First I want to thank Lee for contributing to Tantrachick in his recent post: Being Naked! I am thrilled to have another voice speaking their truth in this sacred space. It warms my heart and brightens my soul to walk this path with you! There was a follow-up comment on Lee’s post. When I began responding, I realized that I have a lot to say about nudity.
To share my childhood stories can sometimes be painful for me. There were so many conflicting messages in my home and in my life. My adopted dad who raised me from the time I was 6 months old was a nudist of sorts. He also molested me, so the messages I received about nudity were definitely mixed. On the one hand, the message is that nudity is acceptable and natural and on the other hand, the message that nudity means abuse.
My mom was more relaxed in her younger years, but when she joined the local Nazarene church, the rigid judgmental messages she received as a child drowned out her free-spirited expression. While typing these words, I feel the weight on my shoulders and deep sadness in my spirit, but then I focus on the bliss I have experienced breaking away from these destructive messages.
In my early teens, I was a wallflower; shy, timid and unsure of myself. As I continued to develop into a young woman, some of the sexual violence I experienced really pissed me off. I realized that no matter what I wore, no matter how much I tried to shrink into myself and hide from predators, they would find me. I began to understand that hiding my light and my sensuality was not the answer. So I rebelled against sexual repression. At 16, I worked as an exotic dancer. This is a story for another day, but as a grown woman, I can now see how this was a necessary part of my development and believe it or not, my healing and subsequent transformation
As a breastfeeding mother shy; I used a receiving blanket to cover my breasts as I nourished my babies, but then I rented an apartment from a woman named Gwen Jacob. Gwen forever changed my point of view. This is Gwen’s story:
Wikipedia: “On July 19, 1991, a very hot and humid day, Gwen Jacob, a University of Guelph student, was arrested, after walking in a street in Guelph, Ontario while topless after removing her shirt when the temperature was 33 °C (91 °F) and was charged with indecency under Section 173(1)(a) of the Criminal Code. Police stated that they acted following a complaint from a woman who was upset that one of her children had seen Gwen Jacob. Jacob stated she did it because men were doing it and she wanted to draw attention to the double standard. She was found guilty and fined $75. In her
In her defense. she argued that breasts were merely fatty tissue. In finding her guilty, the judge stated that breasts were “part of the female body that is sexually stimulating to men both by sight and touch,” and therefore, should not be exposed. She appealed, but her appeal was dismissed by the Ontario Court (General Division), and she further appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
In the meantime, protests against Jacob’s arrest and conviction led to further charges against others, in particular R. v. Arnold but in this case McGowan P.C.J. applied the test of community standard of tolerance, following Butler, stating that the action of being topless caused no harm and thus did not exceed community standards of tolerance. Indeed, she commented – “… Undoubtedly, most women would not engage in this conduct for there are many who believe that deportment of this nature is tasteless and does not enhance the cause of women. Equally undoubtedly, there are men today who cannot perceive of woman’s breasts in any context other than sexual. It is important to reaffirm that the Canadian standards of tolerance test does not rely upon these attitudes for its formulation. I have no doubt that, aside from their personal opinions of this behaviour, the majority of Canadians would conclude that it is not beyond their level of tolerance.”
Gwen Jacob was acquitted on December 9, 1996 by the Ontario Court of Appeal on the basis that the act of being topless is not in itself a sexual act or indecent. The court held that “there was nothing degrading or dehumanizing in what the appellant did. The scope of her activity was limited and was entirely non-commercial. No one who was offended was forced to continue looking at her” and that furthermore “the community standard of tolerance when all of the relevant circumstances are taken into account” was not exceeded. It is important to note that although Jacob claimed she had a constitutional right, the court did not address this. The
The Ontario Government decided not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, and thus it has remained the prevailing interpretation of the Criminal Code in Ontario. Since then, the court ruling has been tested and upheld several times. R. v. Jacob has been cited in similar decisions in other provinces and by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Labaye, and is taught in Criminal Law courses.“
Shortly after my time living in Newmarket, Ontario in a basement apartment in Gwen’s home, I was inspired to breastfed topless on Daytona Beach. I was wearing just a bikini bottom and I carried a shade umbrella while breastfeeding my 1-year-old son with my 2-year-old daughter walking beside me. It wasn’t meant as a defiant act and I wasn’t trying to make a statement, it just seemed more natural and honestly less sexual than pulling one side of my bikini top aside to expose my breast. Plus, every man on the beach that I noticed has his top off for no reason at all, so I figured I should be able to go topless too!
