Updated August 17, 2021

Dissertation abstracts
Class projects
An exam question

Dissertation Abstracts
compiled by Carl Hild

Dissertations identified through a search on the terms nudist, nudism, naturist, naturism
ProQuest Dissertation Database

    Alcorn, John Marshall (1966) Hardy to Lawrence: A study in naturism.  New York University, 269 pages

    No abstract available.

    Buchy, Phillip Edward  (MA 2005) Nudist Resort Architecture.  Miami University (Ohio), 135 pages.

    An architecture thesis focused on designing a project to suit the particular needs and wants of a specialized client group, in this case, nudists.  Literary research coupled with years of personal experience and interviews, revealed nudism to be mostly an act of self-discovery.  The focus of the project thus became designing a resort that would facilitate the process of discovery and ideally correlate the spiritual nature of the experience of nudism with the architectural environment.  Design decisions to accomplish this were primarily based on people’s environmental preferences and our predispositions for natural settings as well as material quality.  This thesis is experiential and process oriented, not empirical....

The entire thesis is posted online at http://www.free11.org/post/2005.00.Nudist Resort Architecture MA Thesis.MiamiU (Ohio).Buchy.pdf.

    DeGoede, Daniel L.  (1984) Social nudism and body concept.  Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, 178 pages

    In an attempt to determine whether nudists differ significantly from non-nudists on tests which purport to measure body concept, 249 nudists and 190 non-nudists were compared.  For the purposes of this study, social nudism was defined as being nude in a social setting where people of both gender are present for reasons other than sexual experience.  People who practice familial, parental, or couple nudity but do not practice nudity outside the family or couple environment represent a special class of "nudist" behavior not addressed by the present study.  A derivation of the Secord-Jourard Body Cathexis scale and a subscale of that derivation were utilized to measure possible body concept differences between nudists and non-nudists.  The dependent variable (body concept scores), was separated into two components: BCSTOT, an overall body concept score; and BCSSEX, a specialized body concept score presumed to indicate conscious attitudes towards sexual and elimination functions.

    After an examination was made of group homogeneity two separate Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) were made.  The initial analysis was a two factor ANOVA with gender designation and a nudity/non-nudity dimension.  The dependent variable was BCSTOT.  The second ANOVA was identical to the first except that the dependent variable was BCSSEX.  Two a priori t tests were also made to examine specific cell mean differences between nudist and non-nudist females on both BCSTOT and BCSSEX.  These a priori t tests were planned because of earlier research findings by Blank, Sugarman, and Roosa (1968) which demonstrated that there are significant differences in body concept scores between female nudists and female non-nudists.

    In the initial ANOVA, the BCSTOT score was found to be nonsignificant, but in the second ANOVA the BCSSEX scores were significant.  The first a priori t test on overall body concept differences between nudist and non-nudist females was significant, with nudist females scoring higher than non-nudist females.  The second a priori t test on BCSSEX cell means between nudist and non-nudist females was also significant.  Again, the nudist females showed higher scores than the non-nudist females.

    These findings replicate the findings of Blank, Sugarman, and Roosa (1968).  Of all of the groups measured (nudist males, non-nudist males, nudist females, and non-nudist females), the nudist females scored highest on body concept, and the non-nudist females scored lowest.

    Gordon, Dahlia Victoria (2002) Strippers and nudists: A comparative study using Sixteen Personal Factor Questionnaire (16PF).  Carlos Albizu University, 86 pages

    This dissertation compared strippers and nudists using The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF, Fifth Edition, 1993) by R. B. Catell.  Additionally, strippers and nudists were compared to the means of the 16 PF norm sample.  The participants were recruited on a voluntary basis at nude dancing establishments and at a public nude beach.  Participants completed the 16 PF along with a Demographic Information Sheet.  There were 20 strippers and 20 nudists who participated in the study.

    Results yielded 18 valid stripper tests and 20 valid nudist tests.  Demographic information was presented on the two groups.  Additionally, results of the comparisons between strippers, nudists, and the norm sample were provided on all 16 primary factors and the 5 global factors of the 16 PF.

    Results indicated that nudists and strippers differed significantly from each other on the 16 PF factors measuring warmth, dominance, sensitivity, vigilance, privateness, and openness to change.  Additionally, they differed significantly on global factors related to tough-mindedness and independence.

