Naturist Women and Issues With Sexual Harassment Online
Guest Blog by: Stéphane Deschênes
It can be tough for a woman to be a naturist on the internet. First they have to wade through a variety of websites that call themselves “naturist” or “nudist” but are just portals for people who like to objectify and hyper-sexualize bodies. Then if they actually identify themselves online, they can easily become the victim of an intense psychological and emotional assault. Guys who say they’re naturists are just seen as odd or eccentric. But women open themselves up to abuse. If they’re older, they’ll often be the subject of ridicule and criticism about their looks. If they’re younger, they frequently face a barrage of inappropriate suggestions and questions about their morality. Frankly it is a surprise to me that any woman who inquires about naturism online ever makes it to Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park.
This predicament was made very clear to me recently when I met a new member of Bare Oaks. Andrea is currently the mother of two very young children. Her first visit about two years ago was because she was looking for a place to hang out with her first child during her maternity leave. While she had never been to a naturist park, the idea appealed to her and Bare Oaks was not far from her home. Her husband was not interested but not opposed to her going. It was an ideal activity for her to do during the day while he was at work.
As is the case with many if not most people who visit for the first time, she loved the experience. So much so that this year she became a member.
Andrea is not one to hide who she is. Because she loved Bare Oaks she invited her friends. She wrote openly on her Facebook profile that she enjoyed being there. She proudly posted a picture of herself at the park. But that’s when she almost dropped out. The reaction she got shocked her and, as is typical of victims of sexual assault, caused her to question herself. It was not a physical sexual assault but it was a psychological attack. And also typically, it came not from a stranger but from someone close — her brother-in-law.
Fortunately, Andrea has a strong character and a supportive husband. She decided to fight back, and she shared her story with me. It started innocently enough on Facebook:
B-in-L: A nudist park? Have you been? Prob lots of old fat people
Andrea then proceeds to explain what it is really like. When he asks about her husband, she explains that he was not interested. The conversation then shifts to talking about him going and he says:
B-in-L: I don’t think it would go over well if I went with you :-P
Andrea asks why he would not bring his wife. To which he responds:
B-in-L: obvi you weren’t getting what I was saying…
While it is impossible to get the tone of his message, she is starting to get a feeling that he might be getting the wrong idea. So she says “Well you two should go then. But this place is family orientated. You might be thinking of an adult only place.”
Astonishingly, he is not dissuaded. He continues with “I like to be naked but I like to have fun too… so def couldn’t go with you…trouble…lol… Im trying you figure you out you strike me as a very fun person. are you sexual?”
He then switches from Facebook messenger to cellphone text messages. He asks her if her husband is home, if her phone is normally locked and then sends the following messages:
B-in-L: Send me a fun pic when you can…then I know we have trust ;)
B-in-L: Hope you’re good with that..I will return one right away
He had also said he was at work. So either he already had a photo on his phone, was planning on taking one at work, or was just trying to deceive her into sending one. All three options are somewhat unsettling.
Quite naturally, Andrea was shocked and initially tried to treat it as a joke. Of course, she never sent any photos. But as time passed and she reviewed the comments, she realized what a massive breach of trust this was. She decided to tell her husband. She also concluded that since he seemed willing to betray his marriage vows, she owed it to her sister-in-law to inform her.
Her husband was supportive, but the reaction of others was disturbing. Her brother-in-law apologized to her husband; but not to her. Her sister-in-law blamed her for causing the situation. You know, the old you-were-asking-for-it argument.
What puzzles me is what her brother-in-law was thinking. Why did he think that this type of gambit would work? Had it worked for him before? Or had he watched so much pornography that he had come to believe that this is what women want? Why did he ignore her clear message that her naturism was not sexual? Why did he think it was worth risking his family relationships? I guess I’ll never know the answers to those questions. But it does worry me that there are men out there who have been led to believe that this is appropriate behavior.