At a recent party of about 20 people put on by my friend Craig, who is not a naturist, I discovered 3 other members of the Southeast Michigan Naturists in attendance. I had not known any of them were acquainted with Craig. Well, what a happy reunion! Since it was not our party and Craig never offered to allow nudity, we did not suggest it; but the four of us were not shy about talking about naturism and having other people listen in. Nobody was shocked or perturbed by the conversation and some were interested.

Why then are many naturists reluctant to acknowledge to the world -- even to their family and friends -- that they enjoy and participate in nude recreation? Some undoubtably have real concerns such as an estranged ex-spouse who might use naturism as an excuse to limit the naturist's contact with their children or a teacher who worries for her job, although, even in a profession as sensitive as teaching, that fear is not realistic everywhere. Here in Ann Arbor, a teacher in the Ann Arbor Public Schools was quite open about being a naturist. Obviously, she did not discuss it in class, as a teacher would not discuss her religous beliefs and practices in class; however, she often sat in at our very public "Michigan Nude Beach Advocates" information booth at the Ann Arbor Art Fair and would be greeted by her middle school students and their parents. Of course, she had tenure in a somewhat tolerant city. A teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan, even tenured, might not fair so well. So the concerns of some naturists are legitimate, but need we all be so concerned?

Perhaps a few feel that naturism, while indeed fun, might have some negative effects on children or society. Despite their own experiences or perhaps because of insufficient experience, they feel that on some level the prohibitions against social nudity must have some validity, for why else, they think, would society so adamantly protect itself from public nudity and the depiction of nudity; yet any research on the matter indicates that naturism has nothing but positive effects. For example, Dennis Surgue, Phd,clinical professor of psychiarty at the University of Michigan Medical School, states in his book, Sex Matters for Women, that nudity in the home is natural and not harmful. If any of you have even the slightest thought that simple nudity might be harmful to children or to society, do go to the Naturist Society's website for a more exhaustive discussion of naturism's benefits to society.

Those who ardently believe that nudity is bad for society and children are inexperienced in social nudity and also over-sexualize their environment. Their attitudes toward sex can be positive or negative. For example, a swinger couple contacted me about attending the Southeast Michigan Naturists' swims but decided not to attend when told that children may be there. "My wife says she would feel wierd and so would I to be naked around children," wrote the swinger. Well, while there are a few polyamorists in naturism, we know that most swingers are not naturist as swingers often aren't actually comfortable with simple nudity. The few naturists whom I know to be free lovers are able to separate simple nudity from sex -- probably because they are experienced with and knowledgeable about naturism. People who are actually hostile to nudity have had negative experiences with sex: abuse from a relative, rape, or being the abusers of others. I know people -- even my sister -- who, because of past sexual abuse, are adamantly opposed to my being nude around them. Nonetheless, so long as I respect that wish, we are able to have good relationships. None of them excoriate either me or my involvement in naturism. They don't care what my beliefs are so long as I don't practice naturism in their presence. Nor does my sister want me discreetly practicing naturism at her lake even when she is not there, for she believes that everyone else feels as she does so she does not want her neighbors "insulted" by mere suspicion of my nudity.

But are my sister's concerns valid? Are most people offended by nudity or even the discreet practice of naturism? Many naturists act as though it is true. Where do we get this idea that everyone but nudists is offended by nudity? Why do so many naturists believe that they will be ostacized by friends, family, and society if it is revealed that they practice social nudity?

The idea comes primarily from two sources.