Thursday, March 25, 2004

Nude Photo Modeling in China

In Westerners' eyes, Chinese are rather conservative.
That's the first sentence today in a report in The China Times, one of Taiwan's most popular Chinese-language newspapers. The report deals with the phenomenon of nude modeling and photography in China.

The report also has an interesting - and very un-Chinese picture - of seven young women, standing completely naked in a field. Facing them, a huge crowd of men in baseball caps, most of them with cameras hanging from their neck.

The China Times writes that all over China, taking pictures of nude models is the hot thing to do. Female university students can make some extra money this way, while the photographers ... well, the report says not all of them are in it for the art. Some just want to see something they could never see anywhere else.

The good thing: the article quotes some photographers as saying human nudity should be as normal as eating steamed bread. A sentiment that any naturist could agree with. And if even residents of China feel this way, then there is more hope for naturism in Asia than even I thought.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Naturism and Politics

It’s election fever all over right now. Elections in Greece, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, India, the United States. A majority of inhabitants of democratic states are going to the polls this year.
This has set me thinking about the relationship between naturism and politics. I dream of a naturist party. Is there room for naturist politics? And wouldn’t such a party be just a one-issue group? Of course, naturists don’t need a naturist party to vote. They’re already voting, for existing “traditional” parties. Why would they vote for a naturist party?
I actually think there could be room for such a party. Not here in Asia, because there is not enough understanding yet for naturism. But in the West, in particular in European countries where there is more space for new and smaller parties to emerge.
Green parties, anti-immigrant parties, even social democratic parties were born as one-issue parties – the environment, problems of immigration and assimilation, workers’ rights – and later evolved in a more general direction.
The same could happen with naturist parties.

But what could they start up with? In a first instance, naturist parties should talk about respect – respect for other people and other ideas, and also respect for nature. The connection between naturism and taking care of the environment could be a potent link, and be wider than just what greens talk about.

A naturist party would of course push for typically naturist causes: a local naturist beach, set hours for naturists at the local swimming pool and gym, room and time for nude sports at the local sports center, the introduction of naturism as a topic in cultural and educational programs. Those would be just first-stage aims.

Once achieved, naturist parties could move on to a second stage, and push for the complete legalization of social nudity, i.e. the abolition of all restraints on naturism. This would mean allowing naturism on all beaches mixed with “textile” bathers, allowing nude swimming at pools at any time, nude sports at sports centers and gyms at any time, and also allow any one to be nude at any time of his or her preference. Not for exhibitionism in front of people who don’t accept nudity, not in venues not fit for nudity, not when it’s too cold for nudity. But any other time, any other place yes. If it’s warm outside, and you don’t feel like wearing clothes to mow the lawn, why not do it in the nude?

One problem will arise when naturist parties want to move from the first to the second stage. And the problem will come from an unexpected corner. Naturist organizations. If social nudity and naturism becomes legal everywhere, why should there be naturist organizations? Naturists will no longer want to pay for club memberships, and will no longer want to go to remote, isolated, and separated grounds to practice naturism for a short time during weekends. Naturism will be everywhere, in and around the home, at the local swimming pool and along the local river or lake.

But that’s a luxury problem when one reaches one’s aims. If social nudity becomes accepted in society at large, then the naturist parties will also disappear. Unless they have to stay to fight a backlash. From conservatives, I hear you say. Social and ethic conservatives, yes. But don’t think opposition will just come from “rightwing” parties. A surprising number of American naturists are Republicans, many deeply religious people and even priests, and at least one prominent legislator from Belgium’s Vlaams Blok – a party generally described as “extreme right” – are self-avowed naturists. So there! A naturist party will draw support from both the left and the right! How much more can a brandnew political party wish for?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Peeping Tom lives in Taiwan

Television news in Taiwan was all full with images of half-naked people Tuesday. The reason? A peeping tom had been walking along a hillside path, taking pictures of guests at the hot springs resorts in Wulai near the capital Taipei. The result: the government closed down a number of resorts for a week to give them time to do something about protecting the privacy of their guests, like planting more shrubs and putting up more walls. Another solution mentioned was to close off the path.

Problem solved. Until the next peeping tom comes along and finds a new path. Hot springs are possibly the one single element most favorable to the development of naturism in Taiwan. Social nudity is normal at hot springs - be it only for people of the same sex. Any attack against the hot springs culture is an attack against naturism, to put it in rather belligerent language.

But then, peeping tom culture deserves no respect. And the culture is alive and well is Taiwan. The island's peeping toms are everywhere: they travel on the subway and visit crowded exhibitions with cameras hidden in their shoes or bags, or just with mobile phones that double as cameras. Their aim: to take pictures of women's underpants. Pathetic but all too real. Then you have the type of toms that installs cameras in changing rooms at swimming pools or clothing stores, or even worse, inside public lavatories, and then sells the stuff on VCD.

The culture is helped along by the media, showing off the peeping toms' products on TV or in large color pictures in the papers, with the victims only thinly covered by what is known as a "mosaic." In Taiwan, that's the same media who show accident victims lying bloody in the street, and their crying relatives, and people being beaten up by gangs.

Peeping tom culture is alive and well in Taiwan. Naturism will fall victim to it in the beginning, but will surmount it if enough people say no to its tyranny.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

So Hong Kong has its own nude television news

The dragon child, or Long Er as she calls herself, is hoping for a career in entertainment on the back of having taken on Hong Kong's newest job category: that of the territory's first-ever nude news anchor.
Will that help the cause of naturism? Of course not, because this has nothing to do with real social nudity or naturism. It is pure exploitation and titillation. Nobody will look at her news program to learn about the news, or to find out more about naturism, because that's not what the show is for.
All that happens is that Long Er reads the news from a teleprompter and takes off her clothes while she is doing that. That's the same news you can see - without an anchor in the middle of the screen - on any other station.
Will her show help promote social nudity? I don't think so. It will not make anybody want to ask for the right to nude swimming, sunbathing, basketball etc. in the territory. Because its viewers will only be interested in the lowest common voyeurist denominator of gaping at a topless or naked woman, it will lose viewers very fast. The novelty will wear off, and the TV station will have to find new anchors to fill the gap. Long Er might win some name recognition out of this program to help her on the way to a career in soap operas and in the gossip tabloids, but don't call her a star yet.

Naturism is not about taking your clothes off for others to leer. It's about freedom, about not having to wear clothes when one doesn't feel like it.
For those interested in real naturist television, I suggest you go to by clicking on the International Naturist Association link at the top right of this screen. That's the kind of naturist news television we want in Asia!