#MeToo

Please note that I am well aware that both women and men have suffered in silence and shame for far too long over incidents of sexual harassment and assault, and I want to see change for all.  I am writing this article however, as the Women In Nude Recreation Chair, from a woman’s perspective and I use words reflective of a woman’s experience.
 
A change in societal attitudes in the past few months has resulted in an astounding turn of events leading to women being listened to and believed about the pandemic of sexual harassment and assault that has been the norm for so many years. 
 
Personally, I am very happy for this change.  It will improve life for everyone and allow for a more inclusive and equitable society in both business and recreational situations.  Knowing that they will be heard and believed empowers women to speak out and help end harassment and assault. 
 
As AANR members we like to believe the best of our fellow nudists.  We want to think that things like sexual harassment and sexual assault do not happen at our nudist gathering places.  We are a family-friendly organization, invested in wholesome healthy social nudism.  Any unwelcome or unwanted activity would be swiftly ended and the perpetrator removed from the venue.  I truly believe that is how it happens, if and when the activity is observed or reported.  
 
Think about a new visitor to your club.  Perhaps it is even her first nude experience and she finally is pursuing an adventure long thought about and planned.  Someone sexually harasses and intimidates her.  We know this behavior is not reflective of who we are as AANR.  However, the visitor doesn’t know if this is the culture of the club, or even who to ask. The result is that she leaves, says nothing, and never returns to a nudist club, because it is now viewed as unsafe.          
 
A sad part of the story is that if the leaders at the club saw or were told what happened, the story would have a different ending.  
     
Recently, Margie Cantlon and Terri Capshaw of Sun Meadow resort in Idaho brought up a question.  What if the person who is being harassed or assaulted is afraid to report it?  Usually this kind of activity is surreptitious with others not observing.  This leads to a silence, a repression, and the perpetrator continues on, unhindered. 
Margie and Teri have begun a conversation, one that we want to spread and take place at all AANR venues.   
 
It is imperative that we look at this topic with fresh eyes.  We know that so much happens in secret, and those in a position to prevent or to end problems are often unaware of it happening.  Perhaps we have become complacent.  Once we acknowledge the existence of a problem, or even just the possibility that the problem exists, and openly address it, and provide opportunities for all to learn to recognize a problem, we empower women to speak out, receive support and let all club visitors know this is not going to happen here. 
The question of course is how we do that.  Margie, Teri, and I are all in agreement that this should be an AANR-wide conversation.  We also agree that it MUST remain positive, and focus on empowering women to support each other and to speak out if something happens.  We are fortunate within our AANR organization to have support from many wonderful men, and we need to embrace and recognize them as part of the conversation. 
 
We encourage all areas, clubs, and regions to start holding WINR meetings to talk about this.  The start of a new season for those many clubs that close for the winter is a great opportunity to get this started.  Recognize who the leaders are at your club. Know who would be comfortable and effective in leading such conversations.  Work with club owners and managers, establishing procedures and new policies and rules if necessary.  
 
Most importantly, speak out.  Let it be known that we are aware and want our clubs and beaches to be safe and welcoming places.  Teri even suggests starting off with an initial summit called The Silence Breakers in deference to those women so recognized by Time magazine.  
Please contact me if I can assist in any way.  I’m happy to assist with developing talking points for meetings or brainstorming with any ideas that will help.  Keep me informed about what you are doing and who might be a contact for WINR.  I will be happy to provide a way to link all the groups together to share ideas and celebrate successes.
you happen to see a retired couple walking a couple of small ponies, stop and say hello and meet our extended family.

Taken from the AANR Monthly Bulletin, "Across the Board" brings information and thoughts from the Governing Board of AANR to you. The Board values your membership and wants to make sure that it is doing what is right for the members and clubs. The first step is good two-way communication.