Naked or nude?

Is there a difference between being naked or nude, in private or in public? John Berger makes the case: “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others… nudity is placed on display.”

This highlights the perspective that the protesters are naked for their own cause, using the historic value of nakedness as the expressing truth and innocence, while the media are seeing the riders as on display for the public’s benefit. Can one std-125611521.vziayiup-bcbe both, or is being naked or nude a binary state? Is it possible to be yourself, while others see you in their own way?

Can we ever be free of the ‘considered opinion’ of the judgments of another, unless, as John Stuart Mills said, we stand firm for our inalienable right to hold an alternative view from the ever popular “tyranny of the majority”, regardless of the potential personal cost to the individual and thus society itself.

Having the freedom to clothe your own body in the way you see fit, and not from the dictates of prudish, guilty and shameful thoughts, is a step towards personal freedom for everybody. We actually can use our own bodies and minds in the way we each choose, but we need to believe in this as individuals, and to know this as an inalienable civil right.

Naked or nude as a public nuisance?

This is what Vincent Bethell’s Freedom to be Yourself campaign , started in 1998 in London, was concerned with, and after spending five months in solitary confinement awaiting his court appearance for being a ‘public nuisance’, he insisted on attending court naked. This was a jury trial, and he was judged by a panel of his peers, who unanimously found him not guilty of the charge. While the presiding Judge George Bathurst-Norman warned him darkly: “I would not go away too much with that idea”, he also appended the crucial: “It is simply not a public nuisance in these circumstances.”

Notwithstanding the judge’s hesitating support for the defense, essentially this was a great victory for the cause for freedom of choice where individualism, and public nakedness, is concerned.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Naked in a public space

The photographic images presented here tell the tale of the ride itself, as well as a few of its related stories, and each “picture is worth a thousand words”. Indeed, many images from the WNBR are truly excellent and belong in the photo-std-2011_0611wnbr0078-bcdocumentary slot of any comprehensive photographic library purporting to be representative of modern times, and we present a frustratingly small selection of these images for your curiosity here.

However, there are still some people who wish to join the WNBR and yet not take part in the photographic record, which seems to be an untenable position in principle. This is a very naturist kind of outlook, the wanting to be naked and wanting other people to see, but not wanting anyone to take a photograph, for some unspoken, half-guessed at reason. At a WNBR event, this approach just does not wash.

Naked in public

When someone is naked in a public space, and when that person is clearly taking part in a massively advertised protest event, which event is expressly designed to attract the media, photographers and news reporters from all around the world, there is very little credit to be had from complaining when someone takes a photograph. I don’t think anyone would assume this opinion to be valid legal counsel for photographing naked people in public in every country around the world, but certainly anyone who attends a WNBR event has almost certainly voided any reasonable claim to privacy, and it’s almost certain the law courts would take a similar view in any sensible case.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Voyeurism

Shall we say goodbye to all the Big Brother and American Idol style TV shows, because ‘they encourage exhibitionism or voyeurism’. Never mind whether these shows are morally uplifting, or not, according to the dictates of the repressed std-125594771.d9onfni5-bcand deviant mindset of the puritan hypocrite, clearly these ideas are supported with enthusiasm by the general population and people vote with their feet, their television control units, and their internet browsers.

And the vote is they want to see someone who wants to be seen. Exhibitionism and voyourism are intrinsically linked in our genetic make up, and we see this effect in our social environments, whether private or public.

Voyeurism by the media

Voyeurism is the same charge leveled at the media when they click frantically, capturing all the bare naked flesh on show at a typical WNBR, only to have publication in their newspapers denied because of the editors who fear their advertisers and their readership, or their paymaster. What man doesn’t want to gawk at the naked ladies? What woman doesn’t want to peer sideways at the naked men, and pretend she’s not looking? Of course any public naked event can be seen as a gay boys’ paradise, as there is usually a predominance of naked men than naked women, although in London particularly the numbers are more balanced. But is this important?

Does it matter whether someone, somewhere might be a little excited by seeing a printed image of a naked person on a bicycle, whether they are gay or straight, male or female? I applaud the many women who take part either to support their menfolk or to support the WNBR itself, just as I applaud the many men who continue to pioneer the original concept of non-sexual public nudity

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

People take photographs

A new set of issues are of course raised by being naked in a public space and having people take photos of you.

First of all, it’s not always possible to know the precise reasons behind every camera, the intentions of the photographer; secondly, you have to ignore the possibility of someone finding the images exciting, because running your life on the basis of what other people think or find titillating is a very sad state of affairs to be in; and thirdly, horror of horrors, what if someone from work finds out? std-101_5131a-bcReally, most of us don’t live in the repressive and hypocritical Victorian or Biblical eras any more, thank goodness, and people are generally much more mature in their knowledge of nudity these days. I recall a recent employer of mine discussing a project, where there was need of some confrontational joviality to lighten the mood, and knowing my penchant for naked activities, suggesting we do a naked Maori Haka for the other half of the team. Clearly the idea of being naked at work is not as outrageous as some would have us believe. A little unusual perhaps, but after all, when the boss suggests it, who are the workers to argue?

Regardless of the many possible answers to the question of what use a photo will be put to, or who will see you, it is important to keep in mind that the WNBR was created with the express intention of attracting media attention to the event explicitly through the use of nudity. Indeed, the images of naked protesters at the WNBR are a heart-warming testament to the conviction of masses of people to put their bodies ‘on the line’, and almost certainly ‘online’ also, for a common cause, to take a risk and be naked in public for a public cause, on behalf of our environment, for all of us. One’s very own five minutes of fame.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

The WNBR message of enjoyment and fun!

