In light of Veena Malik’s decision to sue FHM India for allegedly tampering with her photoshoot, I’ve decided to ‘rethink’ the third of our ‘dissident nudist’ series and re-do the shoot…complete with some ‘censoring’ of the so-called naughty bits (which aren’t naughty at all, but an integral part of who each and every one of us are). I’ll be back with a re-jigged version of this in a day or two.
These days, all of my RL naturism takes place in Spain, in the naturist ‘village’ of Vera Playa. Because I’ve got a couple of small children in tow, it makes sense to stick to somewhere we know (for now), after years of exploring many of Europe’s naturist hotspots. I’ve holidayed in Croatia, different places in Spain, and in a lot of French coastal and interior camping sites. Having spent the last 7 years exclusively in Vera Playa, we’ve got a real love of the place, and have considered buying a property there. We’ve managed to squeeze in two weeks each year (a week each time) in Vera, and have absorbed the local traditions.
What I like about it is the capacity to drive off a main road and into a little maze of streets in what is known as the ‘Zona Naturista’. Naturists walking their dogs, or coming to and from the supermarket, beach or one of several little bars. The naturists are not hidden away behind locked gates (although there are several private urbanizacions) and I’ve often wandered down a street, as nature intended, only to be passed by a police car. Wouldn’t it be great if more of the world was like this?
Sometimes, my other half will take the children to the children’s pool. I might join them, or I might wander off with nothing other than a bag over my shoulder, to the beach. I’ll set out a towel and then settle down for 30 minutes or an hour’s reading on the Kindle.
While I’m there, single males will be sitting nearby, or sunbathing, and other single males wandering up and down the beach. So I’ll read for a while and then decide to share parenting duties once more. However long I’m there, no one (the exception being people I do know already) comes up and says ‘hi, what are you doing?’.
I’m trying to read, you moron, what does it look like?
All around me, there may be other, single females who are in a similar situation. Often, when school gets out, you’ll see a few teenagers arrive in uniform, strip naked and start doing homework. Once, I even saw a more mature woman join them and, it transpired, she was their teacher. She only went ‘topless’, but she sat with a mixture of male and female students, all around 15-17, and went through a homework with them! Incredible!
Sometimes, girls flick through pop magazines and the boys will play volleyball or beach soccer, nude. And there’s rarely a time when they even glance at one another. They’ve seen each other naked a hundred times before and it’s now big deal. This is how life should be.
As the sun goes down, they’ll dress and say ‘see you in school tomorrow’. Homework complete, they’ll head off home for dinner.
What’s my point?
Oh, yes. Sometimes, in RL, I like to ‘people watch’. We all do it, whether in a naturist environment or not. And I do like to ‘people watch’, occasionally, in SL too. I don’t necessarily want conversation, much less conversation that begins ‘I like your hairy pussy’. Guys, you wouldn’t say it to a complete stranger in RL, so why do it in SL? (At least, I hope you don’t say it in RL and, if you do, your face has been slapped hard).
SL is a social tool, but sometimes we don’t want to be particularly social. Sometimes, just watching is justification enough for logging in and watching some beautiful people dancing naked or sunbathing. Perhaps it is time to establish a clear SL naturist protocol in that an avatar set to ‘busy’ is just that. In those circumstances, maybe people should respect that the avatar is busy, in IM, incommunicado, whatever, and respect them being ‘solo’ at that particular moment. Maybe we need a third button, alongside ‘set to busy’ and ‘set to Away’, to reflect this. Has anyone any ideas on what the wording should be?
I hadn’t realised just how much work went into this, so I now have some sense of my friend Emmanuelle’s frustrations when she was running her 2ex blog (and giving me my first blogging experience). I’m sorry to see that Emma has either taken a hiatus or decided to give up entirely. I hope she’ll be back, she was a thoughtful blogger and remains a good SL friend, although she’s been missing in action for the past week or so, and IMs and emails have not been returned yet. Hopefully it’s just a break to recharge the batteries.
