Saturday, November 22, 2008

Segregated Nudism - Good For Our Rights?

Ever since I took an interest in nudism, I've wondered why there are two different big organizations in the US: AANR and TNS. More specifically, I've always wondered why TNS is so active in nudist rights and AANR (which appears much larger) remains quiet. Shouldn't they both be working towards protecting nudist rights and any place that allows nudist use? Well of course they should, but they're not set up that way. In fact, it's to AANR's benefit to do the opposite, and I'll prove it with a little game theory!

To start, the biggest difference that I have found is that AANR is commercial, and TNS isn't. AANR makes their money from their affiliated clubs. Many of these clubs either require you to pay AANR membership dues (ex. Blue Lake, Turtle Lake) or charge you more for not being a member (most others). I'm not sure if these additional charges go to the resort, or go to AANR / TNS. It's fair to say that AANR gets some money from each person that pays to stay at a resort, either directly or indirectly through the resort's partnership. It is unclear where this money actually goes.

TNS, on the other hand, doesn't want your money. Seriously, it says that right in their Network Resource Guide: "What we do not want: Your money. We're not interested in lining our pockets at the expense of your group or club." They get their money from voluntary memberships (which the group/club gets commission from) and donations. When they work to promote nudist rights or save a beach from being closed, people send them money, and it's clear that the money is going to a good cause.

Now that I've outlined the clubs, let's outline the people. Alice only likes going to "Bare Resort", which is AANR affiliated and costs her $10 for the year. Bob prefers to take the free route by hanging out at "Free Beach", but will give his $1 to TNS since it's still open because of them. Carol just likes to be naked, and will go to either "Bare Resort" or "Free Beach" as her $4 budget allows.

On the issue of saving public lands and keeping the right to be nude on them, the following chart shows the payoff for the two organizations, with the Nash Equilibrium (best, most profitable option) highlighted for each group.

In plain English:
  • If either club opposes keeping "Free Beach", it will be closed and AANR will get all the money.
  • Nudity has a lot of pressure going against it, so if both organizations go neutral the beach will be closed eventually, and AANR will get all the money.
  • If one organization supports the beach, and the other goes neutral: Alice will go to the resort, Bob will go to the beach, and Carol goes to both by splitting her money among them. (Actually, one trip to the resort costs her $2, and several trips to the beach costs her the other $2.)
  • If both support the beach, more might pop up. Alice goes to the resort, but Bob and Carol go to the beach. Carol doesn't go to the resort since she has a larger selection of nice free beaches.
In the simplified model, the best move for TNS is to support the beach and get the small amount of money in voluntary memberships and donations. The best move for AANR is to get the beach closed, and enjoy a monopoly on the entire nudist market. This move would be horrible PR -- a nudist organization going against a nude beach? -- which explains why they seem to take the neutral position of remaining silent. The model also explains why AANR appears to be bigger. They have a lot of resorts and a lot of big spenders who prefer to go to them.

How accurate is this model though? The people represent the nudist community fairly well. Alice doesn't like the dirty beaches, and enjoys a weekend of luxury instead despite the cost (or she lives at a resort full-time). Bob is poor and prefers the cheap social nudism. Carol represents the nudists who enjoy a variety, or who are simply between the two other extremes. Which category do you fit into?

For organizations, TNS's NAC is obviously pushing for the legal rights of naturists and in support of free beaches. They ask for donations at the end of every post, where AANR doesn't. Has AANR ever actually gone against nudism, as predicted by the model? It turns out the answer is yes! Wikipedia points it out (source is gone, but covered here) that AANR attempted to exclude only AANR members in a nudity ban. In other words, nudity would be banned for everyone that isn't an AANR member at an AANR club. Although nudists were disgusted with AANR's move, it was actually in AANR's best interest to create a commercial monopoly on nudity. I've heard of other cases similar to this, but the one example above should be sufficient for the point I'm trying to make.

It is my hope that nudists do not fall into a social trap. AANR might be affiliated with the best clubs that many enjoy, but supporting AANR could eventually lead to less naturist rights and higher club prices because of their commercial interest and ability to obtain a monopoly. Personally, all my naturism money is going to TNS, and I don't see a reason why I should change.

Back to my original question -- are the two types of nudism (resorts and free beaches, with AANR and TNS respectively) good for our rights? Probably not. AANR is sucking up most of the money, which limits what TNS can do in fighting for nudist rights with the smaller income. However, they have a unique balance right now that shows slow progress, which is far better than an AANR monopoly.

I believe that the progress could certainly be better -- imagine an organization with AANR's income and TNS's philosophy. TNS itself is capable of becoming such an organization, but is not in the position to obtain it just yet. How can they get there? I have no idea -- I need to learn more about them and put more thought into it. I'll need to improve my model, figure out a way for TNS to change the game, and identify another Nash Equilibrium for them to transition to. (Only transitions between Nash Equilibriums are successful, otherwise one side is going against their best interest.) I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.


