Friday, December 10, 2010

Stopping Exploitation Begins at Home, Mr. Deschênes

Stéphane Deschênes of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park and the Federation of Canadian Naturists, has released his latest web podcast entitled "Exploitation", which condemns the people who have exploited nudism and naturism, those who would "objectify our bodies and sexualize our activities." He rails against profiteers who "pander to deviants", selling photos and videos of children engaging in nude recreation, which have no interest to actual naturists, but only to those with "prurient intents." Deschênes uses strong words like "infect" and "victimize" when referring to people who "twist the definition of naturism to suit their purposes."

I wholeheartedly agree, and I will have a lot more to say about this subject, which is extremely important and should be of great concern to nudists and naturists worldwide.

But Mr. Deschênes is on the Board of Directors for "Going Natural", the official publication of FCN, which accepts advertising from "Nudism Lifestyles" (see page 39 Summer 2010 issue), which sells DVDs for $45 and up which include "mothers and daughters enjoy a morning of lively water exercises", "dozens of guys spend the day at the gym", "Ms. Nude Texas", "1999 Junior Miss Pageant", and other similar exploitative materials.

And on page 52 of the same issue is an ad which features a nude child with the words "RUSSIANBARE.COM" painted on her back, used as a human billboard to sell exactly the types of exploitative materials so condemned by Mr. Deschênes on his podcast.

So I urge everyone to let Mr. Deschênes (stephane@fcn.ca) know that he needs to start looking  in his own back yard when it comes to rooting out those who "conceal themselves beneath the cloak of legitimacy that naturism provides."

21 comments:

Marcel said...

I agree with you, but I would add that being on the board of directors is not the same as being the boss. Hopefully he can influence them to do the right thing.

Alonzo said...

This situation has existed for years, and there's no easy answer. The fact is, we live in a society which regards nudity as inherently prurient. And faced with the task of raising money to keep nudist organizations alive, it is all too tempting to take money from men who, far from being nudists themselves, will pay thru the nose to look at pictures or movies of naked women---or naked kids.

Take the nudist magazines of the 50s and 60s many of us (I'm in my 60s) look back on with fond memories. I well remember how I was introduced to them. At age 13 or 14, I was at a liquor store one day when the clerk noticed i was looking at a Playboy. He said, "Hey commere kid. Wanna see some GOOD stuff?" He pulled a nudist magazine out from behind the counter, complete with color photos of naked women in their 20s, with "full bushes" on display (Playboy did not show pubic hair until years later).

Sales of magazines like that raised badly needed cash, I'm sure, to keep the cause alive. But the target audience was voyeurs, not nudists.

Nudiarist said...

Alonzo, agreed, nudism has always been "exploited" to a certain degree. The issue here is one of hypocrisy, where the owner of a prominent nudist resort condemns in strong language the exploitation of nudism, while at the same time being on the board of directors for a magazine which carries advertisements for precisely the sort of material he is claiming to oppose.

Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park said...

Clearly, based on my lastest podcast, I wholeheartedly agree that those ads have no place in any naturist publication. But I don't own the Federation of Canadian Naturists. I am but one of 15 directors. Yes I was the president for a number of years. But that was even worse because that position on the board doesn't even vote on motions except to break a tie.

It is a discussion which the board has had on many occasions over the years. The problem is this: As a democratic association, the board doesn't want to act arbitrarily in deciding who can advertise and who can't. So the board has tried in the past to make a rule to exclude these advertisers. But what would that rule be? No videos of children? Obviously that could exclude genuine naturist videos. As it turns out, it is very difficult to make a rule to exclude these videos that is objective and won't accidentally ban genuine naturist materials.

That's very different from Bare Oaks, the Bare Boutique and the Naturist Living Show where I am a "benevolent dictator" and I have complete control. There, everything that happens is based on my vision and values. That can be good and bad depending on the situation. But it definitely is NOT democratic!! In fact, not everyone agrees with what I am doing. But given the status, those who disagree don't get any choice other than opting not to patronize my business. At least in the FCN, everyone gets a vote.

Naturally,
Stephane

Nudiarist said...

Stephane, that is perhaps the weakest excuse for peddling exploitative materials that I've ever heard. Your name is on that publication, so despite your attempt at disassociation, you own it and have a responsibility, especially in light of your most recent podcast.

Your position on this issue is about as clear an example of a double standard that there can be.

To say that it's acceptable to run ads for websites like russianbare.com simply because some of their material might have some naturist value is absurd. These people clearly market to pedophiles, and if your own words are to be believed, they are doing real harm to nudism and naturism and must be rejected unconditionally.

In my opinion, your board of directors has shown true cowardice at failing to make a stand. We both know that this is about ad revenue, something I'm sure FCN needs desperately, but I've not seen AANR or TNS cave in to these faux naturist pornographers simply because of the dollars.

