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Nudity, Sex, & Hashing: an Exchange of Opinion

Dear Half-Minds,

I got an interesting letter from a harriette friend the other day:

Hi Booger,

I had an interesting conversation this weekend and was referred to [a previous rant] as proof of why I’m out of line. So I’d like to offer a modest (OK immodest) reply/perspective. See you Saturday!

Let me first preface everything with this: I read, respect, and pretty much agree with your last rant, that the hash is not a public activity, that many times it can contain “adult” elements (either planned or spontaneous), and that hashers do need to look out for each other and respect the non-hashing public.

That said, in my humble opinion and from a naked perspective . . .

After last weekend’s annual _________________ hash and bus trip to _____________ I sat and listened to my dear friend’s opinions and expression of discomfort regarding the levels of nakedness that transpired. I respect and honor those opinions and the right of that individual to them. I don’t love her any less for having those opinions and actually, I have to admire the courage it takes to adamantly express them.

However, after about 48 hours of reflection, I have to say that I don’t subscribe to the same opinions, and I guess I feel the need to stand up for and attempt to make a distinction between responsible hash debauchery and outright hedonism (which, though outside my personal comfort zone, if done in a contained, private and consensual adult setting, I still don’t claim the right to make general character judgments about said participants).

The topic of this conversation was the Naked Bus. In deference to “what happens on the road stays on the road,” I’ll refrain from names and graphic particulars, and offer only myself up to the fire because frankly, I’m just not feeling the shame/guilt/remorse that apparently I should in this instance.

The really disturbing element of my morning-after conversation was the assigning of unilateral meaning and sweeping character judgment to behaviors observed at this event (note: in the following paragraph, sarcastic comments that shouldn’t detract from the point, but that I just couldn’t stop myself from typing appear in parentheses).

What really hit me in particular was that apparently what I did on that bus means that I am associated with, and could earn the title of White Trash (which is really unfair to the naked people of color on the bus), that this type of “swinger” behavior is turning the hash into something dirty and bad (I thought you had to have a significant other or someone to swing in order to be a swinger – so I was just garnish?), and how do I ever hope to find a husband when I behave this way, because no decent man will want me due to my indecent behavior (note to self: If the price of lifelong love and loyalty ever becomes subjugation to any man’s permissions of what I do, say, or look like, because who I am is “not good enough,” then RUN LIKE HELL, baby – he ain’t the one!).

All sarcasm aside, these were emotion-laden but honest opinions and questions from a friend, and deserve some thought.

Since I am not a local ________________ hasher I really can’t speak to any impending swinger takeover of their hash, but in the years I have known and hashed with them as a visitor, such an occurrence does not appear likely. Yes, I agree that envelope-pushing activities are probably best kept apart from the hashing mainstream because it is all about tolerance and diversity and respect, but some sauciness is bound to happen on occasion, and that, to me (within some general bounds) is just the completion of that full-circle tolerance thing.

So now that the Monday-to-Friday full-on “Suit” Professional Management MBA is dominating my personality again, I did a little analysis of all the times in my adult life I have participated in prolonged partial or full nakedness in semi-public (eliminating the occasional hash-flash and soaking in hot tubs). In the past 8 years, this has totaled about 12 times. The immediate common denominators were alcohol and the hash.

Delving a little further, additional common denominators were:

  1. A secluded setting (like inside a bus).
  2. Being among hashers that I have known for some time (I’ve only participated on the Naked Bus for the last 2 of 4 years of attendance), thus some level of comfort & familiarity.
  3. At least one person present who I knew and trusted not to let me get into something beyond my comfort limits and who would back me at the point I said “No” or “Help.”

I suppose I can only speak for my experience on the Naked Bus and yeah, I saw some goings-on that were beyond what I would do – but I wasn’t doing them and I am not about to judge those hashers who were. Personally, I encountered no serious contact below the waist, and if I had, the other party would have gotten a firm earful – backed with a fist or knee-ful if necessary – of objection. Point is, even though drunk, I was responsible and accountable for my limits and was prepared to express and enforce them. Given that I was with other hashers and in the contained environment of a bus ride I knew that scenario wasn’t likely.I suppose the point of this rant is to express that I for one don’t equate occasional naked hash spontaneity with being a card-carrying member of Sluts R Us. Rather, I find this occasional freedom of expression and celebration a unique and enjoyable aspect of my hashing experience.

