A Double Standard No More

I wrote a post on my site in 2015 called “Naturist Art Double Standard,” expressing my frustration at what I felt to be an injustice to literature in comparison to other art forms such as painting and film. The thing is, in revisiting this topic, I think the panorama has changed. I think the injustice or double standard I perceived is almost entirely gone, and I think that is the case precisely because of the efforts of naturist writers!

Here’s how the post from 2015 started out:

Let’s say I’m an amateur painter. I paint a nude, show it in a gallery, and attempt to sell it. Naturists, in general, will support me. 

Let’s say I’m a fairly accomplished sculptor. I sculpt a nude, show it in a gallery, and attempt to sell it. Naturists, in general, will support me. 

It’s the same if I were to produce naturist dance, short film, theater, photography, music – even poetry! All of these would be generally supported by naturists.

Art by Julien Wolga

But woe to us novelists. A couple of naturist establishment gatekeepers have come out complaining that there’s a glut of self-published novels by people calling themselves naturists, that there’s another bad nude beach novel self-published weekly, and that there are so many bad self-published novels claiming to be “naturist” out there that why should anyone take naturist novelists seriously. 

Look, there are bad novels just like there are bad paintings or songs or films, according to the criteria of any individual. I’m not going to defend other writers’ bad nude beach novels (which, frankly, I can’t even find, and I strongly doubt they even exist to the alleged degree of hyperbole). But I do want to point out some generic differences between novels on the one hand, and the other arts I’ve mentioned on the other hand. As a genre, a novel is an art that you have to experience more through time than through space. That means it demands plot development, character development, realistic dialogue, suspense, and recurring motifs, among other elements mostly absent from these other genres. And so I understand that a reader invests in a time commitment to appreciate a novel, a commitment far longer than the time required to appreciate a nude painting, or a series of nudes, or even a short experimental film on naturism. I get it. This is why reviews are important. You can read reviews before you decide to make a commitment. 

So that was March 2015, when I had published only one novel, and Robert’s Pilgrims series and Paul’s Naked Crow series were getting started, and naturist fiction, collectively, wasn’t as much of a recognized genre. It is, of course, still not a highly recognized genre and perhaps never will be. Nonetheless, in these eight years, just look at all the titles published by those of us in the field! Additionally, the In the Nudist Colony anthologies and the latest, Adventures Without Clothes, have been a big boost for gaining more readers.

Not only that, but also the number of social media posts and followers, particularly on Twitter, has increased greatly. It’s truly something fascinating to have witnessed – how we writers of naturist fiction have been able to build our own market and work collectively to support our niche genre and grow our readership.

The Naturist Art Double Standard may still exist, for some people or in some contexts, but I declare it to have been largely vanquished, thanks to our own efforts!

7 thoughts on “A Double Standard No More”

  1. Great piece had no idea this was happening to naturist writers. Really wonder about those gatekeepers motives.

    1. Thanks, Earl – to be fair, when I wrote that original post (2015), self-publishing through the Internet was a younger, wilder thing, and even more so four years before that when I published my first novel. Folks who really did want to read naturist fiction kept getting disappointed by the erotic offerings because naturist fiction just wasn’t as much of a recognized niche.

  2. Fabulous post, Will.
    Yes. We ARE making things move. Not in a huge way, perhaps, but move they do.
    Let’s keep the momentum going, and move some more.
    (He said, just returned from a walk. 🙂

  3. I read quite a lot of naturist fiction and – declaring an interest – earn a few quid by writing reviews of some of it. It’s true there is bad and inferior naturist fiction out there, and I make no apology for having whinged about some of it over the years.

    IMO, the BIG problem is that virtually the only naturism IN fiction these days is written by naturist writers, most of whom – for a variety of reasons – self-publish, often restricting themselves to ebooks to minimise the costs. Such efforts are unlikely to appear on the shelves of bookshops and catalogues of libraries, still less in mass-media book reviews.

    While in painting, sculpture, TV and cinema, non-sexual nudity does get portrayed from time to time by mainstream and even big-name artists, it is almost totally absent from books by big publishers and well-known writers. That was certainly not the case from the 1930s to the early 1960s, after which the boom in mass-market sexual nudity of all sorts encouraged the nudity=sex standard which has probably been the reason mainstream fiction generally avoids naturism. As a minority “thing”, they can avoid it without their novels and short stories being particularly unrealistic in their representation of real life – but only on a per-case basis. En masse, according to the best-seller lists and library borrowings, we might as well not exist.

    1. Tim, thanks for your comments as always! I think that’s a very good point regarding changes we’ve inherited since the 1960s. Of course, there are exceptions, which stand out precisely because they are exceptions – I’m thinking for example of the recent film on Amazon Prime, Somebody I Used to Know. But that’s a film. In mainstream literature, as you’ve indicated, it’s unusual to find a sustained treatment of social nudism, and no examples come to mind. I know some of us naturist fiction writers have tried for representation by professional literary agents, and usually the response is that the agents may like the writing, but are not certain how to market/sell it. Which brings us back to the fact that at least we have been able to market ourselves – to some extent – and help grow a niche readership.

  4. Excellent article, Will. One thing that needs pointing out is the fact that a lot of the novels coming out by newer writers who self-publish, do have issues regarding quality. But that is to be expected. Given time, these newer writers will write better books as they learn the craft of writing.

    As for the idea of being sold in bookstores, I have had my novels on shelves and sold in a major book chain in Canada. They have also been sold on Amazon as print and eBooks. The reviews are excellent despite the earlier versions having typos, etc.

    Yet, all of that said, I have stopped marketing my books and leave it to Amazon to do what it does [basically nothing]. My books are getting better, but it appears that the naturist reading community is getting more and more reluctant to buy books. There is a shift in reading and buying habits of readers of naturist fiction -> Substack, Medium, etc.

    And now with AI [ChatGPT] who is actually doing the writing when it comes to new writers? In my opinion, as we grow as writers, we do what movies and art does – tell our stories as best we can. Labelling the stories as naturist doesn’t do much other than turn off potential readers from reading great stories with a naturist philosophy embedded within them.

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