Naturally this law will someday be judged unconstitutional—first amendment and all—but in the meantime: “It shall be unlawful for any person, club, camp, corporation, partnership, association, or organization to advocate, demonstrate, or promote nudism...”
Well, I’m a person and I advocate and promote nudism—even in Arkansas, if anyone in that state has this in their browser window. I’d demonstrate it too, but I don’t think anyone needs a demonstration to figure out how to get naked. If you’re reading this in Arkansas, I’m in violation of § 5-68-204, and if you share a link, be sure to say you disagree or you will be too.
Arkansas’ anti nudity law is laughably extreme: “The term ‘nudism’ as used in this section is defined to be the act or acts of a person or persons congregating or gathering with his, her, or their private parts exposed in the presence of one (1) or more persons of the opposite sex as a form of social practice.” It goes on to say it’s okay to be naked when medically necessary—whew!—or when married—double whew! Cohabiting unmarried couples better wear their jammies. Just turning off the lights might mean you’re still practicing nudism, but that’s for the jury to decide.
Apparently it would be okay to have a nudist resort that’s exclusively male or female, as that wouldn’t fit their definition of nudism. Little Rock would no doubt be down with gay guys getting together to hang out and kick it in the nude.
Historically, cultures range from nonchalant acceptance of nudity to strict taboo. Ancient Greeks’ athletic meets, including the original Olympics, were nude and “gymnasium” loosely means a place to get naked and work out. Ancient Hebrews, on the other hand, didn’t approve of getting naked even with the same gender. Noah’s Curse of Canaan gives us an idea of how gymnophobic their culture was.
That belief system spawned Islam and Christianity, and all three tend to be gymnophobic today, though their focus is more on keeping women covered up rather than men. Except for Canada and Oregon, women aren’t allowed to be topless in many of the same places men are in North America.
Although there are plenty of Christian nudists, Judeo-Christian influences remain so entrenched in Western culture that even atheists are commonly clothes-minded.
American society’s mix of cultures reflects a wide range of mores and personal preferences. Seems to me most people have no interest in social nudity beyond occasional skinny dipping, but don’t care if others do. A vocal minority feels that it’s something immoral to be stopped and they campaign to close nude beaches and draft laws restricting simple nudity. Another minority challenges these attempts with legal actions.
This “culture war” was played out in Europe in the last century. In the early 1900s, a social movement emphasizing health and connection with Nature became popular in Germany, mainly with young people. Freikörperkultur, (FKK) or Free Body Culture grew exponentially and eventually spread as far afield as California. Soon another movement was gaining popularity in Germany, and personal freedom wasn’t part of their weltanschauung. The fascists won the battle but lost the war, and in 1949 the German Association for Free Body Culture rose from the ashes.
Oregon is at the other end of the freedom of expression spectrum from Arkansas, with public nudity technically illegal only if it’s done for sexual arousal. However, although non-sexual nudity is legal on state-owned land, the state designates only two beaches, Collins and Rooster Rock, as clothing-optional. As a practical matter, only secluded or designated areas allow hassle-free nudity. As human population becomes more dense, finding a nearby secluded place is increasingly difficult.
I haven’t been to a designated public nude beach, nor a resort, so I can’t speak about either from experience. (Now I have*). I’ve read they are self-policing: watching out for creepers and lewd behavior. Volunteer groups like ORCOBA keep the beaches clear of litter and other trash. Their Yellow Flag Program offers a visible safe spot where beach-goers are welcome to join a group, and report inappropriate activity for appropriate raw vigilante action.
Naturist resorts and non-landed or travel clubs also provide opportunities to shed society’s symbolic yoke of submission. A listing of those near Portland may be found below.
Almost all resorts and clubs cater to families, and are vigilant about screening new members and policing inappropriate behavior, according to everything I’ve read in first-hand reports. They do have restrictions: typically, no one under 18 without a parent and often a maximum ratio of males to females, which makes it hard for people under 18 and single males to enjoy social nudity. Although single males can find a female if they’re lucky, people who are legally children and can’t talk a parent into going are out of luck. They still have the option of a public clothing-optional beach, which may not feel as safe as a private resort or travel club.
Many people enjoy clothes freedom indoors, though connection with the natural world is lacking unless a window can be opened to let in sunshine and air.
Rather than drive half an hour to Rooster Rock or an hour to Collins Beach just to get naked, I prefer my own mini-resort. Private yards may offer our most convenient locations, though they usually require extensive fencing and/or plantings. This can take years if second story windows look in. In some locations, it’s just about impossible to find a sunny spot that can be made private.
