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Is nudity a right? What kind?

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  • Is nudity a right? What kind?

    The "performance" of LadyGod1va on the plinth in London included a sign that read, "Naturism - It is a human right." This got me to thinking. Some of the fuzziness in our defense of naturism as a "right" is that we never quite get a handle on what kind of "right" it is. Is it a "self-evident" individual right? a civil liberty? a civil right? a constitutional right? a cultural right? a human right?

    Let's start with the big picture. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR) actually codifies global consensus for two broad categories of rights. The first part covers civil and political rights, the second covers social and cultural rights. The right that naturism demands concerning clothing one's own body isn't mentioned specifically, but might fit under several categories. Browsing through the 30 articles can give an idea of how this might fit in the general framework. So how might we defend naturism within the framework of official "human rights"?

    We however tend to imagine "human rights" as much grander, more akin to the “natural rights” associated with Greco-Roman "natural law" and which led to the US concept of " life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But, in fact, the direct offspring of "natural rights" are "civil rights." This came in three waves. The first, associated with the Enlightenment and various "revolutions", basically focused on freedom of speech and religion. The second, associated with revolts against 19th century unregulated capitalism, focused on the right to work and to an education. The third, associated with decolonized countries after WWII, focused on community solidarity rights such as to political self-determination and economic development. These themes are reflected in the UDHR. So can we figure out a way to define nudity as a "natural" or "civil" right?

    "Civil" rights are nowadays hardwired to prejudice and discrimination. Civil rights are those rights that enable each citizen to participate on a free and equal basis with all other citizens. The overall mix of such rights provide legal protection from private and government discrimination based on such things as race, religion, and gender. Recent additions. based on the idea of characteristics that are immutable or beyond individual control, include disability and sexual orientation. I recently heard of a case in Tennessee where a teen girl was told by her parents to "drop" her best friend because the friend's family were naturists -- sounds like pretty pure prejudice to me! What specific kinds of discrimination do naturists face (eg. in education, housing, employment)? Is public nudity in some way essential to exercising equal citizenship?

    A naturist might think that "cultural" rights and other community solidarity rights might offer some support to naturists as a distinct community, but these so far have been used to protect cultures uprooted or overwelmed by a dominating culture, eg. the Indigenous Rights Movement, rather than sub-groups within the dominant culture. Naturism however is a well-established community, with a chronicled history and with officially organized representation at local, national and international levels. Does naturism thus qualify as a cultural right of a repressed minority?

    "Civil liberties" are distinct from "civil rights" in that the "rights" involve obligations for government that ensure equal participation, whilst "liberties" refers to guarantees of free speech, due process of law, etc that limit the power of government to arbitrarily limit individual choice. The combination comes down to structuring laws so that the freedom of one person does not infringe on the rights of others. This is a conundrum familiar to naturists who are constantly told that they can't be nude in public because others have an equal right not to see naked people. Is nudity an identifiable "civil liberty" arbitrarily restricted by government? Under what guarantee? Where is the line with competing liberties?

    The thread that runs through all this for naturists is ultimately a consensus growing from antiquity to the present that no community or philosophy can justify certain kinds of behavior against another human being (eg. torture), no authority can arbitrarily limit certain kinds of individual rights, and that no social or political system can cause a human being to renounce or lose certain "eternal and inalienable" rights. Since there is no more fundamental entity in a community than the individual, it could be argued that one such "eternal right" is the sovereign individual choice of each person about whether or how to clothe one's own body. But this has two dimensions -- "how to clothe" (less controversial) and "whether to clothe" (more controversial). Is sovereign individual choice to manage one's own body beyond or outside standard definitions of rights?

    LadyGod1va says that naturism is a human right. Nudity is provably "human", but can we put it in some "human right" category? Is it linked to some other basic right embedded in our culture? Is it in our country's constitution? Is it essential to citizenship? Is it an individual choice which government or community are banned from interferring with or restricting? Is it a right so fundamental that it is beyond codification?

    If we want nudity accepted as a "right" within our communities, what kind(s) of right exactly is it?
    Last edited by Agde; 10-19-2009, 10:01 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

    We have as much right to go naked as others have who want to have us clothed. I thought it extremely unfortunate and a real twist of human character that allowed gays to have "rights" before we did.

    We should be able to walk down our street in the summer time without someone calling the cops on us to have us arrested for "indecent exposure" or "disturbing the peace". Go tell God that what he created is indecent, folks. What's disturbing about a naked person? We just have these little traditions fixed in our minds, and this is disturbing to those traditions. What if kids see us? What's so awful about that? They just MIGHT make a connection between organs they see to how sexual intercourse takes place. What's so terrible about that?

