Guilty as charged.
I recently wrote in an article about the media reporting on nudist events that perhaps the editorial decision to trivialise or make light of such events may be to appease the moral majority, and I used the following phrase:
“many of whom are yet to understand that social nudity is about as sexual as a church picnic in the bible belt.”
I used this sentence as an illustrative way of saying “not very”.
After posting, I was reflecting on the work, and it suddenly dawned on me, that I can’t recall the number of times I have been to a church picnic but if it’s not zero it is a number approaching zero.
Further to that, I have never been to the bible belt in the US.
The statement was derived from my trying to think of a situation where sexual activity was extremely unlikely. The use of the church picnic example was solely based on my perceptions of what goes on at such an event rather than first-hand knowledge. For all I know, bible belt US church picnics may be a hotbed of indiscretion and debauchery.
Now I am in no way suggesting that church picnics are anything other than what my perceptions of them are, but in reality, I don’t know. I am sure that some sexual liaisons are a result of social connections at these events, just as there are at many other clubs, groups or workplaces. And as it is in these everyday situations, I expect that any sexual activities born from these interactions take place in privacy and are discreet.
My point is that sexual connections happen in all walks of life, and just because they may have germinated at the workplace or a church group doesn’t mean that sexualised behaviour or activity is overtly displayed at those places. Sexual activity is private and personal, and the naturist community is no different.
The only exception to this that I can think of are swingers clubs, where sexual activity is open and overt, but that is a specific group focused on sexual activity for its very existence. While it is true that some members of naturist groups may also be members of swinging groups, they are no more so than any other section of society.
So as is the case in everyday life so it is within naturist organisations. I am sure that there are sexual interactions between members, but they are kept private and are not on display.
I assumed that many readers would associate the idea of a church picnic as wholesome and family-friendly, where strong moral attitudes and a sense of community spirit would be quick to quash any sexualised behaviour.
While the word “wholesome” is used often in faith-based communities to talk about their approach to issues, there are numerous examples of inappropriate behaviour within the church and faith-based organisations that could never be described as healthy or looking after the well-being of those on the receiving end of that behaviour.
I don’t particularly like the term wholesome when it's applied to the naturist philosophy, but that may be just me. I know many people do use it and I understand the message trying to be conveyed.
Understanding the message being conveyed is my only defence in using the church picnic example, and I hope that the majority of my readers understood the message. If I got it wrong, and my assumptions are way off the mark, then I am sorry. If anyone reading the article has been the victim of unwanted sexual behaviour at a church picnic, then I hope that my writing has not trivialised or minimised your experience. Again I apologise.
I guess the point that I am trying to make, is that we are all guilty of imposing our perceptions on choices we make and opinions that we have.
Just as I have no first-hand experiences of church picnics in the bible belt, most of the public who have an opinion about the naturist philosophy, do not have first-hand knowledge. Many of the criticisms of naturism are not based on facts or experience, but rather on a perception fed by misinformation, media misrepresentation and social discomfort.
The number of times that I have had to explain to people who have just been told of my lifestyle choice that no, we don’t all have sex on the lawn in a big group session at the local naturist club, leads me to think that we have a long way to go to correct these misguided perceptions.
So I stand guilty, as charged, of using my perceptions to influence my comments. As my secondary school teachers used to often put in my school reports, “Must do better”.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.