The other day we came upon a year old blog post by Dan Carlson, a.k.a. the Meandering Naturist, about naturism and exhibitionism. Since Dan’s blog posts are often thought provoking, we can rarely resist to share our own thoughts on the subject in a comment. One which often competes in size with the actual post. It wasn’t any different with this one about naturism and exhibitionism, but then we figured that we could as well publish our ideas here. On our own blog. So you, our readers, get the chance to participate in this discussion as well. Although we’re quite sure that many of you are reading both our blog as Dan’s.
Anyway, the topic of the blog post is whether all naturists are in fact also voyeurs and/or exhibitionists. Not in a purely negative or cartoonish way involving a long rain coat or binoculars. But rather the question whether the need to see and to be seen is in our nature. When we go to a party, we wonder what the others will be wearing. Once there, it doesn’t take long before we’ve checked out everyone around. On the way back home the subject tends to come up, have you seen how gorgeous/ugly/long/short/fancy/expensive/sexy/prudish/… he or she was dressed. And we know that others will have the same talk about us, during their own ride home.
It’s just what people do. Does all of that behaviour just moves away when we’re not clothed at all?
It’s just what people do. Does all of that behaviour just moves away when we’re not clothed at all?
Checking out the nudists
It’s often said that once you’ve become comfortable in your natural state and once you’ve seen quite a lot of other nudists, you just don’t notice the nudity anymore. It’s something we don’t exactly agree with. But we do understand where it comes from. During our first social nude experiences, we couldn’t keep our eyes away from all those naked bodies. They were the only thing we noticed. Which isn’t all that strange and we don’t think that it makes us voyeurs. It was just something completely new. Within 5 minutes we saw more real life breasts and penises and vaginas than we had seen in our whole life before that moment.
In fact, maybe it does make us voyeurs. But not any different than when we’re soaking up all the fancy dresses and high heels and bling bling at that party. Research has shown that when men take communal showers, every single one will let his eyes move to the side to see what his neighbour has hanging there. Again, it’s in our nature.
We have been nudists for a long time and especially during the last years we’ have seen many thousands of naked people people. In all different shapes and sizes. Yet if you happen to walk up to us tomorrow at some nudist resort, we will have a quick look. We can’t help it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman. Your age, shape or skin colour has nothing to do with it either. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we find you sexually attractive. It just happens. Because it’s human.
The limit between nudism and indecent exposure
As Dan summarises in his blog post, it’s nothing else than people watching. Looking at your nude body is basically the same as checking out your new shoes. Knowing that you will also look at our nude bodies isn’t any different than picking a certain dress before going out. Are those acts of voyeurism and exhibitionism? You could describe it that way. But personally we prefer to only use those terms when a sexual aspect comes into play.
Dan gives the example about how, about a week after re-starting his Facebook account, he started receiving pictures of genitals. As online nudists, we’ve probably all been there.
“How are you?”
Bam! A picture of a penis on your computer screen. Luckily you already had your first coffee of the day. Luckily your colleague isn’t looking over your shoulder.
“How are you?”
Bam! A picture of a penis on your computer screen. Luckily you already had your first coffee of the day. Luckily your colleague isn’t looking over your shoulder.
Why do people do that? Why do people send pictures of their genitals to strangers? And even more interestingly, why is it always the genitals? Why don’t they send a picture of their knee or nose or armpit? Obviously because there’s a sexual connotation. The idea that right at this moment someone is looking at a picture of their penis gives them pleasure. Will that stranger who has just seen me naked respond? What will they respond? Will they be shocked? Will they get aroused? Will they send a picture of their genitals back? It’s all part of the game.
Non-sexual nudity, or not?
For us, this is where nudism ends and real voyeurism and exhibitionism begins. This isn’t genuine human behaviour anymore but where it becomes a fetish. Nothing wrong with fetishes, by the way, as long as all of this happens with consent it’s all perfectly fine. Unfortunately there’s little consent in above example. That person’s nudity was just forced upon us. And even though we’re used to seeing naked people all the time, in this case we do find it disturbing.
