Nudism/Naturism: The male-female ratio issue

A reader here mentioned recently that he was turned away from a naturist organization — after being vetted and approved as a potential member — in his area because he couldn’t find a female to join with him. It isn’t that he has to be in a relationship with her; it’s just that the group is trying to maintain a certain ratio of male and female members — I don’t know the target ratio for the group he mentioned. So, he is out of luck: he doesn’t get to participate in social nudism settings with club members unless he can bring in a new female member.

Many social nudism/naturism organizations strive for a 50-50 ratio of male and female members, but rarely achieve that. Usually, there are more men than women.

I have heard of other naturism groups — and nudist camp grounds — supposedly “open to all” that turn away men if they feel they don’t have enough female members, and I feel that is unfair and contradicts what nudism/naturism is about. (To be clear, I’m not talking about couples groups that bar singles or family organizations that only accept parents and kids or gay groups.)

I see it as sexism, against males — yes, men can be victims of sexism, too. And sexism is something that is not supposed to be part of nudism/naturism ideology. Social nudism events are supposed to be asexual; no blatant sexuality is permitted. They are not swingers events.

According to Wikipedia’s entry on Naturism, under the sub-heading Naturism and equality, social nudism is about acceptance regardless of age, body shape, fitness, health, wealth, position, nationality, race and sex.

So, what gives? Why the apparent disregard of the nudism/naturism code by some social nudism groups? Why on earth would a person’s sex matter to those organizations?

One more thought: if you respond, “because women won’t join if they see too many men there,” I would reply that “you are not giving us enough credit. Those of us who live the naturism code don’t care about the male-female ratio. We wouldn’t want anyone to be turned away because of someone’s ratio hangups. All should be welcome — once vetted (for clubs), of course.”

For discussion.

Jillian

We are all of one common cosmic or spiritual origin, and what affects one affects all . . . – G. de Purucker

21 thoughts on “Nudism/Naturism: The male-female ratio issue

  1. The only problem I have with your statement is the very last one – “once vetted, of course”. I go to Haulover and Gunnison without anyone vetting me. Maybe I am naive, but this does strike me as sexist and assumed guilty thinking. Unless, and highly unlikely, EVERY person is vetted with the same assiduousness.

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  2. Your idealism is often countered by reality. Too many single men about, hanging around, and women get very uncomfortable. Many women will avoid going to a naturist/nudist resort if the ratio is not comfortably balanced. I have been to over 25 resorts, here and in Europe, and have been a naturist for 30 years, as well as a sociologist who has researched naturism/nudism, and this fact stands. Women do not want to be constantly gocked at, especially when it’s obvious why those men go there.
    The law permits these resort owners a certain latitude in admissions because of this unfortunate circumstance, where and when it arises.

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    1. Hi, Terry. I was probably talking more about naturist clubs than resorts. But still, shouldn’t the philosophy be the same with resorts? As for women who are concerned about being gawked at, they could be gawked at by bisexual women (I am a bisexual woman) and lesbians, too. It sounds like some of those resorts have inappropriate behaviour going on which is another subject all together (a future post).

      Cheers

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  3. Ah, the poor helpless, fragile female, who has a God-given right not to be upset by being gawked at. I wonder whether the notion of this fragile woman is more pandering to the male stereotype of what the female is supposed to be, something to be protected by men, rather than supported and encouraged to stick up for themselves.

    I rather suspect that as most resorts are predominantly still run by men that these rules are, at least in part, enforced for the benefit of those men, because they are in a position of self-appointed privilege, as it supposedly is for the benefit of the women. Such men can claim onto themselves a “harem privilege” but with a ready excuse to defend their decisions to hand, rather than perhaps do what would be reasonable, that is, take each application on merit and dismiss members whose behaviour falls below acceptable standards. After all, we are constantly told that in nudist circles it is rude to gawp, irrespective, and that authentic nudists/naturists hold themselves to higher standards of behaviour. Personally, even as a single male, I would simply be humiliated if I thought that any woman at a naturist resort even thought for a moment I was leching after her.

