Naturist world and textile world Part I
When naturists watch television, read the newspapers and keep themselves informed to stay updated, they see the textile and naturist world as though they were two parallel worlds.
Naturist world and textile world Part II
Let us explain in more detail. Every year loads of naturists events are held: the 29th World Naturist Congress was held in Valalta, Croatia from 27 – 29 August 2004; the 30th World Congress was held in El Portus, Spain in 2006; the same Congress will be held in 2008 in Brazil and the candidacy was awarded to Italy for 2010; the International Naturists Swimming Championship was held in Torino from 5 - 7 November 2004; the Wakantiebeurs (Vacation Trade Fair) was held in Utrecht, Holland from 10 -15 January 2006, an experience that was repeated from 12 – 14 January 2007; the Petanque Tournament was held in Luzeret, France from from 23 - 24 September 2006; the Alpe-Adria meeting is held in Croatia every year at the end of August (but this year it was 7 - 10 June); the Naturist Olympics were held in January 2006 in Australia (it was summer there). This last summer the television showed a Spanish naked bike rider and a Dutch naked bike rider; every year the Steering Committee meetings of the Italian Naturist Federation and the Assembly of Federation Members are regularly held. In short, the Naturist Movement organizes meetings and sports events, publishes magazines and books and has millions of practicing naturists in Europe (there are about 500,000 in Italy, of which thousands are card-carrying members of the various Italian Naturist Associations).
Here we mention only a smattering of the many naturist events held every year in various parts of the world so that people understand how much material is out there for the textile press. But the mass media does not even realize it and only the naturist press, which is to the textile press like a flea is to an elephant, gives us the news. Or, if the mass media does deal with it, they only do it to create a sensation (because nudity is still considered a sensation, in spite of the fact that the times have changed). In fact usually nudism is given a little space amongst the “bizarre” news stories.
Even writers and scholars of social customs, when dealing with nudism, cannot help but incur the usual stereotype that correlates nudism with sex, while the more “tolerant” ones in the best case scenario accuse naturists of being affected by psychological infantilism.
Swiss psychoanalyst Daniele Ribola, for example, when speaking about naturism, maintains that wanting to experience nudity as a naïve means for liberation is nothing more than an attempt to solve the conflict that underlies our culture: the conflict between narcissism (intended as the exasperated search for an image) and scientific objectivism (that purports to be the repository of truth for all the social sciences).
These two dominant poles of our culture are infantile, continues Ribola, because of the problem of relativity: both are variable and therefore relative because they depend on the historical moment we are living.
From this we can assume that nudism is an infantile behavior firstly because it seeks an image without content (narcissism); secondly because it is the tip of the diamond of scientific objectivism (which ascertains the therapeutic virtues of nudism). According to the Swiss psychoanalyst, modesty, secured by the use of clothing, is the best response to the conflict between narcissism and scientific objectivism. This is the exact contrary of
the naturist philosophy. Many times we have said and written: modesty is an artificial feeling associated with sexual shame, which in turn is an artificial feeling left over from Judeo-Christian culture which considered the genitals obscene.
Throughout time clothing has become a barrier to “hide” the genitals, therefore assuming a different function from the one for which it was invented in the first place: a system for protecting our body from atmospheric agents. In this regard we would like to quote the book The Anatomy of Nakedness by British novelist, playwright and literary critic, Paul Ableman, which came out in Italy in 1987 (first edition, London 1982). The English critic writes: “I do not want to say that in room for naturism”. It is a serious practice, even idealistic (without being puritanical), that probably plays the important role of reintegrating genitals into the instinctive life of the human body.
However its role is relatively limited. Elsewhere he writes that naturist centers are nothing more than a sort of parody of the earthly paradise. Yet naturism has never said that to live in harmony with nature we must resort to the dream of an unrealizable utopia (heaven on earth), and nor does it call for a return to the Stone Age when, climate permitting, people lived as naked as some tribes of the Amazon do to this day.
Naturism is neither originism nor primitivism. It is not the desire to return to our origins or, what is worse, to regress on the basis of an ideological refusal of the current civilization. The explanation of this erroneous evaluation of the naturist phenomenon is simple: the practice of nudity, one of the foundations of the naturist ideology, is interpreted as a return to the past, to a condition that can no longer be repeated in our era.