    Regarding the comparisons with the mean scores of the 16 PF norm sample, differences were also found in this area.  Strippers differed significantly from the norm sample on the primary factors measuring warmth, reasoning, emotional tension.  Additionally, they differed significantly on global factors involving anxiety and self-control.

    The nudists also yielded significant differences from the norm sample in several areas including dominance, liveliness, rule consciousness, vigilance, privateness, and openness to change.  The global factors on which the nudists and norm sample differed were toughmindedness, independence, and self-control.

    This study also included several hypotheses that serve as possible explanations for the results found.  Finally, a general profile of strippers and nudists was provided based on the results of the study and previous research.  Potential areas of future research are also mentioned.

    McCarthy, David Patterson (1992) Compromised positions: Situations for the nude in American painting, 1955-1980.  University of Delaware, 600 pages

    In this dissertation I consider some of the critical strategies used by artists between 1955 and 1980 to revitalize the nude while acknowledging the formal dictates of modernist abstraction and addressing the social issues raised by the sexual revolution.  Recognizing that the nude is simultaneously subject to the weight of tradition, to current artistic practice, and to social attitudes toward such issues as the production of gender and the definition of sexuality, I use an historical approach that documents the nude, places it within the artistic history of these years, and reveals the encoded meanings of the postwar nude in its broader sociohistorical context.

    The dissertation is organized around four specific themes, or situations, that helped ground the nude in the history of these years.  These situations include the tension between figuration and abstraction--specifically the formal characteristics of New York School painting, such as flatness and monumental scale--and the desire of such painters as Larry Rivers and Philip Pearlstein to accommodate these characteristics to figurative strategies using the nude; the attempt to develop a uniquely "American" type of nude by Tom Wesselmann, Mel Ramos, and others, an attempt that acknowledged the conventions of the pinup and was informed by recent Supreme Court decisions defining obscenity; the use of the nude as an embodiment of utopian, sexual revolution by such artists as Alfred Leslie and Wynn Chamberlain who were using nudist magazine photography as source material; and the feminist reinterpretation of the nude by Sylvia Sleigh and Joan Semmel, among others, who wished to counter the gendered discrimination traditionally encoded in the nude.

    The results of this study indicate that the interest in the nude by postwar American artists was both deeper and broader than previously thought.  Moreover, this interest cuts across stylistic categories and was by no means relegated to just those painters who considered themselves realists.  Finally, this study suggests that traditional subjects in Western art, such as the nude, could be entertained by contemporary artists because they could be forced to carry new and topical attitudes toward painting and matters of sexuality.

    Morris, Nina (2003) Feeling Nature: Naturism, Camping, Environment and the Body in Twentieth-century Britain.  University of Hull. 

    This thesis considers the interaction of human beings with the natural environment.  In particular, it addresses the ways that naturists and light-weight campers encountered, understood and reflected upon the spaces, places and environments around them in the period between 1920 and the late 1950s.  In considering ‘outdoor cultures’ and drawing upon humanistic geography and recent literature concerning issues of embodiment, sensuality, and body culture, my research raises a number of important questions.  These include the importance of citizenship and the ethos of outdoor recreation in the inter-war and immediate post-war period, debates about the embodied experience of naturists and campers and, in turn, the ways in which Nature was represented within their reflexive accounts.  In working through issues of sensuality, self, body culture and morality, the thesis contributes to ongoing geographical debates concerning the body and embodiment; sensing the environment and outdoor cultures; and experiences of space and place and the mutual constitution of nature and society in inter-war European cultures.  Drawing upon empirical analysis of archival and historical texts, and upon oral histories, photographs, art and poetry I consider embodied experience as a ‘situated’ practice in relation to the moral geographies of citizenship and idealism evident in the inter-war and immediate post war periods.  The thesis demonstrates that human experience is mediated, directed, and evaluated by a wealth of social, cultural and historical parameters and that naturists' and campers' experience shaped and was shaped by wider discourses of morality, health and self.

    Rode, Susan L. (1994)  Nudity as a symbol of salvation in the nudity-Christ connection.  M.A. Thesis.  Ottawa, Canada: Saint Paul University.  64 pages.

    No abstract available.

    Rode, Susan L. (2000)  A Christian perspective of contemporary nudity: theological and ethical reflections on symbolic nakedness.  Ph.D. Thesis.  Ottawa, Canada: Saint Paul University.  258 pages.

