YSERBA

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Kevin Army

Kevin Army
Location
Oakland, California, United States
Birthday
August 19
Title
Executor
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Yserba
Bio
Formerly posing as Yserba Berrington, now just posing as myself. In a former life I worked on music creatively for a living. Now I'm a hardworking slacker and occasional writer for no money at all, and I like it that way. I post fiction, ramblings, songs, photos, videos, whatever I feel moved to do. I'm kind of directionless. Welcome!

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OCTOBER 22, 2012 2:55PM

Should Public Nudity Be Legal?

Rate: 6 Flag

There's been a small controversy regarding public nudity in San Francisco's Castro district for a while now. I had heard rumblings about it, but until last June hadn't seen first hand what it was all about. Basically, at Jane Warner Memorial Plaza, which is located at Market and Castro, the epicenter of that world famous neighborhood, some nudists like to, well, hang out naked.  

It's mostly men, and about a year ago the supervisor for that part of the city, Scott Wiener, got legislation passed to require the nudists to place something under themselves on public transit, and banning them from restaurants.

I hadn't realized it was legal to be naked anywhere, but apparently it is legal in San Francisco, as long as no one acts lewdly. Some residents and merchants of that area don't like the nudity, and Wiener has now introduced legislation to ban public nudity.

 nudity rally 1

A demonstration was planned this past Saturday at that plaza to protest the bill. I had found a facebook page, and over 120 people had committed to going. This gave me visions of a fun spectacle of a decent sized nude in, and I couldn't resist dragging my friends Linda and Steve to check it out.

We got there a little early and found only a handful of naked people. One man was doing a fine job of displaying himself and his member, which I and Linda both agreed looked like it had been “pumped up” in order to appear larger than it was. So much for naturalness and nudity. This man did a good job of remaining displayed enough so that it was hard to not notice that over time, the effects of his pump were wearing off.

According to the Bay Area Reporter, this is one of the issues some find objectionable. Some men walk around with cock rings on, claiming they are jewelry, and really, the only reason for that is to give their genitals more prominence. Or something like that. Some men have been seen waving their stuff at cars passing by. Sounds dumb to me.

However, as people arrived in various states of undress, I can't say I saw anyone else behave in a disrespectful way. I've learned with radical movements that it only takes the actions of a few to invalidate the actions of everyone else. So though my initial impression for the day was of someone who was obviously trying to get attention for his penis, I don't think that was anyone elses intention.

When I came out at the age of 40, I had my wilder experimental period, and I tried nude beaches a couple of times. I'm sure I have nothing new to say about it, it was very freeing. I've never had an awesome body. So taking my clothes off in public, and finding that everyone didn't run away was nice. And one notices that most everyone elses bodies aren't perfect either. Then you can settle down and just enjoy the sea breeze wandering through places it's never been, and it's all relaxing and pleasant. For about an hour, then I got bored. But I can understand how people could get hooked on that feeling.

prayer circle 1 

Eventually, about 100 people showed up. About 25 of them were striped down to either jock straps or were completely nude. At one point, some of the awesome Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence had people get into a prayer circle and did a blessing for the crowd.

man with flyers

I spoke with some people. Rusty Mills, who was handing out information, and was wearing shorts, told me: “I think it's important for SF to keep it's reputation as a place where interesting things happen. We've got the Bay to Breakers and Folsom Street fair, part of the charm of the events is people are free to be provocative and naked. SF hasn't had any laws against nudity on the streets, we in the Castro have been taking advantage of this law, the tourists love it, and it's fun, it's just basically fun. You're free of this irrational taboo against being naked, SF is the only place in the country where this is happening and we don't want to lose it.”

 Oliver

Oliver, a protestor wearing clothes, who had spoken to the crowd with a megaphone, who lives in that district said “I believe nudity is a fundamental issue of personal freedom. This is a civil rights issue, it's a basic issue of liberty. People forget that the whole reason that we have civil rights, that we have those liberties is because the majority is going to be opposed, because the legislatures are going to try and pass laws against these things. There has to be some limit to what the majority can decide. Otherwise you have the tyranny of the majority, and you have the situation where they can throw any minority under the bus. And that doesn't seem like a country that we want to live in.”

 Monsanto

And the youngest nude member of the crowd, Monsanto, who is a proud republican, said “I feel like the laws against nudity are kind of infringing. It's an overreach from the government. Nudity is important in SF for what it represents here. I mean, not everyone needs to legalize nudity. New York, maybe Chicago, whoever wants to. People can almost be naked anyway, so why have laws against nudity, it doesn't make sense. These people aren't hurting anyone, let them live free lives.”

*****

I can't say this is an issue that really resonates with me. Yes, the human body is a beautiful thing, and no, I don't need to see everyone's body. I like that moment when someone I have found a mutual attraction for reveals their whole body to me. It feels special, and it's an honor to reach that level of trust and openness with someone. If we all walked around naked, so much for that moment. And believe me, I am not a prude. I believe in seeing naked bodies regularly.

But I think I should be able to make a choice about who I see naked. I wouldn't want to sit next to a stranger who's wearing nothing on public transit. Genitalia and the human body are a charged subject, and carry meaning, whether we want that or not.  

