Naked on your own property?

I saw the same column. And I agree with you 100%. Definitely exhibitionists - I have to think the letter was a prank or something.

I suspect it’s syndicated and carried by a bunch of papers / websites. Like Dear Abby etc.

Some jurisdictions have ruled that different indecent exposure standards for males and females is an impermissible form of sex discrimination. I believe this is the case in NYS.

Nope - Ask Amy is syndicated but Social Q’s in the NYT and How To Do It in Slate are different columns written by different people - and each of the three answers is different.

Huh. Interesting. I didn’t read the other links, so I didn’t catch that. I read the one in the NYT.

I’ve spent time at some very remote hot springs which were rather primitive (i.e. not part of any kind of resort) and clothing-optional. After a pretty short time, you feel funny if you’re covered up. And once you start going naked, it feels completely natural, and it’s a completely relaxed environment. You really don’t even notice after a while.

If I had a hot tub in my backyard, I’d definitely wear a robe to and from. It’s different when it’s everybody in visual range who’s involved. Lookie lous are a whole 'nother issue.

You can have little children and be bothered by the nudity just because your children are likely to see it.

I agree that we’re a nation of prudes. I don’t think people should be punished for not wearing clothes, per se, though there’s such a long social history of punishing people for not wearing clothes in public places that I think practically we are not likely to improve this situation suddenly. I do think that people should be barred from deliberately exposing themselves for the sake of its impact on unwilling others (I’m thinking of the dirty old man holding his raincoat open in front of little girls at the school bus stop as an example here).

I think the hot tub example depends on lots of details, like how obvious the setting is. I think in typical residential settings, holding a towel in front of yourself should be enough, with being a bit discrete while getting into and out of the tub.

Right, but the question is what is public for the purposes of that social contract. Sure, if it’s not a nudist resort, you shouldn’t be walking down mainstreet naked. But in your own backyard? If someone happens to be looking into your backyard, and in doing so, sees some fleshy bits, that’s on them, not on you, IMHO.

And what’s the solution? A few square inches of fabric, that leaves nothing to the imagination but the color of their nipples? That seems a flimsy place to write the social contract.

You clearly misunderstood what I said. I didn’t say that a lack of public nudity is the problem, I said that people freaking out over the mere possibility of seeing a naked body, minding its own business, in its own yard, is the problem.

And before you start inflating it into more things that I didn’t say, I am also not saying that this is a huge problem, it’s not the biggest problem that society faces by a long way, it may make the top 1000, but I doubt it. However, in the context of this thread, dealing with this situation, it is in fact, the problem.

On the flip side, I also don’t think that people being nude in their own backyard makes the top 100,000 of problems with the erosion of the social contract, but to see how people freak out about it, you’d think that it’s the biggest one.

I don’t get it. I mean, I understand not wanting to expose your children to erotic or lewd behavior, but nudity is not automatically porn. That’s my entire point that people think that they or their children will be emotionally scarred and traumatized if they see a naked body. And, while that may in fact be the case, it is the case because they are prudish, and have chosen that seeing naked flesh should be traumatizing, it has nothing to do with the flesh itself.

Take Iran, where they think that people will be traumatized if they see a woman’s hair. Is that because seeing hair is somehow traumatizing, or is it because they have chosen to declare seeing hair to be traumatizing?

Yes, but that’s not just being naked on your own property, that is seeking out people to which to be lewd to. Now, I’ve never actually been to a nudist resort, but I am aware that there are a bunch of rules. You can be a naked man all you want around naked women and girls, and that’s fine. But there are still very distinct and bright lines that will get you kicked out or even prosecuted for lewd conduct.

If we are talking about what will keep you out of trouble legally, I’ll agree. If we are talking about what you should have to do to stay out of trouble legally, I have to respectfully disagree.

eh, I’m not convinced by that at all. Lots of people do stuff in the nude that has nothing to do with sexual gratification.
Whether the vast majority of people overall do not do those acts in the nude has no bearing on whether the minority that do, do it for sexual gratification.

I think it depends a lot on the setting, but I think in most residential settings holding a "towel in front of yourself " is not going to do much while you are walking nude between the hot tub and the patio. It’s only going to block the view from one direction when most houses have three “backyard neighbors” and in pretty much every urban/suburban two-story house I’ve ever seen , looking out a second-story window gets you a view of the surrounding yards even if fences or bushes block out the view from the adjacent yard.

I disagree - and that’s probably because in most yards I’ve been in, there is no way to avoid looking into another yard unless you walk around looking at the ground. I live in a city and if I choose, I can put up a six-foot high vinyl fence so no one else can look into my yard or so I don’t have to see into other yards. Most of my friends and relatives cannot - either the zoning prohibits any fences at all or they can only be 3-4 feet high. If you want to say I should be able to be nude in my backyard and my neighbors should just have to deal with it , that’s one thing. But it’s not always possible for my neighbors to avoid seeing me nude in my backyard , not unless they are never going to use theirs and never glance out their second story windows.

I tend to agree with you, that our society seems overly concerned with nudity (and not nearly concerned enough with violence.) But even with your prescription, what do you do about different situations. What if my “backyard” is on a corner, readily visible to a passing sidewalk/street, with a grade school across the street? And if my backyard is OK, how about my side/front yards?

I find it curious when I encounter an assumption of mine - such as you oughtn’t be outside your house naked - and then try to figure whether my assumption has its basis in the law, social convention, or something else. And whatever the basis, what were the reasons and how are those interpreted?

