We now turn to the second aspect of naturism, nudity. The notion of the term nudity does not clearly describes the facts of the lack of clothing. Rather, the term is connected with different meanings and contents in terms of time and culture. In particular, the associations with nudity are very different. Thus, in historical documents, it is often unclear to what extent nudity, for example, had a sexual connexion.
Ethnology has elucidated the fact, that the German term nackt, in English nude, in the nude or naked, meant in the Middle Ages by no means complete lack of clothing. On the contrary, people used the term even then, when people were wearing only a shirt or a loincloth. This also applies to the usual penalties of being naked in the pillory or to be chased naked through the city – here, too, the punished usually still had an undershirt on the body.
Nevertheless, the concept of the term nudity or nakedness is by no means clear. In history and in different cultures, there have been many meanings of nudity or nakedness, upon which we will step into detail a little.
The Wikipedia encyclopaedia defines:
On some beaches or in swimming pools in Germany, textile beaches and naturist beaches are distinguished. Some swimming pools also offer opportunities for naturists. This offer is sometimes referred to as nude bathing.
While the abbreviation FKK does currently consider nudity mostly as necessary according to the above stated practise (i.e. nudity, when having shower or in the sauna, is thus generally common and does not require its own zones), the term nudism designates a general attitude, which prefers any kind of leisure without clothes. This is based on an attitude towards life, according to which the nude body is something natural and no reason for shame.
Finally, you call a comprehensive, nature-related attitude to life, in which nudity is only a part, naturism. Already and especially the founders of the naturist culture and thus of the naturist movement had that "special attitude to life", which is inherent in naturism – and also the today's members of the naturist associations claim this nature-related attitude to life for themselves. FKK and naturism are therefore often synonyms.
It's true, though, that today, companies often abuse the abbreviation 'FKK for clearly sex-oriented business, i.e. for swinger clubs or even porn websites. This occupation of the term 'FKK' for non-naturist content is improper, but unfortunately unavoidable. That is, why the term 'Naturismus' [en: 'naturism'] is particularly popular among naturists, because no misuse of language exists regarding this term.
Aficionados of the nude life as well as naturists do not like to be called nudists, since the term at times tends to result in being deprecative and nudity might get moved close to exhibitionism.
The nudity according to the idea of naturism does not in any way represent a need for sex – quite the contrary! Nevertheless, many cultures in the world treat nudity in the public sphere as displeasing and prohibit it except in certain contexts as an indecent behaviour2). In some cultures, this also includes the exposing of the upper body of women.
In Germany, deeds called Causing a public disturbance3) and exhibitionism are criminal offenses, which always presuppose sexual acts or motives. Mere nudity is in Germany at worst an administrative offense – if the legal constraints are met.
However, the legal situation can be quite different in other countries: In some countries, any kind of nudity in the public sphere is regarded as sexually motivated and thus punishable! This is true, for example, in France, where at least one to two million naturists indulge their hobby in naturist camps passionately and molestedly. Nude hikers with a bit bad luck might be pursued there however as sex offenders, because the criminal law does not clearly define the term sexual ostentation thus leaving space for interpretation! The association APNEL is struggling since years to get this uncertain legal situation abolished.
You may find a detailed description of the legal situation at Nudity and law.
The translation of the German article to English adds the phrase "The German term […]" and two links to regarding articles at Wikipedia.
In German, naturists use the term "Freikörperkultur" and its abbreviation "FKK" – "Frei-Körper-Kultur" – as synonyms for "Naturismus" [en: naturism].
The understanding of the term "indecent behaviour" might vary between different countries and law systems.
The term "indecent behaviour" is the literal translation of the German term "Erregung öffentlichen Ärgernisses" to English, but in the German penal law, the official translation of section 183a "Erregung öffentlichen Ärgernisses" to English is "Causing a public disturbance".
All this is confusing.
It would be much clearer, if from the beginning the regarding section in the German penal law would have been entitled "Sexuelle Handlungen in der Öffentlichkeit", because that is exactly, what it is about. In English, you might read that as "Sexual activities in public" …
With the following submenu items, we will present the different notions of nudity in more detail.
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