Nudity and Sex From a Cross-Cultural Perspective

Re-Thinking Nudity and Sex in the Textile vs Naturist World

Guest Blog by: Steve of YNA Upstate New York

Issues Pertaining To Nudity and Sex

Nudity and Sex – Change is a fact of life; sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic. An area of change in our culture and naturism is sexuality. I would like to focus on this topic and its impacts on naturism in a short series of blogs. These blogs will lead up to my sex-positive workshop at the Northeast Naturist Festival in upstate New York (July 30-August 4th, 2013).

Within YNA we are working to embrace sexual change in a positive way i.e. sex-positive ways of thinking, doing, and being within a newer, emergent naturism. This first blog, entitled, “Nudity and Sex From a Cross-Cultural Perspective” is going to focus on dealing with the changing aspects of sexuality within naturism, first in terms of mere language. We are going to look at some basic reasons of why our claim that naturism is completely non-sexual seems so strange to the textile world, and what that means for us as naturists and nudists.

I do not consider myself an expert in either sex-positive development, or naturism – I am relatively new to both. But an area in which I have a master’s degree and years of experience is cross cultural communication. I have been a translator and problem solver between many diverse people and language groups in foreign refugee camps, including sexual issues.

I also have years of personal cross-cultural experience, having been immersed cold turkey into German culture as a young professional and new husband. I look back now with humor at the mind boggling conflicts that arose cross-culturally over the subtlest linguistic, or body language misunderstandings. Make no mistake, the problem of bridging the naturism-textile gap is a matter of cross-cultural communication every bit as complex as being dumped into a “foreign” culture and having to learn the language and culture to survive.

In the case of naturism it’s not just culture like, music or food – it’s culture at its most formidable, because few cultural issues are more controversial than sexuality. Unfortunately in our culture naked = sex. That is almost a universal association in people’s psyche for many reasons, and one which the pornographers have promoted and perfected for the purposes of sordid gain.

This linguistic association is the first of many cross-cultural reasons that we will explore in these blogs about why naturism needs to embrace sexual change if we are to reach our textile world. So, in this blog we are going to talk about this mere linguistic association between nudity and sex.

nudity and sex

An example of how nudity and sex are often tied together

Whether we like it or not, naturism continues to have an uphill battle when it comes to a non-sexual message to the textile world. Consider an example; the German word for “gay” (schwul) and “humid” (schwÏ‹l) is nearly identical. The difference is a very subtle matter of pronunciation, represented only by the “umlaut”, or double points above the letter ‘u’.

I knew a very macho American soldier who could not speak German well, but was too egotistical to know when to keep quiet. At a German dinner party he insisted on telling the Germans that it was uncomfortably hot and humid. What he did not realize was that he, the tough macho soldier, was insisting to everyone that he was “gay.”

He didn’t get the pronunciation difference – he was actually saying, schwul, when he meant, schwÏ‹l! The contrast was too much and the laughter was uproarious. No offense to gay people – trust me, you would have all been embarrassed for him while trying like everyone to contain your mirth! Well, it can be kind of like that when we insist to the textile world, that our nudity is non-sexual.

I mean, let’s be blunt. How is that teenage son or daughter supposed to understand that mom and dad who have never done anything crazy before, and may even go to church every Sunday, are now jumping in a hot tub with a bunch of naked people and it’s not supposed to be an orgy? Without any supporting context or common experience, the kid’s hormones and sense of propriety inherited from his pre-naturist parents, simply protest the notion. We think we are explaining things one way in our mind, like the macho soldier. But the language just isn’t there, especially when it has a history of very different meaning.

To a non-naturist friend or family member, naked = sex. Period. The naturism-textile cross-cultural communication gap is a vast void, consisting of a lack of common experience and language to connect two worlds as foreign as the Ithaca area, upstate New York culture I left, and the Hessisch and Pfälzer German culture I was suddenly immersed into.