As with so many things in this world, the difficulty lays in the grey zone. On one end of the spectrum there’s the quick peek you just made down to our waists. And the one we made down to yours. On the other side is the “dick pic” we just received. But what’s in between? If we notice an attractive person on the nude beach and think about him or her again later that day, does that make us a voyeur? We’ve met several nudist couples who told us that a visit to the nude beach is often some kind of foreplay. Without engaging in public sex. Just the seeing and being seen.
In this case, we rely on one of the foundations of nudism: Respect. And then it all becomes very clear. If you have more fun in the bedroom after you’ve seen us naked or after you noticed us looking at you while you walked by, we couldn’t care less. Good for you! Once you start pulling us into your game, you cross the line. That’s the kind of voyeurism and exhibitionism which doesn’t have a place within nudism.
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32 thoughts on “How Voyeurism and Exhibitionism fit into Nudism. Or Not.”
Is an exhibitionist a nudist?
Is a nudist an exhibitionist?
Apparently if you think about this intellectually, you may come to different conclusions. It is really just a matter of perspective on why you are nude. Do you feel fabulous or just want to be seen? Depending on your answer, will be the determining factor in your answer to my question.
Realizing what site I’m on as well as my title, you may think that I’m one in the same. Perhaps, but not always. Okay allow me, I am both but not simultaneously. You can always be more than one but need to know when the appropriate time is. I may be a husband and a dad but I don’t want to make out with her and have my son walk in on us, right?
Quite simply, I am very comfortable with myself in my own skin and am always nude in my life and if I am only interested in being seen, then why am I always nude in my home when no one else ever sees me?
I got into a very intelligent conversation with a textile about the difference between sex and nudism. She has a very warped view of what we are doing when we are nude. She seemed to think that she was forced to look at nude people who are very modest and polite to the other people who like to express themselves naturally. After she said this, she explains why she is not open to nudity and calls it a very questionable decision to make. She also asked me why I am always nude and trying to either show off or just want attention. Now this is the second time I’ve ever been very perplexed in my life. This is what really makes me feel very degraded for wanting to be open and free with myself.
After this eye-opening conversation, I was very agitated and was wondering if there was anything I could do to help everyone else understand that nudity is not a sexual choice or in any way wanting to make people feel like they must stare gawk or look at me in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
So I figured I should just answer my question about nudist VS exhibitionist. Now I understand what the difference is between the two.
Nudist is a very good opportunity for me to be open-minded to the world naked and how I can be a great opportunity for you to share your experiences with me and what is the best way to reach out to others who have some very interesting thoughts and ideas about what to think about nudity. It is not about showing the world my body. Its all about feeling awesome. It is also just a great opportunity for me to be able to feel better about myself and to just simply be myself in my life.
Exhibitionist is not the same thing as it refers to a more proactive approach to the idea of being seen and having fun at others’ expense. It is the very worst thing for you to do anytime you need to be a part of the nudists’ beautiful world and their love of the beautiful body. In this case, you actually want to be seen naked by everyone. You want a great audience for your perversion and effort, in that you are also into the idea of having a lot of people that don’t want to see you doing certain things that make you happy.
If im allowed to comment, everyone is a voyeur ,and that cannot be said about exhibitionists/sm. And yes eventho, these therms are connected to sex, im not sure why they are, because it can be related to anything ,something that has nothing to do with naked or sex even, cause ppl like to expose them selfs or something they have, and love to watch ,without any of those things being connected to naked or sex.
In every way you can imagine, ppl look at stuff or other ppl, or stuff of other ppl rahter is clothing or spec body parts u find interesting for ya, and that as u said, has nothing to do with the skin colour, or the age of the watcher or the watched. It alwasy been like that, and it always will be.
But exhibitionism is something else, almost the oposite , its natrual as well, cause well .. everything ppl do is natrual, otherwise it would be supernatrual no? .. , but the big majority of ppl dont like to expose them selfs to others, in every way you can think of, it doesnt or doesnt have to have anything with being nude or similar.
