Thoughts on the “Single Man Problem” in naturism

9 Mar

(For those of you who haven’t come across the term, the “single man problem” basically refers a perceived gender imbalance within naturist spaces, with men outnumbering women.)

I’ve been thinking a bit about how we as a community conceptualise this gender imbalance issue within naturist spaces, and what this particular conceptualisation tells us about the naturist community as a whole. I find it interesting that the problem is couched in terms of it being a problem with single men, rather than simply male dominance on the whole. It’s as if no matter how overbearing an individual man may be, as long as he brings his wife along than his impact of the gender dynamics within the space is neutral. Whereas a single man, who could potentially be an awesome feminist who calls out other men if they are lecherous, overbearing, or talk over women is seen as less welcome because he doesn’t have a woman companion. As such, I don’t think the problem is with “single men” but rather, men in general, or the behaviour of some men (regardless of relationship status).

I appreciate that for a lot of clubs it would be impractical to base it on behaviours instead of numbers, especially when most of the problematic behaviours aren’t necessarily creepy just mildly annoying, or somehow difficult to call out. However, I do think the focus on numbers over changing the behaviours of men within naturism is focusing on the symptom not the cause; a concerted effort amongst naturist men to change the way that they behave is a necessary part of addressing this problem, and one that currently isn’t really being discussed.

Another aspect of the “single man problem” is it sets up this sense of compulsory heterosexuality within naturist spaces. By making the problem of male dominance specifically about “single men” it assumes that all naturists are heterosexual, and by extension, that all naturists should be heterosexual. How does this impact on gay, lesbian, or other queer-identified naturists wishing to access these spaces?

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14 Responses to “Thoughts on the “Single Man Problem” in naturism”

  1. Phill March 9, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Also raises the question why are there so few single women in naturist spaces? I’ve only been to a couple of naturist events and there always seem to be more men. As a gay man I also felt they are suspicious of gay men as well. They only found out I was gay because they asked if my wife would be coming along!

    • ewerfarmer March 12, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      I second Phill’s question. I’ve been to a couple of resorts and several public clothing optional beaches. That atmosphere is different at the public beaches and there are more single women. Are men more likely to pay to be nude, and is the option to be nude or clothed more attractive to us all? I’ve always thought the best business model for introducing the public to the nudist lifestyle would be to build a club in the city with reasonably priced admittance to a clothing optional pool. If more people did not need to travel, spending a significant amount of money for a day in the buff, maybe more would try social nudism.

  2. Malc Furlong March 9, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Jess as per your last paragraph. At naturist events there is usual more men, but a % are gay man. So the problem is the lack of an equal % of lesbian and single women then there could be a gender balance. :-).

  3. Jose Morquecho March 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    I’m not sure that this is a naturist problem only. Now I’m generalizing here, but men seem to be more comfortable alone. I for example don’t mind going to dinner, dancing, movie (cinema) and drinks by myself. Almost anything I attend seems to be more male dominant in numbers, why this is I don’t know. Next time anyone attends a function naturist or textile, look and see. Again I’m generalizing here, but it looks to me like ladies like to travel with friends, if a lady is alone at a bar, beach, club or even at a coffee shop, she will inevitably be bothered by someone for what ever reason.

    My two cents.

  4. homeclothesfree March 9, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

    Reblogged this on home clothes free and commented:
    Well thought out post on the tension about single men in clothes free community a subject we have written on before

  5. Joe Cannon March 10, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    I am a widower, lost my wife Sept 2012. It is a shame that to be a naturist I have to hunt down a date to go to some place I can practice it. It is in the outdoors I can heal but I am not sure I am ready for someone else yet in my life.

  6. Gary Mussell March 10, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    As a 13 year President of a nudist club plus several years as a Director of a landed club, I think the “male problem” you describe is in the heads of people who still see the world as it was 50 years ago. There are many female predators out there using their smiles to lure unsuspecting men out of their bank accounts. I also find that swinging couples in the Jacuzzi trying to entice a single male or female back to their pad for a little extra-curricular activity is far more rampant than single guys hitting on women. Most women know how to handle this. The parks also have people around whose job it is to eyeball those who are annoying and who then escort the offender off the premises. But if they only look for the single guys they miss 70% of the offenders! We base our standards on behavior, not gender. We tell people if they are removed we will also tell all the other clubs in the area so they will be blacklisted there as well. Offenders are almost always first timers who are there as a guest of a member so we also tell the member if their guest misbehaves they also will be removed and put their membership in jeopardy. Our system seems to work. As far as single guys outnumbering females, yes, that is a fact. But if the guy is there for the right reason our women in the club don’t seem to mind. If the guy is there to pick up someone, he soon finds almost all the women are taken or uninterested and they soon leave so the problem solves itself. Our gender ratio at events ratio drops below 60-40 and so no women feel overwhelmed. Again, the system solves itself. Hope this helps the discussion move along.

