by Mel Kanner
Number 5 in a series of articles examining the changes that I have observed to the practice of nudism over the years and our society’s view of nudity.
More about Looky-Loos (LL’s)
We have always had LL’s. Even in a “textile” environment: on a beach, at a public swimming pool, or even on the street, there are going to be people (particularly men) looking at others (particularly women).
Men look at women — with admiration, with hope, with desire, with … I am sure that psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and other observers of human behavior can give you more ideas on why and how this occurs, and the variations of this behavior among our different cultures, but in general this seems to be universal.
Women grow up with an awareness of the various degrees of looking: the appreciative glance, the longer look when the men think they are being unobserved. And they also experience the leers, the catcalls, the invitations, the name-calling. They are taught at an early age never to be seen by boys in a state of undress. They are taught to put up with inappropriate sexual remarks, unwanted sexual advances, not to walk by themselves at night in out -of-the-way places. And they experience that every day. This is part of their lives.
(At the same time they have also learned that how they dress and how they look is really important. The venders in our society take advantage of this by providing ways to change their weight, or their hair, or their eyelashes, or their boobs. More about that, perhaps, in a future article.)
Women look at men too, but perhaps not in the same way. At least they don’t seem to. Perhaps that is cultural, something left over from our puritanical heritage. I am sure that those “-ologists” that I named also have something to say about that. That appears to be changing some in our society — “Playgirl” magazine has become almost as popular as “Playboy”.
There are various degrees of “looking” and most forms are not a problem, even in a nude environment. Men who visit our parks or beaches solely for the purpose of expected sexual excitement, are usually disappointed. They find that the environment is not sexual at all, or not sexual enough. Nudists are all different sizes, shapes and ages. The number of nude “10’s” they expected to see are few or non-existent (there are not many 10’s in this world — they seem to exist mostly in movies and magazines, and our imaginations). Sexual “cavorting on the lawn” is not standard behavior. They get bored and leave.
When there are large crowds at our parks or beaches, LL’s are usually not even noticeable. At Blacks with only a handful of people on the beach the LL’s stood out. It was obvious what their intentions were, and the Blacks Beach Bares were able to circumvent those intentions. And at our nudist parks the LL’s usually choose to leave or are politely asked to.
But there are some LL behaviors that are a problem. One is staring.
Staring: to gaze fixedly and intently, especially with the eyes wide open, boldly or obtrusively conspicuous, or with intense scrutiny.
Staring is not polite under any circumstances. We just don’t do that. It makes people uneasy, uncomfortable, and afraid. Especially women.
And women know why men are staring at them — it is sexual, and objectifying, and demeaning. And it could be dangerous.
It is not surprising that women in the past have been reluctant to visit nudist parks.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Responsible nudists at beaches or parks can, by observing undesirable behavior, intervene to “politely police” the area to discourage unwanted behavior and thus make women and families more safe and comfortable.