Does nudity offend you?

Glen Ocean West
Latest posts by Glen Ocean West (see all)

Disclaimer: The opinions of this article do not necessarily represent those held by Nude Movement Incorporated, its board members, sponsors, partners, donors, or those held by friends, family members, colleagues, employers, clients, lawyers, service providers, or any other entities associated with such parties. This blog is intended for open thought and diverse discussion of difficult issues with a goal towards positive social change. The opinions of this author may change over time, and different authors may exhibit opposing views. We invite you to have an open mind.


I got pulled over by a policeman on the side of the road the other week.

He took my breath. He thought I was drunk.

One of the reasons he thought I was drunk, was because I was nude.

As he approached my car window I covered my penis with my towel.

The conversation went something like:

Policeman: “Why are you naked mate?”

My reply: “I love being nude.” (I reveled in my honesty and pride.)

Policeman: (In expression of shock and unreasonableness) “Did you know that trucks and SUVs of a sufficient height with children in it can see you nude?

My thoughts: Why would children care?

Policeman: “What if you suddenly had an accident and had to get out of the car to help someone on the road?”

My thoughts: If someone’s life needs saving I’m pretty sure nudity is the last thing people are going to be concerned about.

My reply: “I’d put my shorts back on.”

Then there was some more back and forth, about how, from my point of view, I didn’t believe I was doing anything illegal under the law of ‘willful exposure’ in the jurisdiction I was driving in – even quoting a case that had tested the law that ended up being thrown out of court.

Policeman: “Any reasonable person would find your nudity offensive.”

My thoughts: Not this reasonable person.

My reply: “Well I’ve got a lot of thoughts on everything you’ve just said and I’m not sure if you want to hear-“

Policeman: “No I’m not interested in hearing what you have to say.”

My thoughts: Gee, thanks policeman. So you think you are the law and I’m not? I thought the law was interpreted in court – by judges – not you or me.

Policeman: “I’m going to be looking into this. Expect a possible summons in the mail about the nudity.”

My thoughts: Excellent, a chance to finally test this in court!

The letter never came.

Of course it didn’t. He had no proof I was driving naked.

So I expressed my appreciation at him looking into the matter, and wondered what he would find. I and my lawyer know what exactly he would have found.

In reflecting on this, I understand how this man felt. He felt a sense of duty. A duty to do the right thing. By the law.

Well I feel a sense of duty too. A duty to do the right thing. For humanity.

And in that light, I don’t want to prod the law before society is really ready to support it. It’ll hurt the chances of non-sexual public nudity having its beautiful light of day again. It’s been a long night since the open nudity days of Sparta – or men and boys bathing nude in public everywhere until just 100 years ago.

We have to promote nudity strategically – in show of numbers, in special events, in protests, through seeding trends, by capturing zeitgeists – and doing it in major, media-grabbing ways. This is exactly what Nude Movement plans to do.

And in hindsight, I can empathize with the policeman’s non-legal take on the matter as well. Maybe he is right – most people are still ‘offended’ at seeing an unclothed person in public.

But is it really true? In this era of 2016 – when people enjoy Game of Thrones as entertainment, send snapchat dick pics and watch pornography openly as a cultural norm, with sex increasingly liberal and free – is this assumption from that policeman all that accurate?

I wonder what the stats would be if a worldwide poll was done.

Why not ask your friends and coworkers – people whose view you didn’t already know – would they be ‘offended’, shocked, appalled, morally outraged – to the degree of ringing the police to have a naked person locked up, fined, or put on the sex offender register?

Is the law out of date? Does nudity offend you?

(Image courtesy of Aleta Rodriguez used under Creative Commons licence

22 thoughts on “Does nudity offend you?

  1. jochanaan1 Reply

    In my discussions with non-nudists, one theme often returns: What will *others* think? It’s as if people aren’t really personally bothered by seeing a nude person, but they have this conditioned mind-script that plays out whenever nudity comes up in conversation, that says nudity will create social disruption. Now, any experienced nudist knows this is false. But getting people to reexamine that script is extremely hard.

    If we were to do a survey, perhaps a few carefully worded questions might uncover this mental script that, much more than personal distaste, seems to control the conversation.