    This thesis represents and records the results of investigations in the area of contemporary nudity in North American society and the meanings attached and applied to human nakedness by our culture.  We wanted to uncover and reveal why human nakedness seems to be considered only in connection with sexuality and given mostly negative interpretations.  We identified a symbolic paradigm of nudity at work within both society and Christian discourse, a paradigm which connects human nakedness to fallen humanity, usually represented by references to Adam and Eve.  This tie or relationship appears to lead to negative constructs of nudity, to interpretations of nakedness which communicate a sexuality considered only in a negative fashion.  We have coined the phrase---"the Adam and Eve (Adam/Eve) connection"---to clarify, indicate and identify this joining of contemporary nudity to the Genesis couple.

    The thesis looks to Christian tradition in an attempt to retrieve some basis for an alternate model, a model which would specifically connect our nudity to Christ and in this way symbolically reflect our redeemed nature as well as our fallen state.  We expressed such a relationship or tie with the phrase---"the Christ connection".  Inspired by the research on nudity conducted by ethicist Andre Guindon and the theory of symbolism developed by theologian Paul Tillich, we turned to early baptismal texts and Christian iconography.  Guindon's bold and innovative work on nudity and the Christian faith guides our own investigations and frames our discussions.  Tillich's symbolic theory has influenced and been implemented by many researchers in various disciplines and seems especially appropriate for investigations into nudity as a symbol within our North American culture.

    An examination of the second baptismal catechesis of Cyril of Jerusalem and Renaissance images of the naked Christ, as documented by Leo Steinberg, enabled us to construct a Christocentric symbolic paradigm.  This paradigm indicates and provides meanings of Christ's symbolic nudity.  The baptismal instruction given by Cyril explicates and clarifies the connection between the initiate and Christ, a relationship which Cyril indicates with the use of nudity as a symbol.  The connection between the believer and Christ is symbolized and actualized by the nudity of both.  Nudity forms the symbolic bond connecting Christ and the neophyte.  Steinberg's exploration of theological meanings communicated by artistic imagery of the naked Christ, led us to delineate meanings and interpretations of the symbolic nudity of Christ.  These meanings were then applied in a new model which was employed to offer constructive, positive meanings of human nudity.

    Finally, we indicated theological and ethical implications of the implementation of this Christocentric paradigm.  Such a model presents nudity in a positive fashion because it indicates and reveals our graced relationship with and in the risen Christ.  In the light of our new model, human nakedness may be considered as a positive, affirming symbol (nudity).  (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

    The entire dissertation is posted online at at https://www.ruor.uottawa.ca/en/handle/10393/9302.

    Ross, Chad Christopher (2003) Building a better body: Nudism, society and the German nation, 1890-1950.  University of Missouri- Columbia, 658 pages

    Efforts to create a fit and racially pure Germany in the twentieth century tended to focus almost entirely on re-forming the national body while paying little attention to the personal body.  The Freikörperkultur , or free-body culture (nudist), movement is an important and unique exception in that it focused on the personal body as a means to reinvigorate and regenerate the larger national or racial body.  Contemporary observers believed that physically and psychologically Germans were becoming a degenerate Volk.  Diseased, weak and estranged from nature, Germans cut a poor figure in the minds of many contemporaries who worried about the future of the race.  Nudists were convinced that personal health and regeneration were essential for national regeneration.  For German nudists, the personal body and the national or racial body were intimately connected; to reform one meant to reform the other.  From its earliest days, nudism was conceived and practiced as a means by which the German race could reform itself, one person at a time into a racially purer, better people.  The research for this dissertation was conducted in archives in various German cities.  Results indicate that nudism was far more widespread in German society, and belief in it transcended other ideologies, including politics.  This dissertation represents the first major study in English of this movement, and of any study, is the first to investigate nudism's ideology and reality.  It is a contribution [to] the understanding of the German nation and the role of the body in history.

    Stewart, Philip Gleason, Jr.  (1986) The new-genre nude: A new fine art motif derived from nudist magazine photography.  The Ohio State University, 375 pages

    This dissertation traces the roots of the new-genre nude in fine art photography.  It answers the question, did photography generate a new way of seeing the nude in art?

    By studying visual elements of photographs and paintings, this study concluded that photography in conjunction with mass media publications did generate a new way of seeing the nude in art in the form of new subject matter.

    This new form of nude was a variation of the genre nude and first publicly appeared in nudist publications around 1931.  The elements of this new form of nude then transferred from what had been covert images, such as artists' photographic model studies and pornography, and became acceptable elements of fine art photography.  These elements began to appear in art photography by the mid 1930s and became prevalent in art during the 1970s.