And you also condemn those who profit from this exploitative material, yet you fail to condemn it when FCN deems it to be acceptable.

Many wrongs have been done in the name of democracy. Simply because the voters in FCN have agreed to continue these ads does not make the decision right, or morally just.

In my view, you simply cannot hold the moral high ground in condemning a resort like Ponderosa for its one day a year Nudes-a-Poppin event, while not at the same time holding your own association accountable for their own participation in selling videos of nude children which have no redeeming value whatsoever to naturism.

Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park said...

To a certain extent, I do agree with you. I have failed to convince the board to eliminate these ads from Going Natural. So I am certainly guilty by association. At this point, my only option to disassociate myself from the ads in the magazine would be to resign as a director. I have chosen not to do that because I think that would be cowardly. The role of democratic naturist organizations is important. As such, I think that I should show enough assertiveness to stick with an organization even if it choses not to completely agree with me. I'm sure that there is be a moral limit where my ethics would not allow me to continue my association. But I don't think that this is one of them. In this case, I prefer to continue to work within the FCN so that I can still to have some influence. (but not control!) But obviously, this has not stopped me from personally expressing my opinion when it is in conflict with the organization.

Nudiarist said...

Stephane,

It depends on how you define "cowardly", whether it means standing up for your core principles, or going along with the crowd.

Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park said...

Yes, there is definitely a value judgement here. Ultimately, isn't it nice that we can have that debate and disagree. (unlike in some other countries) What's important is that we can keep debating and discussing.

Nudiarist said...

Stephane, yes, I agree that open debate is always the best way to come to understandings. I've been both critical and supportive of the American nudist organizations, trying always to present both sides of all issues.

That having been said, I think that you should use your "bully pulpit" of the podcast to call out FCN directly on these exploitative ads. You have no qualms about condemning two US nudist resorts, yet you remain quiet about what's going on in a magazine which bears your name.

I think you'll find that the vast majority of nudists and naturists will be supportive.

Paul Rapoport said...

A tough topic. One may equally blame me in my 13 years of editing the magazine. I have an even longer answer than below which I may offer some time. For now, a few comments.

1) "These people clearly market to pedophiles." Going Natural doesn't, but regardless of intent, it's bought by, among others, pedophiles. How many? Who knows. If it's many, does it matter? For various reasons, no. (See below.)

2) GN got rid of the Junior Miss and other parts of the mentioned ad but they inadvertently came back under circumstances that were unusual. It would be false to infer much from that.

3) Some ads are borderline to many naturists in North America. The political problem of the connection of naturism to sexuality means less elsewhere. Even in North America, the denial has negative as well as positive consequences.

4) At some point, a naturist will enter this debate who knows the research literature on pedophilia. From my own research, it's clear to me that the moral panic about it in the non-naturist world, which carries over into the naturist, is misplaced.

That does not mean I approve of sexual crime against children. It does mean, for one thing, that I'm aware that images of naked minors in ads, other content, or videos such as we are discussing do not cause or increase crime against them. A similar, larger point about images was brought up in the USA in a commission established by Lyndon Johnson more than 40 years ago, and many times since then.
----
The balance in the FCN's advertising, which isn't about money, is hard to maintain. Some people may buy magazines or videos for a sexual thrill, others for a naturist exploration. A firm line between the two is sometimes a fiction. (That needs explanation, I realize.)

The perception one wants to create in these magazines and other publications, however, is important. While we need to consider the diversity in naturism, we shouldn't, as Stéphane says, pander to something that harms it. Overall harm may be real or imagined, slight or great, or a combination. The research on that question is almost non-existent.

GN does things in its way (which may well need improvement). Some American publications do them in another, often by much reduction or even exclusion of photos of unclothed minors.

We're all negotiating oddities or absurdities of life in the same continent, sometimes with a look beyond it. I'm unaware that there's a clear way to do this best.

Nudiarist said...

Paul,

Thanks for your comments.

The issue as I understand it is not the actual nude images of children. It's the marketing of them for purely prurient interests. I believe that any individual or organization who truly believes in the traditional tenets of the naturist movement is wallowing in quicksand on this issue if they try and mount a defense of this russianbares.com web site.

It's defending the indefensible. Lee Baxandall once termed this marketing of images containing pre-pubescent children as "rancid meat". It belongs in the garbage.

I know that Going Natural magazine is not intended for marketing to pedophiles, but carrying advertising such as I've described certainly gives the impression that there is a willingness to sell out principles in the name of the almighty dollar.

In the total context of our clothed society, nudists and naturists are already perceived as a deviant subculture. Any association with materials appealing to pedophiles can be fatal, especially within this "what about the children" hysteria meme which has been whipped up by the 24 hour media machine.

This "moral panic", as you put it, is indeed misplaced. But every day there are stories in the media about people being arrested for child pornography to the point where the average person thinks that the mere image of a shirtless little girl is "lewd".

