News from NAG – Nov 2016
Don’t Hold The Front Page
What would you do on your last day? The Guardian reported (17/09/2016) that the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage marked the end of his tenure by a quick dip in the sea with friend and founder of Leave.eu, Aaron Banks, giving us this startling revelation on BBC TV’s Question Time. At first Banks described it as a ‘skinny dip’ to which Labour’s Angela Eagle said it was a terrible image and that there ‘should be a law against it’. Against what Ms Eagle? We cannot be held responsible for your own insecurities or imagination.
Picked up by Radio 4’s Today, presenter Nick Robinson interviewed BN’s Commercial Manager Andrew Welch, in which he gave probably the simplest, the clearest definition of the law, as we understand it, I’ve heard. Well done, he. At the end of his interview, Welch said ‘at the end of the day a man has gone skinny dipping in his underpants, not exactly front page news is it,’ (not verbatim). In response to the radio programme’s item, Katie Faulkner tweeted, ‘Why is there a whole item on this?!?’ I quite agree.
The first was from a French naturist asking for advice, explaining that Grande Cosse, a family-run naturist campsite in Languedoc had been sold and was under threat of turning textile. Not really equipped to help, we pointed them towards FFN and/or APNEL, two organizations who hopefully could be more “hands-on”. Shortly afterwards, we got wind of an open letter from the INF calling on all its member organizations and naturists to sign a petition against just such a move, without offering much in the way of explanation. Read our post, Campsite Grande Cosse, France on the website for links to the INF letter in multiple languages, and of course, the petition.
Not long after this, came an email from Jacques Frimon, vice-president of APNEL, telling us they had a stand at Fête de l’Humanite earlier this year, for the very first time. A mixture of cultural event and music festival, it’s as if NAG had a stand at Glastonbury? Stéphane Deschênes gave an explanation about the fete in his blog for Bare Oaks, and goes on to explain that in France: ‘outside of the naturist clubs, resorts, and beaches, nudity is very restricted. For example, unlike in Canada and some states in the USA (like New York) women do not have the right to be topfree. And unlike in Germany, being nude in a public park will get you arrested.’ You can also watch a video about the event (in French). Just don’t forget to sign the petition.
Dr Sunshine (again)
In June (2016) I featured an article in News from NAG that suggested Vitamin D could help those with heart disease; now research is suggesting it may help asthmatics too.
The research is still at its early stages and much larger studies are needed. Still according to a BBC News article (05/09/2016) in a small study, giving Vitamin D supplements in addition to their normal medication, cut the rate of asthma attacks needing steroid treatment. Researchers are not entirely sure why, or how, or if it only benefits those who are deficient in the vitamin in the first place, and this is why larger studies are needed
As we should be aware, skin exposure to sunlight produces Vitamin D in far larger quantities than we can get through supplements or our diet, so this seems to be yet another plus to add to an already long list, compared to the minus side. Even so, the sun can be our enemy as well as our friend and we should not take our health for granted. If this news article interests you, speak to your doctor first and on no account stop taking your prescribed medication before doing so.
It is the bane of modern life, but many of us cannot live without it. Social media – and by that I mean Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc – has literally taken over our lives, and they naturally, set the rules. Even if those rules stink, we have to obey them.
Much of the social media we use is free to the end user, so to pay for it we are bombarded with adverts for things we didn’t know we needed. And it is fear of loosing those advertisers that lead the odd rules about nudity on sites such as Facebook, where mutilation and murder can be depicted with impunity, but not an artistic photograph of a nude.
In an open letter to Facebook and posted to the Authentic Astrology for You blog (not our usual fair, I grant you), Ms Hunter Hawks writes: ‘It greatly supports a corrupt value system when imagery of hacked body parts is acceptable for children in the eyes of Facebook, yet photos of naked flower children running free in a field is deemed too traumatizing.’ Later, she continues: ‘This policy also encourages shame of the body and shame of lovemaking. It slowly desensitizes our minds to images of violence, eventually making us more accepting of physical violence. The breastfeeding-only policy reminds women that she may only display her body if it’s in the ‘service of motherhood’ – not for her own freedoms and pleasures.’