I’ve managed to pick up my first member of staff for SL Naturist today. I’ll not name her -yet- because I’m going to get her to do it herself on Wednesday or Thursday, complete with a report from a naturist place I wasn’t actually aware of before!
But I couldn’t let the post go without showing you some of her photographs (and she seems much more talented than me!).
What I particularly like about them is that she (and her S.O? time will tell) has captured a very, very typical sort of nude beach scene. A couple by the sea, one splashing around, the other sitting by the shoreline. Just happy, naked fun!
If I had a pound for every time I’ve seen these scenes replicated in real life I’d have enough for a couple more naturist holidays.
Life’s hectic tomorrow, so I probably won’t get ‘Dissident No.3’ published until later in the week. Sorry about that.
Catch you all later on this week.
Our second political nude dissident is….’anonymous’. She has asked her SL name is not used, and I have respected that. The reasons for remaining anonymous? Our model is an Egyptian girl in real life, and does not include much nudity in her SL. For her, there’s still a sense of embarrassment about even a nude avatar. Still only 19, and living in a different social structure from those of us in the west, I sensed a very distinct mindset and approach to sexuality than we might commonly encounter.
We cruised a few Egyptian sims to take these shots.
Ella: How are you finding the shoot?
Anonymous: It’s scandalous, a bit embarrassing, but also oddly liberating to do this in sims where someone clothed, male and maybe with an Arabic mindset turns up. I’m quite excited, actually.
Ella: Yet you do this in support of Aliaa Al-Magdy?
Anonymous: Yes. She is something of a cause celebre in Egypt right now. I support her right to claim ownership of her body, and the fact that her nudity is not seen as obscene.
Ella: Yet you remain embarrassed rather than embrace it in your own SL?
Anonymous: I think the idea that nakedness is natural will come. For now, I am a new person in SL and I am a little wary of what I do.
Ella: But your avatar is beautiful!
Anonymous: Thank you. I think, if there are many women from the Arab world playing they will all want to look beautiful, but maybe it is a little secret they have between themselves and their computers. I have a couple of friends in SL who have the same outlooks. We buy lots of lingerie to put on in SL and feel sexy and maybe sexual. And this idea is not accepted within the Arab world. It is very patriarchal.
Ella: Bathing in milk as a homage to Cleopatra!
Anonymous: That was fun, posing for that.
Ella: What is it you want from your SL?
Anonymous: For now, I like to buy clothes and explore. I do not feel I have found a proper role for myself in SL.
Ella: You enjoy the game?
Anonymous: Very much, but I am still a little frightened to speak to many people, particularly males. I’m sorry, this must be strange to someone in Europe.
Ella: Not at all. It’s the diversity of cultures and meeting people like you who make it such an enriching game to play. You wished to remain anonymous.
Anonymous: I do not wish to attract unwanted messages. I have a real life, and my circumstances dictate that I want to make my SL, if discovered, I play in secret, not embarrassing to me. Often, I wear plain clothes in SL to reflect my reality and not make the game an embarrassment for me in front of my family. I need to go now, though, as others will be in the house soon. Maybe we can talk some other time. Bye! 🙂
Ella was talking to ‘anonymous’ via chatlog during the brief photo shoot
Ella: Do you consider yourself to be a naturist, Sue?
Xiu Mei: No. I’ve visited naturist beaches in SL, but it’s not something that is part of my every day SL existence.
Ella: But you don’t mind posing nude for SL Naturist?
Xiu Mei: No. I’m against censorship and, more importantly, the subjugation of women, so when I see these sorts of things going on in -in inverted commas- ‘my country’, then I’m open to the idea of making a little stand against those attitudes against women, primarily, and the attitudes that reflect freedom for all mankind.
Ella: ‘My country’ in inverted commas. Can you explain?
