July 10, 2012

Germans doing German stuff

The New York Times is baffled by the existence of a nude beach on a riverbank in rural Wisconsin:
MAZOMANIE, Wis. — America’s Dairyland seems an odd setting for a nude beach. Its short summers and swarms of mosquitoes are hardly in keeping with the palm-tree paradise that “free” bathing brings to mind. ... 
And yet for decades, nudists have basked on Mazo Beach, a secluded sandbank on the lower Wisconsin River about 30 miles northwest of Madison. With estimates as high as 70,000 visitors a year, the spot, which is owned by the state, has become one of the largest nude beaches in the country that is not on a coastline, weathering angry protesters, conservative politicians and wary neighbors along the way.

It shouldn't be surprising. Wisconsin is the most German state in America, and nudism was one of many Life Reform movements that popped up in Germany in the late 19th Century. 

Sci-fi writer Robert A. Heinlein, for example, was a classic German-American dualist: an engineer and military officer who was also into nudism and a lot of other such stuff that briefly made him a hippie icon in the late 1960s. His 1951 novel The Puppet Masters can be read both as a classic alien invasion thriller and as a huge plot contrivance to force the U.S. Government order all the women in America to walk around without any clothes on (Operation Sun Tan).

39 comments:

dearieme said...

It's not only Germans who find American attitudes to nudity odd. Every year brings stories in the British papers of British tots toddling naked on the beach somewhere in the USA, and the affair being treated as a scandal rather than the natural order of things.

Bill said...

His 1951 novel The Puppet Masters can be read both as a classic alien invasion thriller and as a huge plot contrivance to force the U.S. Government order all the women in America to walk around without any clothes on (Operation Sun Tan).

Somehow, I doubt he'd be so enthusiastic about the idea today.

Thursday said...

One of my friends is always encountering ``German hippies`` on his vacations out to various nature spots in Canada and they always seem to be taking their clothes off.

AKarlin said...

"Somehow, I doubt he'd be so enthusiastic about the idea today."

Win.

Black Death said...

In German it's called "Freikörperkultur." It was common in the old DDR (East Germany) and is still pretty strong today. I'll never forget when, on my first visit to Germany years ago, I sauntered into the hotel sauna and observed naked men and women sitting there together. Being a naive American, I was shocked, shocked! But they didn't seem to think too much of it.

Anonymous said...

Nudism is unnatural and unclean. Most animals have fur, feathers, or scales. In the absence of such, we are supposed to wear clothing. Imagine a dog without fur.
It is also unclean because one's genitalia and anus are out in the open. I'd hate to sit in the spot where a nudie just sat.

Anonymous said...

Nudism should only be for modeling for art sculpture.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

The problem with nudism is that the people you least want to see with their clothes off are the ones who are quickest to strip down.

normann said...

i'm with the Germans (Norwegians, Swedes, Danes et al.) on this one. When you live between 50 and 70 degrees north, you need every ray of sunshine you can get. Besides, nudism was for East Germans the equivalent of no speed limit on the Autobahn for West Germans.

Anonymous said...

I was soooo disappointed when the 1994 Puppet Masters movie left out the nudity thing!!!

heartiste said...

I used to date a German expat -- tall, busty blonde, very stereotypical looking -- who traipsed in the nude around her apartment all the time. Clothes would come off as soon as she returned from work. To be honest, it killed some of the romance. Svelte as she was, there's that Seinfeld thing where nobody looks sexy doing stuff like vacuuming, or cleaning kitty litter, naked.

Anonymous said...

America's increasing prudery is, to a large extent, the result of decades of sexual harassment training, legislation, and litigation, as well as the well-funded “diversity” industry.

Nude or sexually provocative calendars, statues, and artwork are all deemed to create a “hostile workplace” for women and therefore “inappropriate;” while the Bush-era Justice Department was ridiculed for covering up nude neo-classical statues, they did so in partially response to complaints from female employees and women's groups who found the statues “hostile” and “degrading,” and who threatened to complain to the EEOC.

