I’ve been wondering about this subject lately since returning from the Erotikos Film Festival which featured a film called Act Naturally by JP Riley, a movie about two ‘prudish’ sisters who inherit their late father’s nudist colony. The two girls are mortified to meet the naked residents of the place, who eventually win them over to the point where they take their clothes off as well.
The ‘norm’ of the nudist camp is to be naked, and in that society, wearing clothes becomes the abhorrent behavior that is frowned upon. So there’s still a ‘good guy’ and a ‘bad guy’ – only the context has been flipped. Is it possible for nude and non-nude people to enjoy each others company without fear of recrimination from either side?
We have created terms for specific exhibitionist behavior in our clothed society. You’ve probably heard of ‘mooning’ (exposing your buttocks to unwitting strangers) and ‘streaking’ (running through a public place naked,) but what about ‘anasyrma’ (lifting one’s skirt to expose their genitals,) ‘martymachlia’ (wanting others to watch you have sex) or candaulism (exposing one’s partner in a sexual manner)? There are so many terms for exhibitionism that it is clearly a well-practiced phenomenon in our society.
Of course in society at large, we generally don’t take our clothes off in front of strangers, but we do sometimes engage in something called ‘public displays of affection.’ You know what I’m talking about. That couple at the movie theater who can’t keep their hands off each other, or the ones making out at the dinner table in the corner booth, or even the teenagers groping each other at the mall. We all have our threshold of what behavior we find acceptable to engage in while under the public eye, and it’s different for everyone.
With all these many levels of exhibitionism and public sexual behavior, it’s amazing that society has any agreed-upon rules at all. I would argue that all of us are exhibitionists on some level, whether it’s becoming a spectacle out on the dance floor at a nightclub, singing karaoke, strutting on the beach or showing off a pair of hot new shoes walking down the street. It’s healthy to display personal confidence and self-assurance in public, and all our egos need a dose of positive feedback from the outside world. The scope of this need is quite large, ranging from the ‘streakers’ among us, to people who get a boost of adrenaline from a simple compliment in line at the local café.
Where do you stand on the continuum of exhibitionism? Would you be comfortable at a nudist resort? Do you enjoy it when others disrobe in public or do you prefer to be admired from afar? Perhaps you’re content to keep your public displays more conservative? Whatever your comfort level of exhibitionism, by keeping the communication lines open to these thought provoking questions can help us understand ourselves better.