Nudity is the Future

Someday in the near future, no later than 2040, you will go to the beach and see more than a few people not wearing a bathing suit, or anything else for that matter. People will be able to get their mail in the buff, sunbathe their bare butts in their own backyard or skinny dip in their own pool, without fear of harassment, jail time, or offending anyone except hardcore church goers, who by that time will represent only a fringe minority.

Attitudes toward sex and nudity have been skewing left for hundreds of years, and like Moore’s Law of accelerating computer power, these changes are also accelerating. I mention computer power because history has shown, time and again, that the greatest catalyst for change is technology. The women’s liberation movement and the feminist movement could not have started without the opportunity for women to work, something that became more prevalent after the turn of the century with the advent of new technologies. No longer needing to prove themselves physically capable, women could take jobs as telephone operators, typists or machine operators (in World War II). Without the need of a father or husband to provide for them, women were free to fight for equal pay and the right to vote. The same technological development helped to drastically change morality. With the invention of the Pill, the sexual revolution spread like a virus (no irony intended) across every city in the country, and with it, a change in beliefs and attitudes. Virginity before marriage was no longer expected of a woman and even the “one night stand” has lost its stigma. While conservatives argue against this “declining” moral landscape (certainly unwanted pregnancies is a negative side effect) the fact is, these changes were inevitable. They were inevitable because basic human needs and desires cannot be repressed. It is the same reason Americans have become so obese. We’ve evolved to crave fat to survive long winters without food. Now that food is in abundance, we find it almost impossible to resist the urge to do what is in our nature, despite the knowledge that heart disease is our #1 killer.

I recently had the fortune to read an article in Cracked, “The Five Craziest Ways Men Have Censored Female Sexuality.” It’s certainly a must read. But what really stood out for me was how Islamist countries like Iran fight to repress human nature. Censors paste cartoon shirts on all of the female characters on the show Lost, because tank-tops are just too arousing. Even things we would never consider sexual, like a man and a woman sitting on a couch or the bulge of a woman’s blouse, is deemed unacceptable. Iranian censors will even blur a closeup of a woman’s face. No matter how many things the Iranian government tries to omit from TV and movies, boys will find something to be aroused by, because sexual desire comes from within. It’s only natural that after puberty, an increase in testosterone in the pituitary gland will make a man think of sex, and make him see things, almost anything, as sexually appealing. Trying to repress this instinct is a lost cause. It’s plugging up a pressure cooker bound to explode. The irony is that, by making everything taboo, everything becomes a forbidden fruit. Essentially, Iranian censors are creating the sex crazed society they are trying so desperately to prevent. No wonder a man can claim overwhelming desire as an excuse to rape. In a country where a woman’s face is blurred on TV, imagine the effect of a XXX image on an innocent Iranian boy? But wait, we don’t have to imagine, because of a new thing called the Internet. With the click of a mouse, Muslim boys and girls can see things that would make their grandparents faint. Just look at how women are using this new technology to fight the injustices of Sharia Law. The battle against free information cannot be won, as history has proven again and again. The only recourse is acceptance, and acceptance is a good thing, because human nature is in the right. Honest, open, free information results in the good of any society. As nudists, we find nothing inherently sexual. Nudists are desensitized to the stimulus of the human body (which is still arousing, but never overwhelmingly so), so that the act of sex develops naturally, by getting to know a person as a person.

The Internet is changing more than Islamic society, however; it’s changing ours as well. The last irrational, moralistic taboo in America is that of public nudity. There is no difference between an Iranian woman being arrested for going out in the streets without her hair covered and an American woman being arrested for stepping out her front door without a top on. Nobody can give a rational explanation for anti-nudity laws. The government uses, instead, abstract terminology like “disturbing the peace” or “public indecency”. Without realizing it, we criminalize nudity on strictly moral grounds, based on ancient and outdated religious biases that have no place in a modern society. Often, this irrational attitude is harmful to our children. Pedophiles use the nudity taboo to their advantage; since their victims are taught never to discuss their genitals, most of these crimes go unreported. On the opposite end of the spectrum, one married couple had their two children taken away for months by Child Protective Services after dropping photos at Walmart of their kids playing in the bathtub.

In the following decades, the nudity taboo is going to join every other archaic taboo we no longer recognize. This change is already taking place. In 1992, it became legal for a woman to go topless in New York City, even in downtown. One female reporter, going bare breasted in the streets, found that most people were supportive. In San Francisco, a law to ban public nudity only passed by a narrow margin. Just type “nudism” into Wikipedia and see what comes up. Or check out deviantArt, where nudity is acceptable as long as you post a warning. Even this blog features nudity, without Google making a fuss, as long as nobody complains. Contrast this to just two decades ago, when my USF Nudist Club website was deleted without warning by AOL. For good or ill, the biggest change will come from pornography. While porn has been around since ancient times, it has never been so accessible. A recent TED talk pointed to the proliferation of porn viewership among boys as young as ten. A study was attempted to compare boys who had seen porn to those who hadn’t, but the study was unsuccessful because there were too few boys who had never seen porn! The ten year olds browsing porn sites today will become, by the year 2043, our police officers, our judges and our lawmakers, and they will certainly be unable to find the human body indecent or criminally offensive.