    To blatantly have sex in public, that's disturbing the peace and morals. Sex ought to be private, not for public consumption.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

      I left a comment with the video. I think she was very brave to do what she did and that she did a good job handling the people who made stupid comments.

      I think that nudism is only ever going to be accepted when we reach a point where the average person sees it enough and often enough that they start to take it for granted. Shock value wears off if you are exposed to something enough. But people only ever see nudity through the media, where it is presented either as advertising to titilate, or in news articles showing nudists as some sort of weird cult at best or a group of loons at worst.

      I mentioned elsewhere in these forums that I think we need to get out there and be seen and heard more. We need intelligent, charismatic, well-spoken people who can make the case for nudism in a way that the average person can understand. I don't think we need to be aggressive about it, but we need to be much, much more visible and we need some good PR.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

        Originally posted by RalphVa View Post
        We have as much right to go naked as others have who want to have us clothed. I thought it extremely unfortunate and a real twist of human character that allowed gays to have "rights" before we did.
        When you find societies publicly declaring to outright kill people for being naturists, let me know; I certainly haven't heard of any. And when I can go a week without hearing about someone being attacked, beaten, or killed simply for being gay, I'll let you know.

        It isn't a matter of precedence, simply a matter of extremes: those groups that are persecuted more violently tend to both fight back more strongly and garner more public sympathy. Thankfully, naturists aren't actively hunted down, whereas various racial and sexual minorities are (at least by some groups).



        On the issue of rights for naturists: the biggest problem (as is usually the case) is the cultural norms imparted by the major religions, many of which did everything they could to control and/or restrict sex and anything even remotely associated with it, generally in the interest of controlling monarchs and/or the powerful. If you look at most of the major social movements - race discrimination, sexual discrimination, gender discrimination, child rights - religions can be blamed for most of the initial causes or dissemination.

        In the USA, I believe the right to be nude should be covered under "freedom of expression", in much the same way that personal dress is covered - nudity is, after all, just a state of dress. That is, theoretically, an extension of the primary notions of "liberty" and "pursuit of happiness". One could certainly argue that the simple state of nudity cannot be considered lewd behavior or a lewd act because it is neither an act nor a behavior - it is a state. I suppose in some situations it might be considered threatening, but even that generally requires interpretation of intent by a judge or jury.

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        • #5
          Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

          Ralph

          We should be able to walk down our street in the summer time without someone calling the cops on us to have us arrested for "indecent exposure" or "disturbing the peace".
          I should be able to walk down the street, with my kids, and in the confident knmowledge that we are not going to encounter a sight that we consider to be offensive and obscene, namely somebody exposing their genitals.

          To blatantly have sex in public, that's disturbing the peace and morals. Sex ought to be private, not for public consumption.
          Nudity is OK but sex is not. How do you work that out? I think that both sex AND nudity belong in the private domain, not for public consumption.

          Stu

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

            Originally posted by Stu2630 View Post
            Ralph



            I should be able to walk down the street, with my kids, and in the confident knmowledge that we are not going to encounter a sight that we consider to be offensive and obscene, namely somebody exposing their genitals.

            Stu
            Some people used to say it was offensive and obscene to walk into a restaurant and be met with the sight of a black man. Yeah, I know "apples and oranges", but I think I'd call it more "tangerines and clementines". Different, but with similarities.

            Somebody "exposing their genitals" is offensive to you and I have to right to judge you on that, but I will point out that at one time, seeing a woman's bare ankle was shocking and sexually arousing. Genitals are offensive to you now because the society we live in says it is so. If we were all regularly exposed to non-sexual nudity as part of our daily lives, it would become the norm.

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            • #7
              Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

              Arnabas

              Some people used to say it was offensive and obscene to walk into a restaurant and be met with the sight of a black man.
              The differences are absolutely fundamental. A person is naked because he chooses to be naked. A person does not choose to be black. That makes nudity akin to a voluntary behaviour.

              Somebody "exposing their genitals" is offensive to you and I have to right to judge you on that, but I will point out that at one time, seeing a woman's bare ankle was shocking and sexually arousing. Genitals are offensive to you now because the society we live in says it is so. If we were all regularly exposed to non-sexual nudity as part of our daily lives, it would become the norm.
              Norms alter according to time - and according to the society in question. But that doesn't mean we should just dismiss or abandon all cultural sensibilities. We regard sex as a private activity in our culture, but it has not always been so and there are some (primitive) societies in which it is not viewed as strictly private - it is even performed in front of children.

