And Don't Confuse Us with Exhibitionists!
Indecent exposure is crime to be reported; nudism is different
Cay Crow - San Antonio Express-News
May 27, 2006
Years ago, I was visiting a friend in Colorado for Spring Break. As we drove along the highway, a man pulled up beside us and exposed himself. We sped away, shocked and laughing nervously. What would possess someone to do such a thing?! Had I understood at the time, I would have recorded his license plate and turned him in for coercive exhibitionism, legally known as indecent exposure. When a coercive exhibitionist exposes him or herself to an adult in the state of Texas, that is a misdemeanor. If the exposure involves a child, that is a felony. Once convicted, these individuals could remain on the sexual offender registry for the rest of their life.
There are people in this world who feel compelled to expose themselves for sexual gratification. Most, but not all, of them are male. Usually, the behavior has a furtive quality. The exposure happens quickly, sometimes in a seemingly accidental manner. Other exhibitionists (also called "flashers") are more provocative or threatening in their behavior. Some will step in front of another person in public and expose themselves, waiting for a reaction. In many cases, it is the reaction that the exhibitionist seeks. It is important to report indecent exposure when it occurs as this criminal behavior can lead to more violent crimes. Breast-feeding in public is not considered indecent exposure.
Not all exhibitionists are criminals; there is a non-coercive aspect to this behavior. Context and consent are the key differences between coercive and non-coercive exhibitionism. Around the country, there are lifestyle clubs and erotic gatherings where revealing the body is not only acceptable but expected. In the right social context, exhibitionism is not a crime but a form of consensual sexual gratification. While plunging necklines, short skirts, and g-strings will never be acceptable at the office, in the right social setting, to see and be seen is just part of the fun.
But what about nudists? Are they the same as exhibitionists? While the behavior may appear similar, exhibitionists and nudists are worlds apart. A nudist or naturist is an individual who enjoys living as much as possible in the nude. It is the sensuality, not the sexuality, of being nude that nudists celebrate; the feel of the sun on the skin or skinny dipping.
Naturism Web sites tout the health or financial benefits of nudism such as treating psoriasis (a skin condition) and reducing laundry costs. Nudists do not gain sexual gratification from being nude; it is simply their most comfortable state. At nudist resorts, there is no cruising and no sexual tension; in fact, they will throw you out for inappropriate behavior. Each resort screens people carefully before allowing them in.
Nudism or naturism is so popular that this lifestyle has its own vacation packages to beaches or resorts around the world. Nudists do not impose their bareness on others. Most naturist resorts or nude beaches are either private facilities or well-marked in public spaces.
As David Letterman once said, "One man you don't catch with his pants down is a nudist."