    I rather suspect that the majority of women who are likely to be put off by attending a naturist resort are likely to just be put off, period, and are unlikely to really be encouraged by the enforcement of equal membership numbers. What I would have thought is more likely to put women off is not an excess of men, but a lack of fellow women, who are prepared to lead by example. Also, I would like to know if there is any real evidence to prove that trying to maintain a balance in numbers of men and women has ever really had any significant impact on the number of women prepared to attend nudist resorts or is it all really just a blind and convenient assumption.

    Here, in the UK, it is illegal to discriminate between men and women in respect of the provision of employment, goods and services with the notable exception of in respect of the provision of personal services. Running a naturist resort does not fall under that exclusion provision and all the clubs here had to scramble to modify their admission rules. However, I am certain that a fair number still effectively discriminate but do so surreptitiously and are sailing close to the wind, in legal terms. However , given the nature of the subject, they rely on the fact that not many men are prepared to publicly go to court to defend their legal rights.

    As it is, in recent years, naturist clubs here have been falling over like nine-pins. Part of that is due to the fact that many leased the land they used and when leases came up for renewal the new lease costs increased exponentially, making them financially unviable. However, a lot have demised simply because of their own poor decisions and because many people regard them as being so hide-bound by regulation that they are regarded as being the very antithesis of what the freedom of naturism is supposed to represent. Young people will not join and the clubs were left with a literally dying membership. Those young, who do want to experiment with naturism do so on the few free beaches that are left in the UK or do while on holiday in Europe. Why pay high membership fees, for a resource that is constantly at the mercy of our volatile weather to only be aware of the fact that you have to figuratively walk on egg-shells on the few occasions when you do get to attend. All-in-all what is there about it that is supposed to be attractive?

    Ironically, from what I can gather, it is those clubs who have embraced the change in the law and taken the challenge head on by genuinely abandoning discriminatory practices that are thriving the most. However, it is not just down to that. They are pro-active and forward-thinking about how they run their clubs in the broadest sense, not just in no longer pursuing discriminatory practices.

    On a personal level, one of the biggest laughs I’ve had is that the club that is nearest to me is so secretive that you would be hard-pushed to know that they even exist. They don’t actively promote themselves, although they have a web site, but you can’t get in direct contact with them and they do their utmost to hide their location, even going as far as lying to the local press a number of years ago, about where their geographical location is. From what I have seen of their grounds and premises on their web site, it is pretty primitive and tired looking and I suspect their membership is so small it consists of a pretty small clique of people personally known to one another. I really expect to hear about their closure almost any day. Maybe I ought to help them by publishing the Ordinance Survey co-ordinates of their true location via Facebook in order to drum up a bit of interest for them? 😉

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  4. This is a difficult and in many ways sad issue. I can see both sides of this problem. On the one hand naturism is about acceptance and turning anyone away seems antithetical to those values. On the other hand social nudity isn’t really social nudity if it’s just a naked guys club. In fact I have been part of precisely that kind of situation, attending a regular meetup that made no effort to really reach out to women. The result a gathering of 50 naked guys. It felt like high school again in the football locker room. I have stopped tending that group because frankly it’s a boring men’s club. Secondly, to large extent we men do have some responsibility in the arena of female fear and insecurity when it comes to women fearing and running the other way when it comes to baring it all. Our culture has told them they are not beautiful or sexy enough. Every time men buy into porn or push to commercial vision of beauty on their female friends, spouses etc. the fear is reinforced. There is a certain realism and acceptance of responsibility by telling single male naturists to find a friend, a spouse, a relative of the female pursuasion to bring along. We men are in many ways responsible for the body fears that keep women out of naturism and men should not be so timid and incapable of finding female companionship whom they can sincerely convince to be part of something so important to their lives. Seriously- who wants to just be part of a men’s club? There are other forums aside from naturism for that. I can say from experience it is possible to find a female companion to join you men. The reaction of my wife when I first explained my interest in social nudity was a flat , ‘I will NEVER get naked in front of strangers. After one year of patient discussion my wife can’t wait for every naturism event we can possibly go to. Men need to take responsibility and invest into whatever effort it takes to bring along female companionship or else all we are going to have is a bunch of men clubs.

