A Male Tribute to Lupin Women
by Glyn Stout
Women at Lupin deserve very special respect from each of us on the other side of the great gender divide. Surrounded by a body-alienated culture and burdened by centuries of systematic patriarchy, it is a wonder that women even consider, much less risk, social nudity with men. Just a precious few actually brave the experience, despite touted benefits which must seem almost too good to be true. It takes self-assurance and true grit.
We can only salute the extraordinary courage, trust and independence of thought it must take for any woman to break the “body taboo” for the first time. She faces far more forbidding obstacles to accepting her natural body than does a man.
Ignoring a daily dose of sexual abuse headlines, she must first resolve basic safety issues before seriously contemplating the exposure of her body. If some men can justify rape based upon revealing dress, what then the effect of her wearing nothing at all? The male record on sexual violence against women cannot be very reassuring to her.
Even a woman quite capable of defending herself does not wish to endure the unwelcome advances of leering predators misinterpreting her nudity as encouragement. She can only hope that men at Lupin will have a higher standard of conduct and self-restraint than she may have experienced elsewhere.
Any woman knows that most men have a certain prurient interest in nude female bodies. Growth industries provide titillating displays of busty, nubile ones in magazines, movies and videos designed to meet varied male sexual fantasies. How does she know that Lupin might not be some male ploy to exploit her nudity?
She must also he bold enough to overcome complex social conditioning–culturally embedded since childhood and doggedly persistent despite the “Sexual Revolution”–which imposes an unfair double standard for male-female behavior, casts women as subservient, equates nudity with sexuality, and creates unhealthy attitudes about human bodies, especially our reproductive systems. Though dutifully reinforced by generations of compliant mothers, this convoluted value system–well-entrenched over several millennia and only recently challenged by a few feminists–originates from male dominance of all organized religions.
Blaming, concealing and controlling women’s bodies still preoccupy fundamentalist authoritarians of all stripes, and these masters of the shame-and-guilt game tenaciously hang on to the disproportionate power that making and interpreting doctrine bestows to male prerogatives. Social nudity, topfree sunbathing, sex education, condoms/contraception, erotic art, explicit media, abortion rights, and all “unsanctioned” sexual relationships are ever-popular targets for a mixed bag of self-appointed censors and “morality” policemen. Often trashing constitutional principles of church and state separation, their ultimate goal always seems to be a male theocracy.
A woman has also to consider the consequences of family, friends, or employer finding out about her nude experience. Even if she knows better, others in our repressed, gymnophobic society might believe that she partakes in some weird sex cult or is, at minimum, a compulsive exhibitionist.
She may even feel uncertain about the motives of the man who may be trying to convince her to share Lupin with him. She may also have concerns about how this experience will affect their relationship.
Then, if a woman is also a mother, the critical issues of social nudity multiply and magnify. What of the child’s safety and welfare? Is it harmful for the young to see their elders nude? What about judgements by the ignorant about the fitness of her parenting, and so on?
Sadly, a modern woman’s greatest barrier to body freedom is often her negatively distorted self-image. Very few women accept, much less like, their bodies. Studies confirm that even the “genetically gifted” tend to obsess about their “flaws” to the detriment of their self-esteem.
Mass media constantly bombard women with perfect images of a cosmetic beauty standard which only a tiny percentage of the white, thin and young could hope to approach, much less retain for very long. Female bodies are valued more for appearance than function, even in women’s media.
Food and time become enemies of any woman conditioned to believe that a lean body and an unlined face are passports to happiness. Every woman knows she falls short of the airbrushed models she sees, and many are driven to employ whatever it takes to disguise an imperfect reality.
This crazy-making, no-win quest to attain the perfect body is supported by vast market forces with huge profit incentives to keep all women dissatisfied with themselves as they are–and ever more anxious as they age. It is not surprising that eating disorders in young women are at epidemic levels and are beginning to manifest earlier in childhood.
Drawing from such a conflicted popular culture, it is little wonder that Lupin gets far more inquiries from single men than from single women and that our club has to struggle to maintain a comfortable gender balance in our singles memberships. Actually, Lupin has a much higher percentage of single women than other naturist clubs in the U.S., some of whom accept only couples because of their inability to attract enough single women.
Few men need fear assault by naked women, so their trying Lupin is a lesser physical risk. As it is much more difficult to play macho without a loincloth, some males do have considerations about co-ed nudity, however.
While locker room and barracks experiences may acclimate more men than women to nudity en masse, the presence of women does stir certain male anxieties. There’s nothing like having exposed, external genitalia to trigger personal concerns about unintended reactions or disappointing endowments. Women have an equalizing advantage in at least this situation.
Still, what an intuitive leap of faith it must take for a woman to overcome her litany of anxieties in order to be nude and vulnerable among strangers for the first time–especially before men, who she probably fears may stare at her body and grade her down some sexist scale of 1 to 10. That any woman would also brave Lupin without a man or with her children is even more remarkable, and yet quite a few such self-assured women add much to our club.
And it is the bravest of the strong who dares tell her female friends and relatives about her nude experiences, for women can often be the severest critics of one another’s actions. Only a truly self-confident person can comfortably correct popular misconceptions about social nudity and personally invite her skeptical sisters to discover for themselves the surprising virtues and unexpected insights that she found at Lupin. First-hand endorsements account for most of our single women members.
A naturist experience can make a very special contribution to women because it is so very different from the anti-female culture that teaches them to reject their bodies and forces them to wear rags of shame. They simply see in naked reality that each persons body is a uniquely beautiful, original creation–an incomparable work of natural art.
We’re each a minority of one falling somewhere along an amazingly diverse spectrum of human possibilities, and we’re either all acceptable, or none of us can be. God’s image is infinite and includes both male and female variations of many hues, forms and ages. Any narrow standard of beauty is absurd.
Some women are very surprised to find that social nudity defuses sexual tension and feels so relaxing. The mutual vulnerability of having nothing to hide somehow balances the power equation between sexes, and universal body acceptance facilitates a comfortable self acceptance. It feels like the ultimate tranquilizer to just be here now in the all together.
Because it is so humanizing an experience, being nude with people also facilitates communications across gender, generational and genetic differences and makes us feel part of some great universal family. Unexpected friendships seem to develop easily and comfortably.
Lupin has long felt like the ultimate summer camp for kids of all generations–skinnydipping releases the inner child in us all. Pre-schoolers take to nudity easily because it’s natural, and they haven’t yet been taught otherwise. Young people at play learn to accept their bodies and themselves as part of their species, just as a matter of course.
Obviously, naturist men have something to do with Lupin’s gentle, liberating feeling. For over half a century Lupin has operated under the successful premise that if the ambience feels comfortable for women and children, it will also feel good to the right sort of men; hence, the long-term emphasis on providing a family environment.
Men who do not respect women as equals or who treat anyone as sexual prey have no place here and are simply excluded from the club whenever their unsuitability becomes evident. That such negative screening is so rarely necessary speaks well of the character of most men who are attracted to Lupin.
We men who love Lupin truly admire the pioneering courage of all women who find their way here and deeply appreciate their willingness to share in the spirit of this beautiful space. Without women’s enlightening partnership in co-creating such a delightful garden, it would soon return to bramble and poison oak.
Reprinted from the California Naturist, August 1993