Brain said...

This is really interesting. I'd never thought about it in this way, and am not currently a member of either organization (can't afford it right now), but based on this, my money's going to TNS.

Anonymous said...

I never fully thought of it like this.
But, I have long known AANR is commercial and TNS is not.
After an incdent a few years ago, I let my membership lapse at both organizations because they truly support THEIR interests, not nudism.


John A said...

Now that's just plain ignorant of today's realities. There may have been some truth to it in times past but not in this day and age. AANR and TNS often take a different approach (TNS more "in your face" while AANR works more behind the scenes and earlier in the legislative process) but both groups work for expanding our use of beaches and public lands. AANR has it's GAT (Government Affairs Team) and TNS it's NAC. A case in point is the twice a year Assateague Beach cleanups and extensive lobbying done by AANR where it seems that TNS is nowhere to be found. It's disingenuous for you to spread such FUD.

Academic Naturist said...

I've been looking around for what AANR's GAT has done for public lands recently, and I'm drawing a blank. Scan their websites, and you'll find nothing. Their mission statement is "to advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings, and educate and inform society of the value and enjoyment of such through ongoing member growth."

Their "appropriate settings" are AANR clubs, as detailed by their many attempts at appending an exemption to a law that limits nudity except at an AANR chartered club.

One such example was Maryland's 2005 Senate Bill 224, which AANR tried to append with "(C) AN ORDINANCE ADOPTED UNDER THIS SECTION MAY NOT APPLY TO ANY EVENT CHARTERED BY THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR NUDE RECREATION." In other words, if it's a TNS thing that involves nudity it should be illegal. If it's at a beach or anywhere else, it should be illegal. This, by far, ISN'T the only nudity law they tried to append with their name.

The second part of their mission statement talks directly about what they want -- member growth -- so they can make more money. They are in it for profit, and always have been.

I've also heard directly from a board member that AANR-Midwest would like to close down Mazo Beach, because they see it as a threat that is cutting into their profits. Mazo Beach's biggest threat was Assembly Bill 574, which sought to ban all nudity on Wisconsin public land. AANR was nowhere to be found, except with helping to foot a small portion of the lobbyist bill. It may sound nice, but they could've done a LOT more to help out.

The GAT only works to support THEIR mission, and not the naturist mission. When the laws threaten clubs, this is in line with what TNS's goals. In that case, TNS (the much poorer of the two) steps out and doesn't waste money on it. AANR has the money to fight laws that threaten clubs, and they usually do a good job with it. If it deals with public lands, AANR is almost always absent, or sometimes they even work AGAINST what TNS is trying to do as I noted above.

I have no idea why AANR is sponsoring beach cleanups. More likely, it's just a bunch of good naturists who happen to be AANR members. They also sponsor cleanups at Cape Cod Seashore and at the Oregon's Rooster Rock (and that's it from what I can find). Note that TNS provides people for each of these events as well, and TNS has a much bigger list of beaches that they take care of.

TNS does what they can for lobbying, but they are quite poor. AANR does a lot of lobbying because they have really deep pockets. This doesn't make AANR better, since they are not always in line with naturist goals. If AANR gave all their profits to TNS, we'd be in a much better state.

Please, for the love of naturism, support TNS instead of AANR.

John A said...

I really don't understand the money aspect - there's only a $2 difference in the individual one year membership. If TNS is poor financially I don't know whether that would be due to fewer members or something else. I'll acknowledge some confusion over the legal language in the MD case - I probably would not have gone that way but that's just one case.

The goal of increasing membership is not about profit - that's absurd. The only folks making profit off of naturism might be those exploiting photos and videos. A broader membership base means better collective bargaining - in some ways like a union. There's also the benefit of legal support which most clubs and individuals can't afford. Granted AANR holds some things closer to the vest and isn't as public (often for strategic reasons) but the details of where that money goes is freely available to any AANR member.

I'm not saying that AANR is perfect and I doubt TNS is either but as long as I can afford it I'll support both. I'd also like to see more cases where they can work together if only to commit warm bodies to community efforts like road and beach cleanups. Just like in real life politics the truth often lies somewhere between the rhetoric at the extremes. The only way things get done is when folks join hands and get it done. I've got my hand out...

Now - here are some recent details of what GAT has been up to:

Number of 2009 Prefiles last week: 748
Number of 2009 Intros last week: 7,955
Number of 2009 Session Enacted/Adopted last week: 735
Number of 2009 Prefiles to date: 30,433
Number of 2009 Intros to date: 74,128
Number of 2009 Session Enacted/Adopted overall to date: 3,965

AANR Statistics:

o 1,902 bills were reviewed personally by AANR in 2009.

o 276 bills have been reviewed in full text by AANR in 2009.

o 183 bills have been added to the “2009 Legislative Tracking List”

Academic Naturist said...

