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Body Acceptance?
Anxiety is a state of uneasiness, apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening event or situation.  Advocates of social nudism say nudity promotes body acceptance, the very opposite of anxiety.  For the most part this is true.  Yet, there is a very common source of anxiety for males regarding social nudity.  One that most U.S. nudist clubs, organizations, and experienced nudists do little to alleviate.  It is expressed well in frequent questions such as this:  "My wife and I want to visit some nude beaches and such but I am afraid I will be walking around with a major stiffy the whole time.  Can anyone tell me if this is normal or should I even worry about it? This is the only thing preventing me from going so far.  Is this normal ?"

This is a very common fear, one that very likely prevents many from trying social nudity.  It is said that nudists accept each other as individuals, without the artificial barriers imposed by society.  Again for the most part that is true and one of the great aspects of nudism, but this issue shows that many nudists aren't as accepting as they would like to believe.  Responses, to the question of erections, such as these are common...

"The problem looms larger in a newbies minds than it does in reality, the nudity at nudist clubs and beaches is non-sexual, so it usually doesn't happen." - While it is true the nudity at nudist clubs and beaches is non-sexual, and erections don't usually happen in a nudist setting, is it because the nudity there is "non-sexual", or for another reason?  Most of life in the clothed world is also "non-sexual" yet it is still common for most males (especially younger ones) to get spontaneous erections, even in very "non-sexual" places and situations.

"If it happens just be discreet, lay on your stomach for a while, jump in some cold water, or cover it with a towel" - While many nudists claim to accept all parts of the body, this attitudes shows that not all do.  Having to be discreet and cover a spontaneous erection implies there is something wrong, shameful, or offensive about an erect penis, as opposed to a flaccid one.  This is counterproductive to promoting true body acceptance.  However until a majority of nudists understand this, it is indeed best to be discreet by laying on your stomach for a while, jumping in some cold water, or covering it with a towel.

"The fear is normal.  It's also usually unfounded (the anxiety alone makes it unlikely)."  Ah, this gets to the real hart of why erections are so seldom seen nudist clubs or beaches in the U.S., "anxiety."  While the penis is normally flaccid and males in fact won't be "walking around with a major stiffy the whole time" even many older nudist males won't take a nap in a public area at nudist clubs, for fear of getting an erection while sleeping (a very common if not universal occurrence).  This demonstrates anxiety not acceptance!

What causes this anxiety about erections?  Basically the same thing that causes nonsexual nudity to not be an everyday accepted thing in this society.  The perceived or real negative (a.k.a. non-accepting) reactions of other people.  When a newbie hears that "Nudist clubs are non-sexual, so erections don't usually happen", "Nude is not lewd, it's not cool to walk around with a stiffy", "If it happens just be discreet, lay on your stomach for a while, jump in some cold water, or cover it with a towel", etc., etc. they perceive that others will not be accepting if they get an erection.  That causes anxiety which prevents many erections in itself.

If that's not enough hearing about or seeing the real negative reactions of others toward erections will prevent most others.  Reactions such as a nine year old boy being told by a nudist club owner he had to wear shorts while at the club or he and his family would have to leave because the boy was having frequent erections, or a teenager and his family being kicked out (without warning) for lewd behavior, simply because he kept playing pool with his family, without covering his erection when it was his turn at the table.  Both of these are real incidents, and just two examples of many.

Adolescents are already sensitive about changes happening in their bodies, nudist adults should be striving to help them feel good about these changes.  One of the things that happens as adolescent males go through body changes is frequent spontaneous erections.  Instead of putting them at ease most teen males who join their families at nudist clubs in the U.S., wear at least shorts virtually the whole time they are there.  By wearing shorts these kids aren't demonstrating body acceptance (if they were they wouldn't bother with shorts), they are demonstrating discomfort, embarrassment, and anxiety!  I know from personal experience and from talking with teens, that this discomfort and anxiety is caused by the concern of others reactions if they get an erection.  If they were not concerned about that many of them would gladly dispense with the shorts.  Many adolescent nudist girls also go through a stage where they aren't comfortable nude at clubs either, is this related?  Could it be that because many nudists don't accept natural changes in a penis, that girls are more sensitive and embarrassed by changes happening with them.  This is mostly speculation on my part, but I do know of nudist families that don't cover erections at home, where neither their sons or daughters went through a cover up phase at home, but these same kids did not want to go to clubs for a while and stayed clothed if they did go!

