We took a bit of flak, in some circles, with our recent post explaining why the Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society has membership restrictions. This was not unexpected.
We can completely understand the position, taken by many folks, that naturism should be completely inclusive, regardless of age or gender. That’s a nice ideal to strive for.
It is, however, not working.
Consider the population pyramid for Canada (shown below). It’s pretty well balanced male-to-female and, while birth rates are falling, the age distribution is also fairly well balanced.
Within what you might call the “naturist community”, the picture is somewhat different. Anecdotally, we’d peg it roughly along the red overlay on the following graphic:
In other words, what we actually see at many of the naturist venues we’ve been to is a population that is about 70% male, with a median age around 50 to 55. People our own age (the KFFBS co-organizers are, at the time of writing, in our late 20s) are a relatively rare sight.
There are exceptions. Wreck Beach, undoubtedly Canada’s most successful clothing-optional venue, attracts a crowd that’s evenly split along gender and age lines. Bare Oaks goes to great lengths to ensure that the under-25 crowd can afford to visit and will feel welcome when they do.
On the whole, though, the younger crowd does not identify with “naturism”. They’re fine with skinny-dipping, with topfreedom (in circumstances where it feels safe and everyone’s doing it) and with body-positivity, but naturism is often seen as something for older people, for our parents’ generation.
The Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society is meant for this group. Our events, our ways of doing things, our discussions – it’s all geared for the 18-to-late-30s demographic. We limit the older male part of our membership to those who express an understanding of this situation, simply because if we didn’t, the demographic structure would actively repel people our age. We have lots of older friends, and we go to plenty of places that are either all-ages or 18-plus, where we get along just fine with naturists of any age.
Within our own group, we have a balanced culture that’s comfortable and welcoming for younger adults, and particularly for women.
We’re far from the only group to make this call. OCETPFAS welcomes all interested women, but allows men to join by personal invitation only, for the simple reason that having too many men around tends to make women uncomfortable. We could probably rhyme off a half-dozen naturist sites that welcome women and couples, but not single men, for the same reason.
If you’re a woman, a couple, or a family, and you’re a bit out of our age range, but identify as “young at heart”, you’re still welcome to join us. And finally, if you’re a single older guy and feel excluded by all this, then by all means go say hi to the folks at TNT!MEN in Toronto, where single men of any age are always welcome.
Our core membership is (and will continue to be for the foreseeable future) mostly in our 20s and 30s, the gender split being 1/2 to 2/3 female, and this is one of many factors we keep in mind when deciding whether to accept or reject membership requests. Men are of course welcome to join – with the understanding that clean, respectful behaviour is expected, and any creeps who try to sneak in will be quickly and unceremoniously kicked to the curb.