The Nudism Gender Problem: How To Get More Women Involved
Ideas and Solutions For Attracting More Women To Nudism
I’ve talked about how and why nudism has a woman / gender imbalance problem. Now it’s time to talk solutions. What can we do about it? How can we attract more women to naturism? I’ve got a few ideas.
Providing A Safe Environment
In my last post about harassment and issues with male behavior, I brought up some do’s and don’ts for ensuring a safer nudist environment for women. Let’s go over those do’s and don’ts again with some additional points.
DO’s For Nudists, Nudist Resort Owners and Club Leaders:
– Have a clear set of rules and policies that are easy to find on your website. These don’t need to be hammered into people, but communicate them prior to an arrival if possible. They can be sent to people when they first email about visiting a club or when they sign up for a naturist event. (For events I’ve organized in the past, I would link to nudist FAQs / etiquette on event pages, ticket pages, social media, and registrants would get a link to them in their confirmation emails.)
– Make it known that harassment will not be tolerated. I also think it’d be helpful to emphasize consent in rules / policies. Particularly in regards to personal space and touch (hugging, putting a hand on someone’s body, etc). “Nudity is not consent” is a simple, meaningful statement to add. Most people don’t need to hear these rules, but at the very least, it’s assuring to new visitors that these policies are in place!
For more detailed guidelines on harassment and behavior etiquette, read my article: “How Not To Be Creepy”.
Bare Oaks Naturist Park in Ontario not only has written rules / policies, but wrote an article on “Making Friends in Naturism” with more behavioral guidelines. Owner Stéphane also has an episode on the Naturist Living Show podcast called “How Not To Be Creepy” where he asked women to give single men pointers on how to behave (listen below).
Again, most people know how to behave respectfully, but this type of content can help those that don’t.
– Encourage women (and everyone) to report to management if anyone is making them uncomfortable for any reason.
– Take any behavior misconduct reports seriously!!! And address it right away.
– If you visit a public nude beach, help make it a safer environment. Take notice if it looks like a guy is making female visitors (or anyone for that matter) uncomfortable. If you notice that a woman appears uncomfortable due to someone else’s behavior, ask her politely if she’s being bothered and if so, offer to talk to whoever is being creepy. Be respectful, polite and non-aggressive. Call the rangers if someone is drunk and / or acting belligerent or violent. If you notice that someone is secretly taking photos of women or anyone, warn them (or talk to the photographer directly).
DON’Ts For Nudists and Nudist Resort Owners:
– Don’t dismiss or ignore harassment / creeper reports from anyone. Especially women. This makes the whole nudist community look bad. Why should a woman return to that place or any nudist place after being mistreated and then not having someone to turn to?
Also it doesn’t matter if the perpetrator is visiting for the first time or 100th time. If they did something wrong, it needs to be addressed.
How not to respond to a harassment report:
– “He was staring at you? Nah he was probably just looking around or something.”
– “Oh we know Bob, he’s been coming here forever, he didn’t mean it / would never do anything like that.”
– Don’t expect women to teach men respectful social interaction skills or how to behave. Women can choose to directly confront a guy who’s misbehaving or making them or others uncomfortable. But if a guy can’t take social cues or doesn’t know how to act, it’s not the women’s responsibility to coach them. At a private facility or club, women only need to report incidents or individuals. It’s ultimately the management / leadership that must act on those reports. Management is also responsible for setting rules, guidelines and behavioral expectations from the start.
I think nudist places need to be more openly accepting of LGBTQIA+ people. If you really subscribe to the acceptance aspect of naturism, then advertise it! Make it known that you are “LGBTQIA friendly” on your website. Put it in your FAQs, your promotional materials and / or everywhere else. Don’t expect gay or trans people to just know they are welcome (and, from my conversations with LGBTQIA folks, it’s not always the case!).
This can help attract more women because 1) lesbian women are largely absent from nudist places and even LGBT nudist clubs. I’m not saying this is only because these women don’t know they’re welcome at clubs. But advertising as LGBT friendly along with the other suggestions listed here would be a step towards making them feel more welcome. And 2) doing this will also send a message to all women that they are visiting a safe and accepting group or environment.
Advertising / Marketing: Use Realistic, Non-sexualized, Real-People Photos
Whether on your website or social media, what sort of images are you using to promote your club or group? What is the message you are putting out there? Is it all thin, young (and white) women with “perfect” bodies? Is it always women featured and no men? Does a picture have actual nudists or just nude models in a sexy photo shoot? Would your photos fit in the pages of Esquire or Playboy magazine? Are you sharing voyeur nude-beach photos? I consider these to be photos that are clearly taken by a voyeur with a secret camera… a big clue in identifying such photos is that the women / people in them aren’t posing, looking at the camera or otherwise showing any awareness of being photographed.
