By Steven Skelley
One day, my four year old grandson approached me nude with a very visible erection. He asked honestly, “Pawpaw, why does my wiener keep getting so big?”
I believe honesty is always the best policy with children so I answered, “Buddy, that’s what happens when boys are healthy and happy. We all get like that.”
He went happily on his way. Another life mystery solved to his satisfaction and I had started him along the path of understanding that erections are not evil, dirty or the sign of sexual perversion. They are a natural part of being a healthy male.
I have always been frustrated when I read social media posts by nudists and naturists who make the absurd claim that “real nudists don’t get erections” or that “erections are a sign of sexual arousal.”
At a well-known AANR nudist resort this Summer, a woman pointed out her husband napping on a poolside lounge with a hat over his groin “just in case he gets an erection while sleeping.”
I grew up when skinnydipping in the creek with friends was natural. Showering together after sports was expected. Changing clothes in the locker room was a daily occurrence. In all those places, guys understood that erections occur for no reason whatsoever and are usually acknowledged with a joke like, “Well, someone is happy today!”
Why then do so many nudists and naturists proclaim that real nudists don’t get erections or that erections are a sign of perverted sexual arousal? There is no justification for such claims.
Urologist Ryan Berglund M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic has said on ClevelandClinic.com, “They can occur at any age - even male fetuses have erections in utero! It’s very common for friends of mine who are parents to call me up to ask if it’s a problem that their three year old has an erection. The answer I always give them is that it’s totally normal.”
I asked my friend D. R. Gentry, PhD LPC MSW about spontaneous, nonsexual erections. “The brain or mind doesn't even need to be engaged for an erection to occur. Such is the case when a man awakens with an erection. Sexual stimulation wasn't the reason for the erection. Erections can occur without sexual thoughts being involved,” he said.
I also reached out to my friend Loren A. Olson, MD, author of Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight (the winner of Benjamin Franklin Award and finalist for Foreword INDIES book award.)
He gave me this in-depth perspective.
Erections are complex physiologic process involving the brain, nervous system, hormones and muscles. It is understandable why women who are naturists might associate erections with a desire for sex because many of them may have only had experience with an erect penis in a sexual context.
Men can have erections without feeling sexually excited or horny with what are usually referred to as spontaneous erections that can occur under a wide variety of circumstances. And there is nothing that can distinguish an erection due to sexual excitement from one that occurs spontaneously.
Parents of male infants may have observed their very young son to have an erection when their diaper is being changed, being bathed, dressing and undressing them, or assisting them at the toilet. This response occurs in relationship to stimulation but it is not sexual. Similar erections can occur while attending male patients whose spinal cord is severed and have no feeling sensations in their penises, so there is no connection with sexual thoughts. The process is a simple reflex.
I used to have an erection while I waited in the reception area prior to my football physical. No matter how I tried, I could not make it go away, although it always did by the time I got in to see the doctor (whom I had no sexual attraction to.)
Adolescent boys often have a problem when nervous or excited such as the prospect of standing up to recite in front of class. Hormones are flooding through their young bodies and erections can happen while riding the school bus or standing in the lunch line in the cafeteria, a source of considerable anxiety for young men.
These spontaneous erections occur less frequently as men age, but erections can occur whenever the brain is simply flooded with emotions that may or may not be sexual, emotions including anger, stress or fear. Men who are engaged in military operations may have erections while in direct combat.
Erections can occur during states of deep relaxation. Men typically have erections several times during the night during the REM phase of sleep.
An erection might occur for a naturist when they have a deep sense of peace and connection to their environment.
Men often wake up in the morning with an erection that comes from having a very full bladder, and these typically disappear when the bladder is emptied.
People frequently make an incorrect assumption that when one event follows another that they are a cause and its effect; this is a common error in logic.
Men sometimes get erections when they don’t want them and can’t get them when they do want them. It sometimes seems like that appendage has a mind entirely of its own.
In my opinion, it is time for nudists and naturists to live the natural, healthy and honest freedom that we claim to. Men know and experts agree: Spontaneous erections are normal, natural and no indication whatsoever of sexual arousal.
Body shaming includes erection shaming.
Rev. Steven Skelley is an ordained minister who looks forward to officiating his first nude wedding. He is an AANR member and publishes