Supervisor Wiener's nudity ban would strip San Francisco's culture

From Bay to Breakers to Folsom Street Fair and SF Pride Parade, people flock to the city to see what San Francisco’s culture is about. It’s fairly safe to say there’s nothing like an SF party once the clothes start coming off.

However, in the last year, city Supervisor Scott Wiener has begun to crack down on the city’s public nudity policies. In November 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed one of his legislations, San Francisco Penal Code 1070.1, prohibiting nudity in restaurants and on public benches. Wiener — who represents the Castro, Noe Valley and Glen Park neighborhoods as a part of District 7 — introduced new legislation Oct. 4 to ban nudity on streets, plazas, parklets and public transportation.

Wiener created the legislation to protect innocent bystanders from the exposure to genitalia, and although the intention has great value, the idea of controlling where someone can get naked needs to be revisited.

If you’ve visited any of San Francisco’s events, you’re more likely going to pay attention to a fire truck’s blaring sirens or a homeless person’s rant than a naked individual walking down the street. As a San Francisco native, I’ve encountered my fair share of public nudity at a very young age, from the countless events around the city and I’ve never felt uncomfortable seeing men or women exposed. I’ve always believed nudity is synonymous with freedom and self-love and it is evident in those who express it by letting it all hang out.

In San Francisco, nudity is prohibited in public parks, on benches and if used for sexual purposes. For example, flashers and those engaged in sexual acts are in violation of the law. On the other hand, nudity in California is legal as long as it’s not done in a sexual demeanor. California Penal Code 647(a) states, “a person violates when he/she solicits anyone to engage in or engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.”

Wiener thought about proposing the ordinance earlier in his political career, but believed the issue “would run its course and that the legislation wouldn’t be necessary, but it did not and instead it has gotten more extreme,” according to his website. After receiving complaints from his constituents about the increasing number of nudists congregating at Jane Warner Plaza on a daily basis, Wiener decided it was time to address the issue again.

I am in favor of banning nudity on public transportation for sanitation reasons. Each time I sit down on a Muni seat, I should not have to worry about whose cheeks were on it last. I don’t even want to imagine standing on a crowded bus or train. Other than that, the ordinance is utterly ridiculous because it allows the city to regulate what individuals can do with their own bodies, which should never happen. Nudity shouldn’t be controlled by law.

In this age where people are insecure about their body weight, why not learn from nudists who believe in being comfortable in their skin, and thus exposing all of it? Not only should public nudity continue to be legal, but it also should be respected and embraced. Public nudity is not sexual, it’s liberation.