Stand and fight or run and hide?

No freedom has ever been freely given, freedoms have always been taken, and the only question is whether we stand and fight, or run and hide. The people who pioneer the new, (because not “normal”), views are inevitably regarded as extremists. Today, we bow to lesbian/gay rights, women voters, etc.Only because some people made a hard stand during difficult times.

Stand and fight?

When those people were fighting for OUR rights, most people called them extremists and nutcases.

Imid-20120717_103914f Emily Parkhurst had been “sensitive to the appropriateness of the situation”, I’m sure she would not have thrown herself under the King’s horse and women would probably still not have the vote. Nelson Mandela is another example of precisely the same case where one man suffers for years under the barbaric of the current regime, while today he is hailed as a hero. He was fortunate, he was able to enjoy his last years of life in freedom.

Alan Turing is another who was shamed, and forcefully chemically “treated”, by the government of his time, for the crime of following his own harmless activities. Turing was so persecuted that he committed suicide rather than face the rest of his life as a chemically castrated individual.

What fate awaits Stephen Gough?

What if someone at work finds out?

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

std-2011_0611wnbr0078-bcFirst 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?

Really, 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.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

My first naked hike

The hike started. We left the car park and after a couple of hundred metres we turned off down a path into the wood ahead. After the first corner, the organizer stopped the group and we had the opportunity to undress. Now this was exciting. All the hikers removed and stuffed their clothing into their rucksacks, followed promptly by putting sun-cream on. Some people even removed their shoes. So, now was about to begin my first naked hike.

Nearly overwhelming

The feeling, standing naked in the woods with 50 other naked people, was nearly overwhelming. I had been somewhat nervous about what would happen. But it began as every other hiking tour had: with the first step! mid-img_3788Then followed a second, and a third, and after a few hundred metres any nervousness vanished altogether and was replaced by an intense feeling of awareness of my surroundings. An absolutely amazing experience!

I opened up to the weather and began to soak in the surroundings with all my senses. It was a beautiful summers’ day. The sky could not have been more blue and the sun lifted any tiredness away. The air temperature was circa 25°C. The sun’s rays felt very pleasant on the exposed skin and a gentle breeze gave such a wonderful feeling. I looked at the trees around us, at the path which stretched ahead, and was impressed with both myself and the situation, that I was even able to walk along with such a large group of naked people. What a marvelous feeling!

With the first kilometres behind us I thought about what I had discovered. I love the bodily awareness of moving so freely amongst nature. Even the smallest of differences began to push in on my sense of reality. A small cloud pushed in front of the other clouds and created a magical shadow across my body. I did not freeze, but I could feel goosebumps appear over my skin. As the cloud moved away from blocking the direct sunshine, I felt even more comfortable than previously. The goosebumps disappeared as the sun’s warm rays once more caressed my naked body.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Nicole Wunram.

If you don't like the weather

I learnt for the first time what it was not just to be amongst nature, but to be part of it.

Boots had left me stumbling blindly across the ground, oblivious to what lay on it. My clothes had insulated me, not just to the elements, but to the whole environment. Was I really not tough enough to handle a bit of wind, maybe an occasional spot of rain?

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And while paths are often rough and gravel strewn did I really need boots for grass strewn slopes? While the climate of Scotland could be harsh, I realised there would always be days when nature welcomed me, when clothes, maybe even boots might not be needed.

However, you can sometimes get a little too close to nature. One particular example of this takes me back to a hot summer day on the north coast of Scotland. We had thought about finding ourselves a secluded beach to take advantage of the warm Gulf Stream waters, but instead we decided to climb a mountain, Ben Hope, one of the largest of the isolated peaks of the far north.

Parked at the bottom of it, the weather seemed so good that for a moment I briefly considered leaving my waterproof jacket behind. But then I remembered this is Scotland, and we have a saying here – “if you don’t like the weather, just try waiting fifteen minutes.”

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Stuart Pitsiligo.

Arrested for indecent exposure!

Simon Oosterman has the dubious honour of being the first person to be arrested and charged by a police officer for the apparently heinous crime of being naked while painted blue when he was organizer of the 2005 WNBR in Auckland, New Zealand. He also appeared on the street outside the court fully naked while protesting his innocence, and he is credited with coining the phrase “Stop the indecent exposure to vehicle emissions!” .

Arrested for indecent exposure charges dropped

The charge of Indecent Exposure against Simon was later dropped. Michael Hammond was also charged with Indecent Exposure in Portland, Oregon in 2008 and, in dismissing the charge, the judge Jerome LaBarre ruled that cycling naked had become a “well-established tradition” in Portland and understood as a form of “symbolic protest against cars and possibly the nations dependence on fossil fuels.” std-wnbr1-bcDaniel Johnson, was charged with Indecent Exposure while organizer of the WNBR in Seattle, Washington state in 2010.

Several months after the event these charges were dropped when the office of the City Attorney changed hands: yet another clear case of prudish personal opinion backed up by an official power base.

Gilles was arrested for being naked at the WNBR in Paris, France in 2010; all charges were subsequently dropped. The same year we have photographs of Gilles being accompanied by friendly and smiling police officers in the 2010 London and Brighton UK WNBRs, just across the English Channel. Where is the consistency; where is the even-handed impartial rule of law; in this picture of our authoritarian or free world?

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

We exchanged pleasantries

Continuing up the now more sparsely vegetated valley, sweating under the clear blue sky, we could feel the mountain air glide gently over our skins, keeping us refreshingly dry as it did so.  On our right, etched across the skyline, we could see the summit ridge and our target summit for the day.