I adhere to the same ageist restriction at my place as resorts, though I’m philosophically opposed to it. Society’s perception that nudity and sexuality are inextricably linked restricts older children’s choices. Organizations for young nudists start at 18 for the safety of the organization, not for the safety of children.
If you’ve never tried social nudity, it might seem strange at first but feels normal in a short time. Perhaps paradoxically, it’s easier to disassociate sexuality from nudity when everyone gets naked.
No matter what you call it or why you choose to get naked, the feeling of sun, wind, and water without textile encumberment is a life experience everyone should try at least once—with friends and family if practical.
The World Naked Bike Ride has a huge event in Portland in June, often more than one. I rode for the first time in 2011 and it was way Fun to be a part of a rolling nude party—despite needing to watch out for other riders and nearly freezing my nipples off. People in Arkansas aren’t so lucky.
WNBR 2015 may have broken the world attendance record, thanks to warm weather: an official 10,100 rode, skated, and even jogged the 7.5 mile route through Southeast Portland. Some bystanders—uncounted—became participants without moving with the crowd, setting up flash parties with live music. Cheering spectators seemed to be having as much Fun as we were. Police maintained safety by efficiently blocking car traffic along the route. After-ride dance parties reportedly lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Updates on WNBR.
Introduction to Naturism answers just about every question you may have about clothing-optional activities. Any concern not addressed may be submitted to a forum of experienced nudists.Comprehensive listing of sites. I can’t vouch for these: it would take too long to visit them all.
Though not illegal in Oregon, public nudity could land one in a lot of trouble. When arresting officers prevent the nude person they’re arresting from covering up, they become accomplices to the “crime” they are purportedly stopping.
State nudity laws in the US.
Hidden Springs: “established in September 1969. We are chartered as a ‘full member’ club with the American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR) in 1970... Hidden Springs is a family nudist club with activities appropriate for members of all ages.” Portland, OR
Sun Rovers: “a non-landed travel and nudist club who is family friendly. We are located in the greater Portland area. We have members as far south as Eugene area and as far north as greater Tacoma area. Our goal is to support other nudist organizations and to provide outside activities that are of interest to our membership. We meet monthly at other clubs, individual members’ homes, and other venues.”
Sun Lovers Under Gray Skies: “a Family Naturist Events Club. Discover the freedom and benefits of Naturism. Find out why young & old agree that the cure for the Northwest’s endlessly cloudy days is a skinny-dipping party. Around the world they understand, lose the clothes = lose the stress = harmony. The Sun Lovers Under Gray Skies is a community of ordinary people sharing family naturist values. We support the primary human-right of simply being human as originally designed. Most of all, we strive to have more fun and a better quality of life for ourselves and our families.” Lacey, WA.
Bare Spirits: “a nudist travel club centered in the Willamette Valley of Oregon... As a Travel Club we do not have our own park, but meet at members homes or travel to nudist events, beaches, and landed nudist clubs in our area... We often have a meeting, a pot luck dinner, great conversation, and use of the available facilities. Depending on when and where we meet, activities can also include hot tubbing, card/board games, billiards, volleyball, swimming, horseshoes, wine tasting, and other fun activities. Like other AANR Travel Clubs, we are a family friendly club.” Dallas, OR.
Central Oregon Tumbleweeds: “a non landed travel club of the AANR. We enjoy social gatherings and just laying around in the beautiful sunshine of the high desert. We invite you and your family to join us in the Beautiful outdoors of Central Oregon. We have a nice home base that one of our members generously shares.” Bend, OR.
Rogue Suncatchers: “a family oriented nudist group that meets socially to enjoy a clothing free lifestyle.” Ashland, OR.
NetNude Naturists Site. Extensive resources and message boards. I’m a supporting member of this one.
Clothesfree Forum. Broadcasts “Nudes in the News,” and more.
There are lots more but I’m sure about recommending these four.
The Naturist Society: “a membership organization first and foremost. If you enjoy skinny-dipping, nude sunbathing, or that feeling of freedom while nude, then TNS membership is for you... The term naturist means different things to different people. To some, it suggests a carefully considered way of life—a philosophy, no less. To others it’s nothing more than a day at the nude beach.” I’m a member of this one.
American Association for Nude Recreation: “The credible voice of reason for nude recreation since 1931. AANR is proud to be affiliated with 260 nudist resorts and clubs across North America and beyond.” I can’t afford to join both.
*I went to Squaw Mt Resort early 2015. There were only a few of us there as it was still chilly. We stayed in the lodge, where we cooked our own meals and stayed warm by the wood stove or in the hot tub.