    Gary Mussell

    Past President,

    Southern California Naturist Association

    (we do not discriminate against singles, couples, tattoos, jewelry, or LGBT.)

  7. Skyclad Pagan March 10, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    And lastly its an all around general Older American population in general. This will affect the Naturist/Nudism Lifestyle too. Its simply the way of things. Until the younger generation creates a new baby boom.

  8. Skyclad Pagan March 10, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Want to attract more females to the life style. First of all need to remember demographics in general men out number women in most things for example using the internet.

    Example Only 35-40% of women regularly surf the entire net. (they tend to cluster around social networking sites such as Face book)

    Secondly a vast majority of naturist and nudist websites show only slim, shapely and buxom females enjoying the lifestyle. While general demographics of the general population shows that we’re nation of chubbies now. That includes women. Nudist and Natural sites preach “body acceptance in all shapes and sizes” yet clearly seem to emphasis just one in their advertising of the life style. Slim and shapely. And come to think of it this applies to men also. End the hypocrisy.

    Third demographics show that a majority of US population are now older. Baby Boomers are now aging and out number younger folks. You youngish will be paying our social security for a very long time (if Social Security lasts). Also their off spring (we of the X generation are aging too) In short Older Americans now are in majority in general.

    So to attract more females. A re-emphasis on acceptance of ALL body types in general must be first and foremost. Let women know that Naturism and Nudism isn’t just for slim attractive females. But instead all women are beautiful. Tell that young college girl she doesn’t have to starve her self on the latest diet to be accepted, but instead she’s loved Just for who she is, Tell that housewife with a few extra pounds that she too is welcome to stroll the beaches of Clothing optional at the beautiful romantic sunset, or she too can have a wondrous time at a resort. Tell that 40 something woman with a few stretch marks from raising a family that she too is welcome to join the fun and freedom of nudism and doesn’t’ have to confined to back lot camping area but can join in the volleyball game!

    And lastly its an all around general Older American population in general. This will affect the Naturist/Nudism Lifestyle too. Its simply the way of things. Until the younger generation creates a new baby boom.

  9. UncleBaz March 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    I am not renewing my membership to BN this year because I cannot get membership to a club because I am single and gay. I have heard gay people labelled as “pervs” in one particular naturist venue.

  10. Michael March 10, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    My perception of naturist spaces in the U.S. is that they are unfriendly to anyone other than white heterosexual monogamous couples. That is with the exception of gay naturist spaces on the West Coast. I think they are mostly gay spaces by default, because they are avoided by homophobic naturists. I wonder though if the gay spaces would be family friendly, just due to the low percentage in the gay community with children. Oh well, I will stick to random places in the national forests, no organization, no rules and no rulers. Freedom and naturism go hand in hand.

  11. aanaturist March 11, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    Reblogged this on Asian American Naturist.

  12. John March 11, 2014 at 4:52 am #

    I’m afraid that the rot begins in wider society, where it’s outside naturists’ control. With a culture that’s saturated in sexualized imagery (if not downright pornographic, though that’s common enough) and with male aggression so common, it’s no surprise that woman are exceedingly cautious about anything that would feel like reducing the amount of protection they expect to get. So, the ladies keep their clothes on, and stay away from places where the social rules are uncertain–because who knows what those crazy nudists are going to allow.

    And as for naturists, a lot of the time we reinforce the message by using images of women to illustrate any material we produce, especially if someone is trying to sell something. That makes it look as if naturists are just like the rest of society, eager to put women on display. Also, how many of us would get involved with any naturist activity if we expected that it would be an all-male experience? The gay guys are most likely exceptions, but out of the hetero majority, I’d guess not too many.

  13. northlondoner April 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    I think you are right to refer to it in terms of the dominance of men, not their martial status. Though it is only an issue it seems in the US and UK. Go to a French naturist beach or a German spa and it will often be a slightly female majority, in part because women are more likely to go as a group of friends.

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