The bottom line is, rather one likes it or not, everything mentioned by me here or in the blog or even not mentioned , is normal and natrual, the difference is only if one likes some or all ,or non of those things.
Why do you think exhibitionism is different? If voyeurism is natural in the idea that everyone will look at everyone else, isn’t exhibitionism then just the same as caring what other people think of you? And dressing/acting accordingly
Only few try to always stay under the radar. Many will try to stick out here or there. Does that make them exhibitionists?
Well it does make them.
I dunno whats it like on the West, but here ,ppl that stick out, that show off, are not the majority nor are they liked by the general public.
Being an exib, is not like .. hm… not like saying that if the majority is then its ok or this or that, exib is a state somewhat, its irrelevant if its done by majority or not ,nude beach or showing how rich u are.. cause ..Tim Cook can show off to i dunno .. Donald Trump right? And they both are rich , so..
I agree. To an extent everyone is a voyeur. How many times do you hear people saying they enjoy people watching. And it’s not just at a naturist beach or any beach for that matter, it’s on the bus, in a cafe or on the street. People enjoy watching others. Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing and we’re keeping an eye out for signs of a threat, or perhaps on the other hand it is signs of a potential mate we’re looking out for or maybe it’s just plain nosiness. In any case it seems pretty common to everyone I’ve ever met that people like to observe others and whether they comment on it or not there is an element of judgement too.
However I also think that with the exception of a very small proportion of people (who may suffer real self esteem issues) most people enjoy being seen, or at least most people want to make an impression of one sort or another on those who see them. Otherwise why do people spend time picking out clothes, or putting on makeup or styling their hair.
So to an extent everyone’s a voyeur and everyone is an exhibitionist, but if that’s the case then the words kind of lose their meaning altogether, which is why despite everyone enjoying looking at others the word voyeur is actually defined in terms of sex: “a person who gains sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity.”
Exhibitionist isn’t defined in terms of sex rather in terms of extravagance: “a person who behaves in an extravagant way in order to attract attention.“ so normal care for your appearance wouldn’t fall under this definition. I’d think that some people may consider public nudity to be extravagant and designed to draw attention to oneself. However when I’m nude I’m certainly not trying to attract attention to myself, but perhaps the chap constantly walking up and down the naturist beach, or standing in the middle of the beach facing the crowd might be doing so to attract attention. Is he then an exhibitionist? I guess by that definition he is.
Stephen, i dont agree with the
“However I also think that with the exception of a very small proportion of people (who may suffer real self esteem issues) most people enjoy being seen, or at least most people want to make an impression of one sort or another on those who see them. Otherwise why do people spend time picking out clothes, or putting on makeup or styling their hair.”
Ppl do that cause its fakely made to be a “thing” .. honestly, i dont dress up for others, i dont wear this n that cause thats the latest fashion, and really, anyone that thinks that based on 1st impression ,will tell something about that person is ….. i rather not write what i wanted about that.
I think that is not normal to be wanted to be seen, and i find that more an issue then those that dont wanna be, wanna be in the sence that they wanna stand out. Normal ppl will be seen when in public, but as a side effect ,not a goal.
Exhibitionist in a ..raw.. most brutal sence, would be any1 that noticably stands out for the purpuse of drawing attention.
That can be anything.. from ,like here, in a poor country, if u sit in a cafee and put out ur new iPhone 11 Pro, yes .. that makes u an exhib for sure.. same as a few vids i saw, where theres a naked women walking in the streets somewhere in Germany, in a non car zone, full of ppl sittung in cafees ,restaurants..
To me, that desire to stand out is way more bothering then the oposite of it.
Ppl ,spec teenagers .. have all these fancy clothes, haircuts, iphones n crap, cause thats IN, trendy, ..ur a moron if ur different from that type of thing .. but that isnt a natrual need, its just a pure capitalist trend forced upon ppl that dont have the capacity of being their own selfs ,and sadly, there are lots of ppl like that. The thing is, that such ppl dont even realise what i just worte.
Very few people make looking at people their goal either. It’s also something that happens.
And yes, some people couldn’t care less about what others think of them but those are not a majority.
