Wayne Mansfield on nudity in stories

Filed under: Guest Posts Sep 20, 2017

Nudity is a funny old thing. We come into the world naked and yet so many people have a hang up about it. Many equate nudity with sex, and while we are, indeed, usually naked when having sex, we are also naked when we have a shower or a bath. More than a few of us are naked when we sleep at night. Some are part-time nudists who visit nude beaches on the weekend, or nudist resorts. Why, then, should it be only associated with sex, and considered dirty or disgraceful? For that matter, why should sex be considered dirty or disgraceful?

Many native peoples spend their entire lives naked. In the jungles of South America or the grasslands of Africa or the deserts of Australia, the indigenous populations wander around, either now and/or in the past, naked every day of their lives because to them it is natural. And it is natural. Each male body has the same parts as all the other male bodies, and each female body has the same parts as all the other female bodies. Apart from variations in body shape and size, there is nothing so horrendous or outrageously different about their naked forms that they would want to keep their God-given bodies covered up. Hidden away.

No-one in my family is a nudist and, in fact, they are all very protective of their nudity. Therefore, I have no idea where my penchant for shedding my clothes comes from. I can assure you it isn’t about sex. I don’t wander about naked masturbating all day long. No, it’s about the feeling of freedom it gives me. It just feels right. And it’s for no one else’s benefit apart from mine.

It also saves on laundry powder, electricity, and ironing.

I occasionally visit the local nude beach, although after a melanoma scare, I don’t go there as frequently as I used to. However, as Western Australia has long, very hot summers, I still prefer to be naked at home, both inside and out in my back yard. I know a few fellow nudists and we sometimes catch up. Again, it doesn’t descend into an all-out orgy. It’s just people catching up, doing what people do when they catch up, just without clothing hampering us.

Now, to my stories. As every writer knows, you put a part of yourself in every tale you tell. I don’t include nude characters in every story that gets published. In fact, nude characters appear in a very small fraction of my published work. I remember a slightly sarcastic comment in a review of one of my stories, The Darkest Hour. The main character is discovered by a delivery man sunbathing naked in his backyard. It struck me as strange that the reviewer would say something about the character being discovered “naked, of course” in his backyard.

To me, this isn’t such a strange occurrence at all for the simple reason the character is based almost 100% on me. It’s a story about depression, which I have suffered in the past and am now, touch wood, well and truly over. And as the character was based on me, he was sunbathing naked in the backyard — something I love doing and do all the time in summer.

In my view, there is something sensual about being clothes-free. I enjoy writing stories where the characters can be naked. Therefore, I tend to put them in jungle settings or fantasy settings since I like the nudity to be a natural part of the story and not contrived. And while I reaffirm nudity isn’t about sex, it can be, especially in a fictional setting. Nudity can not only be sensual, but erotic. It lends itself to any type of sexual encounter happening fluidly, naturally, without all the bother of removing clothing, undoing shoelaces, and pulling off socks. That’s not to say there isn’t anything erotic about a person being fully dressed, and some would argue the mystery of what lies beneath a person’s clothing is more erotic, and I completely agree. The bulge in a man’s trousers is incredibly erotic. Or the hint of a nipple beneath the thin fabric of a shirt is likewise arousing. However, while not every story I write can feature nudity, I don’t want every story I write to have people wearing clothes.

I hope by writing this blog, I have explained — not justified — myself in the hopes of helping my readers to understand where I am coming from when I write nude characters into my stories, such as the ones in The Burrow or the ones in the forthcoming novella, Goodbye to the Jungle. I’m putting my own naked self into these situations, freeing myself from the restrictions of modern society and its ever-narrowing views. I’m making contact with my primitive self, the part of me that longs to return to the jungle, naked and carefree.

I invite you to do the same. Read The Burrow naked. Connect to your primitive self. Enjoy the break from the ordinary.


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