Every few years, one or more nude beaches in California is temporarily closed and/or subjected to police sweeps in order to assuage female park rangers and maintenance workers who complain that the rampant nudity creates a “hostile workplace.” Reassigning complaining workers to non-nude beaches could be construed as “unlawful retaliation,” i.e., changing a worker's job-site or working conditions after they complained of conduct they believed to be “inappropriate.” So, local law enforcement or federal park rangers are summoned to hand out a few tickets. The goal is not to end nudity, merely to show that the employer Did Something to address the worker's complaints about nudity.

Female jail and prison guards have successfully sued their employers after they were offended by (male or, in one case, female) prisoners taking nude showers in the shower room, disrobing when ordered to for searches, masturbating in their cells, or using “inappropriate” language. Apparently, prisons are expected to ensure that inmates refrain from using racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, homophobic, or obscene language where female guards can hear it and feel “unwelcome.” Womyn's groups insist that female prison guards be afforded the same politically-correct, “emotionally supportive” working conditions as female academics and professionals.

The courts have also ruled that employers have an obligation to ensure that customers and third-party vendors do not engage in conduct that creates a hostile workplace for female staff. Women have successfully sued on the grounds that the presence of scantily-clad beach-goers was “degrading" to women, that their employer's beer ads featured scantily clad women undermined their authority in the workplace, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Operation Beached Whale" or "Operation AAAAAH MY EYES!" is the 2012 version of Operation Sun Tan.

Kylie said...

"The New York Times is baffled by the existence of..."

...virtually anything and everything outside its bubble.

Anonymous said...

You take your clothes off in Canada : You are dead [ Of cold]

Dahlia said...

Where is the jealousy? I'm about half German and I just can't wrap my head around this. My sister saw all kinds of nasty stuff on a beach in Spain a couple years ago, too.

Seriously, where is the jealousy?

I would imagine that the Celts do not, could not, do this. Or do they? They seem too passionate to not get worked up.

Anonymous said...

Yeah "conservative Germans" "disciplined Germans" my ass. The German side of my family is... lots of unexpected babies. My aunts trying to talk up my male friends. Stuff on FaceBook I don't want to see that I'm related to you.

Ammianus Marcellinus said...

Personally I found the opening scene of "The Baader-Meinhof Complex" to be a bit much

james said...

The Swiss got annoyed with naturist German hikers last year.

BTW, I heard a few years ago that Mazo wound up with watchers in the bushes and "bath-house" antics (up to and including needles lying around). Since it isn't an official beach, there wasn't any police presence. Never been there myself.

e-Shalit said...

Mr. Sailer: since you mentioned one of Heinlein's more Zeitgeisty works "The Puppet Masters" (later made at much historical distance into a cheesy Donald Sutherland movie) I was recalling a precis for "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" that James Bowman did recently--quite an interesting take, he argued it was more allegorical to California's divorce rate than to Communist sleepers (and also explained how the supposed McCarthyism allegory doesn't actually fit the film as it was made)

David said...

Correct title: "Non-Americans doing human stuff"

green mamba said...

I'll never forget when, on my first visit to Germany years ago, I sauntered into the hotel sauna and observed naked men and women sitting there together. Being a naive American, I was shocked, shocked! But they didn't seem to think too much of it.

It beats sweating through your swim trunks. I'll take the German/European way hands down. Americans are really neurotic about nudity and sexuality in general. There's no honest sex or sensuality in American movies or TV - it's all bullshit titillation. (Gotta love how the characters have sex with their clothes on too.) At the same, we loooves us some violence. I can't even watch commercials for American entertainment anymore, it's become so violent.

TGGP said...

