No thanksgiving for Turkey

Many media sources are reporting the words of Turkish President Erdogan who has declared that there cannot be equality between the sexes.

The basis of this appears to be that ‘pregnant women cannot work like men’ and ‘breastfeeding women cannot be treated like men’ because it is against a woman’s ‘delicate nature’.

Is the woman pregnant or breastfeeding for the entirety of her fertile years? No.

Quite obviously no one expects a pregnant woman to be, for example, bricklaying while eight months pregnant. Or, if a nurse, something probably traditionally seen as woman’s work, turning over beds at the same point in her pregnancy.

I can’t, however, see how an eight-month pregnant woman teacher can’t be treated exactly the same as a male teacher. Or an eight month pregnant petrol filling station attendant can’t be treated exactly the same as a male colleague.

Of course, in a patriarchal society, which Turkey and many other places (including our own UK) run, such attitudes are probably common place, particularly in respect of breastfeeding, a practice so disgusting, apparently, that we ban it in cafes and on social media. The most natural method of nourishing an infant is relegated to taking place in private, lest others take offence. How can you possibly be offended by such a thing?

I hadn’t previously thought of Turkey as a separate entity for inclusion in SLN12, our ‘International edition’, and the challenges its women face in a country that straddles Europe and Asia, creating, dare I say, a slight schizophrenia in how it presents itself. One one hand, overwhelmingly Muslim. On the other hand, with its face turned towards western Europe, its desire to join the EU, and its application for full membership currently blocked due to its failure to meet certain criteria.

Its membership isn’t blocked, of course, due to statistics which suggest 40% of its women experience domestic violence once in their lives, but if it was meeting all other criteria I would hope that Europe didn’t wish to admit a country where domestic violence would appear to be rife alongside child marriage, the President himself going to the extraordinary lengths of obtaining a court order so that his son could marry a 17 year old (his son was 24 at the time -the legal age for marriage in Turkey is 18). If women have a ‘delicate nature’, then surely it would be delicate enough to permit them to, at least, reach adult age before being married off.sisman3_001b

It’s not the first time, recently, where male politicians have fingered wagged at their female (un)equals in the country. Is it really only as recently as July that the Deputy Prime Minister suggested that women shouldn’t laugh in public? What reason could they possibly have to laugh, with idiots like that in power, gently squeezing the life and laughter from women?

Kemal Ataturk, the de-facto founder of the country, a man whose reforms saw women get the vote before women in France and Italy, for example, must be turning in his grave.

As the Guardian points out, inequality, misogyny and violence are rife.

I’m pleased to say that Turkey has a healthy, vibrant presence in SL, and SLN certainly appears to be a popular read in the country (in the league table of ‘most read by country’ stats, it sits 14th of the world’s nations for visiting the blog. So quite clearly there’s a readership out there for whom naturism, in or out of SL, has an interest, which suggests that there is a young, computer literate and western looking (not that I’m suggesting that as a necessarily positive thing: the west is not without its own, many, problems).

I’ve managed to begin an IM correspondence with a young, female SL avatar from Istanbul, a woman who wears a headscarf, as she does in RL, but is ‘drawn to the freedoms Second Life, and lifestyles like naturism have to offer’. Her IM comes back ‘lol’ when I ask if, for her, naturism would be something she would try, ‘Not even in Second Life! In real life, not even a bikini on the beach’.

I hope to continue this dialogue with her and get some insight into her, and her country’s, mindset and include that in SLN12 when it comes.

I still haven’t managed to engage any Turkish, male avatars in correspondence yet. Guys, if you’re out there, and reading, drop me an IM so I can hear your views.





I’m no longer ‘naked’, I’m just naturally me.

There comes a point in naturism where you cease being naked, when you cease being nude.

No, I don’t mean that awful moment when you realise you have to put clothes on and head back to the airport. I mean the moment when you cease feeling naked, when you cease feeling nude, when you cease feeling exposed, embarrassed or vulnerable.

Yes, you feel all these things when making your nude debut because it’s something you’ve never experienced before. You’re out of your comfort zone. Apart from a sports or swimming changing room the chances are you’ve never been naked in public before, and even in a sports changing room it will be strictly segregated by gender. Even within a sports changing room you’ll find people wearing swimwear in the showers, or keeping a towel tightly wrapped around themselves while they change.

I felt dreadfully embarrassed on my debut, like the eyes of the world (or those around the pool) were upon me.

In reality, no one cared, and there won’t have been many who gave me much more than a glance. Their eyes would not have alighted upon me any more than had I been wearing a bikini. Indeed, my own nude debut day began with me in a bikini, before I lost the top and then the bottoms. It would have been a red-faced run to the pool being naked, outdoors, amongst strangers for the first time.

Those of you who are naturists will remember your nude debut in vivid detail. I would parallel your recollections of it with the first time you had sex. You remember where you were, who you were with, how it felt, all in minute detail. On a one-to-one sexual experience, even before you had sex for the first time, you can maybe recall a sense of embarrassment -not quite ‘shame’- when you exposed your intimate parts to someone of the other sex for the first time.

I’ll merrily admit that my nude debut arrived before I lost my virginity, so I didn’t have any framework of saying ‘OK, guys have seen my boobs or bits before’. When I made that red-faced, embarrassed run to the pool for the first time, I felt I wanted the world to open up and swallow me.

An hour later, it felt fine. It felt natural. My head was thinking ‘I like the feeling of being naked’. But I was still thinking in terms of being naked, outdoors and in public.maria_001b

I’m not sure when that stopped. Every time I did something new, while naked, I’d be thinking ‘oh, wow, that’s the first time I’ve done that naked’. I’d tick off a list of first times. First nude sunbathing? Yep. First nude swim? Oh wow, it feels fabulous not having a costume on. Yep, tick that off too. First time walking along a beach. Yep. First time doing…whatever. Yep, tick it off. First time seeing a gorgeous specimen of the opposite sex nude. Yep.

And then, eventually, you arrive at a point where you aren’t even thinking about your own naked state. It has become natural.maria2_001b

Walking on what were public roads, in daylight, seemed odd, strange, liberating & exciting the first time I ever did it (at Cap D’Agde). Now? I don’t give it a second thought. I don’t give any of it a second thought. I arrive at a naturist location and am out of my clothes before even unzipping my case. After what is often an early start, a flight, and a drive before arriving at our destination, invariably warmer than home, I desperately want out of those sweaty, wrinkled clothes. I never think ‘oh, I’m naked now’. I tend to think ‘oh, how nice it is to be out of those grimy clothes’. For the next 7,10,14 days it’s the most natural thing in the world to be naked, and for that to be my natural state of being. I don’t ever think, now, that I’m naked, that I’m nude. I’ve ceased to be naked or nude, I’ve reached a point where that’s normal behaviour. For me to think ‘I’m naked’ would be as weird as you (naturist or textile) thinking ‘I’ve got a pair of black knickers/boxer shorts on today’. From getting up until going to bed, you won’t have given the colour of your underwear a second thought. Go on…tell me what colour your undies are, without looking. It’s something you’ve given no thought to.





Friends, at Summerdream’s sundial, no longer thinking of each other as ‘naked’

In naturism, you quickly learn that you don’t even think about the fact that you’ve got no knickers/boxers on. It’s something you give no thought to.

The beautiful thing is that your fellow naturists are almost all at this same state of naked grace. We have ceased to see each other as being naked. We have simply acknowledged we’re in our natural state.