And have you seen this story? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40592811/ns/us_news-life/

This is simply not the time to be pushing the envelope on the "diversity of naturism" by hawking photos of nude children.

simonsebs said...

I may be wrong about this, but this seems similar to what some have said about this blog. There has been a condemnation about people who don't represent naturism here. Yet some have complained about what they believe to be an unequal ratio between pictures of men and women.

Nudiarist said...

Simon,

Yeah, I've had extremists actually count the number of men and women pictured in the vintage photos that I post here.

I like to think that my readers are intelligent enough to realize that many of these old photos represent a bygone era, replicas of nudism's past and not necessarily a 100% accurate representation of nudism's present.

Might I remind you also that The American Nudist Research Library in Kissimmee, Florida, houses a vast collection of nudist magazines dating back to the early 20th Century.

That having been said, the issue at hand is the exploitation of nudism by companies selling photos and videos of nude children, and by clubs hosting highly sexualized events such as Nudes-a-Poppin.

Were some of the old nudist magazines exploitative in their day? Absolutely. But when measured against the problems facing nudism and naturism today, these old photos seem pretty quaint.

And don't forget to count up the number of men and women pictured in the publications of AANR, TNS and FCN to be sure that everyone is adhering to the gender balance rule.

Paul Rapoport said...

We may give in to the political negativity about naturism and children or we may challenge it. We don't have to remove all photos of naked children, nor plaster them everywhere indiscriminately (for example). There is much middle ground.

Every organization will decide what to do. The practical matter and the larger picture must be balanced.

Certainly it's important to point out in the NM story that much of what's reported has nothing to do with naturism --- not sit by and just let it go. What's the best way to do that?

Nudiarist said...

Paul,

I never said that we should remove ALL photos of nude children. There is nothing indecent about the human body, no matter what age.

What I object to is the marketing of these photos for prurient interests. If you can mount a defense for russianbare.com and how they are contribute anything to the nudist and naturist movement, then please do. But I think that what they do is indefensible.

In the past we've both noticed that AANR has scaled back on the number of images of children on its website and in its bulletin. This is an example of giving in to "political negativity", but AANR is basically operating from an appeasement mode when it comes to public opinion.

As for the situation in New Mexico, all nudist and naturist organizations should do press releases condemning these people as child abusers, and insist that they should not be referred to as "nudists". Unfortunately, the orgs lost control of the word "nudist" years ago, because everyone from toddlers to streakers to flashers are commonly given the moniker. "Look at the cute little nudist", or "that dirty old man is a nudist".

Nudists and naturists need to find some way to take back the term, or abandon it altogether. Let the Grand Barn, Ponderosa Sun Club, Caliente and their like use the word "nudist", and all family-oriented resorts and clubs adopt the word "naturist". Some sort of clear distinction needs to be made.

Alonzo said...

> And don't forget to count up the number of men
> and women pictured in the publications of
> AANR, TNS and FCN to be sure that everyone
> is adhering to the gender balance rule.

I don't know about AANR or FCN since I don't belong, but the photos in N Magazine of TNS seem pretty balanced and representative. So much so, in fact, that from time to time someone will rag on them for printing too many pictures of "fat old people."

Nudiarist said...

Alonzo, I do agree with you...I was being a bit facetious. I don't think I've ever had a particular problem with anything TNS has published in the past few years. One could make an issue about all the advertising which generally only includes only young, attractive people, mostly women, but that's taking "political correctness" a bit too far, IMHO.

Perhaps the ad for nipple and genital jewelry in the most recent issue of NUDE AND NATURAL could be construed as sexualizing body parts, but that doesn't particularly bother me, either.

Blogger in the Buff said...

I must say I'm surprised that the Junior Miss Pageant is on the list of explotational events and groups. I was a contestant as a teenager myself and there was nothing that I remember that I would consider deviant in any way. The pageant is about smart, active, poised, talented, and happy girls winning college scholarships. It's not a beauty pageant by any means and I don't remember a swimsuit event.

Blogger in the Buff said...

If I might add a suggestion from someone who is admitedly not up to speed completely on this particular circumstance? Although Stephane certainly should be held accountable for his own actions, maybe the other board members should be enlightened as to the opinion of other naturists who are offended by such. Bringing those board members out into the spotlight and letting them feel the pressure may assist in influencing their decision making in the future.

Nudiarist said...

Hi Blogger,

That would be a NUDIST Junior Miss pageant, featuring nude young girls. Not to be confused with the one sponsored by the Jaycees.

jackjones said...

Just because a deviant looks at naturist material inappropriately, does not make the material inappropriate.

Drunks buy alcohol, murderers buy knives, and many parents foist junk food on their kids.

So I'm not going to tear up, or hide naturist photos, just because there are some screwballs out there.