Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sweet Grapes?

All of you are certainly familiar with the Aesop tale about the fox and the grapes, where the animal tries and tries to reach some grapes hanging on a vine, and when unable to get to them exclaims "the grapes are sour anyway".

What you don't know about is the fox's friend who was watching nearby. When the first fox fails, the second one, who is bigger and stronger, comes along and says that the grapes are the sweetest in the world and that he can get them. The second fox jumps and jumps, and finally manages to bite off a single grape. When he bites down, it is the most unripe and sour fruit he has ever tasted, but he turns to his friend and exclaims that it is delicious.

Such is the case with some recent nudist and naturist news, with people putting a positive spin on some bad news, and declaring it all good.

In the February 2010 Naturist Action Committee newsletter, Morley Schloss tries to turn a visit from child protection authorities into something positive for naturism.
The officials looked at the photos of the children enjoying the Youth Camp. They remarked something to the effect of, “No problem, it looks like the kids are having fun.” We then shook hands and they left.
And over on the rec.nude Google group, John Purbrick seconds the "victory":
This is just more proof that we don't have anything to fear, if we live right. In fact, as Morley says, we actually prove our innocence when children are invited to join in, and enjoy themselves, and anyone at all can visit and verify that.
The truth of the matter is that the visit by the police and a social worker to Sunsport Gardens Family Naturist Resort is an ominous development in an era when all nude depictions of anyone under 18 years of age can be considered child pornography. We live in a society where a Pennsylvania district attorney can announce that he has the power to prosecute young girls in bikinis on a beach because they are dressed "provocatively'.

I applaud Morley for standing up for his principles. He is right - there is nothing lewd about a nude child having fun at camp. Morley is one of the last naturists with the courage to keep posting nude photos of children enjoying nude recreation.

I wish him continued success, but I fear that the day will soon come where an ambitious politician or district attorney in Florida will make children in nudism a hot-button issue, and unlike Mark Foley's failed attempt several years ago, the social climate has changed, and the next attack could prove to be successful.

Another "victory" has been declared by AANR over a recent incident at an Oregon shopping mall where a banner touting nude recreation drew complaints and had to be removed from a local chamber of commerce event.
From time to time, I am asked, “Why do we even need an AANR?” I hope this story provides another answer. We’ll continue to do what we have done since 1931: advocating for nudity within appropriate settings and educating the public about the wholesome benefits that enjoying nudity offers.
Again, the truth of the matter is that AANR was censored at a public mall, doing more harm to nudism. Executive Director Erich Schuttauf can talk all he wants about other stores in the mall with provocative advertising, and that a "well-stated" letter was fired off the the chamber president, but the banner showing "discreet" nudity probably should not have been raised in the first place.

You cannot advocate for nudity "within appropriate settings" and then raise a banner in a shopping mall with depictions of nudity.

Is this really the best our national organizations can do?


Anonymous said...

To me the issue of having naked photos of children come done to consent. Not legal consent but I am talking more on moral grounds.

You never know what the child's feelings on nudity will be when he or she grows up or what that person might want to be that might be hampered by the photos being out there. Say the person is in the position of being a Supreme
Court Judge but then the photos are discovered and the person's name is withdrawn.

Now if you had a time machine where you could ask the child as an adult if it would be okay to have naked pictures taken of them as children and put up on the net then of course then I wouldn't have a problem. But of course that is impossible.

Therefore out of respect for the child's future self I don't believe parents should allow naked photos of be published or put up on the Internet.

Elton said...

This has nothing to do with the post as stated, however:

Can there be an article on how nudism is prosocial? Some nutjob on the Deseret News said that nudists are anti-social. I disagree with this, experience tells me that nudism is prosocial. :)

Paul said...

Anonymous has a curiously limited point. ANY photo of a child may "embarrass" the child later. Why is it always nudity and only nudity that gets this kind of discussion?

There is no saying that a Supreme Court judge would have any trouble being confirmed. Nudity in photos isn't illegal. Do you think Scott Brown would not have been elected in MA if someone discovered a naked photo of him from much younger days?

We may make up any number of supposed and improbable situations and outcomes and then blame nudity in our improbable projection N years later.

Many people are fine with their younger photos, including of nudity. Parental attitude counts for a lot.

Anonymous is writing a sort of disjunctive fallacy, with assumptions not stated and a lot left to imagination. He/she is making a poor argument for never publishing photos of child nudity, indeed, for never publishing any photos of children (and indirectly for never doing anything for, to, or with children, because you don't know what they'll think or say later).

There are many situations in which those photos are beneficial, to the child or others. And of course, if one never publishes such photos, children will both feel excluded and be excluded from naturism, certainly in the minds of non-naturists, and probably many naturists as well.

Nudiarist said...