That’s the question all right.
Whether you personally, or the people posing the original question, think those who would, in reality, be exposed to nudity whether they want to or not, should be just fine with it or at least keep their mouths shut about it, is also part of the question. That’s what ‘social contract’ means – the large majority of the people in that culture prefer things to be done that way, even to the point that laws or regulations are in place to make the people who have a different opinion conform.

Isn’t that problematic, tho? Ought I have to survey my neighbors to figure out whether they have any religious or moral objections before I act in a certain way? And should the “freethinkers” be subject to the tyranny of a prudish majority?

Not picking on you, but you bring up a key point.

There are large swathes of the USA where suburbia has fenced side and back yards with 6- or 8-foot tall opaque walls being the near-universal norm. And other large swathes of the country where fences of any kind between yards are uncommon, prohibited, or simply unthinkable.

Each of us brings the practices and prejudices of our locale into the discussion. Sometimes unwittingly if we’ve only lived in one sort of area our whole lives.

Not picking on you :wink:, but I’ve never encountered that. Certainly not in the Chicago area, and not in other areas that I’ve visited. The closest I’ve seen is my son’s small newer development in Denver, maybe 30-50 near identical houses built at the same time on very small lots. EACH house has the identical 6’ fence around their postage stamp backyard.

I’ve seen that sort of thing in such “compact” developments, including townhomes, but not in the vast majority of neighborhoods with single family homes - especially if the homes were built >10 years ago. In the Chicago area neighborhoods I have lived, I would be shocked if 6’ fences made up >25% of the fences - tho it does seem that it is increasing with those horrendous (IMO) white plastic walls. In many instances, the privacy fences seem to be erected to block a specific view, or seem to suggest issues between neighbors.

I’m not saying you are wrong, just that I have not encountered what you describe. Where have you seen neighborhoods where 6-8’ fences are near-universal? Is that a Florida thing? I didn’t notice it on my many visits to parts of your state.

Full walls are common to universal out West. California, Nevada, Arizona, etc. And fairly common in non-waterfront coastal / suburban FL. Having grown up in SoCal I was gobsmacked as a 10yo to visit extended family in suburban Chicago and see no fences between the neighbors.

I was equally amazed by the idea of “alleys”. A complete separate road system behind the road system? What were they thinking??1!??!!?1!

Of course, in the story of the OP, that’s not really the case, as they said it was 40 feet to the neighbor’s.

My yard’s not nearly so large, but I didn’t put up a privacy fence until I decided to get a dog, and, while I didn’t go around naked, I still expected people not to be leering at me while I hung out in my backyard.

That is a large part of what I am saying, yes.

And that’s the other part of what I am saying. They do have agency, they can avert their gaze from the trauma inflicted by naked flesh, especially when, as in the OP, that naked flesh will only be visible for a few moments a day. My neighbor has an ugly ass rusted RV camper in their backyard that irritates me everytime I see it. So, even though I can see it over the fence, or out my second story windows, I just don’t look at it.

Right, you get an X rating if you show how people are made, you can get a PG-13 if you show how people die. We’ve got some messed up values.

Are we talking legally, what is currently generally acceptable, or my opinion?

For the first two, then you probably can’t be nekkid where people in public have an opportunity to see you.

For the latter, my opinion is that, as long as it’s just nudity, and you aren’t performing erotic or lewd acts, and you are on you own property, you should be able to do as you please, and that people shouldn’t freak out if they or even their children see some fleshy bits.

I don’t like to be naked in public. I know the names of all the people who have seen my fleshy bits. I’m not comfortable unless I’m pretty covered up from the neck down, I don’t even like showing too much arm. At the same time, I don’t care about how others dress. What has angered me in the past is when someone points out that someone else is wearing something they shouldn’t, I’ve heard a lot of sentiments along the lines of “Fat women shouldn’t wear spandex.”, and that’s bullshit. And, IMHO, it’s exactly that sort of desire to control others that are the reasons for such social conventions and conventions codified into law.

Like I said, take Iran as an example. You will find that the reasons that they will arrest a woman for not properly covering her hair to be parallel to the reasons why a woman may be arrested for going naked in their own backyard.

I don’t care if they are just fine with it, or even if they can’t keep their mouths shut about it. I only care if they persecute based on it.

Replace the word nudity with homosexuality, and you have given the thesis statement of a homophobe.

And that’s where the social contract becomes toxic and starts turning into a suicide pact. The large majority of the people in the culture may prefer that homosexuality be prosecuted, or transgendered individuals shouldn’t exist, or Black people can’t eat at the same lunch counter as white folk.

Breaking down those parts of the contract that enforce conformity is a good thing, IMHO. That’s not erosion, that’s improvement.

And once again, I don’t think that public nudity is a problem that even licks the bottom of the feet of the other issues I mentioned, but those who freak out about it seem to disagree.

If you are offended because you looked into MY backyard and saw me walking naked from my back door to my hot tub, that’s a you problem not a me problem.

In my neighborhood, pretty much everyone has a privacy fence. When I moved in, I didn’t have one, as the old one had fallen apart and was removed by the previous owners.

But, you have a point that smaller yards probably have a greater tendency to have them. I have a 1/6th acre lot, so if I’m grilling in my back yard, my neighbor could pass me the ketchup. In order to have any sort of privacy, you pretty much have to have a privacy fence.

In larger 1/2 to 2 acre plots, privacy is achieved by distance from your neighbor.

When I walk around my parents neighborhood on Long Island it generally seems that most houses have backyards with 6’ privacy fences.