While accepting the photography referred to by Hunter Hawks more often than not features women, it is not exclusively so.
To be fair, with social media being a global phenomenon, it is hard to write rules that cater for social morality in every country; what is acceptable in one may not be in another. But that, I propose is the problem, social media giants like Facebook are trying to write ‘one-size fits all’ rules so someone in India say, can judge a photo posted by a German or American user. However the rule is worded that Indian person is going to look at the photo and judge it according to the standards of acceptability in India. There are aspects of globalisation that have benefited mankind; this is not one of them.
With users in the billions, Facebook and its like are not going to disappear tomorrow but as naturists we can either suffer the (occasional?) inconvenience of being blocked from our accounts and post ineffectually complaining about the system or move completely to a more naturist friendly medium, like Naktiv.net. Unfortunately, we have allowed social media in general to get too big and powerful and they will only listen to us – its users – and on whom they ultimately depend for revenue if enough of us spoke as one. But how would we organise ourselves, through a Facebook page?
Leisure centre says no
A Bournemouth leisure centre refused a booking, to let local naturists participate in the Great British Skinny Dip.
Accountant David Ross told the Bournemouth Daily Echo that when he contacted the leisure centre there was no problem about him paying for its hire until he mentioned that it would be for a naturist swim.
‘I’m being discriminated against because I’m a naturist,’ he told the reporter. ‘And it’s just not acceptable.’
Following a complaint to BH Live, who runs the leisure centre on behalf of Bournemouth Borough Council, Ross said he got ‘a number of ridiculous excuses’ in reply. First he was told there would be a problem with nakedness in the changing rooms (Really!) and then that ‘if people didn’t wear swimming costumes it would mess up the filtration system.’ Whatever the real reason, Mike Lyons, director of leisure facilities for BH Live confirmed to the newspaper that they did receive a request from Ross about hiring some leisure facilities but they were unable to accommodate him.
However, Ross is not leaving the matter there. He told Bournemouth Daily Echo that he has now made an official complaint against BH Live’s management, who have broken their own code of practice, adding that he was quite prepared to take legal action against them.
While Tasmania says… Maybe.
Meanwhile, a completely different attitude has been displayed on the other side of the world. Tasmania (or a bit of it at least) ‘could be looking at a new opportunity to boost its economy’ wrote The Advocate (21/09/2016).
Latrobe Council was set to consider a proposal by the Tasmanian Nudist Group to declare Bakers Beach clothes optional. Tasmania – according to the article – has no official, and therefore legal, nudist beach, although Bakers Beach is rated highly as an unofficial one.
The council was prepared to consider the proposal because it ‘could bring potential tourism growth’ according to Cllr John Perkins, as naturists using the beach ‘would spend a dollar while coming and going’. ‘Just the influx of those from around Tasmania could be enough to boost the local economy,’ continued the article with local reaction to the proposal said to be largely positive.
In the end, the group decided to withdraw the proposal because a concern was raised about horse riders, who also use the beach, preferring to continue discussions to get their support rather than their opposition. ‘Tasmania is too small a place not to make the most of any opportunity we have for increasing visitation, and therefore improving the visitor economy,’ concludes the article.
We know that Southampton has a moderately successful WNBR leg, but this is a protest and not a naturist advocacy group for Hampshire. Although Ross was prepared to stump up the £70 to hire the leisure facilities, the bigger picture as far as the management was concerned, was that it would be bad for business. Naturally we think that is utter tosh but can we prove it?
Ross is one man with a mission. With few groups like the Tasmanian Nudist Group in this country there is no grassroots campaigning. There is NAG, who does its best to campaign strategically and BN. There is nothing below strategic campaigning, which is hampering our ability to influence lawmakers at the national level. How we go about correcting that situation is another matter. What I do know though, it cannot be directed from the top. A local naturist advocacy group does not need to campaign for some official stamp, but they should be talking to other local stakeholders to iron out any local problems (perceived or otherwise) there might be. We, in the end, rely on you.