Interview with NUSA Sun Magazine, Part 1
Recently I had the pleasure of talking with NUSA Sun Magazine about nudity and clothing optional resorts. NUSA Sun is a magazine completely dedicated to the nudist community. The nudist community contains many different people. These people indulge in public spaces where nudity is allowed, live life as naked as possible, or participate in activities outside of sex in the nude. For their anniversary edition, NUSA wanted to discuss something that has always been a controversial topic- nudity and sexuality. Jaye Francis asked me to participate in this interview because NUSA was seeking a professional, therapeutic sexuality worker to answer some tough questions. The following is part one of excerpts from that interview as well as a little background about nudism, naturism, and sexuality.
Nudity, especially in western cultures, can be perceived as having an innate sexual nature. Essentially, this is the belief that by simply being naked one will awaken sexual feelings within another even if they are not engaging in a sexual way. In America, this belief runs so deep that breastfeeding in public has been a controversial topic. In other cultures, though, nudity is a way of life. Attire in African and Polynesian cultures look more like tattoos and body painting. The belief in non sexual nudity can be traced back to ancient Greece. Many naturalists or nudists believe that nudity is primal. Nudity is natural. Some believe that if nudity is natural, it is not sexual in natural- it simply is. For many years within the nudist community, there have been debates on whether or not this is true. If nudity is essentially non-sexual, then public nudity would carry no implications other than that people are nude.
Some studies suggest, though, that regardless of what we think, nudity is "sexy." These studies suggest that the act of being nude elicits very similar feelings that accompany sexual acts- freedom, naughtiness, and openness. Swinging, voyeurism, and exhibitionism is found more often in nudist communities as well. Some would argue that the belief in nonsexual nudity also implies that sexuality is not inherently natural, but a concept created by society which to many seems absurd.
Then there are people who believe neither but rather both of these concepts. They believe that sexual nudity is a matter of perception. That even if nudity is sexual in nature, naturalist communities and people in general are able to sublimate their sexual impulses. They can view nudity as sexual or not. They believe that any natural, physical, sexual response can be easily "turned off" simply by changing their perception. People have evolved enough to not act on primal urges and can respect nude spaces by viewing them in a different light.
Whatever the case, the question remains: Do we sexualize nature or is nature sexual? Does nudity invoke sexual feelings or is nudity non sexual? Jaye Francis and I sat down to talk about these very questions and here’s some of our conversation:
Jaye: I’d like to start by exploring the classic psychological proposition that says, as humans, we are inherently sexual beings. Supposedly part of our genetic makeup, sex is said to be the driving force behind the propagation of the species. In other words, the very fact that we’re here, that we are a product of conception, confirms the existence of our sexuality—whether we are naked or clothed. This idea has always been in conflict with traditional nudist tenets, which promotes the idea that nudity and sex are unrelated, both in concept and practice. In fact, much of the definitive nudist literature states that the simple act of being nude, and the impact it has on others, is completely non-sexual. Based on your professional experience, does nudity—portrayed in its most innocent form—automatically or instinctually evoke a sexual response in others? And if so, does the simple act of removing our clothing communicate a sexual message?
Dragonfly: Love this question, Jaye! Yes, we are inherently sexual beings, as it is our core life force. Like you said “whether we are naked or clothed,” it is within us, thankfully so in my eyes. We all have a choice of tuning into our erotic energy—or not—based on the appropriateness of the time and place. For example, in a nudist setting, we can choose to maintain a “neutral” mindset about sex while knowing we have the ability to tap into that energy when needed, and in a time and place that’s appropriate. The way you represent your sexuality is the key. While nudity in and of itself is not a sexual thing, the head space surrounding it, where we show our eroticism and represent our sexuality is. We create our erotic embodiment with our clothes on or off, and while the naked form alone does not necessarily communicate a sexual message, it can certainly evoke a sexual response in others.
Jaye: There is a long and on-going debate between traditional nudists and clothing- optional enthusiasts who want to enjoy a more permissive atmosphere. What do you say to people on both sides of that argument?
Dragonfly: With people coming from such different perspectives, we first need to respect the opposing view, allowing others to have their opinion. It opens us up to having a better understanding of their priorities and expectations. With that said, I feel there is a time and place for permissive play, and there are definitely options available for clothing-optional enthusiasts who desire a more liberated atmosphere. With a little research, both groups can find what they want, without needing to compromise or having to settle for an undesirable or uncomfortable overlap in personal behavioral standards. If you look, you can find what you desire, and you don't have to compromise and give up one for the other. There are places that specifically cater to a more permissive atmosphere.
Stay tuned for more questions and answers from my interview with NUSA magazine! Part two will discuss sexuality in the media and perceived discrimination within the nudist community.