The latest drama to roll SF is an upcoming proposal by one of the Board of Sups, Scott Weiner,1 to ban nudity in public places. While he did include a caveat that excludes fairs and events, it still would ban all forms of nudity in public. Not even your buttocks could be exposed under the new proposal. This is a tad more extreme than even some conservative cities. I’m sure some reading this would be very surprised that nudity, in any form, is allowed in public. While there are several ordinances on the books about lewd behavior, SF currently has no specific ordinance against nudity in general. And many of us here realize nudity is not something to be ashamed of…within reason. And therein lies my rant today.
Anyone that knows me knows I am no stranger to nudity, sex, or even a little voyeurism.2 But from my perspective, it’s not so much about the nudity but respect. It is plain disrespectful and rude to parade around in a busy residential & business district butt-naked. And your desire to be naked does not trump everyone else’s desire not to see it. It is not shameful to want to avoid it while you are going about your daily routine and/or business. And we aren’t talking about the beaches or even the parks. We are talking right out in the public plazas. I don’t find it disgusting or offensive but I do find it rude and disrespectful. I am rarely a fan of legislating behavior, but what’s left to do? They have pushed the envelope to the point where no one wants it anymore.
In my opinion, no one seems to understand what balance means anymore. It’s “my way or the highway.” We have plenty of spaces, places, and events here that allow, condone, and even support nudity. We clearly have room and place to express ourselves. We do not have to grind it into everyone’s face to get our jollies. Even worse, the so-called nudists have taken to wearing cockrings now and trying to claim it’s ‘jewelry.’ Bullshit.
Of course, you should hear some of the hang-wringing and stuff being said on both sides of the argument. Everything from the completely logical to the utterly made-up and insane. Some of the comments were so ludicrous as to be hilarious. And I’m sure there are many who do argue against it out of a misguided sense of shame, religion, or not being comfortable with their own bodies. Even in SF, you have the fundies but that isn’t the point.
Then there was the ‘the republicans are taking over’ and of course, ‘what about the children’ argument. Whatever that means. Children have no idea anything is wrong until you act like it so spare me on that front. If we are going to argue against it rationally, then the reasons should be based on reason, not stupid shams used over and over again. Then on the other side you have ludicrous statements claiming it’s a hate crime or discrimination. This is where they lost my support completely. It is not hate, shame, or discrimination to expect a minimum level of decency in busy public spaces. Asking you to cover your bare genitals is not a hate crime and to claim it is demeans and marginalizes the victims of such very real crimes.
Anyway, I hate to say it but it’s their own fault. Most of the so-called nudists are the same ones you see at the fairs beating their meat for a thrill. Sadly, they have probably given the few traditional nudists involved a bad name now. Having the privilege to be naked wasn’t enough they had to keep pushing it as far as they could. Well guess what? A lot of the locals have had enough and have started complaining in record numbers. And of course, the board of sups, tired of having their inboxes and voicemail blown up over it, has proposed new legislation to ban nudity.
I personally hope that the ordinance gets watered down a bit. I love SF and the freedoms that come with living in such a progressive city. But, being cited for walking from bar to bar in ass-less chaps is probably a bit overkill. And while the police have better things to do,3 if someone called and insisted on signing a complaint, they would be bound to enforce the law. Either way, it is a sad state of affairs when we are fighting over something so stupid and childish when we have so many bigger issues at hand.
Even as gregarious and open about things as I am, I still don’t want to see it when I’m going about my day. As I said, from my point of view it is about respect for others in public spaces and balance. There is a time and place for everything and there has to be a defining line somewhere. Unfortunately, now because of abuse, that line might end up being further to the right than we would have wanted.
On a slight tangent, many have argued for the old days and lamented the loss of the “freedoms” we had in the past. I’m sorry but we can’t have it both ways. We can’t argue for equality under the law and then get mad when we are held to the standards of society at large. We have emerged into the mainstream and can’t turn around. And given the choice, I’d go for equality. Being treated equal under the law and all that comes with that is far far better to me than the loss of a few freedoms. Freedoms ironically developed as a coping mechanism to a society that shunned and hated us.