Monday, June 4, 2012

This blog is illegal in Arkansas

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. Freik√∂rperkultur, (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. 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.

The articulate and wise Laci Green advocates nudity for Fun:

also, for body acceptance

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.
I consider myself a naturist rather than a nudist, as my intent is to remove barriers between myself and Nature. Discussion of the distinction continues. 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.

More links:

Brief history of nudism
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.
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.
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.

Resorts near Portland:

Mountaindale Sun Resort: “a secure, secluded, nudist resort in the Oregon wine country, just 30 miles northwest of Portland. Social nudists enjoy family-oriented, hassle-free leisure on 104 acres of forested, private land. Ideally located, we’re just 1½ hours from ocean beaches, deep sea fishing, and Sauvie Island’s renowned Columbia River nudist beach is only 40 minutes away. Visitors are within 30 minutes of groceries, restaurants, shops, vineyard tasting rooms, and golf at Quail Valley or nationally known Pumpkin Ridge.
“Hosting visitors from all around the globe, we’re proud of our attractive, accessible, rural location, our well balanced membership and warm social climate. We host dances and parties year round. Come visit us, enjoy our hot tub, pool, sauna and other amenities. And remember, Just wear a smile!”
Squaw Mountain Resort: “a safe, comfortable, family oriented nudist campsite resort so all of the family is invited to camp here. We are also cooperatively held and operated so as a result, things frequently happen more casually here than they do in a privately operated, for-profit resort. We do hope that you will enjoy the informality. We are also a rustic campsite resort so no food is available... but fresh clean drinking water from our mountain well is plentiful.”
Lodge has rooms and there are RV hookups and tent campsites. Near Estacada.
The Willamettans: “a modern resort in a secluded setting... the largest nudist club in the Pacific Northwest with more than 500 members. We are member owned and located on 40 acres just 30 minutes from Springfield, Oregon.
“If you have not yet experienced the freedom and fun of nude recreation, you are in for a wonderful and liberating experience when you visit the Willamettans. The Willamettans welcomes singles, couples and families of all ages.”

Non-landed or travel clubs (listed from closest to farthest from Portland):

The Oregon Clothing-Optional Beach Alliance (ORCOBA): “dedicated to actively preserving, maintaining, and promoting family-oriented, social naturism at Oregon’s two officially-designated clothing-optional beaches: Sauvie Island (Collins Beach) and Rooster Rock State Park. This group is open to everyone concerned with maintaining our beaches as family-friendly venues for non-sexual clothing-optional recreation.”
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.

Online discussions for nudists and naurists:

Northwest Fun in the Sun (You have to verify you’re 18+ because, well, there are naked people in there.)
ORCOBA message and news board
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.

National organizations:

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.
Even clothed, I’m bare in mind.
Barronmind homepage

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Respect for Life at Rally for Life 2012

Encouraging unity among those who identify as
anti-abortion and/or pro-choice at
Right to Life, Oregon’s Rally for Life.
Sunday, January 22, 2012

I arrive at Pioneer Square with a big bag of signs for this year’s Rally for Life. Umbrellas and yellow helium balloons with “Life” printed on them hover over the crowd facing the giant covered stage. There’s still plenty of room to move about, though the crowd is spread throughout the upper and lower areas. About 30 young people standing in a rectangular formation have red tape over their mouths with “Life” written on it. Many supporters are holding placards reading “Defend Life”. I think I see a theme here: life vs death.

There’s no anti-rally rally this year, so it’s quieter. No giant photos of bloody fetuses, so it’s visually quieter too. Low metal barricades surround the square and line the streets so crowds won’t spill onto the light rail tracks or into traffic on Broadway. Security is well supplied, with transit police, private security guards, bicycle and motorcycle police dispersed and alert. A row of covered booths sits on the upper level, with tables of information.

Lena meets me at the designated corner, and chooses the “Contraception prevents abortion” sign. I have two taped together for front and back signs: “Unite to prevent abortions” and “Condoms prevent abortions.” We wander around the edge of the crowd and a woman offers Lena a flier. Lena offers her a “Vasectomy prevents abortion” sticker.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she hesitates as she reads it. “That still wouldn’t stop immoral behavior.”
“No,” I allow, “we still have to work on that, but at least no one would get pregnant.” We exchange flier for sticker.

Young people in pairs pass out plastic baggies of information and Lena accepts one. “I’ll read hers.” It contains small fliers telling of events like the 40 Days for Life vigil at Planned Parenthood’s “abortion facility,” and Camp Joshua, where “tomorrow’s pro-life leaders” aged 16-21 receive “intense leadership training.”

A man reads Lena’s sign and tells us that contraception is demeaning to women because it makes them nothing but sex objects for man’s pleasure.
“Don’t you think women get pleasure from sex too?“ Lena asks. While he ponders this concept, she politely adds, “I use contraception and I don’t feel demeaned.” He seems surprised by her frankness, and rewords his line about men treating women as objects for pleasure.
“Better than treating them as breed sows,” I joke. He doesn’t appreciate my attempted humor and our conversation ends.

