The Bare Facts: Nudism in Second Life

by Alphaville Herald on 21/07/07 at 1:00 pm

by Lisae Boucher


[After the Herald's recent story on closer scrutiny by Linden Lab of images that might be considered "broadly offensive," we were contracted by Lisae Boucher (mentioned in the article), who asked to weigh in on a related issue: the practice of non-sexual nudism in Second Life. Here, she looks at how the virtual practice relates to the real thing, and bring up some cultural differences that prevail between Europe and America. Enjoy. Although not at work.
--Walker Spaight

Let’s start with one important quote: “Nudity is a taboo in America because we primarily equate nudity or nakedness with sexuality and we have taboos about sexuality,” said Matthew Westra, a psychology professor at Longview Community College in Missouri. (All quotes in this article reference this National Geographic story. — Ed.) “A lot of it has to do, I think, with the Puritan and Victorian heritage that we have, which says that any kind of temptation will lead you into hell.” According to the same article, a recent national poll found that 80 percent of the U.S. public feels it’s okay to have a nude beach, as long as it is marked by a sign, while 25 percent of adults polled said they’d gone skinny-dipping in mixed company at least once in their life.

What do these statements mean? And what do they have to do with Second Life? It seems that Americans value the freedoms to live your personal lifestyle but also the right to not be offended by other people’s lifestyles. In addition, that’s about about 75 million people in the U.S. who have had some nudism experience in mixed company. Which is quite a lot of people.

Considering these numbers, it is no surprise that you would find similar numbers in the Second Life environment. Actually, since Second Life seems to focus on a mature audience, the proportion of nudity and even sex is probably a lot larger than in real life. In the virtual world, of course, mature areas are clearly marked. But how could Second Life implement a safe area for people who simply enjoy the virtual nudist lifestyle? Would it be appropriate to have nudist areas in PG-rated sims, for instance? After all, in real life, there are many family nudist resorts where you would have many families including young children having the basic clothes-less fun. There are even a few teens-only nudist resorts which are limited for teens only. These are just like regular summer camps but without the clothes.

Of course, there will be people wondering about how easily things could become sexual in those areas. What people tend to forget, however, is that nudity has very little to do with sex: you don’t need to be nude to have sex. It can happen anywhere. But one thing I do know from my own experience is that people in nudist areas tend to be a bit more aware of other people’s body language. There is an awareness that not all visitors are coming over just for the lifestyle. There are occasionally visitors who come over carrying hidden cameras so they can take all kinds of nude pictures. Then again, the same does happen at regular beaches with people using hidden cameras for the same purpose.

Would a PG nudist area in Second Life ever be allowed? It would, of course, need to have a clear sign to warn people that it is a nudist area. And it would need a lot of moderation from both the Lindens as the owner and other visitors of the area. A bit similar to the moderation that is going on in family nudist areas where simple things like tattoos and genital piercings are frowned upon, and where showing an erection in public is enough reasons for a person to be expelled from the area. The same would be required within Second Life, in that case. Since this would be needed 24/7 it just tends to become too big a task to be handled by volunteers. It is already tough for Linden Lab to prevent abuse in non-nude PG areas. Having a nudist PG area would probably add too much pressure. So don’t hold your breath, PG nudists.


Mature nudist areas might present fewer problems. But how to keep a distinction between a nudist area and the more sex-oriented areas? There will always be people visiting nudist areas to find someone to have sex with, with very little to stopp them from having sex in public. One way to prevent this is by reserving separate areas for visitors who crave their virtual fleshy lusts, making it clear to them that having virtual sex is okay, as long as it is not in public view. In real-life nudist holiday areas, visitors often just rent a room to have more privacy for those kinds of things. In general those rooms are just for people who stay for a few nights and need a place to sleep, but nudists are human too. Sex does play a part in the nudist lifestyle, but it’s still something that is done in private. After all, it’s where the baby nudists come from.

It’s an open question whether nudist areas in Second Life would have any chance at all to stay just nudist areas without changing into huge sex resorts. In real life, this is often a difficult task, but many areas have volunteers willing to take action when they see people having sex or taking pictures in secret. In Second Life, such monitoring is a bit more difficult since it would depend on many volunteers to keep the area clear. Even so, a Mature sim would not be appropriate for a virtual family nudist resort. In real life, nudist areas aren’t always easily accessible and are often kept out of view by having fences and groups of trees around them, and of course clear signs warning people about what to expect within. In Second Life, where you can just teleport to any location and where fences don’t make much sense, the task of obscuring a plot from view becomes difficult. Self-policing in virtual worlds, however, works fine. If certain kinds of material are offending you, then why even visit such locations?

In the end, it may only be a cultural difference brought on by the collision of geography that takes place in Second Life More facts drawn from the National Geographic article are instructive: There are a lot of different opinions about nudism in the world. Most European countries are far more open in their opinions about nudism than the U.S. While naturists continue to struggle for acceptance in the United States, in Europe it’s usually a non-issue. “France has more clothing-optional beaches and campsites than you can possibly number. Croatia has nude beaches up and down the coast. So does Italy and the southern coast of Spain. Germany has large city parks where you can hang out naked. The United States is the only Western country that is still struggling to figure this issue out.”

61 Responses to “The Bare Facts: Nudism in Second Life”

  1. Mark

    Jul 25th, 2007

    Those penis cones are neither about modesty nor protection, they are about status.