  2. Nick Reply

    In some ways I do understand the policeman. It doesn’t happen very often that you encounter someone naked behind the wheel, and when it happens I can imagine that there’s a chance that he/she’s on drugs or booze.
    The policeman also needs to decide on the spot whether this is acceptable or not (they don’t know the law by heart).
    The thing is, how do you define acceptable? Who decides this? It’s all about convincing the majority.

    Currently here in Belgium, walking drunk on the streets is allowed as long as you don’t bother anyone. Walking naked on the streets is forbidden and you might be considered a pervert, exhibitionist or even pedophile. Walking drunk and naked on the streets is also forbidden because you’re “bothering people”. But people won’t care because they’ll blame your nudity on you being drunk.

    I’m not sure if provoking will do any good.
    Over here there is one day in the year when all naturist sites are open to the public. I think this is a great way to show the world that nudism is’t something weird, but actually a lot of fun…

  3. Bob Knows Reply

    Being “offended” is not a justification for government force. Muslims are “offended” when someone walks their dog. Does that mean the American government should arrest and punish people who walk dogs? Or, does it mean that the “offended” person needs to mind his own business and get a life. Prudes are “offended” at seeing a human being much as Muslims are “offended” by seeing a dog. Its none of the government’s legitimate business.

  4. Daniil Egle Reply

    Before we, nudists or naturist start to push our lifestyle on others, we should get to the core of why people are offended by the nude bodies. There are countless reasons, but at the core of these reasons is fear. People build walls around themselves because of fear of this or that. The walls, for whatever purpose they were built, themselves became a norm. Most people don’t remember why they like closed doors in their room, or office, but if you enter without knocking, you will be given a speech or even yelled at. If it is became a norm that all the doors in the office are closed, then if one decides to keep his/her door open, he/she will be confronted with an inquiry, “Why do you keep your door open?” They will, in their complaint, use various logics that are far from the true reason for why they are offended by your open door. If their logic is weak, and you can easily disprove it, you will only prove that you can keep your door open, but the person will be twice as mad at you, because people will not question their sanity when they are sure they are sane and right. And you become the person in who’s presence they feel not sane or not right, you become a personal enemy. There’s no winning a person’s heart by telling them that they are wrong. If a person is offended by your actions, see if you can comply, you will win a friend, at least you wont create an enemy. If we want nudism to be accepted, we better show understanding and friendliness. Because if we don’t, the nudist will be associated with all kinds of vices, and not without a reason. Some people are not open to discuss nudism, but they’re open to become your enemy, don’t give them reason enough to do so, don’t push your agenda on others. If your nakedness offends someone, don’t argue that you have the right, or that there’s nothing wrong with it, just put your closes on and apologize. Kind behavior will be the best advertisement for nudism.

    1. jochanaan1 Reply

      Perhaps. But did “kind behavior” get civil rights laws passed? Or win independence for 13 colonies in 1783? Some of us are getting tired of waiting for folks to listen to us when we tell the truth about simple nudity.

      1. jovan1984 Reply

        This! Thank you, jochannan1!

    2. Glen Donnelly Reply

      My own removal of fear from my body and my psyche and my mind and my culture is why I knew I could start Nude Movement.

      We are going to tackle all these issues.

      Consent and tolerance and boundaries and respect is a complex issue. It applied to the gay movement and it applied to the civil rights movement. It applies to all disagreements.

      It’s a multi-stranded game.

    3. Brian-theBird Reply

      I’m not able to agree with this conclusion. Willingly deferring to the cultural “norm” seems to me to do far more to reinforce the norm than to promote our right – not just our desire – to be non-aggressively, non-intrusively nude. There are clearly times to cover up, times to defer to others’ sensibilities, but we cannot make a blanket statement to that effect.

  5. Jay Reply

    Having recently gotten the nerve to enjoy the nude experience at a nudist resort I must confess it was nothing like I had feared. The most refreshing experience in my life. I didn’t not feel the need to check out anyone or worry about my appearance. The problem is not the nude human body, but the thoughts and preconceptions people harbor in their minds.