Xiu Mei: I’m Hong Kong Chinese, or more specifically, half-Chinese. My mother is HK Chinese, my father was part of the British presence in Hong Kong. He’s a retired Royal Hong Kong Police officer. I grew up there, but we came to Britain (Britain left HK in 1997) after it was handed back to the Chinese. So I grew up in a middle area. Most of my friends were Chinese, and I grew up with that culture, and feeling Chinese more than British. Of course, fifteen years later, just about half my life, I feel more British in a daily sense, but still feel Chinese. It’s kinda hard to explain.
Ella: I noticed you weren’t wearing an Asian avi.
Xiu Mei: They’re expensive, and don’t look overly Chinese, or Asian. So I use what is probably intended to be a ‘white’ skn, and tweaked the eyes for a more oriental look. It probably reflects my reality a little bit.
Ella: So you still have links to Hong Kong?
Xiu Mei: Lots! I have friends there, and aunts and cousins. I’ve returned several times and did actually consider taking a job there about three years ago. I keep in touch, both with real, breathing links to it, and also following news feeds or listening to the radio via the internet.
Ella: I explained about the Ai Weiwei situation. How do you feel about that?
Xiu Mei: That’s Communist China for you! At least, that’s what I’d assume to be a prevalent attitude.
Ella: What do you think of the photograph?
Xiu Mei: It’s hardly ‘pornographic’, as claimed. It’s hard to determine the women’s ages, but it’s really quite sweet. The lady standing looks like my Mom! It looks like a celebration of life, of humanity, to me. And the attitude that this is dirty, or disgusting, made me want to pose for SL Naturist, just as a way of expressing my solidarity for the rights of all of the names you’ve told me about.
Ella: OK, let’s get down to business then! How did you feel about posing?
Xiu Mei: I’ve had my clothes off in SL before! I’m comfortable with it in the right circumstances, but I’ve not wandered too many nudist beaches. A little bit at the start of my Second Life, but not so much recently. It was quite liberating!
Ella: Would it encourage you to visit SL naturist sims?
Xiu Mei: It’s not something that has formed part of my SL much until now, but I wouldn’t be horrified by the prospect. I’m unlikely to explore the idea much, I think, unless I were to meet friends who used those sims, or I got an invite, or I met a guy who embraced the idea.
Ella: Do you think attitudes in China will change as a result of the Ai Weiwei and Zhao Zhao situation?
Xiu Mei: I doubt it. But I think we must be expressive in our demands to say ‘this is art’ and support the publication of photographs like this. Of course, it’s less to do with art and more to do with freedoms. The Chinese fear personal freedoms. OK, there’s a huge dichotomy within the country. The likes of Shanghai and HK would have thriving sex industries, porn, all manner of western sexual freedoms, but it isn’t the reality for the overwhelming majority of the nation, and particularly the nation’s women.
Ella: Sue, it has been a pleasure talking to you and I’d like to thank you, personally and on behalf of SL Naturist’s readership, for taking part in our photoshoot.
Xiu Mei: It was fun, thanks for inviting me, and it was great to make a little SL stand and a reflection of RL censorship and sort of interact with events in the real world.
(Xiu Mei Ohmai was talking to Ella via inworld chatlogs, and IMs and notecards. Please note you can click on the thumbnails to make the pictures larger)
The naked human body is a beautiful thing. Quite possibly God’s greatest creation, and yet it’s those who hold the deepest of beliefs in a deity who recoil in horror the most from it. Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims seem to have the greatest fear or horror of the naked form.
So this post is our first slight detour (I expect there will be others) away from SL naturism as a chosen SL lifestyle, which will be the central plank of the ‘SL Naturist’, to illuminate attitudes in real life that are linked to nudity.
If you haven’t been following the stories, or are unaware of them, let me bring you up to date on four ongoing news stories that demonstrate some sort of atavistic attitudes towards the beauty of the naked form, two of them with deep-seated archaic religious attitudes to the naked form.