              If cultural norms are to change, it should be evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary change, and it should be a change that people want themselves rather than one which an interested minority wants to impose on them

              Stu

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                Originally posted by Stu2630 View Post
                A person is naked because he chooses to be naked. A person does not choose to be black. That makes nudity akin to a voluntary behaviour.
                Stu
                A person is clothes because he chooses to be clothed. We are born naked. What about gay people who "choose" to be that way? Can they walk down the street even though some say they didn't choose to be?

                The main question I have is why are human genitals offensive to you when naked animals genitals are not? Both are made by God and intend no offense.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                  Soundman

                  We are born naked.
                  I fail to see the relevance as to how we are when we are born. We are also born incontinent, dribbling and wailing, but that's not how grown-ups behave in public.

                  What about gay people who "choose" to be that way?
                  Firstly, I think there is now pretty conclusive evidence that people don't actually "choose" to be gay.

                  Secondly, being gay is about the inner feelings and desires of the individuals concerned - it's not something which is generally shoved in people's faces. If a gay man started speaking openly about his sexual antics with his partner, people WOULD find that offensive.

                  The main question I have is why are human genitals offensive to you when naked animals genitals are not?
                  For the same reason that seeing a dog taking a poop in the park is not offensive to me (if the owner cleans up afterwards) but seeing an adult human being doing that would be offensive. I also don't have a problem seeing the bull mating with the cows in the field near my house, but if the farmer was doing that in the field with his girlfriend, I'd be pretty shocked.

                  Both are made by God and intend no offense.
                  I don't believe in all this "God" stuff. If I did, I would also point out that God invented mating (and sex between people) and human and canine pooping. That doesn't mean such sights should be acceptable in public places.

                  Stu

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                    Originally posted by Stu2630 View Post
                    I don't believe in all this "God" stuff. If I did, I would also point out that God invented mating (and sex between people) and human and canine pooping. That doesn't mean such sights should be acceptable in public places.

                    Stu
                    I am not talking about pooping. I am talking about something that IS acceptable in certain areas already for a good reason.

                    Also, who are you to decide what is acceptable in public places. We have the same right to try to change public standards for the better.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                      Soundman

                      I am talking about something that IS acceptable in certain areas already for a good reason.
                      There is nothing wrong with it being acceptable in certain areas. I just don't believe it should be acceptable generally in public places.

                      Also, who are you to decide what is acceptable in public places.
                      What right have nudists to decide what should be acceptable in public places? You comprise a very tiny minority.

                      We have the same right to try to change public standards for the better.
                      You want to change public standards in a way that is better for you. Otherwise, it's only your opinion that a tolerance of public nudity is a good thing. I would suggest that most people don't think public nudity ios a good thing or something which is acceptable.

                      Enjoy your nudist places - fight for more of them - but other public places belong to the whole community and the pervading community standards should apply - and be respected.

                      Stu

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                        Originally posted by Stu2630 View Post
                        I should be able to walk down the street, with my kids, and in the confident knmowledge that we are not going to encounter a sight that we consider to be offensive and obscene, namely somebody exposing their genitals.
                        Ignoring the sight of genitals, do you have that now? I don't think so. Every time I'm in a large group of people I see numerous things that are offensive. I went to a car show a couple months ago and there was a man wearing a shirt with "**** You!" written in huge letters. I see women walking around town wearing shorts that barely cover their butts. People swearing in the park around children. Teenagers blaring Rap music in public parks, gas stations, etc.

                        Your argument that you should be able to go somewhere without being offended is weak. You don't have it now, you never will have it. Anywhere you go, in public, there is very likely to be at LEAST one thing that will be offensive to somebody. Why should any group of people have a greater right to "offend" those who don't understand than another? How about all the things you do in public that may offend others? Are you aware of the possibility that your own actions may cause offense?

                        I would say those who do offend mostly don't intend to cause offense, although some do. Those who listen to deafeningly loud rap music probably just believe that it's best heard that way. Those who wear skimpy clothing obviously believe it looks good in some way, and believe that most of the attention they get is positive. Nudists don't do so to get any sort of attention at all (other than those who are also exhibitionists), we just feel more comfortable without clothing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                          Lord Drakkus

                          I went to a car show a couple months ago and there was a man wearing a shirt with "**** You!" ...People swearing in the park around children.
                          These would be a criminal offences in many European countries - and so it should be.