Olivia joins us, choosing “Sex Ed prevents abortion.” We stand near one of the openings in the barricades where our signs evoke puzzled expressions. A couple of counter-ralliers come over to talk, glad to see they’re not alone. I offer a sign, reading through the options. “Abstinence prevents abortion”?
“Not real big on that,” he says, and chooses “Gay sex prevents abortion.”
“I’d totally carry that one.”
“You’re brave,” I tell him.
“I like to think so,” he says as he wanders off through the crowd by himself. His friend sticks with her own handmade sign. Around 8 to 10 people are countering the dominant perspective, but we’re not sticking together. A few people stand blocking our way in, perhaps intentionally. Olivia and Lena maneuver around them and go to the upper level. The guy with the gay sex sign returns with reports of shocked expressions.

Another woman arrives at the rally intending to oppose it. “I wish I’d brought a bullhorn to get the message out there.”
“Oh, it’s just as well you didn’t—interrupting this wouldn’t be good.”
It’s hard to tell, but I think the speaker is praying through the PA system. Yes, he ends with “Amen” so he must have been.

A young woman holding a large hand-lettered, poster board sign, and waving a wire coat hanger, moves about the crowd, engaging anyone who’s willing. Her sign reads something like, “Roe wasn’t the start of abortions, it was the end of unsafe abortions.” We meander over and listen in while two men explain that “one of the early proponents of abortion has admitted that he made up all his statistics.”
“They were all lies,” affirms the other.
That eliminates all statistics from the discussion. Coat hanger woman listens attentively, rapidly chewing her gum. She moves on and I ask what he thinks about preventing abortions with contraception. He’s opposed to anything besides Natural Family Planning, which he assures us has come a long way and is very effective. I ask if he knows what they call couples who use NFP and it’s apparent he’s heard it too many times.
“Parents,” we both say.
“Oh, you know that one,” I joke. “Seems like a simple snip snip would take care of it.” I say. “Isn’t vasectomy better than abortion?”
“Sure, one takes a life, but it’s still wrong.” He explains it’s not right to alter our bodies from God’s intended design, though clearly that doesn’t include wearing glasses and shaving. He recites the “birth control disrespects women” line and Olivia tells him, “I’m a woman and I don’t think it’s disrespectful.”
I ask if he thinks abortion should be outlawed and he does. “The law is a great teacher,” he intones.

I see Bill Diss, who hosts the website “Precious Children of Portland” and organizes protests at Planned Parenthood. I know him as a teacher at Benson High. He moves on before I can break away and engage him in conversation.

On stage, a speaker with a feminist perspective tells how abortion is anti-woman because in India and China they abort girls. In one area of India, “out of a thousand babies only 50 were girls.” Imagine that. Lena observes that “Roe v Wade doesn’t extend to India.” I note that the speaker presents another potential slogan for uniting to prevent abortions: gender equality.

Everyone is encouraged to sing along as the band plays “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”

Occasionally, a yellow balloon wafts away toward the river. I think about wildlife choking to death on a piece of plastic labeled “Life”.

A news videographer climbs to a high spot and begins to pan the crowd. Lena and Olivia subtly move to where their signs will show, and the lens pauses in their direction.

I notice a woman holding a Knights of Columbus “Defend life” sign in front of her, staring at Lena and her sign, She looks as if she’s thinking, “Tisk, tisk, poor deluded child.” In a few minutes she passes by us and says to Lena, “I’ll pray for you.” Maybe Olivia and I look too far gone to be prayed for.

A street is blocked off for the Walk for Life, and we mix into the crowd as the walk begins in a sudden, cold downpour. Olivia wraps her camera in a neck scarf. As I walk along, a woman comments matter-of-factly from under her umbrella, “You’re an infiltrator.”
“No, we’re on the same side.” I turn my sign to Unite to prevent abortion. “We all respect life and want to prevent abortions.”
“People need to save themselves for marriage.”
“Married people get pregnant too.” She isn’t interested in more dialog.

I engage a man with questions and try to find something we can agree on as we walk. He sees Bill Diss standing in the middle of the road facing the marchers, greeting them like a politician and reveling in the recognition. I shake his hand too, calling him Mister Diss, as I know her prefers. He doesn’t seem to recognize me.

A man sees my “Condoms prevent abortion” sign and says, “If your parents used condoms you wouldn’t be here, Dude.”
“No, I’d still be here. I don’t have 15 siblings because they used them.”
“But you wouldn’t be here, Dude.” We may have exhausted his talking points.

As the walk ends, we’re all soaked and cold—Lena is shivering. We turn around to head back, and a woman engages Lena in a very friendly manner, asking her name and offering hers. “You’re half way there, Lena.” She’s halfway to hypothermia and now we’ve missed the walk light. She wants to give Lena a flier promoting NFP and warning of the risks of contraceptives. Apparently halfway there is using contraceptives and all the way there means not using them.

The rain finally lets up as we slog our way to the car. I’m thinking about 2013, the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade, which should generate a big rally: fertile ground for Respect for Life’s middle ground.

The next day: The Oregonian publishes an editorial advocating basically the same philosophy as Respect for Life. Remaining divided into two opposing sides leads to attitudes which allow potentially fatal restrictions on reproductive freedom.