We are posting this on behalf of George Davis, and is of particular interest to our friends from the United States, as he compares San Francisco with London and New York.
A Tale of Three Cities
by George Davis
(George Davis is the author of two books: Naked Yoga, and Weapons of Mass Deception. He is co-editor of Free Your Body; Free Your Mind. As a body-freedom activist, he has been arrested more than twenty times, including an arrest for making a public speech on the Capitol Mall in Washington, DC.)
Do you remember George Carlin’s “7 Dirty Words” that you can’t broadcast or publish? That was 40 years ago… but the ban on such words still exists. And word-censorship is not the only in-your-face censorship that is going on.
If you are curious about the real purposes of routine media censorship — the kind that occurs in plain sight in mainstream newspapers and public TV broadcasts, converting words like ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, ‘cunt’, and ‘nigger’ into ridiculous gobbledegook like ‘f**k’, ‘s**t’, ‘c**t’, and ‘the n-word’ — then this tale is for you. If you wonder why Facebook and other social media will not allow you to post pictures showing female breasts, or images of your clothes-free vacation, or of the Australian Nude Beach Olympics, then this tale is for you. If you suspect that somehow this censorship is designed to make you stupid, socially controlled, and unable to perceive the world realistically, then this tale is for you.
On the other hand, if you feel that this this kind of censorship is a step in the right direction for human society, then this tale is probably not for you. If you think that social media are doing you and society a great service by censoring harmless images, and if you feel that our ability to deal with life and with the world is improved by mystifying and tabooing the human body, then this tale is not for you. You should do a mental delete, skip this tale, and move on to another diversion.
My tale is about the growth and social/cultural ramifications of the Body Freedom Movement in the three leading cultural centers in the world: London, New York City, and San Francisco. What is ‘body freedom’? It is the concept that your body and all of your body parts, including penises, pussies, and breasts, are normal and natural. You would think that this concept would be uncontroversial, since most people agree with it. Yet, the Body Freedom Movement is currently the Rodney Dangerfield of political movements. It gets “no respect.”
Aside from being a writer, as a Body Freedom activist, I will ask you to re-transmit this document by May 18, 2017 to anyone you know who has any political, cultural, or artistic leanings via email, your social media, or blogs. If enough people know this story, a potentially revolutionary (or more accurately re-evolutionary) game-changing court decision will occur.
The tale itself
Once upon a time, on an ordinary planet like trillions of others in a universe suitable for carbon-based life forms, there dwelt a dominant species, Homo sapiens (Latin for ‘wise ape’). The species’ control of the planet’s resources derived from its large brain which was capable of developing language, tools, fire usage, agriculture, and social organization. Homo sapiens’ undisputed mastery of Earth has only existed for 5,000 years, a sliver in time compared to a universe that has already existed for 14 billion years.
Let’s fast forward and snapshot the year 2017. Looking at Earth from space you might never guess that its land areas are divided up by Homo sapiens into nation-states whose boundaries are set by oceans, rivers, longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates, and most importantly by accidents of history — wars, colonial settlements, dynastic marriages, and the like. Almost every individual Homo sapiens has a nationality. Over the past few centuries global wars have been fought between nations — wars like the Seven Years’ War, the Crimean War, and World Wars I and II. In 2017 and recent decades, there have been no national wars between states. However, in recent years, there has been a nationalist resurgence characterized by groups and events like America First, UK Brexit, Russian annexations in the Ukraine, and “strongman” regimes in several nation-states.
Homo sapiens divides itself into various other categories besides geographical ones. For example, it divides itself into religious affiliations. Even atheists, agnostics, and pagans often get categorized by the religion of their ancestors. Some nation-states like Saudi Arabia and Iran are theocratic autocracies, others are secular, and some are in flux. However, even in the secular states there are frequently religious influences on state policy.
Race, sex, and gender identity also serve as ways to separate Homo sapiens into groups. In recent decades these boundaries are being challenged by the educated, multicultural, and international business classes.
Another way that Homo sapiens divides itself into groups is through the use of taboos. Societies create separations between each other by inventing different taboos, and they also create separations within themselves by implementing the same basic taboos in different ways. For example, in the English-speaking countries, prudish groups enforce their nudity taboo by criminalizing public nudity, thereby enabling them to alienate and oppress those who don’t subscribe to that taboo.
Homo sapiens is the only species on the planet Earth that invents a requirement to wear clothing even in warm climates. It was not always so — the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, foundations of the modern world, were clothing-optional societies. In 393 A.D., the theocratic Roman Emperor Theodosius banned the Olympics (a nude athletic competition for over a thousand years). Historians consider this date as the end of the Roman Empire and the start of the Dark Ages. Thus began the era of body shame and nudity taboos — tools employed by tyrants and priesthoods to gain control of people’s minds and bodies.