I dont agree.
Thats where ppl show they hypocrite sides.
Everyone u ask will say, hey .. i dont care what others think.. ill do me, cause i like that.
And then, they`ll bust their balls to showoff to others, one way or the other..
The need to show off is often commanded to us by society. For example, in Germany at the end of a business deal it’s often used to walk your (future) business partner to the car. Back in the day when we worked for a multinational corporation, the sales guys regularly got to use a more fancy company car when they had to close a deal in Germany.
And there are many other examples: Why do we sometimes wear suits we don’t like to wear for special occasions?
Here’s the beauty of nudism: It becomes very hard to show off. Even if you spend 5 hours a day in the gym, there are still parts of your body that cannot be changed and age has its influence on everyone.
You call it hypocrite, but sometimes society asks us to put on different masks. The CEO who just signed an agreement for 1000 employees to be kicked out of the company can be a loving mother. The boxer who smashes up people’s faces in the ring might not hurt a fly outside of the ropes.
This is one of the reasons why nudists express a feeling of freedom. The demand of society is gone and so is the stress that comes with having to show off.
Interesting thoughts and we completely agree! Many people enjoy looking at others and/or being looked at. Which makes it natural behaviour and not really necessary to put a term on it. So the words voyeur and exhibitionist should only be used when it becomes “unnatural” behaviour. They become extremes.
„Extreme“ is hard to define. I perceive these 2 words to express the character of the situation: there is no consent. Watching a person becomes voyeurism, if that person is unaware or dislikes avtually. And exhibitionists don‘t check consent, but just go ahead.
Is it the sexual connotation, which violates us, or the lack of consent? I think the latter is more fundamental, but also less apparent / more unconscious (and independent of nude or clothed)
Interesting thoughts… Aren’t both linked together in this case? Meaning that there’s no consent just because of the sexual connotation? We see nudism as a non-sexual activity, so as soon as sexual purposes come into play we don’t give our consent.
At places which promote sexual nudity (like swingers clubs), voyeurism and exhibitionism become much less of a problem.
I met you two at Bare Oaks last year, and yes, we’ve both seen each other naked. I totally agree, it’s natural and human took have a glance and also like you I couldn’t care less! It’s just human bodies and we all have one.
When I first visited clothing optional beaches in the late 1980s, I thought I must also be an exhibitionist, as I was comfortable being seen nude. At the same time, I considered myself the good kind of exhibitionist, only nude around like minded folks. Eventually I read the definition of exhibitionist and discovered I lacked the requirements. The definition indicated many textiles meet the standard of exhibitionism, such as those who are overly dramatic, wear lots of jewelry, or named Kardashian.
Insightful as always. Dan’s post as well. I have always believed that voyeurist and exhibitionist traits exist in us all, on some level. They are natural human characteristics. But those terms carry a lot of baggage with them. They are usually viewed as extremes. So, using them in relation to naturism can be troublesome. So I simply think of it as enjoying seeing and being seen.
I have been asked if that is part of what I enjoy about naturism. The answer is yes, but not in the way non-naturists would think. I take pride in my embracing and enjoyment of naturism. After years of hiding my interest, it feels exhilarating and empowering to be nude. Being seen nude only emphasizes that. It’s not about shocking or offending anyone. It’s certainly not sexual. I would never go nude around someone who was bothered by my nudity. But being able to be open and free, amongst others, nude or clothed, is enriching. I feel it’s totally natural.
Likewise, “seeing” is similar. The nude human form is beautiful. I find it hard to imagine not looking. I’m talking about glances, not longing looks, staring to the point that someone feels uncomfortable. That’s well over the line. But looking? Of course everyone looks. People watching doesn’t stop when the clothes come off. It’s part of human interaction.
I believe some naturists have much to strong a view of this topic, casting dispersions on those that even hint at enjoying seeing and being seen, even labeling them as “not real naturists”, whatever that means. I always found the “I don’t look” claims and the espousing of a view that true naturists have somehow evolved above such shallow thoughts, as being disingenuous. It just didn’t seem to make sense to me.