    Actuallt, I’d guess that more injuries happen because of those cones than would happen without them! Cant you imagine tripping over a vine and umm… OUCH! Well I can, because I am a guy… :P

  2. Lisae Boucher

    Jul 26th, 2007

    Quote: Cant you imagine tripping over a vine and umm…

    I’ve seen a documentary about icebears once. In it they showed footage of a male icebear having sex with a female icebear. It was a bit wild and all of the sudden the male bear didn’t seem to enjoy it anymore. The movements of the female had most likely caused the bone in his penis to break, which apparently isn’t uncommon for icebears but which does seem to cool down the romance…
    I guess you’re glad that humans don’t have bones in their penises… :-)

    Anyway, I thought a human penis is quite flexible. I’ve seen som eIndian guy on some YouTube movies or whatever do all kinds of weird things with his penis, like lifting stones and turning it in all directions and twisting it in all kinds of ways. So it seems to me that the penis itself is a very strong, tough organ. What seems worse is when a guy walks through some thorny bushes and some thorns hit him right in his… Don’t look so frightened! Okay, Won’t finish this mental image that might upset quite a few guys here… :-) Am just glad my reproductional organs are on the inside…

  3. Ola Fosheim Grøstad

    Jul 27th, 2007

    It’s pretty obvious that the US is more uptight about nudity than Europe. How many breasts do you see on american TV shows in love making scenes?

    Besides, an avatar with a human body does not represent nudism. It represents at most nude artworks. So where is the problem, exactly? I’d vager that the vast majority of the statues in my city are nudes or allude to erotic aspects of the human body. So please… don’t tell me that kids can’t handle nude artworks. Public areas are crowded with such items.

    (And no, Lisae, the penis isn’t all that tough. It is after all just a skin-wrapped sponge filled with blood.)

  4. Lisae Boucher

    Jul 27th, 2007

    Quote: And no, Lisae, the penis isn’t all that tough. It is after all just a skin-wrapped sponge filled with blood.

    Are you sure? Can you check for me? :-) Oh, well… As you say, it’s skin around a sponge and is filled with a random amount of blood. The more blood, the harder it gets, right? But when it’s barely filled it seems extremely flexible to me. Then it would be mostly skin, right? And the human skin is very strong. It’s what keeps your inside at the inside.

    Quote: How many breasts do you see on american TV shows in love making scenes?

    A lot less than in Dutch series and movies. There’s a Dutch movie called “Zwartboek” where one of the main characters (Carice van Houten) has to dye her hair in a few scenes, including her pubic hairs. And yeah, you even see her doing that in the movie. And yes, it’s a Paul Verhoeven movie. You know, the guy who made Starship Troopers and Showgirls. Both very controversial movies because of all the nudity inside. But for a Dutch movie they’d be quite regular.

  5. SqueezeOne Pow

    Jul 27th, 2007

    “So it seems to me that the penis itself is a very strong, tough organ”

    Get yourself one and get back to us in a month.

  6. Lisae Boucher

    Jul 28th, 2007

    Quote: Get yourself one and get back to us in a month.

    I heard about some guy whose wife became angry and she cut off his penis. He arrived in the hospital in time for it to be re-attached again and is now known as a porn star! See
    Just imagine how tough your extremities must be to allow them to be cut off and then re-attached again and still function as normal afterwards!!
    Seems to me that testicles are way more sensitive. And those aren’t protected by a penis sheath.

  7. archie lukas

    Jul 29th, 2007

    I regard the former colonies as our children.
    Unfortunately our children have grown more prudish that their parents; which is sad.

    We won’t go into the reactionary and war like behaviour here otherwise the colonies would be grounded and sent to their rooms.

    True Brit with feisty American wife

  8. Terrence

    Jul 30th, 2007

    I think the rationale for alleged American “prudishness” is rather far-fetched. After all, despite Puritan beginnings the American colonies were settled by many waves of non-puritan immigrants over the next two hundred years.

    We Americans are a diverse, fractious society and always have been. After all the competing factions, ethnic groups, special interests, have had their say the result is a compromise society that values public “properness” as way of keeping the peace. This extends to all kinds of interactions – business, academic, social etc.

    This “properness” neutralizes the majority of opportunities for people to take offense and facilitates civic and commercial discourse.

    Public nudity is a bad idea in the U.S. In a competitive, assertive, and occasionally aggressive society, nudity is viewed as a form of vulnerability. Vulnerability attracts the aggressive. The aggressive often require a violent response.

  9. MW

    Apr 15th, 2008

    Hoera voor Lisae Boucher!
    Hoera voor de schoonheid van het blote menselijke lichaam!

  10. Eilithyia Illios

    Jan 22nd, 2009

    I’m not going to give a pseudo psychological examination of the article, rather I’m simply going to post a general rant:

    Why do some people in SL get so insane when they see a naked av? I’m one of those folks who couldn’t give a crap less what my AV looks like. I’m often naked and bald because I was sorting invent and simply didn’t care to change before going somewhere else. I’ve met quite a few characters who had virtual fits over my appearance, immediatly IMing me and demanding (always RUDELY) that I put on some clothes. I can never help but think that those folks who actually get “offended” by a pixelated boobie have MAJOR issues. I never oblige them either, fuck people who get their panties in a bunch over a cartoon pixel. If you are THAT infantile and hypersensitive, you need a new game, I reccomend “Candy Land”, it suits the mentality.

  11. mobile phone with free gift

    Did you know you can get a valuable free gift with your next contract moble phone… such as Wii, HDTV,top spec Laptops, Playstation, Tom Tom and much more? And its all from a name you can trust… Tesco! YOu’d be nuts to go direct to network with this…

Leave a Reply