    The elements of the "new-genre nude" are: (1) The subject is a real person who is nude, not a literary character or ideal.  (2) Mixed sexes and age groups, and (3) Modern environmental artifacts which identify the image as being contemporary.  (4) An informal pose rather than consciously artistic or erotic.  (5) Lack of traditional artistic justification for nudity, other than bathing or swimming.

    Prior to 1933, these elements of subject matter were almost never found in nude photographs published as art.  Following the advent of nudist publications in 1931, one or more of these elements could be found in about one third of published fine art nude photographs and by 1970, in about half.  The same pattern of transference of subject matter elements from mass media to fine arts was also seen in anthropological and erotic nude photographs.

    The conclusion is that photography in mass media publications is a powerful educational device which can effectively change the way people think about a subject.  In the example of nude photography, this combination facilitated making what had been unacceptable nudity acceptable to the general public.

    Wasson, Leslie Ann (1999) Embarrassment: Situated definitions of an emotion.  State University of New York at Stony Brook, 206 pages

    Existing theory on the sociology of emotions proposes that emotions are situated, that is, that particular emotions are defined as appropriate and expected in certain social contexts.  Very little empirical research has been done to test this theory.  I gathered data on the emotion of embarrassment, with the goal of following the emotion of embarrassment across situational boundaries to explore the social conditions in which it is defined as appropriate or inappropriate.  Also, I was curious how people learn these definitions when they enter a new setting.  Since embarrassment so frequently occurs in the situation wherein one person finds themselves in a state of undress in front of others, I conducted observational research in the context of a naturist resort, where public nudity is the norm rather than the exception.  This allowed me to examine shifting definitions of appropriate embarrassment or lack thereof regarding nudity in public, and also to observe individuals' resocialization to these new definitions of what is or is not embarrassing.

    The research setting is the largest clothing optional resort in North America, located in Florida.  I selected as subjects those persons who were in the public areas of the resort during my periods of observation.  I took field notes on my observations of their public behavior, including verbatim quotes of their public conversation.  I engaged people in conversation regarding my topic, after identifying myself and the purpose of my research.  Consent forms were read to potential respondents and a copy offered for their files.  I included myself and my own reactions in my notes as material for this research.

    Interview responses and observations at the clothing optional resort indicated that nudists experienced a process of resocialization to a new definition of appropriate public nakedness.  They also learned an ideology that legitimated the practice of social nudism and identified appropriate feelings about nudity.  Finally, through interactions with other nudists, respondents learned ways to redefine what they were feeling emotionally to exclude possible definitions of embarrassment with regard to being naked in public.  These findings have important implications for theories of identity, deviance, socialization, embodiment, and emotion.

    Williams, John Alexander (1996) Giving nature a higher purpose: Back-to-nature movements in Weimer Germany, 1918-1933.  University of Michigan, 396 pages

    This study analyzes the complex and changing historical meanings of returning to nature during the Weimar years through a set of case studies of "back-to-nature" organizations.  The most popular of these organized endeavors were the "life-reform" (Lebensreform) movement, devoted to vegetarianism, homeopathy, and nudism; the conservationist movement; and an array of independent and adult-sponsored youth movements determined to improve the minds and bodies of adolescents through organized hiking.

    Naturist rhetoric and practice addressed issues of general contemporary concern: the ambiguous relations of class, gender, and generation; the burdens of the lost war; and the uncertain fate of the German people.  Each organization claimed to have embarked on a more "natural" path toward a brighter future.  Two common tendencies can be seen in the processes by which the naturists gave nature its "higher purpose."  First, each organization established official rules and practices intended to guide their constituents in the most correct way of returning to nature.  Second, the concept of nature itself underwent change due to the multivalence of contemporary nature visions.  Naturist rhetoric was shaped and contested around three contradictory incarnations of nature: (1) an awestruck, neo-Romantic concept of nature as a realm of individuality, emotion, and mystery; (2) "human nature," usually perceived as dangerously irrational and sexual; and (3) "nature" as a source of immutable laws.  As the Weimar years wore on, this latter rationalistic vision became increasingly dominant in back-to-nature organizations.  By the early 1930s, nature had been rhetorically honed into a more orderly and cultured nature--a "clean nature."  In basing their worldviews and plans of improvement on natural law, the naturists transformed nature into the utopian model for a more stable Germany.