One of the clearest messages one gets from looking at images of people participating in the ride is that they are all enjoying themselves immensely, as are the public too, of course, and this is clear to see from the photographs presented in this book. Certainly some of the more amusing images are where the public and the riders interact in some way.

Clearly exposed fallacy

And these images clearly expose, if you’ll pardon the pun, the fallacy that nudity might be either shocking or dangerous, in any form, whether to adults or to children, in public, to young or old, or in any context. std-turin_world_naked_bike_pride_014-bcWe have a clothed bystander helping a naked rider pack her clothes in her saddle-bag, right in the middle of the high street while next to a double-decker bus full on onlookers; a man next to a proud and naked lady of 84 years standing by the marble column of the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park, London; a naked man posing alongside a group of perfectly happy and fully clothed teenage girls; a young naked student couple keeping each other company, sitting on the grass, while they protest against oil abuse; The naked cameraman interviewing the two clothed policewomen. An elderly clothed couple looking on serenely while surrounded by, and talking to, naked and topless WNBR participants. The naked woman cycling happily beside the clothed woman along the protest route together; the fully uniformed police officers cycling happily and peacefully within the group of naked riders. These are gorgeous little vignettes of tolerance and co-operation within a mass protest.

These images all show the way in which the WNBR enhances itself as an environmental protest, bringing the participants and the public together in a very special clothed and naked chiaroscuro. Many images from the WNBR are truly excellent and belong in the photo-documentary slot of any comprehensive photographic library purporting to be representative of modern times, and we present a frustratingly space-determined selection of these images, from the many hundreds submitted, for your curiosity here. The entertainment value is greatly enhanced when the locations also cry out for recognition. For instance, the London route wends it’s naked way through such famous landmarks as Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, Whitehall, Westminster, Waterloo, Fleet Street, The Royal Courts of Justice, Wellington Arch, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London; all with the happy accompaniment of cheering crowds.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

You know it's Christmas soon…?

You know it’s Christmas soon enough? The season for finding good books and interesting reads for your friends and family? Finding seasonly topical and entertaining titles for that long train journey, or a comfy evening in front of a warm winter fireplace, can be difficult enough, without having time pressure too. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a couple of weeks or a few months, with the usual postal delays one can never be too early to snap up a good book.

Especially if one of them is a POD.

opx-p1200794   opx-cover-front-facebook-safe   9780957243293   51myD4e6VfL   mid-9780957243200-frontcover

Print On Demand brings independent authors and publishers the freedom to publish niche books, but there’s a price. They need to be printed on demand, and when demand is high, or when the postal pigeon is over-worked, the delivery gets slower. The best books are always in demand, and we have some of the most interesting books on the planet, covering subjects your common-or-garden Sunday school teacher would probably disapprove of.

So, think ahead, buy a good book today!

Why Nude? by Howard Anderson

In our enlightened modern world which celebrates multicultural diversity it is not too much to ask to have complete freedom of dress for reasons of religion, culture and personal belief. …but Why Nude?

opx-cover-front-facebook-safeThe World Naked Bike Rides have shown that this celebration of diversity has indeed extended, at least in part, to embrace social nudity in the UK and in many other Western countries. The author’s personal experience of these rides and the reactions of others towards social nudity in settings outside of the traditional naturist clubs has resulted in this exploration of the whole issue, presented here in the hope that others may come to understand better what many find to be an uplifting and affirming way of life.

This work discusses being nude in a social setting. The author shows why people choose to live at least part of their lives without clothes, that doing so is very enjoyable and that it offers a number of valuable benefits. The author also demonstrates how one can cultivate this freedom from pressure to conform in daily life.

Why Nude? Thoughts and reflections on social nudity by Howard Anderson

Available from Amazon and all good book distributors

 

The World Naked Bike Ride book Thunderclap campaign

You can support the World Naked Bike Ride book Thunderclap campaign, (and tell your friends!)

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Many thanks for all your support, let’s make this happen!

Appearances may be deceiving

It’s not the appearance of someone which dictates their character, or their motivations, it’s what they actually do that is the issue. The relevance of this discussion for the WNBR is that it’s not the clothing, or the differently clothed or coloured state of another that is the problem: it’s the demonstrative but entirely peaceful behavior that is at stake here. std-101_5004a-bcIt’s important to separate the outward appearance of someone, how they look at any given time, from ones opinion of their inner motivation.

Having the freedom to clothe your own body in the way you see fit, and not from the dictates of prudish, guilty and shameful thoughts, is a step towards personal freedom for everybody. We actually can use our own bodies and minds in the way we each choose, but we need to believe in this as individuals, and to know this as an inalienable civil right. This is what Vincent Bethell’s Freedom to be Yourself campaign , started in 1998 in London, was concerned with, and after spending five months in solitary confinement awaiting his court appearance for being a ‘public nuisance’, he insisted on attending court naked.

This was a jury trial, and he was judged by a panel of his peers, who unanimously found him not guilty of the charge. While the presiding Judge George Bathurst-Norman warned him darkly: “I would not go away too much with that idea”, he also appended the crucial: “It is simply not a public nuisance in these circumstances.” Notwithstanding the judge’s hesitating support for the defense, essentially this was a great victory for the cause for freedom of choice where individualism, and public nakedness, is concerned.

As Terri Sue Webb wrote, and as Vincent Bethell and many others also state: “To be offended by the visual appearance of another person is prejudice, akin to racism.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book, available on Amazon and all good book retailers.