I have read Nudism Is Unnatural and Naturism Is Natural by Timothy Ach in his Catholic in the 21st Century blog, and I have to disagree with him on several points he has made. He seems to be making assumptions that are primarily based upon Biblical scripture and Catholic Catechism. In previous posts from his blog, he has admitted that he is not a nudist and has never been in a nudist setting though he indicates that he has spoken with nudists about nudism.
He claims that seeing naked flesh without arousal is unnatural and that it takes discipline to overcome the arousal that “naturally” occurs. He states, “What I am being told by nudists is: In order to live as we are naturally meant to live – naked – we must subdue our natural response to the sight of the opposite sex’s nudity: sexual arousal.”
This “natural response”, as he calls it, is actually conditioned behavior. We have come to equate nudity with sexual desire and arousal as a consequence of our culture. It is our culture that programs us to believe that we should be experience arousal or sexual urges when we see someone naked. Nudity, sex, and lust form an unholy trinity only because that is what our culture, particularly through religion, has been telling us all our lives. There are cultures in the world where this is simply not the case; cultures in which people live together in harmony without clothing and no one is aroused by it. Many more such cultures existed before the arrival of Western missionaries who taught them otherwise.
“It takes discipline for a man not to stare at a woman’s intimate parts: It takes discipline for a naked man and a naked woman to live together in harmony. Harmony just doesn’t happen.”
This discipline to subdue this so-called natural response is nothing more than unlearning conditioned behaviors and questioning a lifetime of cultural indoctrination. If you can put aside your preconceived notions about nudity and experience nudism with an open mind, the conditioning, in many cases, quickly falls away.
My own experiences in nudist settings, which are similar to those of other nudists, run contrary to what he’s saying. At my first first visit to a nudist campground, I was naked amongst total strangers – men, women, and children. In my case there was no transition period and I felt completely natural being nude among other nude people. I felt no sexual desire and no need to “discipline” myself to not get an erection or not stare at breasts and genitals. Yes, I saw them but they held little interest, sexual or otherwise. There was essentially nothing sexual about the context in which I saw them.
Many years before I knew anything about nudism, I’d been to saunas and spas in Europe at which both men and women partook of the facilities in the nude. Even then being nude with others without any sexual connotation seemed perfectly natural and nonsexual.
I’ve read many of his other blog posts on nudism and his attempts to understand the concept of nudism using religious references. That seems to be akin to trying to understand fine dining by reading cookbooks. Nudism is a concept that must be experienced in order to be understood; it’s a difficult concept to articulate intellectually. One can write and speak thousands of words on the subject but until one actually gets naked with others and experiences it firsthand, it can’t possibly be truly understood.
“Nudism is abut living in harmony with others, naked. Reading a book, shopping, working, eating dinner – doing everything you would normally do, but doing it naked.
“Naturism is about being naked in nature. Going off alone, with with a close friend, taking off your clothes, and sitting on top of a rock or standing in water – being in nature in your natural state, for the benefit of your body, mind, and soul.”
I do agree that naturism benefiting one’s body mind and soul but there may be naturists who might not agree with that sentiment. Many of my definitions of nudism and naturism have their roots in the European nudist and naturist movements of the early 20th Century in which nudism was defined as a preference for being naked for sake of being naked. Naturism, on the other hand, was living naked in harmony with others and with nature but full nudity was not a stringent requirement. I’ve modified that definition of naturism for myself to include living in harmony with my natural self and my own nature, under the premise that nudity is my natural and default physical state.
We all born naked. No one has come into the world wearing a three-piece suit or an evening gown. Wearing clothing is not natural, it is primarily a cultural phenomenon and sometimes it is necessary in order to live in harmony with others. We learn to wear clothing. Since time immemorial, small children have been natural nudists, eschewing clothing in order to play in their natural, default state. Authority figures have to force them to remain clothed and they are eventually conditioned to accept clothing as natural and normal while learning to see their bodies as inherently impure and sinful. They are taught that being naked will invariably lead to virtually irresistible temptation.
Nudity and naturism are both inherently natural. However, as a society, we have been culturally conditioned to view nudity, especially in a social context, as unnatural. Nudists have learned to set aside and unlearn this conditioning. Surprising, this process of unlearning is usually not difficult. We simply have to open ourselves up to the nudist experience. Nudism is an experiential phenomenon and, as such, is difficult to articulate to those who have not had that experience.