Sex Warrior: Bowing to Judgment
Shortly after posting, “There’s a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally”, I got a message from an old friend from my former nudist neighborhood. He’d been offered the opportunity of having a book signing there since ‘Sex Warrior’ includes & promotes his property. His response, “I don’t want to sound judgmental. However, Sonja’s adult film career has become common knowledge here. I think at this point it would be better for us to maintain a little distance.” So back to taking my own advice… Even knowing at the onset of my adventure that I was getting ready to color waaaay outside the lines – and that would ruffle more than a few feathers – I still find myself reacting emotionally to the insult of other people’s knee-jerk judgments. The “judgment” coming from the nudist resort that doubled as my home and community for a decade did surprise me. “Sex Warrior” is not about porn. I wasn’t asking to film or even promote porn there so the “distance” is not for the activity – it’s to exclude someone who unapologetically participated in that activity in another time and place.
There are as many (or more) kinds of nudists as there are Christians. Shortly after I got my ‘rejection notice’ I heard he’d been in a membership meeting in which he was “beat-up” badly by the old guard over a new policy on a modified ‘dress code’ around the pools. It allows for clothing to be worn in some aspect by newbies and younger people (bringing back memories of my fair-skinned daughter being banned from the pool because adult men complained she had a t-shirt on). He tried to defend his changes by pointing out that the goal is to encourage younger nudists and that can’t happen if they don’t adapt to today’s nudist culture. This ‘old guard’ was indoctrinated into nudism by ‘old school’ AANR. I’m sure in the sixties and seventies they had good reasons for being narrow and restrictive in order to be accepted as a practice centered on ‘family nudism’. I appreciate AANR and all they’ve done to promote and protect nudism. That doesn’t mean I need to swallow this hypocrisy hook-line-and-sinker, or continue to live in a past that doesn’t exist anymore. It seems the individuals who were acculturated outlived the actual culture. They continue to promote and fight for their own rights to live a non-mainstream lifestyle yet disrespect the rights of anyone who doesn’t fall in line with their flavor of dogma. It makes those yard signs punning, “Don’t be clothes-minded!” seem pretty ironic.
A nudist I recently met pointed out, “All these people make a big deal about nudism not being sexy. Well, if it’s not sexy, why are women wearing heels at the pool? Why do people pay a premium to live in clothing optional communities? Why not just go naked in their backyards? Why do they want other people to see them naked?” Another fellow nudist summed up her lifestyle experience, “Nudism is freedom to be comfy in your own body without being judged or scrutinized. You don’t have to be the perfect ‘anything’. As you state in your address, we’re all Free2JustBe. That simple.” Okay, maybe nothing is THAT simple.
A lot of nudists think Swingers are perverts. Some swingers feel that family nudism is deviant. Then there’s exotic dancer vs. prostitutes vs. porn stars. Adulterers and fornicators think all those other people are going to hell but since theirs is a familiar sin it’s more acceptable. Everybody thinks that what ‘I’ am doing is okay but what ‘they’ are doing is sick.” I know from this past year, that some working girls see clients as ‘Tricks’. I know that’s not so much a reflection of how she thinks of the guys but how she thinks of herself. Obviously she wouldn’t see him like that if she didn’t perceive herself negatively as a ‘whore’. The reverse is also true. A man who can look at a woman and perceive her as a ‘whore’ has serious issues of his own self-worth. In both the one who has a tenuous grasp on self value feels the need to belittle the value of the other to appear ‘better’. Perhaps these old school nudist still carry vestiges of shame imposed on them when they were pioneers trying to buck a system that looked down on them. They have had to spend their lives as radicals to drown out dissension. That may have helped in the beginning but now it’s just a bad habit.
I know that every person views the world through his or her own cultural filters (factors that affect how they see things and react to the actions of others). A person’s “culture” is nothing more than a system of shared values that are learned and passed on. We’re often not aware of the filter we’re looking through since we take our own culture for granted. It remains unexamined and accepted as the norm. I’m thinking of a story of a young bride making pot roast for her new husband. Every time before cooking it, she cut off large portions off both ends. Her husband, concerned about the wasted meat asked her why she did that. “Because that’s how my mother did it when she taught me how to cook.” The next time they visited his mother-in-law, he asked her why she cut the ends off of a roast before cooking it. “Because that’s how my mother did it when she taught me how to cook.” Finally, at a family gathering, he had the chance to ask the grandmother why she taught his mother-in-law to cut both ends off the roast. “Because we were poor and I only had one small pot. I had to cut the ends off so it would fit.” The lessons we learn from those who came before us can be awesome tools for better living as long as we don’t abdicate our responsibility to think for ourselves and to question in the process.
In another scene from Sex Warrior I have a conversation with a working girl…
She admits, “I know I’m a disappointment to my mom and that actually has helped me a lot.” She explains. “She’s always been obsessed with presenting the ‘perfect’ image. Everything was sugar-coated. It suffocated me. I grew up resenting her and wishing she’s been a better mom to me. Knowing I’m just as much a disappointment to her as she is to me makes it easier to forgive her for not living up to MY expectations.”
In fact, this community made a huge impression on me and was the place where virtually everything important in my life happened. In many ways, it was/is my family. Now I must watch from the outside and see if my shell-shocked friend will continue bowing to a dead culture or boldly embrace what exists now. Whichever outcome, I will be okay. If I’m accepted as I am, my heart will reciprocate. If not?…Well, when judgment and disappointment are mutual, a balance is struck. Knowing I’m not a human being my community can embrace or welcome makes it easier to forgive them for disappointing me and not living up to MY expectations.