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  5. Jillian, your sentiments are laudable but history trumps sentiment, and profitability is an issue whether we want it to be or not.

    I wish I could find the article written in 1949 that dealt with this very topic, and came to exactly the same conclusions that exist today. Exactly the same.

    Women will NOT attend nude venues swarming with men. You might, but it’s hard enough to get women out of their clothes without the added burden, real or imagined, of being pestered by men. Take it a step further and offer ‘women only’ days and the results might be surprising. More places should try that!

    Single men tend to assume that women are as desperate as they to meet someone, and they behave accordingly (see what happens to a single woman at a bar!). A woman wanting nothing more than to relax, at a nudist venue or elsewhere, must contend with this. Camps/parks have experienced this enough to know that a balance needs to be maintained.

    Do dance clubs not do the same, for the same reason? Who condemns them for it? The reason they do it is obvious.

    It’s not discrimination based on gender as much a the realization that if the balance is too far off, NO one will be comfortable and the profitability of the venue is threatened, not to mention the comfort of the primary clientele; the club members themselves.

    Very few clubs, especially the most common type, small member-owned or supported camps, have managed to be totally open to single men. We recently had a conversation with one well-known camp about this issue.

    We asked them point-blank if single men were not allowed and they replied that yes, of course they were. When we asked if we could publicise that fact (Yay! A camp that accepts single men!), they demurred and said they’d have to take that under consideration. Their website, of course, makes no suggestion that singles aren’t welcome.

    It’s exactly as you say; most camps claim to welcome everyone, but don’t, not really. Angie and I have been going to our local club for years yet if I happen to get there before her, or alone, it’s a whole different ballgame. Other than the folks we know well, others are quite leery of me. It’s a very unpleasant feeling. “Why is he here? What does he want?”

    Social nudism is a precious commodity and those committed enough to invest time and money to make places available simply are not going to risk that for the sake of single men that skew the demographics and cause unease among those who are the primary source of income while scaring off the rare woman who manages to find her way there.

    This has been a difficult issue for decades, and the cause of a lot of pointless arguments by men who rightly feel like second-class citizens, but recognizing that it ‘just ain’t fair’ is not going to change the reality of the situation.

    Of course, there ARE camps that deliberately court single men, but a straight guy might not feel any more comfortable there than a single woman at a camp predominantly attended by single straight males. Ya know?

    Sometimes we just want to relax and get away from all that Textile world stuff, and anything that prevents that simply is not welcome.

    Sorry this became so long, but it IS a problem. Unfortunately, no amount of explaining will make it go away. Too bad, it’s a loss to all of us.

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  6. Thank you, Jillian, for addressing this. I am, I suspect, the reader you mention at the top of the blog, since I did say just that to you in the last few days.
    To further explain my situation, I am in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We do have a local nude beach (it’s not officially nude, but has been used as such for well over half a century now), but being in Canada, our time for outdoor naturist activity is somewhat limited. We get on average about four months, sometimes five in which the beach is warm enough to enjoy.
    Naturally, I’d like to be a member of the club in question, since they meet once a month at an indoor pool during the cold months, then everyone goes out to a restaurant together afterward. Many of these people are people who I know from the beach, so you’d think I would be welcome there–but there’s that rule again that I must join with a woman. Of the naturist women I know from the beach, they are either already a member, or they have no interest in joining. I do have three or four non-naturist female friends who are tempted to try it, but still aren’t quite sure, and I don’t want to pressure them. Two of those did once go with me to the beach one day four years ago, so it’s not as if they’re afraid of social nudity, but one of those is now married and her husband is not so sure about her joining a nudist club. The other woman mainly only went to the beach that day on a lark–though she did enjoy it–and isn’t really interested in naturism as an ongoing hobby/lifestyle.
    But going back to the rule that prevents me from joining the club alone: When I responded in your other blog I was being brief, but there is actually much more to it. When I spoke to the leader of this club on that occasion several years ago, he DID specify that he was concerning about the men outnumbering the women was the main concern–but he also eventually added one other concern which I find disturbing. He told me he was worried about the club becoming too much of a “gay” club–indicating a degree of homophobia. Well, many of my best friends are homosexual, and I’m certainly no fan of bigotry, but after thinking about it, I still want to join the club, despite this, since, as I said before, I know many of the members, and I’d be joining in order to socialize with THEM, not with the club’s leader.
    I have read naturist publications, such as Canada’s “Going Natural” and Britain’s “H & E,” and I’ve seen the issue of single males brought up in them–but never have I seen fear of a club/resort becoming “gay” as the reason for excluding single men!
    But, all in all, I have to say that I wish I had the financial means to start my own club, or at least to be able to afford to travel away from Nova Scotia occasionally and spend time at an actual naturist resort that has no problems with single men.

