Today's Photo: Weekly Cartoon Click to enlarge!

A Matter of Conscience

Protest in the Battle for Reef Beach - Australia
Would it be wrong to coerce freedom loving Americans to wave flags in support of a totalitarian dictatorship, to require people to wear a "Union Yes", button, even if they are opposed to a union, or to coerce school children to wear arm bands in support of a war they believe is wrong?  Would it be wrong to deny Christians the right to wear symbols of their faith, or to force non Christians to wear symbols of Christian faith?  Would it be wrong to coerce a person that finds homosexuality to be abhorrent to wear a ribbon symbolizing gay pride, or conversely coercing someone who is gay to publicly wear something that symbolizes homosexuality is abhorrent?  Is it wrong (as happens in some countries and ethnic communities) to force women struggling for freedom and equality, to wear face vials and volumes of clothing?  Was it wrong to force Germans who opposed Hitler and the war to wear the swastika?

For many, wearing any clothing when there are moral, practical and comfort reasons not to, communicates the idea that there is something shameful, wrong or indecent with certain parts of the human body. Or conversely that the body is a sexual object to be exploited.  (For example: drawing attention to the genitals, buttocks, and breasts is a clear and will understood purpose of most modern swimsuits.) These ideas are morally offensive to such people, and are why they object to themselves or their families having to wear clothing at a beach, park, gym, or swimming pool, etc., even in their own house or yard!  If people are coerced to act contrary to their conscience, by having to wear clothing they find offensive and objectionable, is this not just as wrong as the examples above?

Nudity has been common for many activities such as swimming, sports, and much physical work through most of human history.  The reason it has became unacceptable is people in power forcing their will on others.  As an example consider the swimming suit, it was invented by Augustus Brozzi in the 1830's for one purpose only, to cover nudity that he and others considered to be indecent.  The only reasons most people started wearing swimming suits were the laws passed by those in power who also considered nudity indecent and because everyone else (especially the "elite") were doing it (i.e. keeping up appearances).  The reason clothing such as swimsuits are worn, by most people, today is simply because everyone else is wearing them.  However, for many the only reason they wear swimming suits (and other clothing), is that they are being coerced against their conscience to wear them!  How?  Because they risk arrest, even imprisonment, if they don't wear them! (An Eskimo will buy ice in winter, if arrest and/or prison is the alternative to not buying it!)

Our bodies are inherent, basic, and fundamental to us all.  When parts of the human body are labeled as indecent or obscene it is an attack on human identity, acceptance, and worth.  The result are people with feelings of insecurity, disconnectedness, and shame instead of security, confidence, and acceptance.  Is it right that people are forced to pass negative, destructive, offensive attitudes and feelings onto their children, because some outspoken people consider certain parts of the body (rather than thoughts or actions) to be indecent?  Is it not a violation of free speech and fundamental rights to force people to wear clothing that goes against their beliefs? Would you want to be forced to wear a costume like those of many Muslim women, because people in power considered ALL of the body, including the face, to be indecent?

Existing sociological and psychological evidence indicates that the acceptance of non-sexual nudity (resulting in the demystification of the body and sexuality) is beneficial.  Cultures with greater acceptance of nudity show lower incidence's of sexual deviancy and crime including rape and child molestation, as well as people with remarkable emotional health.  In 43BC Publis Syrus said: "To feel shame is a sort of slavery" Today, many people feel enslaved to shame because of laws that call mere nudity, rather then behavior, "indecent."  Vicki Underland-Rosow, Ph.D. says: "Shame does not make a person a better member of society but, rather, promotes dysfunction individually and systematically."  How can someone take a stand against body shame when they are forced to wear clothes that represent body shame or risk being arrested?  It's past time for people to stop being coerced, by law, to wear clothing that symbolizes ideas that are morally offensive to them.

Whether you personally agree or not, for many people a preference for nudity is an expression of their belief that the whole body is decent and should not be covered in shame.  If you want the right to express your conscience or beliefs free from coercion, it is important that you support the rights of all to express their conscience and beliefs free from coercion.  It is not morally right to for anyone to expect others to limit the free expression of their conscience because some find their view objectionable.  This happens on many different issues from religion, to human rights, to economics and more, around the world.  Sadly, as this case in point testifies to, it happens in the U.S. (land of the free?) as well, could it happen to you?  What if those in power decide to control and limit your expression of free speech and/or conscience because they find something you believe objectionable?

Support the rights of all by speaking up for freedom, by voting, both on issues and for candidates that have a record of supporting individuals freedom, and by supporting organizations that promote the rights of all to be able to freely express their conscience.  We, the ClothesFree International (CFI), the Naturist Society, and The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) are all organizations, promoting body acceptance and/or speaking out for your freedom to live free from shame.  Please support some or all in their work.

ClothesFree International, Inc.
PO Box 1096
Oakhurst, CA 93644 USA

The Naturist Society
POB 132
Oshkosh, WI 54903

 1703 North Main St.
 Kissimmee, FL 34744-9988

*Battle for Reef Beach and Samurai Beach Carnival photos courtesy of The Free Beach Association of NSW which is working to promote naturism in Australia.  For more information on the Battle for Reef Beach click here.