    The study sheds light on cultural responses to the trends that constituted the "modernity" specific to the Weimar years, ranging from the rise of new mass cultural forms, to changing relations between the sexes, to the social, economic, and political legacies of war and revolution.  Moreover, the study of nature concepts brings us closer to an understanding of the cultural continuities between Weimar and the Third Reich.  For the Nazis appropriated the dominant rationalistic concept of nature as "clean," ultimately using it to legitimate their murderous "purification" of the "national community."

    Recently, another important paper has been discovered:

Don Zemlock.  Swimming in the Public Schools of Indiana.  MS thesis: Indiana State Teachers College, 1939.  http://scholars.indstate.edu/handle/10484/7823.  (You still have to hit view/open.)

    The author spent time in eight high schools--mostly in Gary, but also other towns.  He went into lots of details--right down to the reading matter of the coaches.  On p. 87, he stated flat-out, "the boys swim nude in all the pools."  Girls wore suits--usually provided by the school.  Elementary and junior high students also used some of the high school pools--presumably with the same dress code.

    The report contains some surprises.  For instance, Froebel High School had a 25% black population, but those black students walked a few blocks to swim in the newer (and nicer) pool at all-black Theodore Roosevelt High School.  (In 1945, racial tensions would break out at Froebel High School, and spread to other Gary schools.)

    And the thesis contains important national information.  The author wrote to officials in all 48 states (plus Alaska and Hawaii), inquiring about the number of high schools and the number of school pools (indoor or out).  Pools were few, but the numbers confirm what we have surmised: lack of nude swimming in southern schools had nothing to do with conservative attitudes about dress, but with lack of school pools.

    The report is of course dated.  From the late 1940s to the 1970s, there was a boom in school construction.  Increasingly (and especially in the Great Lakes states) junior high and elementary buildings were built with pools--and the same male nudity policy that had always prevailed.  But we get a clear snapshot in time, untainted by recent attitudes that such things could never have happened.

Class Projects

A Student Field Trip
Gordon Hammerle
Adrian College

    This semester I taught a small, student-designed course called “Controversial Issues in Sexuality.”  The students said they would like some field experience, either individually or as a group.  After wrestling with some ethical issues, I decided to allow this to be one of several options for a course requirement.

    One student elected to go to a nudist park.  I arranged for a couple to meet her at a nearby resort.  After the student returned, she gave a full report to the class.  She said she had planned to wear a bathing suit, at least initially, but felt so comfortable she disrobed immediately.  She spent some time with her hosts and some time on her own.  She talked with many people, and found them uniformly friendly; it didn’t matter whether or not she identified herself as doing a student project.

    She told the class she had a great time, and that her mother was jealous she wasn’t invited!  But despite her very positive report, she was uncertain as to whether she would return.  She said it was too expensive for college students; she went after being offered a discount by the management.  She added that the people closest to her in age were one adolescent child attending with her family, and then some couples in their 30’s.  It appeared from her comments that college students would need a critical mass--enough people in their age group--to want to go.  It seemed like few, if any, students in this class would even consider it, despite being open-minded enough to have taken two classes in sexuality.

    Although my student liked the experience, it may be that she was the student in the class most inclined to enjoy that environment.  Indeed, her gynecologist told her he had never had anyone so comfortable during a first-time examination.

    Most parks seemed to be skewed to an older crowd; to me, an unanswered question is whether it generally takes a certain age or maturity to seek out nude recreation.

Nudes in the Classroom

    On January 16th [2003], two naked visitors interrupted a lecture at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario). They entered the room at the back and walked up to the front, where the lecturer was speaking.

    But nobody was alarmed, because the pair were right on topic. The lecture was titled "Public Nudity: Social Art?" The speaker, Prof. Paul Rapoport of the university's School of the Arts, had arranged it all beforehand.

    On a secret cue, Ron Schout and Sandy Hessel left the lecture room to remove their clothes in an antechamber. Then they re-entered the room to chat with Prof. Rapoport, who remained fully dressed.

    Just before this nude intervention, the lecturer described how naked people may engage in ordinary, non-erotic activities. Mr. Schout and Ms. Hessel simply proved the point--live and on location.

    They had also visited McMaster University on January 13th to take part in a photo shoot by art student Rana Haddad. She projected slides of her native Lebanon onto the bodies of six nude women and six nude men bunched together on podiums, and photographed the results.