I think I canoed past there over the weekend. I trusted the judgment of my friends that borrowing the binoculars was a bad idea in the absence of bleach for our eyes.

heartiste said...

generally, though, the sorts of people who go in for the nudist thing are older and flabbier. the nude beaches of the caribbean are filled with out of shape sunbathers in their bedraggled birthday suits. it's a rare sight to find a young, slender woman in the nude at one of these beaches. evo psych theory perfectly accounts for this phenomenon: when you have the goods, you're less likely to give a free show to onlookers.

this may also explain "nude old man and woman" syndrome in gym lockers. it's the old farts who love to parade around naked, sitting their derrieres on benches for hours watching the tv. girls have told me the old women at the gym do it too.

Anonymous said...

Deutschland Deutschland nuder alles

Achtung Nuden said...

Suppose Nazis were nudists. Nudemberg Rally.

Anonymous said...

"Black Death said...
In German it's called "Freikörperkultur." It was common in the old DDR (East Germany) and is still pretty strong today. I'll never forget when, on my first visit to Germany years ago, I sauntered into the hotel sauna and observed naked men and women sitting there together. Being a naive American, I was shocked, shocked! But they didn't seem to think too much of it."


I can relate. Back in the early 80s when I was back packing through Europe I met a nice German couple who invited me to visit them in Munich.

After I got off the train, I walked through the main park to get to their house (they had given me very careful directions).

As I was walking through the public park I came upon an absolutley 100% naked group of sun bathers in the park.

They were of varying ages and physical condition and truthfully some of the images have still scarred me to this day.

I was so shocked that after I walked by them I saw a German police officer and explained in broken German what I just witnessed.

He was amused and told me it was legal!

I have many wonderful memories from that trip including a beautiful German Fraulein who picked me up hitch hiking on the AutoBahn in her Porshce and proceeded to terorize me by passing every auto on the road either on the right or the left (she was driving well over 100 MPH most of the time it seemed to me and I had never before been in a car going over 70 MPH at that time).

What she did to me when I stayed at her house overnight is another story (with a much happier ending).

Ah when I was young and handsome.. those were the days.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, more likely Germans than Floridians...

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with nudity per se, because, as other commentators have pointed out, Northern Europeans do not automatically associate nudity with sex; but, in my experience, German baby boomers and 'war children' are, or were, particularly sexually depraved (in a good way).

Of course, the whole thing took a turn for the grotesquely sordid: German pornography and vice was notorious during the Sixties and Seventies; and who can forget Boney M, the ultimate jungle fever fantasy for middle aged German women.

Subsequent generations seem to have settled on a more prudish deep green ultra-PC mentality. Is my own experience just coloured by the Frau next door, or was there something about Germans?

Gilbert P

JayMan said...

This can be explained by a confluence of three factors:

1. The extreme latitude that Northern European countries lie. This causes them to drink up the Sun, which might also explain the penchant for tanning and sunbathing that is endemic to Europeans, as well as Europeans' unusually de-pigmented skin.

2. Age effects. Anecdotally it seems that middle-aged to older people (read: women) are more likely to apt for nudism. Younger women probably shy away from this for the reasons heartiste noted.

3. The outbred, slow-breeding nature of European populations. Being outbred—and hence minimally restricted on possible mates (vs inbred groups like say Muslims)—and being slow-breeding (in response to living for generations in Malthusian conditions)—hence having reduced sexualization (and hence reduced need to control sexuality)—Europeans in general are less likely to have visceral reservations when it comes to sex or nudity, as compared to Americans, as per my hypothesis.

DaveinHackensack said...

Heinlein also had a nudist camp in The Doorway Into Summer.

Cran said...

Speaking of German stuff, I found a classic example of liberal spin today in an article about German parking spaces at MSNBC.

http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/10/12664764-german-mayor-designates-parking-spaces-just-for-men?lite

Notice how the headline and the way its written suggest a privilege for men that women are not getting. Only when you actually read the article through do you realize that women are also being given spots. Not only that, a reporter being honest about who is receiving the privilege would focus instead upon the fact that the spaces reserved for women are nicer, larger parking spaces there, more easily accessed and the spaces from men are clearly pain in the a** to get into- tight fits, must go in in reverse, etc.

