Paris nudist beaches contradict France’s attitude to women

Paris, that well-known city of freedom. Vive la révolution! L’Arc de Triomphe! Anyone who knows the ‘city of love’ or has seen Les Miserables will know that Paris is an epicentre for social change, empowerment, and freedom. The city comes to represent those classic French ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity it holds so dear.

Recently, it has been proposed that a nudist zone will open in the city, in either the Bois du Boulogne or the Bois du Vincennes. Of course! Freedom to wear (or not wear) whatever you like is a cornerstone of the capital boasting the Moulin Rouge and Museum of Eroticism. Indeed, one can picture the worldwide response to the headline of “Paris Opens Naturist Zone”: ‘Don’t they have one already?’

However, in light of the summer just past, there is something that does not sit quite right with this. Indeed, Paris has proved itself to be freethinking and liberal over public nudity. However, what seems to truly unnerve the French is the absence of nudity. Is it really appropriate at current time to celebrate the wonders of the naked body in the same country that banned burkinis?

It has been impossible to ignore the disturbing images this summer of Muslim women being forced to remove items of clothing on beaches by armed officers. What is it about covered skin that will not be tolerated?

Reports of women being stopped for simply wearing headscarves and loose clothing whilst on a beach takes the debate to a ludicrous new level. French beaches are practically nudist areas already – enforcedly so. It seems only natural this should spread to the capital city.

The thing most unsettling about the burkini ban, burkha ban, or even niqab ban, is how hypocritical it is. It begs the question of what a truly ‘civilised’ society we are, when we allow ourselves to feel that we are empowering women by forcing them to undress at gunpoint.

I was reminded of an uncomfortable dinner with my family, and a strongly opinionated uncle. He proclaimed loudly that burkinis were a symbol of oppression, and every single woman around the table should be opposed to them too. I was unconvinced. Surely, rather, men telling women what to wear and what not to wear was the problem here?

I for one, as a Scot, am relieved we have no such ban in this country. Anyone who has been to a Scottish beach will know why. I run a high risk of covering up, and under a thick warm jacket, scarf and hood, my dress code might not be tolerated. In fact, burkinis may find themselves soaring in popularity in the UK – not from a surge in the Muslim population, but in a surge of the freezing-cold-swimmer population.
For now, the opening of Paris’s nudist zone will be a great success. It is a sincere tribute to the freedom of expression, freedom of dress and freedom of belief of which France is so proud. I only hope they will introduce a zone on beaches in which women are free to cover themselves up as well.


Image: Oliver Lemarchand

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6 Responses

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  1. Naked Andy
    Nov 02, 2016 - 06:02 PM

    Let’s begin with the idea that Paris has beaches… are we confusing that inland city with the entire country of France?

    I agree with the main point of this article, which is that burkinis should be accepted, but the writer’s premise that “Paris has proved itself to be freethinking and liberal over public nudity” is absolute nonsense.

    Despite the ubiquitous nude sculptures throughout Paris, the city does not have much history of actual body acceptance. As recently as the 1970s, it was illegal for a man to sunbathe shirtless in a city park. Unlike other European capitols such as Brussels or London, Paris does not host, and would not tolerate, a World Naked Bike Ride each year. Every summer, an artificial beach is set up along the bank of the Seine (so, okay, there is a beach if you count that), and the signage listing forbidden activities prominently specifies nudity.

    I think it’s wonderful that the city does, at last, have plans to designate a naturist friendly zone in a park. When it happens, I shall be among the first to strip down…. but I do wish they were considering places a little more centrally located than the bois.

  2. Harry
    Nov 03, 2016 - 10:34 PM

    There is a confusion : the burkini isn’t about french women, it is about muslim women which put religion above everything. France isn’t a muslim country. They can wear the burkini ina arabia if they want. Not in France.

  3. Russell
    Nov 06, 2016 - 11:58 PM

    The freedom to choose one’s own way of dressing (or not dressing) is an ideal that I strongly support. Nevertheless, I find it hard to sympathize with prudes who suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of clothing tyranny instead of being the tyrants. The moslem culture is at least the equal of any other oppressive culture on Earth when it comes to intolerance, the rejection of personal freedom, and the willingness to use violence to suppress the freedoms of others. It’s not surprising that the French now feel the need to put limits on the spread of this culture.

  4. Loki
    Nov 07, 2016 - 02:30 PM

    Which one of these has never been associated with terrorism or genocide campaigns? Catholic Crusades and Inquisition? Muslim Sharia law and related dress for women? Protestant witch trials or gunpoint imposed so-called “decency”? Jewish dress for Zionist genocides? Nudists and naturists? There is long history of good reason to be suspicious of not one faction, but every supremacist hate cult variant of Abrahamic religions, as violent oppressors or military criminals. Use of police to enforce superficial “neutrality” by bans on select religious costume trappings hardly respects human rights, nor restricts histories of criminal violence from not one, but all those factions at times. If France were so concerned with freedom and human rights, they’d not need a nudist segregation zone, as everywhere would not be costume-compulsive, regardless of the type including opting out. Any public policy would then be quite narrow, like over industrial health or safety exceptions to a default right to be skyclad everywhere, or how to handle people sharing public seats who didn’t adopt typical nudist carry your own towel conventions. Or, how to handle genocidal oppressors, including all social, economic, and gunpoint backed supremacist religionists or their political and business front men, and treat them as the criminals they are.

  5. Timothy R. Linde (@trlinde)
    Nov 13, 2016 - 06:06 AM

    So the article only appears to be about nude beaches. At least it starts out that way. The rest of it seems to simply be the authors rant over a public safety ban on people concealing their identity. Considering that radically militant members of a specific religion went postal on artists in an attempt to impose their will on a free society, of course garments used to disguise are banned. So just what all this has to do with nudity I have no idea as that’s sort of lost on what is supposed to be about.



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