Monday, August 3, 2015

Do Comments on Nudist USA Today Article Reflect The State of Things? Hope Not

The Bare Platypus apologizes if another nudist blog has already dealt with this.  We're just getting caught up responding to an article that appeared in the July 11, 2015 online edition of USA Today about the World Record Skinny Dip.  More accurately put, we're responding to the comments that followed the piece.

See, if you follow this link to USA Today World Skinny Dip Article you'll find that the writer for "the nation's largest newspaper" did a relatively nice job of preparing an upbeat description of the event.  No major complaints here.  In fact, the story seemed to capture the spirit of Shangri La Resort in New River, Arizona and the fun of skinny dipping.

The issue is when one starts to read the comments to the story - about 50 in all.  While there were a few positive statements, most were very negative and declaring why the reader(s) would not want to visit.  And the comments fell into three main categories:  (1) Older people should never be nude or go to nudist places;  (2) People with pounds to lose should never be nude or go to nudist places; and (3) Children should never be nude or go to nudist places even if accompanied by their parents and raised that way.

Now, we're well aware of the phenomenon of "internet trolls"... those who write the most incendiary things they can in the hopes of drawing the ire and response of someone... anyone.  In nearly twenty years working to promote the nudist way of life, the Platypus was well-familiar with criticism too.  In fact, decades ago the threat was that "Nudism should be against the law. Period."   Viewed against that backdrop, we suppose, one could view mere derision as "progress" of a sort.

Yet in all the time that passed, the idea that one shouldn't be a nudist unless the public would get something out of looking at you seemed far more secondary then.  Sure, there were offhand comments.  But most of the pro / con debate seemed rooted in questions of morality, e.g. whether it was "okay" to allow nudism based on religious grounds or avoiding something "obscene."

We have to ask, trolls notwithstanding, do the comments reflect a proportionate share of societal views these days?  Would it be okay in John and Jane Q. Public's eyes to have nude beaches as long as we could assure them that only young, beautiful people would participate?  If there were protocols assuring that no one with wrinkles, or overweight, or under 18 would ever appear on those beaches or in nudist clubs, would the objections of the average US voter fade?

If so, we think that's sad.

Really sad.

We can fathom the person who says, "My mom didn't raise me to think that was okay." Or, "The preacher would preach against that where I come from."

But a "rule" against going naked unless the viewer is going to be pleased by what they see or think they should see?  It's a different mindset.  It amounts to, "If I can't stare at a person that person has no business being nude."

This is the antithesis of what a nudist believes, of course.  If the viewpoint of a growing number of people aligns with this "don't bare unless you're a 'looker' " philosophy where do we go from there?

We would never have remained in the nudist industry for long if we paid too much attention to what everybody else thought. But we also took "bare-o-metric" readings on culture in the form of Gallup Polls, Roper Polls, and all manner of surveys so that we could refine the message we made to the world.

Right now?  We're just gonna be shaking our heads for a while.