Thanks for sharing.
As mentioned in the post, the difficulty is always in the grey zones. Or in the interpretation of the terms if you will. And from that point of view we understand the visions of some naturists and especially naturist resorts when pushing forward a “don’t look” policy. It’s much easier to say “don’t look” than trying to explain where the glimpse ends and the gawking starts. Similarly, it’s okay to be proud about your body, but how proud can you be while not bothering others with it?
We’re not saying that it’s a positive thing. Naturists have for example been claiming a non-sexual lifestyle for way too long, with the result that now some people think that naturists are just asexual beings without desires. But again, we understand where it comes from.
Nudity is the default state of things for our species, and all species on the planet. Therefore it is incorrect to view nudity as exhibitionism at all. Clothing is repression, and this is unnatural and stressful for our species. We do not come with clothing, we are all born naked. And we should be accepted as we we born.
The word fetish refers to objects that have become sexualized, but in a puritanical society such as this, where the human body is stigmatized nearly everywhere, where separation of church and state are violated by forcing the humans to wear textiles, it is possible that the rare glimpses of the human body in everyday society – such as with streaking, could result in a large number of voyeuristic fans cheering such developments. (still, this should not alarm or alienate nudists, since celebration of bodily freedom is a step forward for a repressive society, if sports fans cheer the streaker consider that an advance for the cause of bodily freedom – it doesn’t mean the streaker is an actual exhibitionist – the streaker is at the zeitgeist of activism for bodily freedom for our species!) But it’s not truly possible to fetishize the human body or the streaker, since the word fetish refers only to the sexualization of nonliving things – inanimate objects such as bras, panties, high heels, and boxer shorts. By definition, only objects can be fetishized not people. If people have a fetish for designer fashions or walmart fashions or bras, panties, high heels, boxer shorts, or bikinis or any other object….its not surprising considering the repression in the society but voyeurism and exhibitionism (if defined as the fetishization of display of the human body – with voyeurs and exhibitionists each enjoying the same fetish) isn’t really a thing at all. Nudity is the natural state of things. We would all naturally be naked, and social, engaged in social grooming, social touching. Eating, drinking, pregnancy, menstruation, sex, childbirth, urination, and defecation would occur socially without any stigma whatsoever. So is it even possible to be an exhibitionist or a voyeur? Maybe it is nor maybe it isn’t. But if it is it would be the stuff of keyholes and peepshows. Public nudity as a natural for our species as for the bear and the cattle and the elk and the gazelle, same as with every other species. Puritanism is not the norm, it’s an artificial oppression imposed by Christians who have hatred toward human nature, our bodies, and bodily functions. Whether you walk naked or run naked or prance around naked, its all just the natural state of things, being naked. We see the scientific depiction of the human body in anatomy and physiology texts and we should see this everywhere in life. It’s about body education and human freedom.
We definitely agree that nudity is the natural state of humans and that all rules around clothing have been opposed to us by ourselves. Or at least other humans. Nevertheless, they’ve become a habit. Or maybe even an evolution. If humanity had never invented clothes, would we still be here? We don’t know.
And we rely on many of those other revolutionary factors. We’ve extended our brain with huge amounts of tools which take care of our agenda, wake us up in the morning and tell us what’s going on in the world today. Social skills have taught us to use toilets instead of relieving ourselves in the middle of the street. And being clothed has become such a social thing as well. Today, from the naturist/nudist side, there’s a counter-revolution. Which we believe is a good thing because definitely not all evolution is positive (look at what we’re doing to nature). We can only guess where this will end.
The party example is good: you dress up to express yourself and you learn a lot about the others before having talked to them: Are they rich/poor? Creative? Attitude? Introvert/extrovert? … when meeting in the buff, you lack a huge source of information. Still your automatism runs and you try to learn as much as possible about the persons around you, but as there is less apparent information you need to watch for longer. But that is not voyeurism.