                          Teenagers blaring Rap music in public parks, gas stations, etc.
                          If the music is so loud as to be causing a nuisance, then that could be criminal, too.

                          Your argument that you should be able to go somewhere without being offended is weak.
                          No, it's a matter of preserving civilized values in public places so that everyone can use them, and take their children into them, without feelimng discomfort.

                          How about all the things you do in public that may offend others? Are you aware of the possibility that your own actions may cause offense?
                          I don't swear, play loud music, have sex, wear obscene t-shirts - or expose my genitals. I make sure that the things I say and do in public are unlikely to offend anyone other than the most exceptional and aberrant individuals, for whom it would be impossible to cater.

                          Nudists don't do so to get any sort of attention at all (other than those who are also exhibitionists)...
                          I appreciate that - but you KNOW that nudity does offend people, so be nude at home, or in public places allocated for nudist recreation.

                          we just feel more comfortable without clothing.
                          And your nakedness has the potential to make others feel very uncomfortable. That's why there is a compromise and nudists have places set aside for them to enjoy where they won't upset anyone.

                          Stu

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                            As an addendum to my previous post: to legislate offense should be considered by legislature as whether the offense is real or perceived. To use your argument of defecating in public, that is a true offense. Doing so anywhere other than in sanctioned areas, i.e. a toilet, where it's placed into water and then sent to a treatment station, is unsanitary. According to medical professionals human feces is considered biohazardous material, whereas dog and cat feces is not. This is due, in large part, to all of the additives in the foods we eat. There is no "acceptable" container for human feces, such as "pooping in a newspaper" and throwing it into a trash bin. That bin way fall over, spilling it's contents, and then you have a biohazard in the middle of a public place. Definitely not acceptable.

                            Nudity, on the other hard, is a perceived offense. All scientific evidence regarding nudity points to the fact that nudity by itself is actually quite healthy, for both the viewer and the one who is nude. The offense is in the mind of the viewer contradictory to all of the evidence so far obtained. This would imply that legislating against it is not just discriminatory, but unhealthy for society as a whole.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Is nudity a right? What kind?

                              According to medical professionals human feces is considered biohazardous material, whereas dog and cat feces is not.
                              That is demonstrably untrue. Dogs' digestive tracts are far shorter and wider than human ones in order for the bacteria to break down the (mainly) animal flesh diet they have, so their faeces are replete with delights such as escherichia coli, staphylococcus aureus (which can pass on gastroenteritis and even cholera), not to mention the dreaded toxocariasis, which causes human blindness! For centuries in virtually every European city, people lived in streets with open sewers running through them, and they emptied their "chamber pots" straight into the street below them. No it wasn't a healthy thing to do, but people tolerated it. These days, anyone who nurses babies, people who are extremely sick or disabled and the senile elderly has to handle human excrement as a matter of routine - and that includes the mothers and fathers of new born infants! Since we have enjoyed the benefits of flushing toilets, we have become overly sensitive to the presence, smell and sight of excrement, even to the extent that we don't allow other people, including close family, to be present in the toilet when we open our bowels. This may have begun as a revulsion which evolved to protect us from infection, but the present sensibilities we have now well surpass the extent of the dangers.

                              There is no "acceptable" container for human feces, such as "pooping in a newspaper" and throwing it into a trash bin. That bin way fall over, spilling it's contents, and then you have a biohazard in the middle of a public place.
                              A sealed polythene bag would be fine. That would probably be even more hygeinic than using certain public toilets I have had the misfortune of visiting! In spite of the arguments, I think we all know that one major reason that emptying one's bowels in public is not acceptable is the human response of revulsion that it provokes. That is, at least in part, a learned behaviour, which can be unlearned. Do we want to see that? Do we want to see open toilet cubicles in public conveniences? Of course not!

                              Nudity, on the other hard, is a perceived offense.
                              All offence is "perceived". The very nature of offence is something that occurs in the mind of the offended individual.

                              All scientific evidence regarding nudity points to the fact that nudity by itself is actually quite healthy, for both the viewer and the one who is nude.
                              Would you like to show us this "scientific evidence"?

                              I hope it isn't just the notion of a "healthy attitude" etc, because that is pseudo-science, as what one "expert" says is a healthy attitude, another says is not. I have been coming here for several years and, so far, nobody has shown me a scrap of evidence that nudity is physically healthier than wearing clothes.

                              Stu

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