As we gained height steadily, we began to overtaken by faster hikers, all clothed, and all friendly. mid-p1100178First one couple, then another, then a family coming down the hill, several stragglers and finally we passed a group having a rest just beyond the Austrian/German border, at the col itself. We exchanged pleasantries, and took in the glorious view of the alps stretching away into Austria, before Emma and I settled down nearby to have a light picnic. Polly nibbled on bits of cheese and salami.

At this point the clouds were building and it looked wise to keep moving, so we ambled behind the closed Klausenberg hut, waving back to the friendly group of picknickers there, and followed the narrow and gentle ridge, along to the summit. The views from this deceptively small ridge are quite magnificent, down to the Chiemsee lake to the north, across to the Kampenwand to the west, and south into Austria and the higher snow covered alps.

A short stop on top, and then we followed the trail north along the ridge through more forest, coming to several memorials to people lost in the mountains. A particularly poignant wooden cross impaled in a rocky vantage point, had been erected by the local mountain rescue team to their fallen comrades.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Richard Foley.

Repeatedly amazed

I’m repeatedly amazed at the quizzical responses I get when I tell people that I, or my wife and I, just got back from a nude hike up a river trail to a distant peak. “Don’t the bugs get to you?” “Don’t your ‘privates’ get scratched by the brush?” “You must have one nasty sunburn!” “What if somebody sees you?” “Couldn’t you get arrested?”

I tell these people that in ten years I have had only one person go so far as to voice a brief objection, and that I have never had any more problems with the flora and fauna than I have had when dressed. mid-20120717_103914Try it, I tell them, you’ll like it. If nothing else, hike clothed out to the middle of nowhere.

When you get there leave all your clothes in a secluded spot and bravely walk naked 100 yards in any direction. By the time you return you will have had an epiphany that will change your life. To encourage naturists to get out into the great alpine outdoors au naturel, I offer the following twelve suggestions. My goal when hiking nude is to have a good time, and to do so safely, lawfully, without any lewd behavior, and in such a manner that I and my companions will most likely be alone.

My experiences arise primarily from hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, but these suggestions should apply to hiking nude in any alpine setting.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Mark Storey.

Limestone Hill

Next morning the warm rays of the sun poured onto the veranda as we sorted our gear – a light pack for the walk, and the rest for the postman to deliver to our next stop-over. Our first day began with easy walking over gentle grassy farmland.. Then a steady climb to the highest point of the day – Limestone Hill, 359m:

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From here we descended almost to sea level before climbing steeply up to Tim’s Hill (213m) which required considerable effort and determination. From the top we caught our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.

However, we still had another hill to traverse (The Lookout, 165m) before reaching “The Cookhouse” and the cooling waters of the Pacific. The six youngest members of the party still had enough energy to walk two km south along the coast to the remains of the Opua Shipwreck (1926) before returning for yet another scrumptious meal.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Doug Ball.

Staying dressed is a meme complex

Always staying dressed is a meme complex; it is learned behaviour as is naturism. Naturists would argue their behaviour provides significant benefit and is therefore good but its success as a meme complex is less clear. Although millions have tried and enjoyed some aspect of a naturist lifestyle, counter memes are very strong in their effect.

Counter meme

The counter meme is that which causes people always to be dressed, even under extreme circumstances, reinforced by religious memes that cause a feeling of guilt about bodies, enjoyment or sensual experience. Why is the dressed meme complex more powerful than the naturist meme? Because it is reinforced from childhood and fuelled by inappropriate sanctions like such as eternal damnation of sinners etc. It has developed into a very successful meme complex, one that replicates with amazing vigour. When asked, most adults will say they have no argument against nudity from an intellectual point of view but they would not participate for emotional reasons, their memes are more powerful than rationality.

To reinforce this and to make their memes even more successful, those who say “I don’t mind if other people are naked” will almost invariably say “but I realise that most other people will object”. This dual nature of their meme complex is probably the central reason it is so successful at replicating. When naturists challenge this view, the results are surprising; MORI polls in the UK indicate that over 90% of the population think naturists are harmless but the second part of the meme will still cause very effective replication, “stay dressed not for me but for others”.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Howard Anderson.

Cycling will lead to immorality

The bicycle, besides being one of the most environmentally friendly and healthy forms of personal transport, may also lay claim to having done much for the civil rights of women. In the late 1800s, when cycling became fashionable for middle-class European women of the period, it caused an outrage.

Even when women were able to wear a pair of trousers they were dubbed “a cycling dress consisting of a jacket and trousers, the latter being covered with a skirt for the sake of modesty, and to protect the wearer from verbal (and sometimes physical) attacks.” std-wnbr_178-bcIn 1860 a Mrs Linton feared that cycling for ladies would “lead to immorality as girls roamed the countryside in search of adventures.” It was not only women such as Mrs Linton that these adventurous women needed to fear; the establishment was also heartily against the idea of trousers being worn by ladies, as even the medical journal The Lancet declared: “[we] consider this article of dress unnecessary, and in many ways detrimental to health and morals.”

And “that monstrosity of fashion, the divided skirt, is an outrage not to be countenanced.” It might be entertaining to consider what these people would have made of the WNBR. One can only imagine apoplectic fits with bulging eyes, red cheeks and much gesticulation. “It was thought that the combination of straddling the saddle with the pedaling motion would lead to arousal in the female, leading to the habit of masturbation.” Some authorities suggested the logical conclusion would be to render men irrelevant; a grave matter indeed. Although perhaps this was merely a portent of a strange mixture of ideas combining militant feminism and short-sighted genetic experimental ideas in the 21st century.

A hundred years ago Alice Hawkins, a suffragette, cycled around Leicester, in the UK, promoting the womens rights movement, causing outrage by being one of the first ladies to wear pantaloons in the city. It’s worth considering, for a moment, the kind of response an event like the WNBR might have received at that time.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.