“Rethinking of the American [and Canadian] Suburbs”

Suburban Nudism As Normal: “Rethinking of the American [and Canadian] Suburbs”


In her published article entitled Naked Houses: The Architecture of Nudism and the Rethinking of the American Suburbs (November 21, 2015), Sarah Schrank of the Department of History, California State University [sarah.schrank@csulb.edu] argued that “the existence of suburban nudism forces a reconsideration of suburban conservatism while acknowledging how neatly alternative lifestyles fit into a postwar domestic ideology of atomized family life and consumer capitalism.”

Lifestyles, like everything else, are a function of time, place, and circumstance. Nudists (aka Naturists) are no exception of course and therefore can best be explained by when they live, where they live, and how they live. The nudist/naturist movement in the Western world goes back over 120 years, and has influenced individuals, families, and entrepreneurs in over 120 countries (see the current INF World Guide). There are now estimated to be over 30 million card-carrying naturists/nudists across the globe. Most are urban and middle-class. So although researchers have found them to be primarily white, middle-class, and living in Europe or North America, this does not diminish the growing numbers from the other classes and ethnicities worldwide. Most known nudists/naturists live in the nude in their homes, either totally or optionally whether urban or rural, and partake of social nudism recreationally at resorts scattered across, for example, the US and Canada. Here they can shed the “poisonous sexual and other hang-ups [about body acceptance] of mainstream society” (Schrank). The goal of accepted nudity as the ‘new norm’ is implicit in such well-known texts as Dr. Aileen Goodson’s Therapy, Nudity & Joy (Elysium Press, 1991), and has been acknowledged as a ” ‘must read’ for parents who want their children to develop healthy attitudes and behaviors about their bodies and their sexuality. The ability to understand nudity and sexuality as separate, but sometimes compatible phenomena will protect against sexual exploitation, guilt, and low self-esteem.” (Loretta Haroian, PhD, Department Chair and Professor of Child and Adolescent Sexuality, The Institute for Advanced Study of Human sexuality, San Francisco, California). In her chapter on nudist retreats/resorts, Goodson concludes that “there is ample evidence indicating that nudist resorts do meet all the qualifications for therapeutic communities” (p.341).

A representative study commissioned by the Federation of Canadian Naturists (2000; http://www.fcn.ca) found that:

  • a total of 20.5% of Canadian households (6.1 million people) have some interest in naturism;
  • people in 39% of Canadian households (11.8 million people) have or would walk around their house nude;
  • people in 59% of Canadian households (17.9 million people) have slept or would sleep nude;
  • the more people in the household, the more likely people sleep nude; and
  • singles sleep nude more than married couples.

In my article for Society (February, 1996; p.24. Newsletter of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association) I stated that “In their myopic understanding of social nudists, the uninformed may think quickly through the following syllogism:

  1. all social nudity leads to immoral behaviour;
  2. immoral behaviour leads to a bad society;
  3. ipso facto, all social nudity leads to a bad society.

The main logical error of course, occurs in the first premise. It is simply not true according to the evidence. And the second premise has its problems.”

Dr. Ruth Barcan, a senior Lecturer at The University of Sydney, in Nudity & Nudism – two essays (December 19, 2013) talks about nudism’s contemporary disconnect to “any form of radical philosophy or politics”; rather its major benefits are now “a relaxed lifestyle and a healthy body image.” She states “Nudism can be differentiated from the practice of spontaneous or private nude bathing (‘skinny-dipping’) in that it is an ongoing, self-conscious and systematic philosophy or lifestyle choice, rather than a spontaneous decision to disrobe. They frequently emphasize the importance of total nudity, arguing that partial concealment is more sexual [which is has been proven] than total exposure.”

Continued… Read full original article…

Source: Social Change: Unique Topics

Original publication 16 January, 2021

Posted on NatCorn 27th January 2021

Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.

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