Some futurists believe that the Internet and social media will be cultural game-changers. This remains to be seen. Censorship, and the thought control that it brings, pervade the Internet — in the form of, for example, parental/government censorship filters, content and image censorship by major social media networks like FaceBook and InstaGram, and the blackouts of foreign websites carried out by governments in many nations. In fact, the Internet facilitates the spread of pro-censorship sentiments, because it provides totalitarian-minded individuals with a convenient way to communicate with each other, to reinforce each others’ beliefs, and to collaborate. However, the Internet provides the same advantages to the opponents of censorship.
A bright spot for Homo sapiens communication is the adoption of the English language as the world language for international business. Many nations use English as the language for both government and business. Because of the ubiquity of English, the tale you are reading can be easily read by more than a billion people, and can be translated into other languages for everyone else. As a foreshadowing and expectation: you, dear reader, are expected to help this story become viral by emailing it to anyone you know who has any political, cultural, or artistic leaning, or by posting it to your social media or blogs. Please do this by May 18, 2017.
And that brings us to my story itself — the story of how the nudity taboo is being implemented in three supposedly ‘enlightened’ cities in the English-speaking world.
London, New York City, and San Francisco: the taboo-crushers
The Body Freedom Movement and other avante garde movements have long found fertile ground in London, New York City and San Francisco. (You might think that Los Angeles/Hollywood would be on that list — especially since that area is a major production center for video pornography — but it is not on the list. Los Angeles officials enforce anti-nudity laws so harsh that women were prohibited from exposing their ariolas during the 2016 International “Free the Nipple” campaign on Venice Beach — which was a clothing-optional beach during the 1970s!)
London was the birthplace of the modern Body Freedom Movement. In 1999, the artist Vincent Bethell started a campaign for non-sexual public nudity, called ‘The Freedom to be Yourself’. He was arrested 2001 for public nudity. He remained nude in jail, and while on trial. Since he was not acting sexually or aggressively, the trial judge released him. Afterwards, Bethell would go nude to locations like Trafalgar Square and talk to people. Bethell’s court victory inspired many others in the UK to push for the right to public nudity, and progress is being made.
Of the three ‘taboo-crusher’ cities, London is the most nudely active. The London World Naked Bike Ride always has more than 1000 participants. A nude restaurant opened in 2016, and now has a waiting list of 40,000 reservations. Several public swimming pools have swim-suit optional hours. A public nude disco party called ‘Starkers’ is a weekly event. There is a nudist rooftop bar with a magnificent view of central London. Like New York City and San Francisco, London has naked yoga classes.
New York City, by law, recognizes the right of artists to use public nudity in theatrical and artistic performances and in political activities. In August 2014, George Davis tested and demonstrated this right by making a nude Body Freedom speech in the center of Times Square with the full cooperation of the New York City Mayor’s Office and the NYPD. The New York City World Naked Bike Ride has only about 50 riders, compared to Philadelphia with 3,000 riders, St. Louis with 2,000, and Portland, OR with 9,000. (Ridership seems to depend upon how much of a party the organizers make of it.) The artist, Andy Golub, routinely body paints fully nude people in Times Square and other prominent New York City locations. Golub also produces major Body Painting Day events with 25 to 100 models in New York City, San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Brussels. (In 2016, London authorities were ambiguous about London Body Painting Day, so there wasn’t one there.) In 2016, a theater group performed nude productions of Shakespeare’s, The Tempest, in Central Park in New York City and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. On the other hand, unlike San Francisco, New York City does not allow public nudity for their Gay Pride and Leather-fetish public festivities.
San Francisco has more public events with legal nudity than London and New York City combined. A partial list includes the World Naked Bike Ride, the San Francisco Pride Celebration & Parade, the Folsom Street Fair, the Leather Walk, the How Weird Faire, the Bay-to-Breakers Race, the Burning Man Decompression Party, the San Francisco Body Art Show, and many other street fairs, parades, and festivals. However, San Francisco currently ignores the Body Freedom movement and refuses to acknowledge the right to use public nudity for political and artistic expression.
Other cities that respect a degree of body freedom are Berlin and Munich where nudists can freely use the best locations in the city parks to sunbathe and have picnics — something not possible in London, New York City, or San Francisco. Germany has been a leader of the Body Freedom Movement (Freikörperkultur = FKK) since the late nineteenth century. During the 1920s Berlin was the avante garde capital of the world.