  6. Reuben Titus Reply

    I think the wrong question has been asked. People can pretend offense at anything for any reason, and once they pretend offense it becomes real offense to them quite soon. A persons feeling of offense can be as flighty and changeable as their emotions. Therefore offense is no standard to judge right and wrong actions by. We should ask; Is it right or wrong to be seen naked outside of your private quarters? Then we must ask; What is the standard we need to go by to determine whether it’s right or wrong. The laws of the land are one standard, but they are changeable according to the whim and opinions of those making the laws, they are supposed to represent the will of the people, but frequently don’t. Still no real standard there. There’s one more standard many of us go by, which is the only one that’s left of any significance, that book called the Bible. Dig through it looking for references on nudity and we find many passages using naked as an illustration of a detrimental spiritual condition of the heart. The few passages dealing with physical nudity reveal that; It’s the original perfect state of mankind, naked in the garden. It’s the condition we long to return to, and are promised we can return to it if we accept the terms. Otherwise it’s completely irrelevant, and one time God actually required his prophet go naked 3 years as an acted prophecy. So by Biblical standard it’s not wrong at all and actually quite desirable sometimes. So I would have to ask those who think they are offended with nudity. What standard are you going by to set your standard of offense?

  7. pipermac5 Reply

    We are up against deeply-ingrained thought-patterns, many of which were ingrained in the person from an early-age. When I look at my neighbor-gal’s attitudes towards nudity, they very-much mirror my own attitudes towards nudity before I became a naturist. We were brought-up in much the same way by deeply-religious parents, and she has the added burden of childhood sexual-abuse.

    I respect her by not appearing at my door nude, and she respects me by “warning” me when she comes over. It took her a while to get used to seeing me shirtless, but she has made that transition. She has also come to accept that I am a naturist and being able to say “Have fun” when I go to Cypress Cove. The first time I told her that I am a naturist, she said “That is just plain WRONG!” She will NEVER become a naturist because she is a diehard-textile and I understand that.

    A little bit of respect DOES go a long way.

  8. phil Reply

    Is the law out of date? Yes
    Does nudity offend you? No

  9. ' rel='external nofollow ugc' class='url'>John Kellard Reply

    I personally have been a nudist most of my life. Today I am 90 years old and still sleep naked every night. I am naked at home as much as I can always with the thought of not offending my significant other. Respect is it’s name. I must tell you I know Naked Life style is not’s my feeling nudism is away of one’s expression to a feeling not experienced by people not indulging in being naked.
    Go out and do your thing it’s a great feeling to expose your body to Mother Nature.

  10. paul ainsworth Reply

    nope born naked in an ideal world die naked

  11. Daniel Kidwell Reply

    I was pulled in over Vermont for speeding last month. Noticing the towel over my lap, the officer asked the same question to which I gave an answer to yours Glen….”I’m a nudist and enjoy every opportunity to skip the clothing”. Knowing the local law, his simple response to me after a short pause….”cool”. After running the usual computer checks, he returned from his cruiser and politely reminded about the local speed laws. He also did NOT write me up a speeding ticket. So there is a future Glen. I agree with you that being pleasant and choosing your moments brings dividends.

  12. Walter Green Reply

    Daniel. I envy those living in states like Vermont. The laws there do not make public nudity illegal, only local munincipal regulations/laws have made it illegal. In Maryland you would be charged with indecent exposure. I find this humorous, as I have NEVER seen an explaination anywhere in Maryland law defining indecent exposure. It seems that any nudity is automatically judged as such by police and judges have the final say based on their own moral code and nit Maryland law. I would love to find all the laws pertaining to nudity in Maryland, it’s counties and it’s munincipalities.

    I also want to learn about the Nude Movement, and may wish to join.

  13. Pete Reply

    There are already some thoughtful posts about cultural issues that impede acceptance of nudity. Unfortunately public nudity is also linked to criminal, insane, or drug-induced behavior. And the sight of a penis generates anxiety that is entirely disproportionate to the situation. I believe nude women are more acceptable due to exploitative interest by men.
    People do not understand that for the most part, the nudist/naturist demographic are peaceful and gentle people. It would be interesting to investigate how this issue has proceeded in Spain where it is considered a basic right to go about nude. I’d like to know how widespread nudity is and how the general population has responded.