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    1. Brad, it was, indeed, your story that touched me and inspired this post. I’m sorry they are being so mean to you, but then again, that club may not be worthy of you. If you ever come out this way, you can come as my guest to an Ottawa Naturists event. I’m sure they will welcome you.

      Hugs

      Jillian

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  7. Lots of discussion, but I’m with Jillian – It’s sexism, pure and simple; and no amount of discussion or pragmatism can make sexism anything but *wrong*.

    (Sexism is soooo last millennium.)

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    1. Well- if saying that your PRIVATE club cannot determine who is allowed what about rest rooms in privately owned restaurants that are segregated by gender? What about the well known gyms called, ‘Curves for Wonen’ that only allow women because they don’t want male gawkers? What about tanning salons and saunas and steam rooms that segregate on gender? What about the Bill if Rights that guarantees the free right of assembly – which means you have the constitutional right to choose who and when you hang out with in your own private business or residence. There is no legal or moral basis to say that a private business saying who they will allow is wrong! I agree and understand that this is an issue and problem for single men. That’s why the termination if nudity at clubs such as the YMCA is such a loss. The answer for single men remains the same – convince a female companion to become a naturist or create new male only venues it your own – like in your backyard or a friends or a secluded pond in the wild etc. Anything but telling others how to run their private business.

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  8. This issue always makes me think on that organizations acting like that, with that odd rules, are a- run by men using nudism as a cover to have naked women around to look at; b- run by men so insecure and afraid of their own sexuality that fear being surrounded by naked men; and c-may think they are serving good purposes but in fact ignore they’re acting in a sexist way that also send a wrong message, and taking into account a and b, make women think twice before joining the naked fun.

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  9. The 50/50 ratio rules are almost ALWAYS written by men. You will rarely find a woman who agrees with the policy.

    Reduced to the core, the policy says that the price of admission is a woman.

    Steve

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    1. Well said Steve. The price of admission is a woman. Once again women are reduced to property and the ownership of which is used to exclude other men from being included in the culture. It’s a story as old as time itself. Way back the youngest and strongest would simply have killed off the owners and grabbed the women for themselves.

      There is no way out of the conundrum, we naturists simply have to attract more women. The benefits of naturism to women are obvious in terms of body image acceptance and of liberation from the incessant need to conform to to commercial precepts of what women should look like and be.

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      1. Are we missing the forest for the trees? Single gender nudity is not new or culture changing – it’s as old as locker rooms. The power if social nudity IS the social interaction of mixed gender grown up and nature enough to accept people of all ages and mixed gender being together in a nonsexual social setting that underscores body acceptance. The very fact that so many men and so FEW women participate is the very problem we claim to be able to answer as naturists – that we can accept and accommodate women in an environment where they can be comfortable . Where they can escape cultures standards that say they are not good enough. A naked men’s club is simply shirking the responsibility to reach out and transform culture such that women will see the value of naturism and join. It’s not about sexism , possessing women, or sexual anything- it’s about learning how to be effective ambassadors for our lifestyle and getting out of our nudist ghettos to reach women in the greater culture and tell them the good news of what naturism can do. It isn’t that hard. I have been involved in this and with any kind of long term effort it’s possible to get women involved

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  10. I go to this nude swim in southern Maine as often as I can. Singles and kids (w/ adult) are all allowed without discrimination. They must still have enough money to rent the pool.

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