Paris is currently working on finding city parkland for nudists to use. Still, Paris has in recent years been hostile to public nudity. France’s Cap d’Agde on the Mediterranean Sea in the summer tourist season is the largest nudist city in the world with 40,000 people.
Barcelona had public urban nudity until recently when the city passed an anti-nudity ordinance. Barcelona nudists say the ordinance is not enforced, but the existence is a sufficient bar to prevent tourists and visitors from participating in urban public nudity. Barcelona beaches, in fact almost all beaches in Spain, are clothing optional.
Why is May 18, 2017 important?
In 2013, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor criminalized public nudity at all times and places except for government-approved fairs, parades, and festivals. The ordinance failed to make exceptions for public nudity as political, artistic, or theatrical expression. It failed to make the nudity ordinance for city parks consistent with that for city streets. And it ruined San Francisco’s long-standing reputation as a bastion of personal liberty in a nation of irrational taboos. At a recent party George Davis asked a city Supervisor “Why can’t San Franciscans have the same civil liberties, rights, and freedoms as New Yorkers?” He replied, “We’re too uptight.” George had to agree.
Since San Francisco’s anti-nudity law went into effect in 2013, George Davis and Gypsy Taub have been arrested several times for using public nudity in political and artistic contexts. Body Freedom activists filed a federal lawsuit against the City of San Francisco to challenge this law. The presiding federal judge ruled that, although prior to the nudity ban public nudity was constitutionally protected, politically-expressive free speech, the San Francisco City government has the right to regulate public nudity and reclassify it as non-politically-expressive. You read that right — the city government was granted the right to redefine the meaning of ‘freedom of speech’ in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution! Sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The plaintiffs, of course, appealed the ruling. Oral arguments and a ruling on the appeal are finally coming up before the San Francisco Federal Court of Appeals on May 18, 2017.
Are you are in favor of realistic mental and body imagery, and of ultimately ending regressive legal codes and media censorship that is designed to make you stupid, docile, easily manipulated, and uptight? If so, forward this article or the link, ataleofthreecitiessite.wordpress.com, to your intelligent friends, to social media networks, and especially to government and business decision-makers. And forward it to legal and police authorities, to teachers and to clergy. Do it before May 18 so as to provoke discussions and media coverage of this issue. Public opinion has an impact on court decisions, regardless of what political theorists may claim to the contrary.
In 2017 the Body Freedom Movement is where the Gay Rights Movement was 50 years ago: frequently suppressed by government and judicial officials, and mostly ignored by the ACLU, Amnesty International, and mass media. The Western World has made tremendous progress in recent decades in restoring civil rights to gay people — rights that were lost after the fall of Rome. The same progress can be achieved for body freedom if we make our voices loud, clear, and insistent.
You do not have to be from California for this chain-letter email to be influential. An international ‘viral’ transmission of this message will get back to everyone, everywhere. A U.S. Federal Appeals Court recognition of body freedom rights becomes legal precedent for the laws of the United States. A win in the United States will have an impact in many other nations.
How many political movements can you effectively participate in by a click of the mouse — movements which promise a brighter, more honest, transparent, liberated world without requiring any special ideological belief or any killing? This campaign is simple. Go viral! Click through. NOW!
Author’s response to people who didn’t click through:
Several people told me that they do not think body freedom is important.
My reply was that if there were a list of people who think that the nude human body isn’t a ‘big deal’, I should be number one on the list. However, considering that this harmless, fun, natural freedom is the target of suppression by the police state and by media censorship means it must actually be a big deal.
Other people told me that they are in agreement with my position on the subject, but asked “What about the children?”
Childhood exposure to non-sexual nudity has been carefully researched in a number of controlled studies. All of these studies show that children raised in families without nudity taboos are more comfortable with their bodies and grow up with fewer sexual and relationship problems than children growing up in a taboo-ridden family environment. The notion that children get mental damage from the sight of the human body is a dangerous myth that harms society while giving governments and priesthoods control over people’s thoughts and bodies.
A few people have told me that they are too uptight about being nude in public.
I don’t understand the confusion. None of this is about your being nude in public. It’s about your legal right to be nude in public at some future date in case you ever want to. It’s about your right to get uncensored information. It’s about your right to view reality rather than a fake version of reality designed to manipulate your thoughts and habits.
I hope you have decided to click through to friends and acquaintances and spread the word. I hope you are not blinded by authoritarian dogma, the Stockholm Syndrome, or the Borg.
Thank you for helping to brighten the future.