Not an article of earth-shaking importance, but nevertheless, the constant spin from the MSM is quite disturbing...

Anonymous said...

This guy - the Naked Rambler aka serial indecent exposer - has been in jail for the last 6 years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Gough

http://ukcommentators.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/untoward-fate.html

He attempted to walk naked from Lands End to John O'Groats i.e. the length of Britain. Met with bemused tolerance by the English police and courts, not so North of the Border (being English may not help either).

Charlotte said...

"Nudism is unnatural and unclean. Most animals have fur, feathers, or scales. In the absence of such, we are supposed to wear clothing. Imagine a dog without fur.
It is also unclean because one's genitalia and anus are out in the open. I'd hate to sit in the spot where a nudie just sat."

That's why they carry around towels all the time--read that in an article on the subject. For when they sit down. It is true the most unattractive people go in for nudism the most--at least in the west. Now in Russia and Japan, everybody is lax about it, but only in saunas or hot baths, where they are self-cleaning so to speak. Not in everyday situations like opening pickle jars.
Most people have understood the naturalness of some sort of garment. Even tropical tribes would have felt naked without their g-strings. Can't quite put my finger on it, but this nudist movement among Euros seems desperate somehow. A symbol of something deeper that would have come out in an artistic or philosophical movement in another, more intellectually alive, era.

Anonymous said...

"Men are shy whereas females merely have conventions" - Heinlein in Glory Road.

So true. If the cool girls decide to go nude, the rest of the female herd would have no problem parading with no clothes on.

Tony said...

"I would imagine that the Celts do not, could not, do this. Or do they?"

The Celts are known for their small genitalia. So no, they would be less likely to be nude in public.

Charlotte said...

"Men are shy whereas females merely have conventions" - Heinlein in Glory Road.

So true. If the cool girls decide to go nude, the rest of the female herd would have no problem parading with no clothes on."

Ok. That's an opinion. Now where do "conventions" come from? Vogue Magazine? Sharia? Women know they have usually needed to cover up (a relative notion) because, 1) climate; 2) clothes are more interesting, and make one more alluring than nudity; 3) men are easily stimulated, and we don't normally want to get blamed for the sexual arousal of men we don't fancy.
There are good reasons for conventions, at least initially. They don't come out of nowhere. The definition of "shyness" has always seemed subjective. To me. Maybe men are "insecure" and afraid of injury of a sensitive part, ergo the fig leaf. They have googd, physical reasons to be insecure, or "shy", as the case may be. I once saw a documentary on Amazon Indian men and their secret rituals. Women were forbidden to see them during those rituals. A woman who peeked at his secret rituals, and found out, was subjected to gang rape by all the men in the tribe except her blood relatives. These Amazonian men may have been too "shy" to expose themselves to female view during private times, but not too shy to commit gang rape. Very subjective term.
Really, each gender's view of itself can be pretty absurd to the other. Nobody's got the final word.

Anonymous said...

"The Celts are known for their small genitalia."

Irish curse?

allnudist said...

The situation at Mazo Beach isn't nearly as bad or obvious as this and other recent stories have made it out to be, but there should be no problem whatsoever. One actually has to go LOOK for something happening to know that it is. The drug use is silly; many folks on an outing nowadays are likely to have a little weed with them and when arrested for something else, it's found.

Nudists have worked with the DNR and legislature for decades to keep Mazo free to naturism but there is a non-nudist element there which persists in misbehaving regardless of all efforts to curtail their actions. We nudists self-police the beach along with DNR wardens but there is only so much a civilian can do when confronted by a group of individuals (overwhelmingly men, in Mazo's case) who refuse to stop what they're doing.

This, along with public sex by swingers, is a worldwide problem which has already forced the closing of beaches to nudists, and threatens more. The nudist/naturist community deplores this behavior yet is usually lumped in with the miscreants in news reports. This is unfair to the millions of good people, families, who practice social nudism and we want it to stop more than anyone. How to stop it is the question.