"...To permit nudity yet not allow ANY form of sexual expression,
not even an erection, seems like an impossibility at best and a
cruel tease at worst."

By Daniel D. Ziegler

I realize now, some years after writing my book NAKED BEFORE GOD, that
my claim that participating in organized nudism can increase body awareness
and self-acceptance, may not as true as I once thought. While social nudity
itself--that is being nude in the presence of others--can certainly increase body
acceptance, organized nudism as we know it in this country has major flaws that
I now think may actually have a negative effect on self-esteem. This article is an
attempt to explain this idea.

By not permitting any open display or expression of sexuality, the nudism
movement merely reinforces our society's already negative attitude toward our
sexuality, and therefore toward our overall self-image. In this respect, the
organized movement is actually counter-productive to its claims. They need to
quit making that claim or change the rules.

A while back, I received a phone call from a man whom, with his wife, had
visited a nudist park for the first time. There, he had met a friend of mine with
whom he got into a discussion about nudism. Being new to it, he had a lot of
questions and was making a lot of observations about the nudist life style as he
was seeing it, and about peoples' behavior under these, up-until-now, unusual
conditions. Wanting to be as helpful as possible in explaining the lifestyle, my
friend mentioned my name and that I had written a book about nudism. His call
was to see how he could acquire the book and to ask me a few questions
concerning him and his experience.

Basically what he expressed to me was that he had been very uncomfortable at
the park. He had gone through the normal orientation that they required for
newcomers in which he was told a number of things, including how comfortable
and relaxing nudism is, and that it is not sexual and that, in fact, no outward form
of sexual expression would be tolerated. To further explain this, nudist park
owners usually tell men that "if you should become 'aroused', cover yourself with
your towel or put on a pair of shorts, or you will be asked to leave."

He found the park and surroundings very beautiful and the naked people
generally friendly, and, in fact, all this is what contributed to his being
uncomfortable. He found the whole situation--the sights, the sounds, the
smells--so stimulating that he had an erection most of the time he was there
and, therefore, was forced to wear a pair of shorts the whole weekend. "It was
awful," he said to me, "I could not be myself. I never want to go through another
weekend like that again."

I had very little to offer him at that point except my usual pitch that I had used
when I was the one giving the orientations at that very same park. I told him not
to give up on nudism, that he would get used to the nudity and that soon he
would not find it overly stimulating and arousing. "You won't even get a hard-on,"
I said.

That phone call prompted me to begin to examine my own personal experience
with "organized" nudism and to ultimately change my views about it--hence this
article. What I told him was, in fact, what I had done to myself. In my attempt to
set an example for others and to not feel guilty for feeling sexual myself, I had
repressed my own sexual urges at the park to the extent that I was lying to
myself about what I was feeling. What I really wanted to do was to be myself and
let everyone know that I was a healthy sexual person--and that is what he
wanted and I believe what most everyone wants.

To permit nudity yet not allow ANY form of sexual expression, not even an
erection, seems like an impossibility at best and a cruel tease at worst. Either
way, it is a form or sexual repression. The nudists' claim that nudism is not
about sex, and that nudist parks are in no way sexual, is hypocritical. The very
nature of nudity in an otherwise clothed society is certainly going to increase
sexual awareness; and to not be able to express that in any way, not even in
touching ourselves or getting aroused, is simply unrealistic AND cruel. And so,
when we fail at this, even if just in our thoughts, we consciously or unconsciously
feel increased guilt, shame and embarrassment over our sexuality, which
merely adds to our already societally-induced poor self-image problem in

We are sexual beings and our sexual energy will manifest itself one way or
another no matter how hard we try to discourage it. If we can't express it in an
open and positive manner, it will cause us to act out in unhealthy ways, such as
aggression or substance abuse. The nudists--the unsuspecting victims of this
sexual repression--seem to have various ways displaying their behavior and of
coping with the dilemma of being torn between the freedom that they know they
could feel and the repression that they actually do feel. Many do what the rest of
society does--they either numb themselves with substances such as nicotine
and alcohol or they act on their sexual feelings and lie about it. Some, to the
dismay of the owners of the so-called 'family nudist parks', no longer even lie
about it. They are known as swingers and they are out there in numbers; but in
spite of how we might characterize or judge their lifestyle, they are the honest

The nudist organizations themselves are not to be too heavily blamed for their
contribution to sexual repression, however. They, after all, are simply extensions
of our Western society that for centuries has repressed human sexuality, and
they have had to conform to present standards in order to survive at all. We at
least need to give them credit for attempting to defy some of the rules of society
and break free from the pack.

But if we are to ever become the enlightened society we are capable of being,
we need to further free ourselves from the social restrictions and religious
taboos that have forced our sexual energy to manifest itself in destructive ways.
We need to learn to trust our sexuality and to fully express it; and learn that to be
free with it does not mean we are going destroy ourselves. In fact, by repressing
it we are destroying ourselves. Rather, being free with it means that we can
channel it into creative expressions such as helping each other and saving the
planet. Only when we fully accept and respect ourselves as sexual beings, will
we truly see ourselves as more than that--as spiritual beings; and seeing
ourselves as spiritual beings having a full human experience--including our
sexually--is the highest form of self-acceptance there is.

I now have nudist friends who are not only comfortable with their bodies but with
their sexuality as well. We associated outside the park, in our homes, etc. We
feel comfortable to be ourselves and do not hide our sexuality from each other.
In fact, we honor and celebrate it. The tension and discomfort that the
gentleman referred to in his phone call are not there. IT IS RELAXING because
it is self-acceptance. * * *

Copyright 2008 Daniel D. Ziegler
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Reclaiming Acceptance of our Original State