I was asked what I possibly got out of participating in this behavior? It was fun and freeing and exhilarating – the very aspects I have always loved about the hash.

Gispert, Horse and the other founders regularly retired to beers and late evenings at lap dance bars after their hash runs (these were Asian lap dance establishments, where traditionally there are no distance rules), and though I do not see their faces adorning any world currencies, I sincerely doubt the group is currently burning in hell.

I would hope my fellow hashers would think about the “release from the rigidity of daily life” nature of the Hash, and refrain from judging a fellow hasher’s entire character based on what they do or say at a hash. I will not judge another hasher in this manner (lying, cheating, breach of trust – those are an entirely different story). If others choose to summarily judge me this way, well then it’s innately obvious that they do not know me and further that they don’t deserve to.

I guess my final bit about the Naked Bus is that we all had a choice of which bus to board. It was pretty clear who was involved and what the general tolerances to be expected were. No other influence but alcohol was a factor. I do recall that permission for nakedness was obtained from the bus driver, and I doubt that any hasher would prevent someone from switching and getting off a bus they didn’t want to be on. Any action was mostly kept to the aisles and the back. People didn’t go all the way to the back unless they wanted to. If anyone felt undue peer pressure to participate, I’m pretty sure a firm “No” would have sufficed and I know for a fact others were aboard that would support anyone’s “No” at any given point I would have. I definitely encourage people to voice and enforce their limits, and for hashers to respect that. At the same time I strongly support spontaneity and freedom of expression among hash friends in such situations.

So I am truly sorry that my friend was exposed to an uncomfortable situation. I fully support that they board a different bus next time. However, the next time this situation comes around, I’ll probably be found aboard the Naked Bus.

On On,
(name deleted)

Dear ___________________,

I need a little clarification here. Was this “naked bus” known to be the naked bus by all who boarded it, or did it turn out to be the naked bus because some hashers on it wanted to get naked, and if so, were the ones who wanted to get naked in the majority or the minority, and if they were in the minority, did they win the argument by being louder or simply taking off their clothes anyway, forcing their nakedness upon a captive audience?

If everyone knew in advance it was the naked bus, and only those who wanted to get naked (and the pack of voyeurs who always follow them around) would have been on the bus, and as long as it was okay with the driver, then hey, let’s hear it for the naked bus! Otherwise, I’m not so sure.

I wish we were all grown-up and mature enough to handle a little thing like nudity. It shouldn’t be a big deal, and in some cultures it isn’t. But most of us are pretty fucked up when it comes to sex, and you can’t have nudity without sex being somewhere in the neighborhood, as you yourself observed on the bus.

I always hear about these ideal nude hash events where everyone knows ahead of time it’s going to happen and everyone is a willing participant, and it all stays on the road, no harm, no foul. And I’ve been part of such events, and naked too (of course I was younger, and thinner, and better looking then).

In my experience, nude events never quite live up to the ideal. There are always non-participants, there is always tension between boyfriends and girlfriends or husbands and wives, there is ALWAYS some asshole with a camera, there is always some jerk who can’t keep his hands off the girls . . . it’s really too bad that we (not you and I, but people in general) can’t seem to separate nudity and sex. And sex is powerful stuff.

Another thing I’ve experienced (and continue to experience) is that nothing ever “stays on the road.” Someone always talks, and – these days – the photos are on the net within 24 hours.

People aren’t as good as they should be. People will let you down. So I don’t do that shit any more. Many of the women I’ve been naked with at hash events don’t do that shit any more. It doesn’t mean we’ve gone all holy and moral – we’re just trying to stay out of trouble!

I don’t know what G and the gang did after they hashed. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they went to brothels afterward – there are a few male-only hashes in Korea and Thailand that do that every week, and I once heard an old-timer (a guy who’s been to every world interhash since they started having them) say that for the first several years the venues were selected based on the availability of cheap & plentiful prostitution. That was before women and other riffraff were allowed at the hash. But I don’t think there’s any connection between hashing and nudity, any more than there is between motorcycle racing and nudity, or cross-country skiing and nudity.

_______________, if your experience was fun, freeing, and exhilarating, then I’m delighted for you. I wish I’d had that sort of experience. If I had I’d be totally on your side (and never would have written that rant in the first place). Maybe you were in the right place at the right time, and the people you were with were grown-up and mature enough to handle being naked together – gosh, imagine how equal we’d all be without our power & status uniforms! Oh well, maybe in our next life. . . .

On On,
Flying Booger

- Flying Booger

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