Naturism is the practice of going nude alone or socially for reasons of comfort and/or physical and mental health benefits. Naturists believe that social stigmas about nakedness as sexual when it is between men and women are unnecessary as to simply be naked is not by itself a sexual act. Most naturists also believe in the importance of self-identifying as naturist (as opposed to just enjoying nakedness namelessly without categorisation).
I’m a naturist myself and naturism (or nudism - in fiction I tend to use this term) plays a big part in my writing. Becky in Best Friends With a Naked Girl identifies as a nudist, and Brave Nude World is about an alternate version of America where public nudity becomes a protected legal behaviour - those who take advantage of this new right are called nudists. In my short stories, the protagonist of What Was Found When Lost is nude because she is visiting a nudist retreat, and Roommate’s Revenge has a nudist co-habiting with a clothed girl.
I confess that as an author who is also a naturist, the idea that fellow naturists might enjoy my stories is very appealing. Yet, I have to also acknowledge that for many naturists, there are aspects of my work that would be problematic.
For starters, my books and stories are unashamedly erotica. Although I think they are very much on the soft-core side of the adult market (while there are sex scenes and masturbation scenes they are fairly lightweight), they are definitely "adults only".
Many naturists would likely find little to approve of in stories which use naturism, or a version thereof, as the basis for sexual escapades. After all, real naturism isn’t particularly sexy, and for the most part it isn’t done for sexual reasons (adult swinger-type resorts aside). But we live in a world that sexualises all nudity, and so people who choose to be visibly naturist are often fighting against that perception in order to gain more social acceptability for their lifestyle. When it turns up in porn and other adult entertainment, naturism is often depicted in a very unrealistic way, with the sexual possibilities of people being uninhibitedly nude together brought to the forefront; all of which gives a very misleading impression of naturism to the wider world.
So how do I, as a naturist, justify writing books in which the practice of being naked is often sexualised, when the reality for me is that naturism is not a sexual experience?
I admit it is something I have pondered myself, and my justification comes from the fact that I believe that there remains a place for sexual nudity, and that practicing naturism is less about the complete eradication of sex and more about understanding that sexual and non-sexual nudity are both good, positive things.
To any naturists concerned about my work, I would send a message that despite the fact that my stories undoubtedly use nakedness to titillate the reader and create erotic tension, I am always careful to draw a line between sexual nudity and non-sexual naturism.
In Best Friends... Becky has a conversation with Lisa where she explains how she sees a distinction between her nudist lifestyle and the exhibitionism that she also enjoys:
In Brave Nude World, a much longer conversation takes place between main character Rachel and her friend Amber, exploring how shares nudity can be both a non-sexual experience but still naturally prompt sexual thoughts in certain situations, without the innocence of nudism being harmed:
I don’t think that naturism is sexual, but I think that while we understandably benefit from drawing a line between non-sexual naturism and sexualised nudity, it doesn’t follow that sexualised nudity is bad; and if we are to truly be able to treat nakedness as natural we need to acknowledge that both can exist simultaneously.
By that, I mean that I don’t stop finding my wife attractive and her body desirable just because we practice naturism together. Likewise, just because my characters are involved in some version of nudism does not mean they are not going to explore their own sexuality and embark upon various sexual adventures in my erotic fiction (many arising from the uninhibited moments created by that nudism).
Some naturists may find this unacceptable but for the time being I am going to continue writing about themes of nakedness in a way that interests me.
I'm no hero (!) and I'm certainly not perfect. In the past I have written stories which pander to some of the least-positive porn stereotypes about naturism (although I'm proud to say the tired old 'nudist camp orgy' scenario has never been used in any of my work), but I'm not ashamed to have explored more controversial areas in my fiction, even if it would get me exiled from the 'club' of online naturists who scream "NO PORN" at the top of their lungs on Twitter.
But I'm also interested in alternative perspectives. I've not encountered many authors who manage to marry naturism and fiction in a way that creates interesting and compelling stories without acknowledging sexuality, but I'm always open to suggestions and recommendations from fellow naturists and others who might have an idea of books that do it 'right' (and don't disappear up their own fundament of dullness).
I even have long-term plans to write my own: I've begun plotting out a non-erotic romantic comedy about naturism. For those readers who want to read about naturism but are put off by themes of exhibitionism and sex scenes in my published work to date, I hope this will be more their cup of tea.