On the contrary, naturism means reestablishing our relationship with a nature that was torn apart due to wrong religious, psychological, social and ethical conditioning.
Naturism means reestablishing that contact, and in order for that to occur we need to take back our bodies, which on the one hand are too often mistreated, despised, and neglected and on the other hand are superficially cared for in gyms where they walk on treadmills instead of taking a nice long walk in the open air.....
As regards Ableman’s consideration that in today’s society there is space for naturism (“thank goodness”, we say), we would like to respond by reminding him that denying the naturist call means denying the interdependence between man and nature. I am also grateful that he agrees that naturism is a serious practice.
However we have to disagree with his tenet that naturism plays an important, but limited, role in putting the genitals back into the body’s instinctive life. We believe, on the contrary, it is an important mission to work towards reintegrating the genitals. What is more, it is not at all a limited role but an essential role for individuals who are being deprived of the naturalness of their drives (and here we obviously exclude destructive or ethically unsustainable impulses.
In conclusion, when the mass media, journalists, writers and scholars of social customs confront nudism, they either do it to make a spectacle of nudity (which is what happens on TV), or to introduce nudism as one of many bizarre trends (discussed in magazines and newspapers), or to venture into analyses that are faulty right from the start because in the textile world those who talk about naturism not only have never practiced nudity but have never even read anything of the vast corpus of naturist writings which our movement has produced since its beginnings. It as though the textile and naturist world lived parallel to each other, on two different tracks that are parallel but will never meet.
We would like to end this article with an excerpt from an article written by an American woman, a wife and mother of two children, regarding her nudist experience. The excerpt is quoted by Ableman, the author of the aforementioned book The Anatomy of Nakedness, one of the few intellectuals who actually experienced naturism, in a village of the French Riviera, before writing about naturism: “You go back home feeling younger, not only in your body but also in your mind.
When you take off your clothes you have the sensation of ridding yourself not only of the garments but the dirty ugly world along with them. Here in the nudist camp there is peace and brotherhood with likeminded people.
Here you find friendly people who are cordial, open-minded, tolerant, and respectful of others. And when you finally reach the understanding of the nudist philosophy, you discover that your horizons are limitless and you find inner peace, a rich enjoyment of life. You have found freedom.
And you bless the day you agreed to go to a nudist camp”. In this article we have debated some of Paul Ableman’s considerations about the “limited” role of nudism and the fact that naturist centers are a sort of parody of the earthly paradise.
But the fact that we included the excerpt written by the American woman and the significant thoughts it provoked in him, afford him a distinctive note with respect to other intellectuals. This is his comment to the American woman’s statement: “The main idea contained in the declaration written by the American woman, and in others of this type, is that she feels free.
This is because taking off her clothing means putting modern civilization and its worries aside, and nudists free themselves not only of the clothing, but also of the need to wear a role, take on a form and put on a show, follow a ceremony and all of the constrictions that make up a complex protocol”. From the statements above it appears quite evident how the mass media, writers and scholars of social customs live in a parallel world with respect to the naturist world.
In fact while newspapers and magazines either report naturist events as bizarre news items, as mentioned above, or invent pseudoscientific studies on the fashions of the moment, amongst which they plunk nudism,
TV improvises television debates on changing customs. These debates pose nudism as an alternative trend to the “natural” trend of always wearing clothing (which on the beach is reduced to a dinky bathing suit). In the debates – which never feature a representative of the Naturist Federation – various writers and scholars of customs sound off more or less exhaustively about the issue of nudism and its pros and cons. The irony is that none of them has ever once tried the naturist experience.
However there is one occasion on which these two parallel worlds start to collide. This happens when the textile world heads out full tilt to repress the most obvious expressions of naturism, whose most obvious aspect is nudity.
The latest news from summer 2007 focused on a large-scale campaign conducted by mayors and police to repress this “terrible” crime. Homicide, rape, theft, drunk driving, highway piracy, throwing big rocks from highway overpasses, etc, according to the usual statistics are to be expected in the system, says the textile world. What is not to be expected or accepted and therefore should be repressed with maximum severity is the “crime” of nudity, i.e. an extraneous body that the system does not recognize as its own and against which all possible and imaginable antibodies are sent onto the field to fight against: local police, state police, carabinieri, forest rangers, coast guard and, if it were possible, the Revenue Guard Corps.