When being nude I feel being myself and showing this to others – I sm probably making a fool out of myself, but I am not an exhibitionist because of that. Crazy thought – by taking of cloths, I am covering up 😀
Such an interesting topic. If you talk to young naturists, one common thread you hear is that being naked makes them more aware of their bodies, and therefore more apt to take better care of their bodies—- to look good for others! They would not feel this way if they did not look at other nudists and expect other nudists to look at them. Seems like a pretty healthy attitude to me. Is it any different than in any textile gym you go to?
Great discussion. I have a may be simpler personal view as I enjoy being naked for the comfort it provides, I enjoy seeing other people naked for the inherent beauty of human bodies and I enjoy being seen naked because it pushes me to stay fit and healthy. Now does it make me a voyeur and an exhibitionist? No because it does not provide any sexual gratification and I draw a clear line between social nudity and sexual nudity.
Now seeing a beautiful man or woman naked can provoke arousal, but no more as seeing them clothed. Have I already had an erection while naked, seeing other people naked at a beach or in a resort? Yes, it happened. I’m human and sexual arousal is a normal thing. Did I went further than having an erection? No, because I was in a social nudity setting and sex has to remain private if we want naturism to be more widely accepted.
The discussion between naturism, exhibitionism and voyeurism has almost no end, until we accept that nudity is natural and normal, that arousal can happen, that most people enjoy seeing and being seen, and that most naturists draw a red line between social nudity and sex.
Being human is being sexual, as well as having a brain to monitor and self control behaviors and feelings. This is, in my view, one of the things that make us human.
We can play around all day long with the definition of an exhibitionist. Fact is, there is no longer a fixed definition. Exhibitionist has become a pejorative. A lot of good words die that way.
Think about it. If I am an artist and I like to hang my paintings in exhibits, what does that make me?
I’ll take it a step further. Every entertainer who ever eagerly stepped out in public to perform for an audience’s approval is an exhibitionist. The kid who rides a bike without hands on the handle bars and cries out “Look Ma, No hands!” is an exhibitionist.
I’ve worked as a nude model. My blog has nude photos of me and it isn’t even specifically a nudist blog. I’ve hiked hundreds of miles in the nude on public trails. I’ve performed on stage nude for both clothed and nude audiences and worked for their applause. You can’t get more exhibitionist than that! How could one possibly do the Bare to Breakers or the World Naked Bike Ride without a fair amount of exhibitionist in one?
How about the guy/gal who goes to the gym to sculpt that perfect body. Since that is often done to attract sexual partners, isn’t that a kind of *sexual* exhibitionism?
I won’t even get into piercings, tattoos and pubic hair grooming.
The fact that one has a blog is a kind of exhibitionism. “Pay attention! Look at what I have to say.”
I am going to say that there is zero conflict between being an exhibitionist and a nudist/naturist. The question, is then, what exactly does one consider to be lewd behavior and therefor beyond the pale of nudism/naturism? That line gets drawn differently for each of us. And there is no reason why a person couldn’t spend time on both sides of that line
Indeed, in the broad definition of exhibitionism, there are many exhibitionists and it definitely hasn’t always something to do with nudity. A better definition is when we talk specifically about those who gain sexual pleasure from shocking others with their nudity. Of course, at nudist places, people aren’t easily shocked by nudity. Except when it goes over the line and we’re talking about erections, spread-eagles or five knuckle shuffles.
Hi, I’m an exhibitionist so perhaps my opinion will be of some use here.
I consider an exhibitionist to be someone who derives primary sexual gratification from being observed, particularly by those who take sexual pleasure in the act of observing.
There are other manifestations of exhibitionism such as exhibiting to a non-consenting audience or exhibition as a prelude to other, preferred sexual acts, but I believe the above definition is the most relevant to this discussion.
The desire to be observed by and to observe others (and to take pleasure in those activities) is very common, and so the distinction must be in the primacy of being gazed upon as a sexual activity in itself. A true exhibitionist may not want to have sexual contact with their observer at all. One of the difficulties I’ve faced as an exhibitionist is that most observers I’ve been with have wanted to escalate into physical sexual acts (often very quickly). Not truly understanding the nature of my own inclinations or exhibitionism in general has made for some less than pleasant experiences.
