Thursday, 19 April 2012

When Being Nude Means a Death Sentence

On International Women's Day 2012 (March 8) a group of women launched The Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar in support of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy.

In October 2011, Elmahdy, a 20-year old Egyptian university student, posted a full-length nude photo of herself on her blog in a protest against free-expression and her society's attitude towards women.

The reaction was, not surprisingly, intense and polarizing.  Elmahdy's blog received millions of visits. She became the target of enumerable death threats. But she also received extensive support from individuals and women's rights groups including a group of Iranian women and men who risked death by posing nude with slogans against Islamic rule.

The calendar project is the brainchild of Maryam Namazie. On her blog she explains that "with Islamism and the religious right being obsessed with women’s bodies and demanding that we be veiled, bound, and gagged, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance." The calendar was designed by Toronto's Sonya JF Barnett who co-founded SlutWalk. (a movement that has since expanded worldwide)

The other women featured in the calendar are mother and daughter Anne Baker and Poppy Wilson St James, teacher Luisa Batista, We are Atheism Founder Amanda Brown, atheist bloggers Greta Christina and Emily Dietle, FEMEN activist Alena Magelat, photographer Mallorie Nasrallah, actress Cleo Powell, freethinker Nina Sankari , writer Saskia Vogel, and mother Maja Wolna.

To purchase a copy of the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar via Paypal, click below. Your support is important. BUY A CALENDAR TODAY! Proceeds will go towards supporting women’s rights and free expression.

Note: Because some websites like Facebook would censor this blog if we showed full pictures of nudity, none of the images referenced are shown. However, if you follow the links, you can see all the original photos.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

100 Years Ago

Dressed appropriately for the beach in Toronto 100 years ago.
All this talk about the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic has made me think about the history of naturism. You can see in the various photos of the time just how restrictive and uncomfortable clothing was. Not even the period's bathing suit offered a respite. In their 1931 book, Among the Nudists, Frances and Mason Merril observed:
"...there never was such a thing as a comfortable bathing suit. Wool scratches, cotton grows heavy and sags as soon as wet, and silk becomes slimy and nasty to the touch; either a suit is so tight that it cuts, or else it is so loose that is flaps and bags as soon as you enter the water."
When you remember that those bathing suits usually covered you from ankle to neck, that description becomes even more vivid. So the initial motivation for naturism/nudism was comfort and health. John Langdon-Davies, (1897–1971) the British author and journalist, wrote The Future of Nakedness in 1929. In it he makes the argument that the future of humankind is to be naked:
"Science, always the destroyer of good breeding, has discovered or rediscovered the uncomfortable fact that nakedness is a medicine for the sick and an inspiration for the healthy; that clothes, far from being the ramparts of a beleaguered city, are the investing army striving to encompass its fall; that a coat, a pair of trousers, and a waistcoat are barriers between the starving, hard-pressed tissues within and the relieving army come to raise the siege."
Of course, that was certainly an outrageous thought in Europe at a time where a man never displayed his bare chest and a woman would not dare to even show her ankles in public. Yet by the time the Titanic sank, Heinrich Pudor (under the pseudonym of Heinrich Scham) had written Nackende Menschen (Naked People) in the 1890s and Richard Ungewitter had published Die Nacktheit (Nakedness) in 1906. (which reportedly sold over 90,000 copies)

When the Titanic hit that fateful iceberg at 11:40pm, Paul Zimmerman's Freilichtpark Klingberg, north of Hamburg, Germany, had already been in existence for nearly a decade. It was founded on a philosophy of nude healthy living: fresh air, sunlight, frequent physical exercise, vegetarian diet, no smoking and no alcohol. Jan Gay described her visit with Zimmerman at Freilichtpark in her 1932 book, On Going Naked. She complained of the regimented exercise schedule and the "unsatisfactory" vegetarian meals. The Merrils were far more appreciative in their description:
"We had come to Klingberg for a few days–to see it. We had stayed a month, leaving at the last possible minute and curtailing our stop in Hamburg to one day. We had sacrificed not only such an inveterate habit as meat eating, but several weeks of our long-planned tour, for a physical rest and benefit, a mental peace and joy that we had never found before. For a month we had played like children."
At that time already, you can see the developing difference between mere nudists and those with a naturist philosophy. At the end of their book, the Merrils observe:
"The naturists, advocating a life in accordance with natural laws, consider the practice of nudity a useful hygienic measure, though not the most important."
But regardless of whether it was naturism or nudism at that time, the foundation of the movement was physical. The psychological benefits (acceptance of self and others) came later. Perhaps people didn't have as much body shame back then. Or it could be that they didn't recognize until later the emotional damage that this shame creates. It is certainly clear from the photos and writing of the day, that pre-WWII naturists and nudists sought physical perfection. (as did mainstream western society) But while today we recognize the damage that body shame causes, it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Everyday we are bombarded with messages that make us feel ashamed and insecure about what we look like. Media sexualizes and objectifies our bodies. More than ever, we need naturism as an antidote to all those ills that afflict our world.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

"Naked, With Children" Brouhaha

Globe and Mail article by Aviva Rubin

On April 1st, Toronto Blogger Aviva Rubin wrote an article in the New York Times about how they are casually nude in their home with their children.

Apparently she was unprepared for the intense reaction she received. In a follow-up column in today's Globe and Mail she explains how she is "used to my parents providing advice and constructive criticism on my parenting methods – whether I agree or not, they've earned the right to weigh in. But it seems that putting “Naked with Children” in public gave the whole world that right."

I've posted a comment from a naturist's point of view.  Since the G&M lists them by default based on the number of "thumbs up", please feel free to give it one if you agree:

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Volunteer Day & Members Meeting

Naturist Volunteers

As announced in September, the members' meeting was moved from the fall to the spring because it works better for everyone.

Spring is also the time for our annual volunteer day. We really appreciate the multitude of people willing to give up their time to make Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park a better place. While there are many people volunteering all year, this is the day we set aside for a massive volunteer effort to get things ready for the season. We are told that it is also a fun day that many people look forward to.

Since the people who volunteer are often also the ones who come to the members' meeting, it made sense to combine the two.

Saturday May 5, 2012

Volunteer Day - 10am to 3pm

  • Everyone is welcome! Lunch will be provided, free of charge, for all volunteers.
  • There will be projects suitable for all abilities and levels of ambition.
  • Non-members who volunteer will not be charged any day fees. (please register at the office)

Members' Meeting - 3pm to 5pm

All members are invited to come and get an update on what's happening at Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park and ask questions.

Euchre Night - 7:30pm to 11pm

The Bare Bistro, along with Marc & Suzy B., host their regular Euchre Night