There are times and spaces at Druid Camp where you can expect nudity from people of both genders – around the showers and sauna, especially. There’s also some informal nudity, generally in the mornings, people sunbathing and not getting kitted up until the day starts. Before I went, I knew about this and had no idea if I would cope. The idea that naked men would be intimidating, had certainly crossed my mind. I had no idea how I was going to feel about that one, evidently I’d only know by showing up.
In our wider society, the naked male body is a serious taboo, and nothing is less socially acceptable than a willy in a state of arousal. Unless you happen to be in a museum looking at Roman artefacts, in which case, you can have all the up and about penises you could possibly want. The accessible display of breasts is normal. Go into a newsagent and you can pick up breast images with little difficulty. Willies are rude. Or perhaps, one might equally say, that culturally we are perfectly happy to treat the female anatomy as a commodity for entertainment, but that we afford far more dignity to male genitalia.
But either way, naked men are something you don’t get a lot of in normal circumstances. At least, not unless you have a really interesting sort of day job…
I’ve probably seen more naked men in the last week or so than I had in my entire life to this point. Yes, apparently I’d had a more sheltered experience than I had previously realised. Before Druid Camp, I had only experienced male nudity in the context of relationship, and it would be fair to say that not all of the experience was good. I’ve learned to trust and feel safe with my bloke, but unfamiliar men? That scared me.
Only, it was fine. A bit odd, I admit, but not distressing, or frightening or threatening in any way. I spent a while trying to work out why, and came to the conclusion that it was simply this: There were no weapons on display. There was nothing predatory. No one touched me without clear indication that I was open to being touched. No one unclothed even attempted to get into my personal space. Respectful naked men are no kind of problem at all. Men with too much self-respect to use their bodies aggressively. That was a profound learning experience for me.
I do not know if it would be possible for me to get to a point of feeling so confident, so secure, and able to trust, that I would be able to countenance a communal shower or a sauna. A matter of weeks ago the mere suggestion of it was enough to make me feel physically ill. Now it’s just an uncomfortable idea. I’m not ready to go there. I’d like to feel that I could, if I wanted to, whether I actually do or not.