The nudie has little or no precise language to communicate her new experience, and the non-nudie has no experience base from which to interpret the vague language. Metaphorically speaking we may think we are saying “schwÏ‹l” but we are really saying “schwul” when we insist to the textile, that naturism is non-sexual nudity. Then we wonder why the non-nudist frowns, freaks, furrows his brow, or bursts out in laughter. It’s really not even the right place to start the conversation.

OK fellow nudies, can’t we just admit it? We have a cross-cultural communication problem of major proportions. If we continue to insist to the textile world that naturism is purely non-sexual, especially in an increasingly hypersexual world, we are going to have to find better language to do it. Our language, when it comes to sexology, is pretty weak.

Consider the Eskimos. They have 13 words for snow in a highly developed culture of snow. They share common snow language and common snow experience. Sex is a bit more complex than snow, so we can do better than to insist that being naked is somehow absolutely void of sexuality. After all, in naturism, our genitalia, our sex if you will, is in plain sight.

If you take offense at someone seeing your penis or vulva, then of course you would not be a nudist. On the other hand, most textiles would consider exposure of their naked body to anyone other than their spouse, either underhanded seduction, or some form of sexual abuse. So, isn’t it kind of odd that we insist so strongly that our social nudity is non-sexual? After all, it’s not the “neutral” parts of our bodies, like our elbows, fingers, or toes that elicit such strong emotions. NO! It is explicitly our exposed sexuality that brings out such reactions.

I think if we hope to win the battles of today to grow naturism it’s important to be honest with ourselves, and to understand where many of the textiles we are trying to reach may be coming from. And it won’t do to insist that “schwul” isn’t “schwÏ‹l” – non-nudists don’t get the difference!

In view of the above, sex-positive is a great start at developing a whole new, fuller, richer vocabulary surrounding naturism and sexuality. Let’s stop pretending naturism has nothing to do with sexuality – in the non-nudist mind it does, and we need to start there. Furthermore, for us naturists, sex-positive is a way to start being more confident about our own sexuality and therefore more genuine with the textile world. Instead of being reactive and negative about sexuality, maybe we can take a lead role in teaching about truly fulfilling sexuality.

This in turn challenges us to a deeper understanding of our naked experiences and our sexuality, and how we may relate them metaphorically to similar textile experiences in a way that makes the non-naturist want to consider naturism as a real option. Maybe we should consider this precisely because many textiles are looking for a way to bring balance, meaning, and fulfillment to their sexuality.

And so we must take a deeper look inside and really ask, is our naturism as non-sexual as we seem to say to the non-naturist? What are we are afraid of, that keeps us from confronting sexuality in naturism? Does the textile world see something that we don’t want to see?

All of this is why we need at least some change in our understanding, our experience, and our development of new language as we face changing sexuality within textile culture and naturism. Sex-positive. It is the first step in dealing with these changes, and hopefully in reaching many new people, so that they too may experience the freedom and joy that we have experienced.

In this blog we have considered that a large problem in reaching the textile world is that there is a cross-cultural communication gap between our world and theirs. There is a lack of common language and experience to bridge this gap or deal with changing sexuality.

We need the sex-positive movement, because we need to start where non-nudists start – whether or not we like it, they start with nudity = sex. Maybe, beyond this fear, they are even trying to gain a deeper understanding of their own sexuality. So that is where we start and it is sex-positive. Once we accept this we can begin to examine what this means in terms of real experience within naturism and our encounters with the textile world.

In the next blog I will address one of the first and most formidable barriers we face with regard to changing sexuality and sex-positive, and relating naturism to the textile world. We are going to drop the insistence that naturism is completely void of sexuality and we are going to introduce the idea of breaking sexual silence.

This article about Nudity and Sex was published By – Young Naturists And Nudists America YNA

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Category: Sex Positive and Sexuality, Social Activism

About the Author ()

We are Steve and Susanne, leaders of the YNA Upstate New York Chapter. We enjoy the freedom, relaxation, and healing power of naturism, and are interested in sharing our experiences with others. Please visit our Facebook page facebook.com/ynaupstateny to get acquainted or join in any of our activities.