In that setting on that day, I was embraced as I sauntered along the beach with my babe in my arms and my girl at my side. Breastfeeding my son topless on Daytona Beach did not elicit any unwanted cat calls or judgments and it felt natural and freeing. Unfortunately, a couple years later while nursing my younger boy (while covering him with a receiving blanket), I was shamed by a conservative and highly religious family member in front of my two other children.
As you may be able to tell from just these few stories, the messages I have received throughout my life have been conflicting. This combination of experiences, judgments, and some pretty messed up advice (don’t talk about it, put it behind you, good girls don’t do that, etc.) led me to the path of becoming “Tantrachick”. At this stage in my life, I do not need anyone else’s permission or approval to be who I am. I would be naked most of the day and night if it were socially acceptable (and legal lol). In my opinion, being naked is non-sexual in nature. For me, it is intention and connection that changes a naked moment to a sexual moment. In addition, the relationship itself changes the mood. If I am sitting naked with a group of friends, it is non sexual. If I am sitting naked with my lover, it can be non sexual as well, but is more likely to elicit feelings of arousal because there is always the potential for sex between my lover and I.
While attending sweats, swimming at nude beaches, or just hanging out in the hot tub naked with friends and/or family, I am comfortable in my own skin. I wish everyone was able to feel this way too, but from working with literally thousands of people over the past decade, I know that is not the case. In fact, one man came to my office and asked if he could just sit there naked while conversing with me. At first, I was kind of pissed. I jumped to the conclusion that he had a veurrism fetish or that he a perverted ulterior motive. He didn’t; he was just a 70-year-old British man who had never been naked in front of another human being in his entire life (not even his wife).
Did I allow this lovely man to shed his inhibitions along with his clothing while I sipped my tea and chatted about everyday happenings? You’re fucking right I did! Was he aroused? Did he get an erection? Or was he otherwise inappropriate? Not in the least! He was a total sweetheart. I know it might sound odd to someone who is uncomfortable with nudity, but I honestly didn’t even notice the difference after a few minutes.
At the end of our “freedom session”, I left my office so he could get dressed. When I returned, he had a look of relief and personal satisfaction on his face. He hugged me with all his might while sobbing and laughing at the same time. For him, after so many years of feeling ashamed about his body he looked so much more relaxed. Being naked is a natural state of being. To me, it is pornography, unmet needs, and a deeply rooted societal repression that causes humans to feel ashamed of their naked body or the nakedness of others.
As a mother of both boys and girls, I have done my best to raise my own children without shame, but society fights me every step of the way. My blog might seem like a strange place sometimes. I don’t think people understand why I do what I do. Why do I attend photo shoots where I am partially or fully naked? Why do I talk about the most intimate aspects of my sex life? Why do I talk about even the “darkest” aspects of human sexuality and expression? The answer is simple; I do all of this because I want to be a beacon of hope.
I want each person who reads this blog to feel slightly more comfortable in their own skin. I want people who are struggling with their sexuality or with their sexual identity to feel more at ease with who they are as a sexual being. I want the men and the women who love sex, who truly enjoy making love to accept and embrace themselves. I want to be transparent. I want to be vulnerable and in doing so, I want you to feel okay being transparent and vulnerable. And, I hope that you are able to feel comfortable being naked if you so desire.
I embrace you as you are, with love and respect from my heart to yours,