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Dear media, part II.
In my post last week I asked the media not to report about nudity and naturist events as if they are 12-year-old boys sniggering behind the bike sheds. I was recently made aware of a media article, which highlights another threatening reporting style on matters of nudity.
In February 2022, The Spectator published an article titled “Why men of a certain age love to get naked”.
The article reads:
Consider the recent battle between one nude man and his neighbour. Simon Herbert (54) was in his Oxfordshire garden mending a fence when he spotted his next-door neighbour — Air Marshal Andrew Turner (54), the RAF’s second-in-command — strolling naked in the paddock of the cottage Turner shares with his wife. Herbert says that his partner and stepdaughter caught an eyeful of the nude air marshal too. The ‘shocked’ Herbert family are demanding a ‘proper apology’ for the distress they’ve suffered.
This in itself is largely recounting the facts of the matter and leaves the reader to judge for themselves if the distress is justified or not.
The rest of the article drifts away from reporting the facts to describing a naked man (any naked man) as anything but benign.
You know when nudists are about: their territory is well marked with signs and warnings. Not so with a naked man. You’re going about your business when suddenly up he pops. He can be your husband, your dad, a friend of the family or even a stranger. Such men may not have the malicious intent of the flasher or the lechery of the masher, but that doesn’t mean they’re totally harmless.
But when a man appears naked in public isn’t there always something dark lurking beneath his innocent intent? After all, there’s nothing more passive-aggressive than having everything out for all the world to see.
There was a lot I wanted to say about the full article. As a case of biased reporting that perpetuates social misunderstandings about the clothing-optional philosophy, you would be hard-pressed to find a better example. One wonders what would have been reported had the naked neighbour been female.
The article gives the impression that the author hasn’t actually spoken to either of the parties involved in the incident and is simply a commentary on how a naked man in his own garden has offended the neighbours.
Another criticism is the assertion that the poor neighbours witnessing a naked man are traumatised, shocked, and demanding a proper apology for the stress that they suffered.
Rather than an apology, perhaps the family deserve our pity. If the sight of a naked human body causes distress, then this family must surely be unable to enjoy such simple pleasures as visiting a museum or an art gallery. If the sight of a naked human is so upsetting, then simply bathing must be a challenge for these poor people.
The assertion by the complainant that his partner and stepdaughter caught an eyeful, implies that he feels the women in his life need protection from seeing nudity. While they both may well agree with him, they were not interviewed, or if they were, their comments were not reported.
We seem to be living in a culture of offence, where people are allowed to publicise their outrage and demand that other people be forced to change their behaviour to protect delicate sensibilities.
The Spectator article is at best ill-informed and at worst prejudiced and biased. The author goes on to recount his embarrassment at his father's nudity in the 1970s. The teenage experiences of the reporter are irrelevant to the reporting on the incident in Oxfordshire and can hardly be described as balanced reporting.
The author finishes the article with the statement:
Me, I’m all for nude man liberation — as long as it doesn’t scare the neighbours.
If the author is so liberal and understanding, why take the tone that a serious offence has been committed? Why write that a naked man is anything but harmless in a passive-aggressive way?
The headline of the article is not even addressed. Why do men of a certain age like to get naked? After reading, the question remains unanswered.
I called the reporting style of the Spectator article threatening as reporting like this can do considerable damage to the public perception and acceptance of the naturist philosophy.
Advocates for a clothing-optional choice, all need to hold up these instances of harmful and biased reporting and correct the damaging perceptions that are fed to the public.
Me, I’m all for the reporting of naturist events – so long as it doesn’t scare the readers.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.