weather is another consideration. Isn’t it funny how many times we are asked, “Isn’t it cold in the winter?”, but we mustn’t take it for granted that they know what we do, as it is usually done behind closed doors! I am not of the old brigade that insisted members stripped on entering the gate and remained undressed until they left, whatever the weather!

    People’s tolerance of temperature varies and whilst some are wearing jumpers when others are in t-shirts we would expect them to undress when the sun is shining and temperatures are in the eighties! Likewise, when people insist they cannot undress as they are fair-skinned and burn easily, we point out they need not sit in direct sunlight, but can enjoy their nakedness under the shade of tree or parasol. To sit in the sun fully clothed, complaining of the heat seems a little weird in a naturist environment.

    So do you really feel there is a need for naturism to become clothes-optional?

    Please think about the consequences!

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