All that said, I understand the quest for personal freedom, and I respect these people's right to fight for what they believe in. I'd rather see people fighting for things such as world peace, or the economy, but that's just me. Different things are important to different people. All the people I interviewed had good points. It comes down to different opinions, and sometimes both opinions can be both a little right and a little wrong. Maybe pushing the boundaries is a good thing. I really don't know. 

I appreciate the people who spoke to me, and for everyone in attendance making the event very safe and fun. I like my thinking challenged like this, and the chance to understand other people's issues. I thank everyone who was there.

~~~ 

I had a great time with my friends Linda and Steve, and you can check out Linda Seccaspina's perspective here.

******

 All content by me, except the quotes are the words of the quoted people. No copyright intended. 

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Comments

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In any other city I would have seen police involvement- but not here.. nary a one. Do I want to be subjected to nudity? Not every day but i appreciate how they took it to the streets and voiced their opinions and the involvement whether you were for it or not was peacful. Freedom of choice.. that is what I believe in.
That to me says it al
Linda- Yes, no police in sight! Imagine if this was in Oakland! It was a nice peaceful afternoon- thanks for being there!
You were doing fine until you said.....

""But I think I should be able to make a choice about who I see naked.""

Y'see sir, that's the beginning of......

"But I think I should be able to make a choice about who I see who is black; or poor; or Republican; or elderly; or not wearing a burkha; or Catholic; or fat; or gay; or......." Well... you get the idea.

The moment that you get the idea that you have the "freedom" to stop others from having their freedom, you get into trouble. You may respond that there has to be limits to "freedom" because we can't have people having the "freedom" to rob us or yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre. But it is easy to draw a line between "freedom" and "licence". If it does no harm to anyone then it is "freedom"; it it harms others then it is "licence."

If anyone can show me that nudity harms anyone, then they'll have done something that no one has been able to do to date.

;-)
.
I've been through the intersection of Castro and Market a lot and the nudity isn't shocking but it's not an aesthetic treat either.
We lived on Kobbe Ave which ends high above the nude bathing part of Baker Beach and, after one disappointing session with my binoculars, even my two teen age boys wouldn't bother.
skypixeo- I am not advocating picking and choosing who can be naked in public. I'm saying nudity is a private thing for me that I wish to share in private, with someone I want to be intimate with.
Kevin,
Sorry. I was fooled by your title - Should Public Nudity Be Legal - and the content of your blog. I didn't realize that the topic was personal, private nudity.

;-)
.
I say Yes to nudity. There's too much uptightness around bodies and anything (potentially) sexualized (among adults) and I already see all sorts of other stuff every day that drives me crazy as it is. I mean, I lose the will to live when I see socks with birkenstocks or sneakers with business attire, but I seem to manage to survive anyway. I'd outlaw remaining pairs of acid wash jeans before bodies. Bring on the nudity!
Traveler- Sounds like you have a great perspective on the whole thing.

Various- You make some really good points.
I believe that anyone who performs a "civic" function of authority should be required to perform it in the nude. "Body Language" is a much more reliable indicator of actual personality than is "Fashion Statement". Imagine if the Supreme court was required to render it's decisions in the nude. It would help us realize and recognize what fallible lumps of clay we all are. And hopefully, act accordingly in regard to our fellow creatures.
Interesting to read of another area dealing with this issue.

We've had this issue front and center in our town as nudity isn't (wasn't) illegal here either.
The problems.
Regular nudists weren't the ones who went nude in public.
They preferred the 'nudist' spots, hanging out with like-minded others. There were only two people who caused the problems, but boy did they cause a fuss.
One was an old guy who walked up and down in front of an elementary school all day, not turned on or groping himself, but naked, all day long, only when the school was in session. Not appropriate in too many parents' minds, no way to stop him without a ban on nudity in front of schools, not enough cops in town to patrol the schools all day. They put in place a ban on showing genitals in public to stop him.
Then the woman showed up.
The other person was a young woman from California who'd been banned from other towns for being naked. She looked up towns that allow nudity online and came here. She was an exhibitionist, loved the attention, so suddenly every town gathering had this naked woman, flaunting wildly in a highly sexualized manner, front and center of parades, of Santa's float, of the gathering before the Fun Run and 10k runs, at the Easter service in the park, before the Shakespeare crowds waiting to get to a play.
That was not good in the minds of the powers that be here, we're a tourist-based economy, plus back to the children everywhere issue.
If the woman had just been naked without the drama and flamboyance of "look at me!" that might have gone more smoothly, but this woman was not a normal nudist, she was so over the top in her narcissistic actions.
It got old.
Very old -- watching this one woman steal the attention at every parade, the drunk young males from the next town over who'd heard she was here cat-calling and chasing her, the uptight haters, the raging freedom-of-the-skin lovers....all bickering wildly.
It just became too much of an issue that took up police time, city council time, news headlines time...our town got bored with the drama, didn't know how to respect the freedom without the crazies taking over, and the ban was put in place.
Why do you people up north [SF] have all these cool events, compare to San Diego. We may have a nude beach, but on the city side they arrest you if there a Republican event in town, and on the State side of the beach, they tolerate it.