  14. David Colantuono (@David4Nudist) Reply

    I admit that, when I was young, I used to feel uncomfortable with nudity. Back then, I was taught that nudity was either sexual or for private matters. I suppose, back then, I might have said I was offended by nudity. But then, I was also quite curious about it…and for all the wrong reasons. Fill in the blanks how that turned out.

    It wasn’t until about eight to ten years ago that I finally discovered nudism and learned that nudity was not always what I had been taught as a kid. However…I have issues going on with me and, long before I learned about nudism, I was a hardcore addict to the worst thing imaginable. Fill in the blanks what I’m alluding to. Now…nudism did ease up my addiction for a little while. But, it didn’t last long when other problems in my life turned me back into it. To this very day, I still am addicted to it, though I am trying to slow down.

    Unfortunately for me, there are many things that can make my mind think sexual thoughts. Many of them have nothing to do with what I’m addicted to. Pretty much anything EXCEPT non-sexual nudity can do that for me. I will say that implied nudity (especially shower scenes from movies and TV shows that suggest one is nude without showing anything besides head/shoulders and/or lower legs/feet) also triggers such thoughts because my mind then tries to imagine what the entire person might look like from head to toe.

    I know this is hard to explain, but I’m doing the best I can here. When suggesting nudity or keeping clothes on, my mind tries to fill in the gaps and that can cause sexual curiosity for me…which can lead to me giving into my addiction. That has happened far too many times. It’s not what you see, but what you DON’T see that can easily trigger curiosity. What are they hiding? What’s underneath? Even though I know what equipment males and females have, each person is different and the equipment they have can look different from others. When I see actual nudity, that curiosity is satisfied and I no longer have to wonder what’s underneath. That, in turn, kills off any lustful thoughts and it gives me a break from my addiction.

    The point of this is if nudity were the norm, I strongly believe my addiction would be brought down to a minimum. Only reason it wouldn’t be cured, once and for all, is because, even if nudity were the norm, there would still be people out there who would be uncomfortable/offended/etc. that they would remain clothed and would likely not want to see others without their clothes for various reasons. Another point to this is that, outside of the thing I’m addicted to, nude people do not cause lust for me (unlike clothed people). That said, I’m not offended by nudity. Yes, I know I’m unique, unusual, weird, etc., but that’s the way I am. I’ve been like this for too long and I don’t see any chance of that changing in my lifetime. Sorry for making this post very long, but I felt the need to say what I needed to say. I hope someone understands me and why I am the way I am.

  15. howtolookoknaked Reply

    Both my wife and I are sometimes naked at home. Our daughter sees this and of course being six years old she has no problem with it. Our nudity is never gratuitous and we never hide it. We act as if we were when wearing clothes. We both feel that this helps her develop a healthy attitude to nudity.
    I can’t say much for the prudes here in Queensland as nudity is banned and men will be fined. Oddly, women do not get fined. Maybe because the female form in all its shapes and sizes is not considered offensive. Here we need to wake up and see that the male form in all its shapes and sizes is also unoffensive.

  16. Lee Reply

    Law is out of date i hate being resteicted by clothes make it an option

  17. Fred Reply

    It is interesting that California has no statewide anti-nudity ordinance. Instead we have a patchwork of city, county and parks ordinances and regulations that vary in restrictiveness, severity and consistency of application. Something can be legal in town and illegal on the beach. You can be naked in an organized protest (with demonstration permit) or in the production of art (just get permission in advance) but don’t you dare walk down the street that way just because you want to. That’s ticketable.

    At least it isn’t a felony and almost never a misdemeanor, just an infraction. It isn’t a sexual offense either. State law does prohibit lewd behavior but the courts have ruled that simple nudity is not lewd. Hence World Naked Bike Ride and nudity in Bare to Breakers is permissible.

    A well done survey that would reveal useful information would not be neither cheap, nor easy. However it would still be useful.

  18. TeamSalamander Reply

    Nudity is a trigger for my ptsd. I have a hard time explaining that so I usually just feel very uncomfortable and experience symptoms. Eventually I sequester myself and work to get grounded again. I was a child witness to sexual assault and am now entering my thirties. I need boundaries to feel safe.

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