Naturism and Stephen Gough

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Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby Naturgesetz on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:12 am

The Tibetan Hat wrote,
Maybe I romanticise the man here, but for me, I think a future in which we're all allowed to be naked in any public place, if that's how we prefer it, would be a nice world to live in, a freer one anyway, and perhaps Gough is just a wee bit too far ahead of both naturist and textile society on this point. For those reasons, it does rather sadden me that he's so disowned by naturists. Ironically, it's one of those common occurrences that happens among many minority pressure groups - we're all so frustrated and for many of the same reasons, that the slightest difference between us becomes an infraction worthy of more disdain than the people we're actually fighting against in the first place. For those reasons, it'd be nice if more naturists felt open-minded enough to be able to support Gough, despite not necessarily agreeing with his modus operandi,
on another thread.

I think there are several points worth thinking about.

1.) Stephen Gough is certainly not your typical naturist. Just about everybody else is content to confine his/her nudity to approved or remote locations. Would public support of him from naturists give the public the impression that he is what naturism is all about?

2.) We might all wish that nudity were acceptable everywhere. I think it's unlikely in our lifetimes if ever, and any gains in acceptance will be incremental (unless there is a major boost from lots of celebrities). Would supporting Stephen Gough advance the cause?

3.) If we think he is not exactly wrong, just imprudent, should we be honest enough to say so?
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Re: Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby sanua_chap on Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:49 pm

Naturgesetz wrote:I think there are several points worth thinking about.

1.) Stephen Gough is certainly not your typical naturist. Just about everybody else is content to confine his/her nudity to approved or remote locations. Would public support of him from naturists give the public the impression that he is what naturism is all about?


Speaking personally ...

I am not 'content' to confine my nudity to approved or remote locations. I accept that this is the current reality where I live, most of the time, but I think my society is wrong in its attitude to human nudity, and in my own small way I seek to change this attitude.

That said, I also recognise that nudity is an emotionally complex issue for many people, so a simplistic choice between supporting Gough or disowning him is not going to help. We need to be more nuanced in our response, to help society cope with the issues.

I also think that Gough can be helpful to us, not as someone to support or oppose, but as an ice-breaker or conversation starter: why are you reacting so strongly to this chap? What harm has he done by being naked? Is it worth spend so much money to lock someone up for the offence of being themselves? And so on.

Naturgesetz wrote:2.) We might all wish that nudity were acceptable everywhere. I think it's unlikely in our lifetimes if ever, and any gains in acceptance will be incremental (unless there is a major boost from lots of celebrities). Would supporting Stephen Gough advance the cause?


As I say, I don't want to support him, as much of what he says I would not wish to identify with. But, as I understand it, he sees the right to be naked as a basic human right, and I think that is an interesting idea. We can support bits of what he says without agreeing with the whole package.

Naturgesetz wrote:3.) If we think he is not exactly wrong, just imprudent, should we be honest enough to say so?


I think he is both wrong and imprudent in many ways. But I also agree with some of his ideas; and I think it is both wrong and absurd to lock him up for behaviour which has, as far as we know, harmed nobody. And I have said so on many occasions.

But I don't think I have the right to expect the entire naturist community to agree with me. The naturist community is not likely to speak with one voice on this matter, or on any other. But we can talk about these things with each other in a civil way, and explore where we agree and disagree with Gough and with each other.
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Re: Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby northlondoner on Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:19 pm

I recognise that Stephen Gough divides opinion. Mine is that he is unhelpful to naturism. There will not be another beach, park, sauna or swim that can be enjoyed clothes-free as a result of his campaigning.
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Re: Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby nudecamper on Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:35 pm

I'm not bothered if anybody wants to walk naked in the streets of a town. I do accept that most people do not share this view. Gough has my full support only because I am not bothered by anybody walking the streets naked but I would not waste my time campaigning for the 'right' to walk naked in the street. I have nothing against Gough. Good luck to him, in fact, but he is his own worst enemy.

I would think naturists are not willing to campaign for Gough because they cannot be bothered. If Gough was prepared to compromise just a bit he could still be naked most of the time. Nobody can help anybody who does not want to be helped.

I don't think Gough would call himself a naturist or have any affinity with the naturist movement. His refusal to wear clothes is not fighting any cause, it is just obssessive behaviour imho. Even if it did not start out that way it certainly is now. He appears beyond help.
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Re: Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby Naturgesetz on Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:36 am

northlondoner wrote:I recognise that Stephen Gough divides opinion. Mine is that he is unhelpful to naturism. There will not be another beach, park, sauna or swim that can be enjoyed clothes-free as a result of his campaigning.

