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We don’t know how lucky we are.
Over the 16 months that I have been writing this weekly blog, I have had the opportunity to chat with a number of my readers as well as fellow naturists from around the world.
Most of the conversations take for granted that we live in places that tolerate, albeit sometimes begrudgingly, our propensity to strip off and enjoy our nudity.
Occasionally I talk to people from countries where the local attitudes and even the laws make enjoying naturism a particularly subversive and potentially dangerous pastime.
Recently a reader pointed out that in a recent blog, while I grizzled about the weather and how the winter season restricted my opportunities to practice naturism, at least I had the freedom to do so at all. They lived in a country where the laws prohibited the practice.
To be honest, it made me feel a little selfish about my complaining and their comment highlighted the vast difference in the social acceptability of nudity in our respective countries.
Contrasting the freedoms that I have with the lack of freedom that some of my readers experience and I realised that I have so much to be grateful for. It could be said that I don’t know how lucky I am.
There are still a large number of countries where nudity is not tolerated and many where it is illegal. Even in modern and perceived progressive societies such as the United States, public nudity can result in arrest.
Australia, often seen by many as the land of sun, sea and good living has restrictive laws around nudity. I know that Australia is vast, and many people will say that there is more to Australia than beaches and barbecues, and there is, but 87% of Australia’s population lives less than 50 km (30 miles) from the sea. With its warm climate, vast open spaces and most of the country deserted, one would have thought that laws around nudity might be a bit more relaxed.
I read recently that Iran is reinstating the morality police, whose job is to patrol the streets and enforce the dress codes requiring women to wear headscarves and loose clothing, to hide their figures. In September 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by the morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. 3 days later, she died in police custody. Her death sparked widespread protests with over 20,000 arrests and 500 protesters killed. Despite the protests and the public outcry over the circumstances of the young woman’s death, nearly 12 months later, nothing has changed for more than 40 million women living there.
I don’t profess to understand the cultural significance of the hijab, and it may be that I have totally misunderstood the situation, but from a Western perspective, the rules seem discriminatory and oppressive.
When I complain about not being able to get out and about naked, I am missing the fact that for many people around the world, that is their reality all the time. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to enjoy naturism, we often forget that many others are denied the freedom to do so. Given the state's reaction to a woman improperly wearing a headscarf in Iran I can’t imagine their reaction should you try and enjoy being naked by a river or at a beach.
In the summer months, I can swim naked in the ocean at any of our beaches, rivers or lakes without a swimming costume, a piece of clothing that I don’t possess. I can walk naked in the forests or sit naked in a multitude of locations around the country without breaking any laws or risking prosecution, persecution or physical harm.
I am grateful for the freedoms that I do have, and I should not take them for granted, nor should I assume that everyone else has those freedoms.
What can the rantings of a middle-aged man in a small country at the bottom of the Pacific do to change things in countries where simply nudity is illegal? Probably nothing. But does that mean that I shouldn’t try?
I write this blog, partly as an outlet to help clear my mind of the ideas and observations swirling around in my head, but also in the hope that some people may read it and realise that social nudity is not deviant or evil. If some of those people are in a position to change things for others, then maybe blogs like this one might help. The writings of one man are unlikely to make a difference, but the more people who contribute to the conversation, the more likely change might occur.
To all my readers and other people struggling to enjoy naturism in places where the law prohibits your freedom of expression, I apologise for my lack of sensitivity to your plight. We write about what we know, and I do not know what it is like to try and be a naturist in the places you live.
I take my hat off to the nudists who struggle in those countries, to find acceptance for simply being who they are and I applaud your bravery in trying to be yourselves in places where the odds and laws are stacked against you.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.