An Exam Question
--Carl Hild

    Enclosed please find a bonus exam that I offered a couple of years ago to an introductory health science class.  Making parenting discussions is complex.  I found that the most heated discussions in the class centered on personal decisions and sex.  This bonus was graded on consistency of replies as well as justification.

HS 220
15 December 1999

For Additional Credit
Issues on Parenting and Body Acceptance:
Individual Behavior, Community Values, Public Health

What follows are summaries of four issues that have appeared in the news media over the past few years.  Each deals with INDIVIDUAL BEHAVIORS related to parenting and body acceptance.  Each deals with COMMUNITY VALUES that may conflict with personal activities.  Each deals with an aspect that relates to PUBLIC HEALTH.

If you decide to complete this offer you may gain a potential of an additional 10% to your current grade.  The exam you just completed was 25% of your grade as outlined in the syllabus.  This additional credit can be used to complement your overall class grade.

In order to complete this exercise, you must:
    ●    read the four summary statements,
    ●    provide your response to four yes or no questions, and
    ●    write one essay explaining your perspective on a public health aspect of personal body acceptance and community values. 
Only yes or no will be accepted as responses to the first four questions.

Start your response on the first page of your Blue Book.  Label it "Extra Credit."  Number the first lines 1, 2, 3, and 4 and place your answers next to the number.  Begin your essay on the 5th line.  You have until the end of the final time period to complete this material. 

Anchorage Daily News - 19 March 1999
“Woman sentenced for ‘sex education’
Fort Worth, Texas - A woman who said she had sex with her husband in front of her two young daughters for “educational purposes” was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  The 29-year old woman, whose name was withheld to protect her children, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child.  She was sentenced Wednesday.  'I did this for educational purposes,' she told police.  'What went on in our household is our business.' ”

Parents have fought against school-based sex education as it removes their rights to provide the information in a meaningful context.  Parents have requested that they provide the primary information on sexual behavior in their own cultural, moral, and ethical environment.  However, many parents have difficulty or find it impossible to have the type of open discussion about sex and maturing that are really needed.  Soon the children are of an age when they need the information.  They turn to peers, to unreliable sources, and often learn the hard way from first hand experience.

Schools have been charged to provide sex education.  They make extraordinary efforts to let the parents know well in advance so the process can be provided or at least begun at home first.  Schools are accused of providing just the description of sex education.  The analogy that is used is giving driver education by providing the parts manual to a car without ever talking about how it runs or how to drive one.  Schools are accused at the same time of providing the working information without the moral or cultural framework that is critically needed.  The analogy is giving the rules of the road for driving in different countries of the world.  Schools are in the impossible position to provide needed information in a manner that is acceptable to everyone on a very personal topic.  No one teacher can provide the cultural, moral, and physical sexual education for a community of children.  However, parents can do so for their own children.

The couple in question in the article acted in the belief that their demonstration of sexual intercourse was an appropriate way to educate the children.  It was done in the privacy of their home.  It may be argued that there are no quality sex education materials that provide the level of detail or parental perspective that was attempted by this couple. 

The mother stated she did this for her children and admitted to be guilty of the act, but was she guilty of the intent of the law?  Is she guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child?  It is unknown if the male partner was similarly charged.  It is unknown how the public learned of the event.

    1.  Should parents have the freedom to teach their children about sex in the privacy of their own home?  Yes or No

Lake Travis, near Austin, Texas
The State of Texas has had a decades-old sign
“NOTICE  Nude swimming or sunbathing may be occurring beyond this point.”
County Officials have placed a new sign
“NOTICE  No person under the age of 18 shall be admitted into McGregor/Hippie Hollow Park.”

In Texas, nudity in public is an offense only if you are reckless about offending someone who is present.  There have been no previous problems in this out-of-the-way lake where families have gone nude for decades. The official signs at the entrance have negated any presumption of recklessness, therefore allowing the clothing-optional recreation to occur under the law.  The law officers have left this situation alone for years.  As there were no complaints there was no need for concern.  Then a new group of county officials acted to “protect” children and closed the park to all of those under 18.

For a hundred years the philosophy of social nudism, or naturism, has provided an alternative to the confines of growing industrialized urbanization and a removal of people from nature.  It is believed that participating in open-air recreation and sun bathing promotes greater sensitivity for the stewardship of the environment and builds community bonds through trusting relationships.  Naturism is a philosophy to reconnect people to nature through living without clothing.  Doctors during the first half of this century prescribed “sun and air baths” (naturist activities) for improving overall health.  This has been seen as a family activity from which both children and adults benefit.