I’ve seen a few clubs and resorts try to take a “mainstream” approach to advertising nudism. They use images that fit the descriptions above. But naturism, in my opinion, is supposed to be about accepting people regardless of size, shape or appearance. Therefore, featuring only young female nude models is going to send the opposite message. It’s going to tell women that naturism is only for “pretty” people and for men to ogle them. In addition, it’s going to attract the exact target demographic such images always attract – more straight men, not women.
Most nudist clubs tend to show actual visitors / members in their website photos. But I’ve noticed the same is not true for social media, like Twitter and Tumblr. There I see a lot of “sexy nude female model” type photos being shared. (And I think these accounts are being managed by older straight nudist guys who aren’t thinking about all this and have no clue how to approach marketing.)
Showing body diversity and unedited naturist photos will show that naturism really is about acceptance. It will attract women looking for a body-positive environment where they will not be judged on their body or serve as “eye candy” for men.
Give women in your community a voice
Some clubs have a women’s section on their website. It usually contains an article or two written by female members about their first experience with naturism and why they embraced it. Or they might have some FAQs just for women.
I’d encourage any club to do something like this if they haven’t already. Ask women to write about their experiences, even if it’s just one paragraph. To make it easier, you can send them a few questions to answer (ie, “What do you like about naturism? What did you think before trying it? How has it benefited you?”). If all else fails, reach out to us and we may give you permission to re-post one of our articles.
FAQs or an information page just for women can cover topics like body image, sexuality, sexual harassment, consent, menstruation and more.
Create events or a social group that’s just for women
Women tend to feel more comfortable trying social nudity for the first time among their own gender. They feel safer since they don’t have to worry about unwanted male attention. They can ease into the experience and get support from other women. (Need help to put together such events or increase your outreach efforts? Reach out to me, and I may be able to help.)
A women’s group can also provide a welcoming place for lesbian and transgender women or those who identify in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
Some naked yoga instructors have created classes just for women. Isis Phoenix wrote a post for us about why she organized women-only classes. A new yoga group in NYC, Naked in Motion, also offers a monthly women-only class.
The Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA) is one non-landed club that started hosting women’s events in addition to all their mixed-gender affairs. Attendance is smaller than their main events, but some female members have reportedly been attending and enjoying these get-togethers.
Last summer AANR held a “Women in Naturism” weekend and had various clubs hosting women-only events. (I have no idea how successful this was.)
Obviously there needs to be a woman in charge of this type of group or events. If there are few to zero women in your group and no one to take the lead, then maybe some of the other advice here will help.
Also, a women’s group and events don’t have to be complicated. It can start small with casual gatherings, and it can even start online with a Facebook group or by using other social media.
What Doesn’t Work?
There have been many ideas and suggestions floating around since I’ve been writing about the gender problem. Here are a few that I would discourage, based on our experiences and opinions.
– Bring A Female Friend: If there are too many solo nudist guys, asking each one to bring a female friend would seem like an easy way to get more women. But there are two problems with this. One is that it’s still making nudism out to be heterocentric and focused on male / female straight couples.
The second problem is that it doesn’t work. I say that because I’ve tried it in running events. The “single” guys don’t suddenly find a female friend to join them. They just end up not attending or visiting.
– Bring Any Friend: I’ve also recently heard a suggestion of having guys bring one friend of any gender. The idea is that they’ll vouch for each other’s behavior, and this will help filter out creeps. I disagree with this approach altogether. As I wrote in the blog about harassment issues, most single nudist men know how to behave. I’ve met plenty of great guys who attend nudist functions on their own. I think the solutions to the gender problem should focus on making nudism appeal to more women, rather than on trying to keep perverts out. (Plus, if men just bring male friends, this doesn’t necessarily help “correct” a gender imbalance.)
– Go Clothing-Optional: Some people have suggested making events clothing-optional, either just for women or for everyone. The idea is that it will help women feel more comfortable with nudism and then they’ll gradually get into it. But, I think this is counterproductive and nudism with clothes on isn’t nudism anymore. Granted, most nudists are not naked 100% of the time at a nudist resort or anywhere. But nudity is the idea. (*One exception needed with nudity policies though – menstruating women / people. Not everyone can wear tampons or a menstrual cup. Some need to wear pads / bottoms while on their period.)
So there you have some ideas and suggestions for attracting more women to naturism! What did we miss? What else can naturists do to address gender imbalance? Let us know in the comments!
Read my previous blogs about nudism and gender:
- Why Does Naturism Have a Lady Problem?
- Nudism and Single Male Policies
- Nudism, Women and Harassment Issues