The unfortunate thing is that his first naked ramble from one end of Great Britain to the other may actually have done some good. I wasn't close enough to be sure, but my impression was that he was seen as harmless, and his nudity, if eccentric, was also harmless. But then he turned into a crank (or fanatic, if you prefer), and what was tolerable to a lot of people became intolerable to them.
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Re: Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby cony on Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:12 pm

I have a sort of debating with myself if I want to get in on this debate, so here goes!

As Naturgesetz said in his post, Stephen Gough started off as eccentric and or harmless in his walk from Lands End to John O'Groats and was indeed supported by many people en-route, some of them even dressed as he was. As far as I understand it he does not consider himself a naturist and I still do not understand why he did it. Anyway his first walk was widely supported (even if people thought he was weird) and naturists hoped it would further their cause (along with the change in law). Unfortunately the law in Scotland did not change, and all the time he stayed clear of most people and towns he was OK.

I believe his problems started after the first walk, in Scotland, when he defied the courts (insisting on being naked in court) and on release walking out naked (despite being warned). The Scots eventually solved their problem by busing him south to the border and leaving the English to solve the problem. By this time he had a reputation, and was deserted by most people and naturists, so running into the law was just a case of time. His disregard of the ASBOs he was given was the end of it. I understand (and to a certain extent support) why the ASBOs were first defined (under law) but it eventually became a catch me all for the courts, and Stephen Gough was a prime target for these.

His original purpose (who will ever know what it was) was good and useful to the naturist cause, but his eventual disregard of the suggestions given to him (by the courts) has in the long run damaged the cause (of getting people to understand that being a naturist is not a crime or a sin)

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Re: Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby tgg on Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:04 pm

Stephen Gough is the Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks of naturism. I think the legal system should just leave him alone and let him live his life the way he wants. He's not hurting anybody.
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Re: Naturism and Stephen Gough

Postby The Tibetan Hat on Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:31 pm

sanua_chap wrote:
I am not 'content' to confine my nudity to approved or remote locations. I accept that this is the current reality where I live, most of the time, but I think my society is wrong in its attitude to human nudity, and in my own small way I seek to change this attitude.

That said, I also recognise that nudity is an emotionally complex issue for many people, so a simplistic choice between supporting Gough or disowning him is not going to help. We need to be more nuanced in our response, to help society cope with the issues.

I also think that Gough can be helpful to us, not as someone to support or oppose, but as an ice-breaker or conversation starter: why are you reacting so strongly to this chap? What harm has he done by being naked? Is it worth spend so much money to lock someone up for the offence of being themselves? And so on.

Naturgesetz wrote:2.) We might all wish that nudity were acceptable everywhere. I think it's unlikely in our lifetimes if ever, and any gains in acceptance will be incremental (unless there is a major boost from lots of celebrities). Would supporting Stephen Gough advance the cause?


As I say, I don't want to support him, as much of what he says I would not wish to identify with. But, as I understand it, he sees the right to be naked as a basic human right, and I think that is an interesting idea. We can support bits of what he says without agreeing with the whole package.

Naturgesetz wrote:3.) If we think he is not exactly wrong, just imprudent, should we be honest enough to say so?


I think he is both wrong and imprudent in many ways. But I also agree with some of his ideas; and I think it is both wrong and absurd to lock him up for behaviour which has, as far as we know, harmed nobody. And I have said so on many occasions.

But I don't think I have the right to expect the entire naturist community to agree with me. The naturist community is not likely to speak with one voice on this matter, or on any other. But we can talk about these things with each other in a civil way, and explore where we agree and disagree with Gough and with each other.


Probably the most reasonable thing anybody could have said about all of this. I think you're very right that Gough is a launching point for whole topic of nudity. Although his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was unsuccessful last time round, in their judgment they did confirm that nudity is a matter of freedom of expression, and only that the UK's 'mores' are being violated which is a very strange language for a legal ruling and may warrant further appeal. Also a YouGov poll on the case of Stephen Gough revealed the British public generally think society is too prudish about nudity, and half think Gough has been treated too harshly by the law (if they knew the whole story - almost permanent solitary confinement at a cost of about half a million pounds already) they'd probably be even more alarmed by his plight.
Say what you will about him, he does rather force debate, both in the courts and the general public, and there are a lot of people, not all naturists, who feel something is wrong about his situation and more broadly the law is perhaps misused when it comes to nudity.

If I met the guy I wonder if I'd be irritated by him, I think maybe there is a fair chance I would be, having said that, in several years hence, as a naturist, it's very plausible my lifestyle choice may benefit from what he's doing today.
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