Why do many nudists, clubs and organizations, that promote a lifestyle of body acceptance, respond to erections in such a non-accepting manner?  It is partially a holdover from the nudity equals sex messages pounded into this culture, that they haven't come to terms with themselves.  Erections, even more than nudity, are perceived to be exclusively sexual.  Therefore, since most nudists emphasize that social nudity is non-sexual erections aren't considered acceptable.  If all erections for all males, of all ages were the result of intentional, conscience sexual desire, I would agree that they shouldn't be accepted in a social nudist environment.  However, that is not even the case for most males, let alone all.  Spontaneous (as opposed to intentional) erections can unexpectedly happen for males at the most non-sexual times and places, not just when consciously desiring or engaging in sex.

Open sexual activity and lewd behavior is no more welcome or appropriate at a family nudist club or beach then at any other family club, park, or beach.  However, while nudity is less sexually enticing (or teasing) then many clothes (such as swimsuits) human beings are still sexual beings, nude or clothed.  Any environment were humans interact has the potential for someone to become sexually aroused.  If a male does have an erection (even one caused by conscience sexual arousal) it is how he behaves when aroused (erection or not) that can be lewd and irresponsible or decent and responsible.  Hiding a spontaneous erection (as if it itself is wrong) is a sign of insecurity and/or anxiety.  Having to hide a spontaneous erection or risk being kicked out of a club is a sign of others insecurity and lack of full body acceptance.  It should be behavior alone that determines if someone is being lewd.

Some think that if erections were accepted the Radical Religious Right would get all nudist clubs and beaches shut down for sure.  Is that true?  While sexual behavior can get clubs and beaches shut down, erections in and of themselves are not behavior.  Again a person can behave lewdly or decently with an erection, just as they can while nude or clothed without one.  Regardless, the RRR types already have their minds made up.  Such people are not very open to understanding the value of body acceptance in promoting true sexual morality.  They believe nudity promotes immorality, even though the facts show that it is their promotion of body shame that promotes the hidden, secret immorality, that is devastating this society, including child abuse.  A few erections (and that is all it would be since the penis is flaccid most of the time) aren't going make these people any more convinced of what they believe, then they already are.  (note: While most religious radicals in the U.S.  call themselves Christians, don't confuse them with Christians.  If someone calls them self a Martian, that doesn't make it true.  Christ said: "All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another".  1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 explains what love is, religious radicals don't exhibit the characteristics of love.)

Is it possible that the non-acceptance of erections is hurting the growth and acceptance of nudism in the U.S.?  Well consider this, who has historically been at the forefront of societal revolutions and social change?  Young men, although young women are now becoming more influential in social changes, it has historically been young men.  Young people are usually at the front of social change because they have more energy for promoting what they believe in or want, and they also have less responsibilities to tie them down then older people.  Okay, so what does that have to do with how the non-acceptance of erections effect the growth and acceptance of nudism?  Simple, young men have much, much, much more frequent spontaneous erections then older men.  Even though they like to put up brave fronts and rebellious attitudes, young men are sensitive to what others think, ESPECIALLY regarding this part of the body!

When boys learn that erections aren't accepted at nudist clubs it makes them more self-conscience and insecure, rather than self-confident and secure.  It can make them feel ostracized, like they are a freak or deviate because of something their body does that they have little to no control over.  It can also cause a great deal of anxiety over what would happen if someone saw them with an erection, would they get kicked out for being a pervert?  Again, I know this from experience as a nudist youth, as well as from talking with other nudist youth.  Although I enjoyed being nude and could see the benefits of accepting the body rather then being ashamed of it.  This was one area where the nudist ideal fell apart for me in my teens and twenties.  Rather than being unconcerned and accepting erections as natural and normal, I hated it when I got one at club.  I became extremely self-conscience and afraid I could get kicked out, like I knew others had been, if someone noticed.  This anxiety didn't exactly result in my promoting this great lifestyle of "acceptance" as a youth.  It's little wonder so many nudist youth drop out of nudism, rather then staying with it and becoming strong promoters of it.  Fortunately I saw the value of the nudist philosophy and lifestyle, in spite of this weakness.

What a difference the situation in Europe is compared to the U.S.  In Europe erections seem to be generally accepted without comment in nudist areas, unless someone is behaving in a lewd manner.  I've even heard of young boys (under ten years old)  going around showing them off with great pride, with no one telling them to cover it, that it is wrong, indecent, or bad.  In this type of environment boys learn that their body is acceptable regardless of whether they have an erection or not.  Partially as a result of this most youth and young adults raised as nudists continue to actively and enthusiastically participate in the nudist lifestyle, rather then drop out (some do wear shorts, but most don't), and nudity is also far more accepted by the public.  The interesting thing is there are still relatively few erections!  Why is that, I think it's simply because most males in Europe know they don't need to be concerned about it, so they are genuinely more relaxed.  Thus it doesn't happen that often there because they are at ease and accepting of it rather then because they are anxious about it.  Now that's the way nudism should be and hopefully one day will be here in the U.S. as well.