The first is of Aliaa al-Mahdy, a young Egyptian woman who has blogged naked photos of herself, thereby incurring the wrath of an increasingly Islamic fundamentalist military government in place since Mubarak was toppled in the ‘Arab Spring’.
This photo has caused all manner of repercussions inside and outside Egypt, inside and outside the Muslim world. I believe that we must respect different cultures from our own, so I respect that Islam sees these photos in a different context, but there has been an outrageous kneejerk reaction to the photos, and an infringement of her rights, as a human being and a woman, to express her ‘freedom’. Not just in the sense of being naked (as those of us in the west might regard naturism as an expression of us being ‘free’ -if only momentarily- of the usual conventions and restrictions of modern life, but in an extended debate on freedoms within Islam, within Egypt and within the world.
One of the heartwarming stories that spins off from this one is how her statement on freedoms (it’s evidently not just a bit of exhibitionism) has crossed religious and political borders, with a group of Israeli women then making a protest in support of Miss al-Mahdy.
Stripped, of clothes and the small mindedness of politicians around the globe, it’s evident that people are all just the same, everywhere, and see a greater humanity towards one another than their politicians do. There’s a lesson there for all of us.
Elsewhere, China has charged Zhao Zhao, an assistant to the artist Ai Weiwei, of possession of pornography, because Zhao has a camera containing photos of Ai Weiwei and some naked women on his camera.
Pornography? I don’t think so. A celebration of the nude form, and it seems that many people agreed, with a group of men and women, supporters of Ai Weiwei, then posing nude, with strategically placed Ai Weiwei masks over their nipples and genitals, in support of Ai Weiwei and Zhao Zhao.
Of course, China differs slightly in that it hasn’t had a long historical relationship with the nude in art or culture, but Egypt, in the time of Akhen-Aton and Nerfertiti in ancient Egypt, early ‘naturism’ (sun worship) to be spiritually and physically beneficial. Who can argue?
(Incidentally, another Chinese artist, Lu Zhuangping, has also got himself into hot water for using his daughter as a nude model. In his paintings, the daughter, Li Qin, is a painted representation of the nude, and therefore doesn’t appear to have courted quite so much controversy.)
Back to the Islamic world, though, and the cover of this month’s FHM magazine’s Pakistan edition, It features a well known actress, Veena Malik, posing nude. Nothing is shown, of course, but in Islamic Pakistan and its conservative Urdu cinema industry, it has courted extreme controversy (and also because she’s shown sporting the letters ISI on her upper arm, ISI being Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s Secret Service.
She looks beautiful, as do the other women photographed above, but she has been moved to deny ever posing for the photos, maybe because it’s photoshopped, maybe because she hasn’t, maybe because she has but now needs to distance herself from the controversy due to the furore the shoot has caused.
She’s a beautiful (and outspoken) woman, and I shall be following this story avidly, as it seems Ms.Malik is an empowered, strong-willed woman at odds with her country’s social and cultural (and outdated) attitudes.
In Second Life, there are few Asian avatars around (either male or female), but I’ve managed to contact three (one Pakistani woman, another Chinese one, and a third north African, although the first two both now live in the West, so have absorbed, or been corrupted by, western cultural values, depending on your point of view. And all three have agreed, in a support of solidarity for their RL counterparts, to pose naked for SL Naturist. Two have asked not to be named, and all three discount themselves as being ‘nudists’ in any shape or form, but are excited by the prospect of showing solidarity, amongst women, across the globe, for ‘personal freedoms’. The first of three pen portraits and photoshoots will follow shortly, and the other two by the end of Sunday.
Well, it’s December 1st and, as promised, it’s time for SL Naturist or, rather, the ‘keynote’ review that forms the central part of the blogozine. And I’m beginning ‘Issue 1’, for real, with a review of the Su Casa naturist sim.
I’ve already blogged about what I think makes a great naturist sim, and Su Casa has it in spades. Not too much clutter, a sense of space, some different geography and some stuff you can do. Not overly huge, which means people are concentrated for the social element, and easily walked round in a few minutes.
