There is a fine line between nudist art and erotica, or, dare I say, erotica’s notorious cousin, pornography. Walking that line for any creator can be challenging, because everyone interprets art in his or her own way, and different people find different things arousing. Muslims consider even the slightest bit of skin stimulating, while Protestants continue to take offense at female nipples, no matter how tastefully or minimally they are depicted. Our Puritanical roots impact Big Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as well. When I designed the cover for Ages of Aenya, I pushed for a Classical, painterly look, while keeping my heroine, Thelana, in profile. None of her “offensive” parts are showing, and yet the mere implication of nudity, the lack of any bikini strings to suggest she isn’t naked, prevented me from advertising the book on ANY major platform. Facebook went so far as to claim the cover was “sex services”—not merely erotica, but services! Seriously, how any rational human being can look at this (below) and think prostitution is beyond belief.
It’s as if the censors at Facebook never visited a museum before, never heard of the Venus de Milo or the Sistine Chapel. Meanwhile, this same cover is on full display in libraries and bookstores, without garnering a single complaint from anyone.
Ironically, our Puritanical efforts to purge sex from everyone’s mind have transformed our society into one that is entirely obsessed with sex. Far from abstaining from perversion, we fully embrace it, with an online porn industry that rakes in the billions and a generation of porn-addicted adolescents who struggle with real life relationships. What continually frustrates me and, I believe, frustrates most nudists, is the notion that nudism is just another fetish—while the reality couldn’t be further. Innocent nudity offers an alternative to porn, another way of looking at ourselves that isn’t sexual.
Fortunately, we have art-centric sites like DeviantArt, that recognizes the distinction between art and porn, and gives its users the choice of censorship. The system works great and I’ll never understand why other platforms have yet to adopt it. Why have Zuckerberg pay hundreds or thousands of moderators to decide what is and isn’t obscene, when they can let us choose for ourselves? DeviantArt has been a great venue for me to portray the heroes and heroines in my fiction as they are, proudly and without censorship, but with my upcoming novel, The Feral Girl, I wanted to do more, to depict life in the utopian naturist society that is Ilmarinen, where Xandr and Thelana were born.
Accompanying this piece is this description:
This innocent scene depicts idyllic life in Ilmarinen, from my upcoming naturist fantasy novel, The Feral Girl. Here we find Thelana’s two sisters, Britannia (front) and Aliaa (back) with their aunt, Leep (middle) returning from the Potamis with ewers of water. Along the way, Britannia spots a patch of ilm flowers.
All about Ilms:
An extremely rare plant that grows only in Ilmarinen, the ilm is considered sacred. It’s what gives the land and its people their name, though some historians argue that the people came first, being that ‘ilma’ literally means ‘human,’ and that the flower derives its name from them. Either way, the Ilmar are referred to as the ‘Children of the Flower’ for this reason. In addition to its historical and social significance, ilms possess remarkable medicinal and hallucinogenic properties. They can be used to dull pain, allowing for complex surgeries, while the High Priestess grinds the stamens into a powder to be smoked during the Solstice Bonding Ritual. Smoking the stamens of the ilm sends the user into a dream journey, in which time and space dissolves, and the secrets of the universe unfold. This act is forbidden, however, to anyone but the High Priestess, as such dream journeys can take dangerous turns for the untrained. Side effects include memory loss and loss of identity.
About the Family:
Britannia: Born a year after Thelana, Britannia is in many ways Thelana’s twin. Like her older sister, she loves to climb trees, explore thickly wooded areas, and is never afraid to get herself dirty. Too often, she will return home after eclipse reeking of whatever muck she crawled through. Mother gives her an ear full, but Britannia keeps to her stubborn, carefree ways, the spirit of adventure an allure too great for her to resist.
Aliaa: Aliaa is fascinated by the world and everything in it. While she prefers the comforts of home, she loves to collect plants, bugs, worms, and precious stones—all which she keeps gathered by her bedside. Her knowledge of the names, places, and history of Aenya regularly astounds her elders, which is why she is thought of as an old soul reborn. Thelana does not doubt that someday, Aliaa will join the Keepers in the Mountains, to be entrusted with the forbidden secrets of the universe.
Leep: Aunt Leep visits every Solstice. Nobody in Ilmarinen can apply henna like she does, so every year on the same day, Thelana and her sisters excitedly gather to have their bodies painted with Aunt Leep’s elaborate flower patterns.
Want to know more? Explore the amazing WORLD OF AENYA!
Pretty innocent, right? I think any nudist/naturist would agree. Problem is, most of my followers grew up in Puritanical/sex-obsessed America, so the message this image sends is sometimes muddled, which prompted me to write this:
I doubt many of you will be reading this, but I want to share what has been bothering me as of late. Too often, I see that the people following and favoriting my content submit my characters to galleries that, I feel, they do not belong. Not to sound overbearing or judgmental here, but when an innocent pic of a potentially underage girl ends up surrounded by pornographic imagery, it sends the wrong message, and goes against everything I stand for.
I cannot stress how important it is that the art I commission is taken in its proper context. The nude heroes and heroines of Aenya are meant to be entirely, 100% nonsexual. This is an important distinction, because innocence, and the loss of it, is a theme that runs throughout my work. Ilmarinen, the part of Aenya where my naturist characters originate, exists as a kind of utopia, a world of equality between the sexes, where women never have to fear for their safety. In this idealized setting, a young girl can feel comfortable wearing nothing but skin, without having to worry about attracting unwanted attention. There is a beauty to this, to depicting human beings as they are, simply and without intention, that I have always found to be compelling.
For decades now, I have worked with artists to portray my characters with forethought and sensitivity (admittedly failing, at times) because, more than anything, I wish for the people born of my imagination to be viewed as genuine people, with complex lives and feelings. I hate for them to be reduced to mere “fap” material, though I know, of course, that for many of you, what I want doesn’t matter.
Now, this isn’t to say I condemn those of you who enjoy erotica or even pornographic material. Hey, I like that stuff too! There is certainly a place in this community for that kind of expression. Sexual desire remains a core part of who we are as a species, and to try and deny or suppress it is to reject our humanity. That being said, eliciting arousal has never been part of the Aenya Series. It isn’t because I am anti-sex. Far from it. Rather, it’s because I aim for a higher state of arousal. For me, it’s the difference between love and lust. Love is just so much more interesting to me, so much more powerful, and if I can make my readers genuinely care about my characters, about who they are and what they do, then I’ll know I’ve done my job as a writer.
Many of my followers voiced their support after my writing this post. Whether due to nudism or something else, Americans are beginning to understand that not every depiction of the human body is meant to arouse sexual feelings, that we can and should see ourselves as something more. This is why I am so passionate in doing what I do, in contributing, through my writing and my art, the nudist perspective. Sure, I’d love to someday get my mail in the buff, but nudism, for me, is so much more than getting my kit off. Learning to see people, and women in particular, as human beings, can only result in the good of society. It advances the causes of feminism and humanism, and if I can play even the smallest part in that movement, if the World of Aenya serves as a single thread in the tapestry of social change, then I’ll know my dream of a naturist utopia will not have been in vain.