There was an official sign informing the public of the nude activities.  Recently, some people who do not support such activity have gone to Lake Travis specifically to observe this family nudity and have been offended.  These individuals went out of their way to view unclothed families engaged in recreational activities.  The officers have now been requested to enforce Texas laws that ban adults from being nude with minor children.  However, these laws were designed to deal with child sexual assault cases, not family skinny-dipping.  New signs have now been placed at this public park.  “NOTICE  No person under the age of 18 shall be admitted into McGregor/Hippie Hollow Park.”  This means that all children are now banned from a public park.

There are studies that show that children raised in the naturist lifestyle have elevated self-esteem, are less likely to be arrested as young adults, and are less likely to use pornography.  There are long-term cultural structures and beliefs about humans going without clothes dating back thousands of years to the foundations of many religions.  Various cultural groups throughout the world have lived successfully with various amounts of clothing covering a variety of body parts for a variety of reasons.  Some do not wear any clothes but require some adornment in the form of decorated bands.  Women go “top free” on many European beaches.  Men were arrested for going “top free” on the urban beaches of the US into the 1930s.  Public nudity is legal on all Danish beaches and in most public parks in Denmark and Germany.

In Texas, there are two groups that have strong feelings about the use of one public facility.  One group believes that being without clothes is positive and healthy as well as being within the law.  They work to have families with children participate in naturism.  The other group believes that adult nudity is offensive and is harmful to children.  This group is working to reduce what they perceive as child abuse by supporting the banning of minors from this public park. 

The placement of the new signs has been challenged and has now gone to court.  Two arguments presented by the naturists are about the right to familial association and the right of the parent to imbue that parent's own child with the parent's values.  The argument presented by the county now focuses on the need to protect children from sexual predators.

The following question was part of a 1995 national survey: Would you approve of nude beaches if users are careful to avoid offending those opposed?  Of those Americans responding to this question, 72% supported such nude beach use.

    2.  Should parents be allowed to take their minor children to McGregor/Hippie Hollow Park?  Yes or No

Oberlin, Ohio
    "An Oberlin woman has been indicted on charges stemming from nude photographs she took of her 8-year-old daughter in the bathtub. …  The 48 year-old mother could face 16 years in prison. … She has entered a 'not guilty' plea. … She was suspended with pay from her job."

The growing concern about child abuse has expanded and taken on many new parameters.  Governments are enacting laws that require reporting of suspected child abuse.  These laws extend to many professions, such as teachers.  Public concern has been so elevated that even private firms have taken to policing societal behaviors.  Some computer networks censor their activities to remove offending web sites and materials.  Some film processing services screen personal photographs and slides for inappropriate content.  What is considered inappropriate may vary from service to service and person to person.  Child nudity was considered inappropriate in this case when photos of a pre-pubescent girl in a bath were reported to officials as child pornography.

Parents for decades have documented their children's behavior and activities.  Bare bottomed children on bear rugs have been a standard pose.  Bath time has been recorded as a fun experience for parents and children.  This parent did not deny taking the pictures but did not intend for them to be public nor offensive.  The woman's attorney has expressed the view that "no way" are the pictures pornographic.

Often the "tone" of the photograph is an important aspect of how the image is perceived.  Likewise, if there is any history or intent to sell questionable images, then there may be cause for concern.  The film in question was taken to Discount Drug Mart.  It was then sent to Fugi Color Processing.  The processing company made a judgement on content based on some assessment of community values and turned the film over directly to the police.  By reporting the offending photographs the parent must now publicly defend their private actions.

    3.  Should parents have the freedom to photograph their children in the privacy of their own home?  Yes or No

The New York Times - 6 March 1999
“When One Culture’s Custom Is Another’s Taboo
In Maine, a refugee from Afghanistan was seen kissing the penis of his baby boy, a traditional expression of love by this father.  To his neighbors and the police, it was child abuse, and his son was taken away.”

In Seattle, a hospital tried to invent a harmless female circumcision procedure to satisfy conservative Somali parents wanting to keep an African practice alive in their community.  The idea got burned in criticism from an outraged public.

How do democratic, pluralistic societies like the United States, based on religious and cultural tolerance, respond to customs and rituals that may be repellent to the majority?  As new groups of immigrants from Asia and Africa are added to the demographic mix in the United States, Canada and Europe, balancing cultural variety with mainstream values is becoming more and more tricky.