I’m still very new to nudism and feel somewhat put off by the message that nudism is “emphatically not about sex”. I’m still trying to sort through this stuff, like how the sensuous experience of nakedness (and nudism is undeniably a sensuous experience) is separate from the sexual experience. But I think that’s partly what’s great about nudism, is it forces you to confront the artificial barriers between things like the sensual and the sexual or combines things like nudity and sexuality.
I get the sense that exhibitionists and voyeurs are a staple part of the nudist community, even if we are a minority. After all, if you want to see naked people or be seen naked what better place to go than a nude beach or resort?
The thing is, if your only purpose for going to a nude resort is to watch people or try to get there attention to look at you, it won’t take long before someone notices and kicks you out.
We’ve mentioned this once in a blog post, that for exhibitionists and voyeurs it’s probably the most difficult to understand how non-sexual social nudity works. Because exactly what we do is what you find sexual.
Nevertheless, we don’t believe that it’s such a problem that there are voyeurs and exhibitionists in the nudist community. As long as they stick to social norms. Once you make people feel uncomfortable, the balance is disturbed.
Yeah, I definitely don’t want to violate any rules or community standards, or risk being scorned by other nudists. Which is partly why I ended up on this blog reading this article–to see what other nudists think. Perhaps it would be of help to explain my perspective and experience a bit more.
Others have noted, and I will attempt to add more clarity to it, that seeing and being seen is a normal human activity, which holds within it both sexual and platonic motivations. This is true regardless of whether or not one is clothed, and includes instinctual observation of age, social status, health status, beauty, sexual interest, among other qualities. The behavioral motivation for such activity is that it is pleasurable along the whole gamut of why we find it pleasurable to look at anything–curiosity, to acquire socially valuable information, to see something beautiful, and to see something sexually provocative, to see something emotionally provocative, to see something that provokes the senses in some way.
The functions of exhibition and voyeurism, however, can be seen more clearly as being part of the courting process. Imagine a young woman bathing in a stream and a young man not far off, glancing at her inconspicuously. The young woman notices his glance and–excited by his attention–casually makes herself more beautiful by posing and positioning herself in subtle ways. This is an erotic stage, and the participants have taken on the roles of the exhibitionist and voyeur. This is an archetypal experience among humans and has been portrayed in culture for a long time. It is sexual in that it provokes a sexual charge within the participants, but the game is not gross or explicit. It is a game of subtlety. It can, in fact, be carried out between two individuals in a crowded space without others even being aware. In archetypal depiction, the exhibitionist is the female or feminine, the voyeur the male or masculine, but this need not be the case.
I hope this depiction offers some clarity about the experience of exhibition and voyeurism. In my perspective, exhibitionism can only function in the eyes of a willing, interested voyeur, and should not to disturb bystanders or violate communal rules.
However, the terms are unfortunately associated with pathology in our culture and medical literature due to those who don’t care about subtlety or consent.
Nonetheless, even nonpathological exhibitionism and voyeurism is somewhat abnormal. This is because to identify as an exhibitionist or voyeur in a more global sense means to find the ex/voy experience to be of preeminent sensual value. In this sense it can be considered a ‘kink’ or perversion of the normative sexual experience. But, appropriately practiced, it should come across as relatively benign, invisible, or appear as a normal enactment of courting rituals.
You’re definitely right that there might be a voyeur and exhibitionist part in all of us, in the sense that we enjoy looking at people and being seen. Nude or clothed.
But when we talk about voyeurism and exhibitionism on our blog, we mostly refer to the explicit practices. Basically, if it makes others feel uncomfortable, it doesn’t belong on a nude beach (or anywhere else).
You are probably right about that.
The standard definition of nudism excludes any kind of sexual association with ordinary social nudity. I have always found that unnecessarily restricting. People with aesthetically pleasing bodies will get looked at. Getting looked at is why people put effort into developing exceptional bodies.
People who are in their reproductive prime will also get looked at more. Some people will be coy about it, some will be subtle and some will be totally brazen. Generally, the brazen ones are not welcome at a private nudist venue.
