For the first full article in our 2020 black history series this question comes to the forefront. Can naturism move beyond the colonial gaze? Can the real life naturist community hold space, and make room for the black naturist experience? Every time we do a a feature on the black experience in naturism someone white comes along and criticizes it with the tired old story that being a naturist means you treat everyone equally. Consider this response to our teaser black history month post on MEWE elevating the view of black bodies.
This idea that race doesn’t matter or just because you highlight the experience of one racial group is are diminishing the other just isn’t real. As I have said before the idea that all naturists and nudists are unprejudiced or don’t discriminate is a myth, it isn’t represent reality. Research showed that just inst how human beings function. The reality is there are naturists and nudists who are prejudiced and racists just as there are prejudiced and racist people in every segment of society. The problem here is these prejudices are often the lens through which other naturists are viewed. Despite protestations to the contrary, white naturists and nudists usually view black and brown naturists through the gaze of the white naturist experience.
To understand why this is an issue of concern we need to understand history. Many African people spent most of their time naturally naked before European colonialism. The colonizers showed up and called that nakedness that societal naturism uncivilized.
The temperature in most of African called for less not more clothing. The colonial European gaze looked at this perfectly appropriate way of life and dress and said NO. It was this European lens that forced more clothing and less nakedness upon Africans. Africans who were enslaved in western culture and Africans whose nations were colonized. African culture didn’t do that. African indigenous religions didn’t do that. It was the colonial gaze. 1) Consider this researched assessment from Felicity’s blog writer by the founder of the now defunct Young Naturist of America.
While most people don’t think about the historical political impact of the clothes they wear, textiles and the textile industry has in fact had a tremendous impact on societies around the globe, and still do today. It must be remembered that prior to the European Renaissance and Industrial Revolution, the majority of Earth’s human population was (and still is) centered about the equator in tropical and semi-tropical regions.
Fabric body concealment was not ascribed any moral dimension as symbolic of modesty or purity. The naked human body was associated with poverty at worst, honesty and purity at best, and was, at the time, not directly associated with human sexuality by the majority of Earth’s peoples.Felicity’s Blog
The colonial gaze wasn’t just a tool of slavery and colonialism. The colonial gaze fetishized naked black bodies. The colonial gaze dubbed naked black bodies profane. The colonial gaze said naked black bodies were not normal despite it being the natural state of being for many African cultures. The value of nakedness as a natural state and natural way of life in a communal and social living was driven by the colonial gaze.
Source: Clothes Free Life
Original publication 1 February, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 19th March 2020
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.