Many American citizens now confront the issue of whether any branch of government should have the power to intervene in the most intimate details of family life.”

Teenage scarification as a right of passage, arranged marriage, polygamy, segregation of gender roles, bilingualism, and foreign language use are all on the list of activities that are culturally relevant among various groups.  Spanking, puberty rights, animal sacrifices, enforced dress codes, leaving children unattended at home and the use of narcotics have been sited as cultural practices.

Alaskans just voted to make English the official language.  Cultural diversity is promoted to a point, but when Alaska Natives request spirituality be included in healing there has been resistance from federally supported programs to provide such components.  When Christian Scientists request religious freedom to not vaccinate their children or provide western medical services known to relieve some specific condition, then there are calls for invoking child abuse charges.

    4.  Should parents have the cultural/religious freedom in their choice of child rearing behavioral practices?  Yes or No

In each of these four situations, personal behavior is coming into conflict with community values over a health issue.  Parenting is culturally biased.  What is seen as a cultural or religious tradition by one parent is seen as inhumane by another.

● A parent's attempt to provide sex education in a manner she thought appropriate is imprisoned for her effort.
● Parents desiring to raise their children with a healthy respect for nature through a naturist lifestyle are told that they may not legally have their minors join in their family activities.
● A parent enjoying photographing her child at home is arrested on pornography charges.
● Parents caring for their children in culturally sensitive ways are accused of abuse when assessed by another culture, and lose the contact with the infants for whom they cared so greatly.

An individual’s perception of their self is critical for good health.  Through their behaviors, parents contribute significantly to the types of self-perception that their children develop and maintain.  Body acceptance is personal but is highly influenced by community attitudes, laws, customs, and behaviors. If a person decides that what is good for them personally differs from the community values, should s/he be allowed to pursue that activity individually?  Should they be allowed to pursue that activity with their family and children?

ESSAY Question

There are groups in the US today that believe that male circumcision is child abuse.  They view the genital surgery performed on African girls as abominable and inhumane.  If they had their way circumcision for males and clitorectomies or genital scaring for females would be illegal for minors.  These procedures could only be preformed on adults who had made the personal choice to have them.

There are also people who believe that piercing infants’ ears without the child’s consent is child abuse.  In addition allowing minors to obtain tattoos or go through rite-of-passage scaring rituals should not be permitted.  Some feel that these events can occur if there is parental and minor agreement, but others contend that children cannot and should not make adult decisions.  Some people object to any invasive cultural practice that leaves a permanent scar on a child.

Those religions that base their faith on the Old Testament of the Bible (Jew, Christian, Muslim, Baha'i, Mormon) have maintained a covenant between man and God established by Abraham.  The practice of circumcision, the removal of the foreskin of the penis, is a sign of that religious relationship.  In many hospitals this practice goes on without question.  For many years it went on without the need for parental consent, it was just done.  Now it is an approved procedure for which it is billed.  If this procedure is identified as child abuse it raises the questions of the separation and authority of church and state.

Those who follow the customs and traditions of the African region of Somali cannot present their daughters for marriage until there has been a genital surgery performed.  This right of passage ritual entails many gifts and changes the social status of the young female.  At the same time the process requires the surgical removal of the clitoris in part to prepare the girl to become a woman who is responsible for her husband and family.  African parents moving to other parts of the world are seeking a means to maintain this practice, but find strong objection to its physical impact on the young woman.  Rather than conducting the procedure outside of clinics, it is desired to do this within hospitals to reduce the risk of infection and unintended side effects.

When parents wish to provide cultural behaviors and traditions for their children that may be in contrast to existing popular values there are difficulties.  When are a parent's best intentions not acceptable to the public?  When does the public step in and deny a traditional or religious activity?

Review your answers for questions 1-4 for consistency.  Now respond in a well-developed essay to the following.

You have decided to become a parent.  Before your child is born a law is passed that makes any invasive practice that leaves a permanent scar on a minor a form of child abuse.  This includes circumcision.  This point has outraged those who believe in the Old Testament of the Bible.  It includes clitorectomies.  This point has outraged African Americans.  It includes piercing, scaring, and tattooing.  These points have outraged minor teenagers.  It does not include medical surgery or health procedures required for the well-being of the child.

ESSAY:  Should parents have the freedom to determine if their minor children are subjected to religious, traditional, cultural, or social physical alterations?  
Respond either Yes or No and then explain your position as a parent.

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