When nudity became an everyday occurrence at the Castro’s Jane Warner Plaza, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener felt the situation had gotten out of hand. Now, he has proposed legislation requiring people to wear clothing most places in the city, or pay a fine. Is the proposal simply common sense, as supporters argue? Or does it criminalize nudity and hamper freedom of expression?[View the story “Bay Area Residents React to Proposed SF Nudity Ban” on Storify]
Bay Area Residents React to Proposed SF Nudity Ban
Has nudity become so out of control in San Francisco that it needs to be banned? That was the topic of our show on Thursday, October 18. We heard from the city supervisor who sponsored the ban, nudist activists, business owners and parents. Here’s a sample of what they said.
Storified by · Thu, Oct 18 2012 16:48:32
First, here are the facts on what’s being proposed as reported by the AP:
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced legislation “that would make it illegal to walk around nude on San Francisco streets. The city currently allows nudity except in parks, on port property and in restaurants. Wiener’s legislation would add city plazas, parklets, sidewalks, streets and public transit to the ban. It would, however, allow nudity at parades and street festivals. Wiener previously proposed that nudists put a cloth under their bottoms if they take a seat in public. But he says the nudity situation has gotten `more extreme.'”
Wiener has come under attack for catering to a new demographic (read: straight) in his district.
Gay people are good enough to fix up a neighborhood so that you can move into it. But then you expect Gays to conform once you move in….Noel Mulet
Wiener said during the show that is not the case and in fact, many of the people who have complained to him about the nudity are gay men who live in the Castro.
The concept of nudity as a protected right came up several times during the show:
What about nudity being protected as free speech?Karuna Gerstein
So did nudity as part of the character of San Francisco and the Castro district in particular.
@KQEDForum when I was a kid my mom said "if you’ve seen 1 you’ve seen them all". This is sf. Let naked be naked.improvactor
One caller stated that the Castro has always been “an adult” neighborhood. Comments about the age and body type of the nudists were mentioned both on-air and online. Here are responses to our tweet: “Yes or no: public nudity should be banned in San Francisco?”
@KQEDForum only for ugly people.Charles the Yang
Only if you’re not hot. RT @KQED: Should nudity be banned in San Francisco? @KQEDforum, 9am: http://ht.ly/eA20PDapper Diner
Several commenters took issue with that argument and suggested that fear of nudity is related to one’s negative body image and sexuality.
I currently live in LA, but lived the majority of my life in the Castro. I moved to LA 5 years ago. To me this sounds more like folk have issues with male nudity not nudity in of itself. It seems there is an underlying misandry. The comments about "ugly old men" are very telling. Why is the penis so threatening to people?Neil R. Rasmussen
But the crux of the issue seemed to boil down to a few points: a claim of the nudity being un-family friendly and an individual’s right to be nude in public versus an individual’s right to not have to see that nudity.
I’ve been listening to this program and so far what I hear is a lot of people complaining that nudity offends them and makes them uncomfortable. But so far I haven’t heard, just as the nudity activist you had on a moment ago said, give your listeners an argument over exactly how public nudity is violating anybody else’s rights. Offense, irritation, aversion: these things are not themselves reason to restrict other people’s civil rights. Without a clear, specific description of how public nudity is harmful, these complaints sound to me like a bunch of people projecting their own feelings of body shame onto others.Joshua Jendryka
Sofie commented on our website:
I grew up in San Francisco and was raised within a community of hippies, gay and lesbian, nudists, and “counterculturists”. While I do not prefer to go nude in public, I recognize that some people do and that their motivatons are in no way sexual or perverse. However, the plaza in question is very centrally located. Whether these gentlemen want to express themselves thru public nudity says nothing of the freedom of choice of other members of the public. Comfort with nudity is cultural. San Francisco is an all inclusive city, which means that we have citizens from around the world, some from more liberal cultures and others from more traditional cultures. There are areas of the city where nudity is acceptable- go to Baker Beach, start a club, strike an agreement with a local establishment to host nude people. More than anything, this is a matter of respect for individuality and choice for all involved.
The question of individual freedom isn’t an easy one to answer… perhaps it’s one that will make it’s way onto the state ballot soon enough. We are the land of direct democracy, after all.
@KQEDForum Why isn’t there a state law about about nudity?Armin Sohrabi
Scott Wiener, San Francisco supervisor for District 8
George Davis, nudist activist who ran for mayor of San Francisco four times, and has been affectionately dubbed "Nude Yoga Guy" by the media
Dan Schreiber, staff writer for the San Francisco Examiner
Daniel Bergerac, Castro district business owner