Co-Ed Naked Philosophy: Examining Nudism, Social Norms and Body Freedom
Co-Ed Naked Philosophy Review
Co-Ed Naked Philosophy by Will Forest is a novel about a college philosophy professor named Christopher Ross who embarks on a journey to get social nudity more accepted in mainstream society. The journey takes place in southern Georgia and starts with his first experience on an unofficial nude beach, located on U.S. Navy territory (which is abruptly ended by his and others’ arrest for trespassing). From this point on, Ross begins to question his previous attitudes towards nudity and the human form.
It leads him to re-imagine a world with no restrictions on dress and given his profession, he conjures up an imaginary “Palace of Fine Arts.” This fictional palace is like a college with the ideal learning environment. There, creativity and new ideas are exchanged among a host of various classes, with one unique twist: everyone is nude. Why nude? Because, as he states in the book:
“Nudity is truth. Nudity is sincerity. It allows us to see beyond social class and pretension, of which clothing is always an indicator. Paradoxically, nudity helps us see past gender, of which, again, clothing is always an indicator and even an exaggerator. And nudity encourages us not only to express ourselves unabashedly, but also to openly receive and understand the honest expressions of others.”
Ross also describes it as an “environment where skin exposure aids exposure to new ideas.” (Would it really do that? Who knows, but it’s an interesting concept.) He does not share his thoughts when he decides to make this idea a reality on the first day of his new philosophy course. In a very gutsy move, he undresses in his office and proceeds down the hall completely nude. There’s a humorous moment as one teacher almost catches him.
But he makes it into his classroom, shocking the students as he walks to his desk to face them. He welcomes everyone to the course and says, “…this is what my body looks like. If you feel uncomfortable with my lack of clothing, I have two suggested options: undress, as much as you’re willing, or leave.” A few depart, and those that remain decide to fully or partially undress.
In explaining what the course is about, he lays out the case for classroom nudity. He argues that not only does it make sense for their subject of study, “aesthetics of the human body,” but it also offers the benefit of exposing the largest organ in the human body (the skin!) “to more fully receive and process stimuli.”
He tells the class they must “Reclaim the Image” that has been concealed by current taboos and censorship. He states, “The norms for censorship—including, by the way, the decisions about which body parts are sexually arousing—are set by those in power, like the church, by using its authority to define sin, and the government, by enacting laws.” –A fact we just uncovered ourselves, in our recent censorship article!
Now, at this point, a little “suspension of disbelief” is required. Ross is not fired, suspended or punished for this behavior (or stunt), as would reasonably be expected. He gets away with it because he is a well-respected and accomplished professor in his field of work. In addition, the philosophy department is in danger of being eliminated due to low enrollment, but once word gets around about his naked class, students begin clamoring to enroll. Therefore he is permitted to continue.
While some elements of the story may seem unrealistic, readers may be surprised to learn which ones are based on actual events. In one such example, an individual is forced to censor a replica of the David statue. The statue, located on his storefront lawn, receives numerous complaints. This was the case in a similar incident that took place several years ago in the U.S.
The whole concept of nude education is also not that far off from reality. Another character, Professor Angela Saucedo, is in the midst of her research at a fictional middle school in Sweden. At this school, every aspect of a student’s life, from gym class to school concerts, is conducted in the nude. As part of her research, she interviews the students about confidence and body image.
The results reflect actual research findings with regards to the positive effects that nudism has on children. While the idea of a nude school may seem preposterous, there was in fact a school in England where students and teachers were nude together, called the English Summerhill school. The school, founded in 1921, still exists today, but sadly no longer has the social nudity aspect.
Of course there are opponents to public nudity (the story wouldn’t be complete without them). The most memorable of these opponents were the members of the “Children of the Lord Our God Fundamentalist Congregation.” Every once in a while they would show up to read from the Bible and publicly scorn the nude sinners. The scenes are rather funny because we know such people do exist, some of which believe that going to a nude beach is a grave sin.
The story continues with more poignant truths scattered throughout. In the discussion of the nude school, the topic of pedophilia comes up as a potential danger for the kids. Angela says, “We’re not accustomed to thinking about children and nudity that way, because our society has conditioned us to make the pedophile connection automatically.
How couldn’t we think of it, when the only context for nudity and children that is ever presented in the media is pedophilia?” Anybody running a nudist youth camp for kids knows this to be true! In reality, due to the heightened sensitivity of nudist resort goers, children are probably safer at a nudist resort than they would be at textile camps.
There are too many topics and ideas presented to discuss them all here. All in all, I would say this novel touts all the usual benefits and arguments given in favor of nudism and social nudity: body acceptance, physical comfort, greater mind-body connection, to name a few. It also refutes the usual misconceptions people use against it: that it’s bad for children, that nudity always equals sex, that the human body is obscene, gross, shameful, and many more.
Nudity is examined and explored in many different contexts, from nude beaches to schools to strip clubs. The book certainly does its job in summarizing the nudist philosophy with regards to the human body. The main criticism I have is that its story-line might be a bit weak to keep certain readers engaged. It’s filled with a lot of self-serving inner dialogue, in order to get across so many of the core issues that pertain to social nudity. This book does, however, offer a new way of looking at various aspects of social nudity as well as a glimpse of what a body-positive world might look like!
Keep up with book news and author Will Forest at his blog, Nude Scribe.
Now, guess what guys. I have a free copy of Co-Ed Naked Philosophy to give away to one lucky reader!
How to Enter the Giveaway:
1. Leave a comment below, sharing either your favorite nudist book (thus far ;)) or your favorite thing to do nude.
2. For another entry, tweet a link to this article (you can click the Tweet button below) and tag me in the tweet so I see it – @FelicitysBlog
Details: Contest will end on January 13th at midnight. Open to residents in the U.S. and Canada only.
(Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions, and I was not paid for this review or endorsement.)
This review of the nudit book: Co-Ed Naked Philosophy by Will Forest was published by – Young Naturists And Young Nudists America YNA