While modern nudism has been around since the 30’s, and modesty differs from person to person and between time and place (even today, many women prefer a one piece), bathing suit trends have been exposing more and more skin. What was deemed indecent in the 1800’s became commonplace in the 1900’s. The thong bikini, legal on many beaches today, was inconceivable decades before. While many women (and men) will continue to buy and wear suits decades after the year 2040, more enlightened people will recognize the folly of naked shame and choose simply to go without. By 2100, bathing suits will seem as silly as the beachwear of the 1800’s.

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2040

To Kindle or Not to Kindle

To Kindle or not to Kindle . . . ? That is the question.

Whether we like it or not, technology is pushing us forward. There was a time when people invented things out of need. Fire. Burial. Clothing (unfortunately). Now it seems corporations cram new technologies down our throats every other week. Being a Luddite/naturist, I’ve resisted unnecessary changes to the way we live our lives, especially when it comes to the timeless tradition of reading. Since the dawn of papyrus, which was first hammered into shape by the ancient Egyptians in the 3rd millennium B.C., and later by the Phoenicians of Biblos (hence the Greek word biblos, which means bible or book), people have been transmitting information via ink. Sure, TV and Internet have come along, where one might choose to read the CNN app or my blog, but those things pose no threat to the written (literally) word. Now, as soon as you walk into any Barnes & Nobles, you are visually assaulted by their e-book kiosks (their brand is called the Nook). You might think B&N doesn’t want you reading paper anymore, as if they’re embarrassed by the countless tree corpses stacked in their stores. Of course, what company can resist the lure of selling something that costs $0 to mass produce? The potential savings on printing made possible by the electronic book has driven book sellers to push and push and push this new way of reading, despite near universal disdain for it. People like the “feel” of paper, the heft of pages left behind and pages left to go, the pride felt when you set down a weighty tome knowing you’ve mentally devoured the whole of it. You simply don’t get that feeling of accomplishment with an e-book. Until recently, e-books were also quite a strain on the eyes. Just look at this blog right now. Really look closely at the text. Feel the strain? Even as a writer, I have my concerns about e-books. Junk novels are popping up all over the place, which makes it harder for seriously tortured writers like myself to get noticed. After all, if it costs next to nothing to publish, everyone will start doing it. Without the vetting provided by agents, editors or publishers, quality work is bound to get lost amid the dreck and people on the fence about reading will likely pick up their X-Box controllers instead. Yes—e-books are a thing of the devil, a product of pure greed made by big corps. to cash in big. Plus, you know, tradition.

Then I came upon the Kindle Paperwhite, and virtually no more eye strain, since the Paperwhite produces an image near identical to real paper. You really have to read it to believe it. Also, if I have to be honest with myself and my naturist principles, I cannot continue to condone the murder of trees for the sake of publishing. E-books will certainly save a lot of forest. There are also pragmatic concerns even I can’t ignore. For instance, my shelf is quite literally full. I have no place left in my room to put books, unless I start stacking them on the floor or egads! start getting rid of my action figures. With the Kindle, I can store my entire collection in my hand, and if anything happens to the device, Amazon logs my every purchase for future (and free) downloading. Best of all is the dictionary feature. Most adults don’t bother learning new words (unless you’re a writer); picking up the Oxford English Dictionary each and every time you come across an obscure reference is just too time consuming, not to mention heavy. I am currently reading the second part of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, and I am quite befuddled by some of the more archaic terminology the author uses. Before the Kindle, I would have likely glossed over words like palfreywain or gorget—now I can press my finger to the page and viola! instant definition.

Does this mean we can do away with all our paper books? Not necessarily. A world without paper is a poorer world indeed. And I am a big proponent of touching. If I ever run for president, my platform will be, Vote for Alimonos, For a more touchy, feely society. Plus, should we ever come upon a global apocalypse, where all electricity is wiped out and we’ll be forced to live as naked primitives (secretly crossing fingers), it will be nice knowing our literary heritage and history is safely preserved on paper.

In summation, the e-book is not the end of society as we know it. Despite its birth from greed, it has its inadvertent plus side. Give it a chance and it just might surprise you. The world is changing, after all, and just like the Sumerians, who likely argued in favor of clay tablets, You can write cuneiform much faster with sticks than with a quill! we must learn to adapt to new ways of sharing our stories.

Here’s a few pros and cons to using an e-reader:

Pros:
– Stores all your books in one place
– Much lighter to hold than most books
– You don’t have to hold it open / you can hold it with one hand
– You don’t have to worry about ripping a page or spilling a little bit of water on it
– Read while eating by propping it up on a table
– Less weight for travel
– Feel better about the environment
– Instant dictionary option

Cons:
– Intangible pages
– Eye strain (a bit, even with the Paperwhite)
– Less sense of accomplishment
– Nothing to display on your bookshelf
– Covers look awful (will likely get better)
– Hard to share books with others
– No page numbers (really?)
– You don’t want to get a lot of water on it
– Battery life / need to recharge it
– May break completely
– Useless without electricity
– Not as good for killing roaches