I think it is an important part of mental health not to care whether or not one is “looked at” as long as it doesn’t get brazen. There are people who freak at the thought that someone, somewhere, might be looking at them with lust. That isn’t healthy. What is healthy is accepting that people’s thoughts are their own and only actions matter. Any time I see a woman in her reproductive prime, a touch of lust creeps into my mind. The same thing happens with an older woman with a sexy personality.
These things are not bad. These things are how the species continues to exist. You feel these things just as much in the textile world as you do in the nudist world. Visiting the nudist resort doesn’t change that.
Having somebody staring and gawking and hanging around one is unsettling because the next step up is stalking. It is very unwelcome. It is something not done in polite society. To the extent that nudism is a polite society, Rudeness ought not to be allowed in nudist venues.
“Exhibitionist” activity at its core is harmless and a normal aspect of social life. The basic property of being an exhibitionist is wanting to be looked at. This is as true of wearing a Dior gown to a dinner party or streaking through a shopping center. If nobody looks (or people look but nobody cares) you’ve failed.
Contrary to what some people may say, the point behind ordinary exhibitionism is attention. Most prefer positive attention – applause. People who cannot get positive reactions in their life may resort to negetive behavior to get attention.
The DSM-V has a definition of “exhibitionistic disorder”:
“sexual arousal from the exposure of one’s genitals to a stranger or unsuspecting individual. It is an uncontrollable sexual urge that is deliberately intended for an unconsenting person.”
It then goes to great lengths to say that most of what falls under the general catagory of exhibitionism is NOT the disorder:
” the definition for exhibitionistic disorder is separate from the definition for exhibitionism as a general pattern of behavior.”
When I was young and had an aesthetically pleasing body, I did highly erotic strip-o-grams for private parties and picked up some spending money for my efforts. Combined exhibitionism with voyeurism in a sexually charged situation. But everything has a time and place and that was the perfect time and place for it. Nobody was ever offended – or disappointed. 😉
When I would pose for an art class, the context was different. No sexuality. But I still enoyed being looked at and studied. I felt valued. Happy to be naked, accepted, and appreciated. Just wearing the proper uniform for the job.
If I streak somewhere or perform on a stage, or you catch my nudie blog posts, or do the Bay to Breakers or the World Naked Bike Ride, PLEASE LOOK AT ME/US. (If the public ignores a protest, you’ve failed.) Look at us so much that nudity becomes unexceptional and your learned negatvity fades away. Or laugh at the silliness of it all. That’s ok too!
And if I go to a nude beach or a nudist social venue, there’s no exhibitionist aspect at all. The exhibitionist strives to be the exception while I am conforming with the norm. When I’m hiking nude in the wilderness, there’s nobody else around to care.
We also have the feeling that nudism/naturism may have become too much de-sexualized. Sometimes in an unhealthy form.
It’s easy to understand where this is coming from. For decades, naturists have enjoyed non-sexual nudity while the whole world thought that they were just a bunch of perverts. They went the extra mile to make people understand that nudity not sexual. Unfortunately, sometimes by picturing naturists as asexual beings.
You know that it’s bad when it starts sounding like religion: Thou shall not have dirty thoughts! But everyone has them and people feel sorry for themselves for having them and others blame you because they think you have them. It creates an atmosphere that can hardly still be related to the freedom in naturism.
We notice that in countries where naturism is still relatively new and is mostly being picked up by the younger generations, there’s often a much more sex-positive attitude. They understand that they are sexual beings but also know that there’s a time and place for everything.
I engage in nudism not to see or be seen but to enjoying the feeling I get when nude and being around like minded people.
I agree that there are times when you notice others that are nude, which I agree is just human nature.
We do engage in exhibitionism and voyeurism with like minded adults which we recognize is outside of typical naturism and is fetish/lifestyle related.
If there was to much in regards to looking or wanting to be looked at while nude than you certainly bring judgment into the picture. Judgement is something I feel nudism abolishes and with judgement out of the equation it helps makes nudism a warm and welcoming community.