Here's the money aspect:

When a guest at an AANR club buys an annual membership, AANR gets a small slice of it. You're exactly right that it's similar to a union -- if your a member and pay your dues, your protected. AANR clubs and users are protected.

When a guest at a TNS club buys an annual membership, TNS gets nothing. It all goes to the club. The club might suggest that they get a TNS membership, and if they do the club gets a small slice in commission.

More to the point, TNS will protect a beach (or club if needed) no matter if members exist at it or not. They get their money basically by donation. Well, a subscription gets a magazine and discounts if the clubs choose.

So, AANR club members are basically required to give AANR money. Beach users don't have to give anyone money. This is why AANR is rich and TNS is poor. It's about the same cost per year, but an opposite method of raising money. It's a union vs. donation.

AANR and TNS both try to educate and recruit. AANR promotes going to their clubs. AANR and the affiliated club split the money from each new member. AANR is usually good about where they spend it, but it's still a profit-oriented model. TNS recruits people to use public beaches or clubs, with the HOPE that they donate or get a TNS subscription. This is similar to a charity.

I completely agree that AANR and TNS should work together more. Currently, they work pretty good in unison. AANR carries the bulk of the legal battles (when clubs are affected), and TNS picks up the slack as best as they can (beaches, naturist rights issues).

In my opinion, if AANR went extinct, TNS is capable of picking up the slack. If TNS goes extinct, free beaches will be neglected. People have been dropping their (optional) TNS subscriptions recently because of the current economy. TNS is getting dangerously close to the edge of extinction right now.

John A said...

Okay, just a couple more points.

First - it's probably a personal problem but how can I find a list of the TNS clubs you mention? I tried going to the TNS website but can't find anything in either VA or MD.

As for the money - I think you must be talking about "100%" clubs that require AANR membership in order to join their club. I guess your reasoning would be that AANR is getting more money because of generating more memberships due to that practice. I can see your point but I can also see it from the club and AANR's perspective. Maybe it's analogous to a business carrying xyz (KOA campgrounds for example) certification. The club receives additional benefits from AANR which is an enticing carrot and the argument from AANR is that those members of the club who aren't AANR members are essentially freeloading because AANR will provide some benefits to the club regardless.

My own club is not 100% and it's a member run club. AANR membership is not required yet 60-70 percent are AANR members.

I also take your point about free beaches not generating income for either TNS or AANR. I still take issue with the idea that free beaches and public lands would be neglected should TNS stumble because I personally know too many folks that are working very hard for those issues. But even if what you say is true what is the rest of the country supposed to do that doesn't live anywhere near a free beach or other outdoor area where public nudity is accepted? We have no choice but to either support our local clubs or limit ourselves to the occasional vacation to enjoy social nudity.

One last point - I don't know about other regions of the US but it might surprise you to know just how many movers and shakers in TNS are also movers and shakers in AANR. There's hope for us yet...

Susan said...

This perception of the differences between AANR and TNS is a common misconception.

If you will look a little more closely, you will see that AANR is a not-for-profit association and TNS is a proprietarily owned business. This, in itself, does not make one organization any better or worse than the other, but it is important to work from facts when developing an opinion.

AANR dues go into public education and advocacy. They do not go to clubs except where a club applies for and receives a loan or grant to improve facilities such as a pool, bathhouse, hiking trail, or septic system.

AANR has put a great deal of money and effort into beaches at Cape Cod, Playlinda, Assateague (Maryland and Virginia), Rooster Rock, San Onofre, and several others I can't recall at this time. The AANR philosophy is that most of us had our first nudist experience at a beach, but as we get a little older and are less inclined to treck 3 miles down a sandy beach on a hot August day, there should be clubs and campgrounds that are accessible. These clubs are cooperatives or privately owned businesses, but as long as they carry an AANR charter they commit to providing a nudist experience that is safe and consistent with AANR's principles and standards.

AANR's Government Affairs program is also proactive, rather than reactive; meaning, it seeks to connect with legislators before there is a legislative challenge and educate them. For 15 years AANR has been a respected participant at the National Conference for State Legislators. As for the Maryland bill, AANR did not offer a compromise amendment until the State Representative who was working with us told us that it was going to pass, there was no way to prevent passage, and the best she could do for us was to offer an amendment that would prevent legal challenges to clubs in Maryland.

AANR also has an aggressive public education program. The philosophy here is that unless we educate the American public, we will be fighting legal battles until we are dead or run out of money. Since 1995, AANR has used public relations firms to pitch positive stories in the mainstream media, such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and others. AANR also provides public relations training to its members and clubs, and has provided PR training to TNS leadership on several occasions.

I strongly believe that there is a place for both organizations in our efforts to provide more opportunities to enjoy the nudist experience, and to protect the rights of those who wish to do so.