Paul said, "And of course, if one never publishes such photos, children will both feel excluded and be excluded from naturism, certainly in the minds of non-naturists, and probably many naturists as well."

I am a proponent of naturist photos, as evidenced by my blog, but photos are not essential to naturism. I've seen plenty of kids enjoying nude recreation at AANR clubs with nobody taking their photographs.

Essentially I agree with you, but playing devil's advocate, let me say that kids are excluded from lots of things - driving, voting, drinking, etc.

Anonymous does not seem to be saying that nude photos of children are wrong, just that publishing them in a magazine or on the Internet could possibly cause them some regrets later in life.

This is not to say that the images are wrong, but only to point out that our society has a real problem with nude photos of children.

It seems to me that the question we should be asking is how to change the widespread perception that nude photos of children at play are not pornography.

Is Morley Schloss taking the best course of action by openly publishing nude photos of kids on the Sunsport web site, or is AANR doing the best thing by limiting photos of children in its publications to reflect society's current climate?

In Europe this is not really an issue, witness the short film "La Font de Neiges" which freely shows adolescent naturism and young love. In America this film would have picketers lined up around the block. Witness all the controversy over Dakota Fanning in "Hounddog".

My feeling is that things are going to get worse before they get better when it comes to naturist photos of children.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Nudiarist, I have to say that this is not my own experience of naturism in Europe.

I have stayed on nudist campsites in France, and been at beaches and saunas across northern and southern Europe, and photography of any kind was explicitly forbidden and actively policed by the management and/or other users. In one instance, I was taking a photo of my toddler playing in the sand on the public beach just outside the campsite, and he was fully clothed in a sun-protection suit because it was the middle of the day, and was (very politely) told to stop. This is more about banning camera from the setting, and thus making illicit photography that much harder, than it is about protecting kids' 'future dignity', but the effect is the same.

I personally can't see the problem with nude pictures of my kids while they are small, lord knows my parents' house is full of ones of me and my siblings when we were wee, but I don't see it being accepted in 'formal' nudist settings to the degree you imply.

Nudiarist said...

Anonymous, here in the US, photography is forbidden also at resorts and campgrounds, and when official photos are taken permissions must be granted.

We are talking about websites and magazines, which are filled with many photographs. Images of children have been scaled back in AANR and TNS publications, but still appear in the Federation of Canadian Naturists publication GOING NATURAL, and on the Sunsport Gardens web site. I have no doubt that all those photos have signed permissions from parents.

In addition, France 4 Naturisme freely shows images of nude children in its promotional videos, so again, someone is giving permission.

I will say that the latest issue of H&E Naturist has no photos of children at all, except for some vintage b&w images from their archives. My understanding is that in the UK there is much stronger policing of nude images of children, to the point where airport body scans of those under 18 would be considered "indecent".

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see what you mean, apologies. Yep, all the campsites do use pictures of kids in their brochures and websites, and rightly so - in choosing to go to a naturist campsite I'd never have chosen to bring my family to one that only showed adults. I'd be explicitly looking for a family-friendly setup, and promos that show only adults would have made me suspicious that I was heading for the dodgier end of Cap D'Adge.

The first time we chose to actually stay at a naturist site, as opposed to spending time on nude beaches which we'd been doing since we were kids ourselves, the depiction of a normal cross-section life in the brochures would have assuaged many fears, especially on my wife's part.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Nudiarist, I should have clarified that I'm a different Anonymous from those that posted above - my three comments have been the two about my experiences on French campsites, and selecting a site from advertising, and this one. Ain't anonymity grand, to a point.

Paul said...

This discussion reminds me that one of the famous medieval music theorists is known today as "Anonymous IV."

And yes, some European sites forbid photos of naturists of any age more than some American locations.

As for: "photos are not essential to naturism" --- I suppose nothing is essential in the reporting of naturism. In fact, it doesn't have to be described or discussed at all. It wasn't much until the 1960s, except for specialty magazines that were very hard to get hold of.

Photos, it seems to me, are more important to naturism than they are to many activities. Not only are photographs a significant component of identity, authenticity, and activation (see any social theory), they illustrate what naturism is better than any verbal description.

People may well become interested in naturism by a personal conversation or with the help of images: photos, videos. I suggest that photos play a notable role in keeping naturism going.

Finally, absence of photos of children is very noticeable, even if subconsciously. (I'm also not interested in giving the impression that naturism is an "adult" activity, with all that implies.)

The airport body scanner issue is another topic. The "scandal" of having children in those images makes no more sense in England than it does here. One ignorant attorney gave his opinion and the whole country went crazy.

But I agree with Nudiarist on those scanners anyhow. They're largely "scammers" and a government intrusion of exactly the sort that forbids nudity, ironically.