As nudists/naturists how are we ever suppose to advance naturism if we confine and conceal ourselves and our lifestyle from non-naturists? Socializing with other nudists can be amazingly rewarding. But engaging non-naturists is paramount to building tolerance for naturism.
Blocking out communication
“If you follow/post porn, I block you” reads the disclaimer on a Twitter account I follow. Quite often I come across post or profile descriptions on Twitter about blocking other profiles. Most state that anyone who posts pornography will be barred. Others go so far as to block anyone who follows other profiles which have posts deemed to be pornographic. Of course, all users have the right to this action. However, I have chosen to simply not follow – or to unfollow – sites with seem to be primarily pornographic. This caveat means that I do not shun accounts that have occasional sexual content. Likewise, I most definitely do not deny someone based on the content of other profiles that they subscribe to.
Why? Well, for various reasons, but primarily because doing so would eliminate the chance to educate the user about what naturism/nudism truly is. Or at least what it represents to those of us who practice nudity for our own benefit and comfort rather than for sex or to stimulate others. Maybe it’s the professional educator in me. Or maybe it’s due to the fact that I have always identified as a member of so many minority groups. But I see these opportunities as “teachable moments”. They provide a chance to explain who we are.
When someone new follows me, I check their feeds to see what type of posts they have. If they are primarily porn, I just don’t follow back. Or I’ll send a private message letting them know that Nudist Planet is not about sex. Hopefully, they’ll stick around. Only in this way, can I ever hope to help them realize what being a nudist really means. If I merely block them, I’ve lost that chance. They will just seek sexual stimulation elsewhere believing I’ve blocked them for some other reason. If we as naturists do not work to change minds, who will?
For whether or not we like it, many people – perhaps most – associate the word nudist with sex. True nudists know this which is why some among us prefer the word naturist. But as with blacks and the word nigger, and gays with faggot – don’t worry, I’m both so I can use these terms, – we need to reclaim the word nudist. This however, starts with acknowledging the associations of the word and interacting with those who make them. This is why Nudist Planet is not Naturist Planet. I cannot educate someone whose attention I do not have.
Still, not blocking people on social media can only do so much for engagement. We also need to communicate directly to them. And continually represent through our own posts/likes/retweets/follows what our lifestyle entails. Yet, this is still only one channel. We have many available to us.
How to connect
Some that I have chosen include this very website, especially the Bare Voices series, the items in the Nudist Planet Shop and video channels. To gain the ear of non-naturists, visibility is key. They have to know that we are here and to see who we are. Take the stories in the Bare Voices series. The intent of these is to demonstrate that nudists are everyday people. And to give individuals a chance to recount how they got started in naturism and the benefits they have derived from practicing it. Hopefully, this will prompt curious yet hesitant would-be naturists to give it a go.
Likewise, the items in the shop are to help us be more visible. In this way, we can easily identify each other when in clothed environments. But more importantly, we can let the larger world see what a nudist looks like. And see us as nudists in completely non-sexual contexts.
In the end, only through direct engagement can dare to change hearts and minds. And communicating to a deaf ear, or a blocked door, is pointless.