I’m going to begin the tour with what I think is a fantastic, fabulous idea…art in the landscape. There are two displays of public art at Su Casa, and I shall be exploring the artists and their work more in subsequent postings. You can buy the works, and some are freebies which will look great on your apartment walls if you have a SL home. What I admire is the interactivity of the concept, and I presume these are RL artworks imported into SL, and demonstrates what an artistic, creative bunch of people you SL users are!
I’d like to see more of this sort of thing in SL (I’m sure it exists, it’s just that I’ve not encountered much of it before), particularly if the works are beautiful line drawings of nudes. I know little of art, other than what I like and don’t like, and I like what I’ve seen at Su Casa. As I say, I’ll drop the artists in question an IM and feature their work(s) in future posts. The blog won’t be just about nudism, but about the people involved in the SL naturist world too! Is that ‘naturism’? I think it is, because growing up used to seeing copies of UK naturist magazine ‘H&E’ in the house, I would read articles about people who were painters, sculptors and so on, who just happened to be nudists. It’s all valid for this blog.
Moving on, we come to the Su Casa balloon. Now, I’ve taken this balloon ride, and previously blogged it when contributing to another SL blog, but I can only encourage you to grab that balloon and take your camera. Stunning views from a lazy, slow moving perspective that draws your attention to things you wouldn’t see either at ground level or flying around. It’s easily worth 10 minutes of your time.
I feel a sense of ‘space’ at Su Casa, and this is demonstrated by the ‘replicating real life’ feel of the beach. Not overly cluttered, and a delightful short walk to the harbour cafe. That looks like an intelligently thought out sense of geography at the sim. In real life, mid-afternoon, mid-tanning session, sometimes it’s necessary to cool down, and a lazy wander to an ice cream vendor, or a cafe, is just perfect. I look forward to meeting more Su Casa users at the sim and, if it gets too hot, maybe doing the interviews in the cool shade of the cafe.
By now, having forgotten my sun tan oil, the heat was beginning to bite on my shoulders, so I popped into the beach showers to cool down further. What could be nicer than taking a cooling shower while looking out over a flat calm, sun drenched sea?
And what’s on that little island over yonder, I hear you ask. Let’s look! There’s a lovely little social area, complete with barbecue. Nice shade from the trees, too, so I sat for a while to drink the bottle of lemonade I’d purchased in the cafe, and to scribble some notes for the blog.
After a while I felt suitably invigorated to move on, and explore the rest of the sim, discovering a rezzable jetski point. Well, I posed for the cameras, but there’s no way I’m opening the throttle on that thing!!!! Whenever I jetski, I’ll end up rolling and tumbling up a beach, about 1/4 mile away from where I’d planned to go. Jetskis and me don’t work. I suppose I could also have tried surfing, as there are also rezzable surfboards, but again, surfboards and I don’t agree, so I passed on the opportunity to try it out.
By this stage the sun was beginning to go down, and my previously burnt shoulders were now feeling a bit of a chill, so I climbed up to where a fire was burning and sat down to warm up a bit before tp’ing home to get blogging and reflect on a lovely sim that is well worth visiting, and staying at for some time. Note the absence of sex poses, too, always a plus in my view, as sex in public isn’t part of RL naturist culture, and I commend the sim owners for their successful attempt to replicate a RL naturist beach vibe.
What haven’t I mentioned? Lots! The idea of this post has been to provide a simple overview of the sim and its range of activities, and that’s an approach I’ll adopt in reviewing further naturist spots in SL. Before someone mentions the fact, I’ll point it out. Yes, I’m not heavily featured in the photos, because the blog isn’t about me. It’s about you, the users of SL naturist places. And yes, there’s not too many of the most important element of any sim (naturist or otherwise), the people, featured. That will follow. The intention, with this post, has been to simply get things rolling and do a more comprehensive overview of a sim and its features. But the most important feature of all -you- will follow in due course.