Nudity and Protest
Nude for a Cause
In late 2002, with war looming, a small group of Californian
women took off their clothes and wrote the words NO BUSH with
their bodies, to protest against the coming war in Iraq. A few
months later over 700 women did the same thing at Byron Bay
in NSW to make their feelings known. Before long, nude anti-war
protests were happening regularly.
In Chile, 300 people got nude in a city park
for the same reason, before getting a little emotional and running
naked towards the parliament with police in hot pursuit. Those
South Americans can’t help but be exhibitionists, can they?
But war isn't the only reason people are getting
naked. Taking your clothes off for a cause is not new. It seems
that people have been protesting through nudity for quite some
time. The reason is, of course, that nude equals news. Widespread
media coverage is the best way to get your point across, even
if you’ve got to show the whole world your naughty bits in the
Thus, in the last few years we’ve seen 3 women
strip and cover themselves with fake blood outside the Sydney
meeting of the World Trade Organisation, a group of pagans cavorting
topless at a G8 meeting in Calgary Canada, a couple of anti-fur
protesters getting nude in Beijing, and animal liberationists
marching naked during the running of the bulls in Pamplona.
Interestingly, African women have a tradition
of protesting through nudity. In Nigeria last year, 600 women
invaded the headquarters of oil multinational Texaco to demand
jobs for their sons and better facilities in their communities.
To get their point across they threatened to strip naked. In
Nigeria and other African nations, public female nudity is seen
as ill-omened, and a source of shame for the men who witness
it. After 10 days, the oil company agreed to help out and the
women emerged victorious (and clothed).
In Zambia, women paraded topless to protest
against the government’s new rules which outlawed miniskirts
and tight pants. Baring one’s breasts also has a history in
that country, where 40 years earlier it was used as a protest
against the British colonists, and became a badge of freedom
and independence. Faced with so many bare bosoms, the strait-laced
Brits had no choice but to bail out.
In Kenya in 2001, a team of scientists were
driven away from a nature reserve by a band of 300 naked women
who ran into their research camp. The women were using their
nudity to invoke a curse on the men, and thus prevent them from
extending the nature reserve onto tribal land. The poor blokes
were just trying to research colobus monkeys, but they made
for the hills quick smart.
And that same year in Johannesburg 8 women
squatters stripped naked in front of police who were preventing
them from returning to their shacks and removing their belongings.
This sort of nude action also had a history in apartheid South
Africa, when government removal of squatters was common. “While
there were a few red faces among the police officers, a number
of them could be seen enjoying the unusual spectacle,” a witness
Then there are those who protest naked in
public… for the right to be naked in public. A group called
Freedom to be Human regularly appears nude in London (although
only in summer), determined to repeal indecent exposure laws.
In 1999 Vincent Bethell, the founder of the group, was arrested
for scaling a lamp-post outside the Royal Courts of Justice.
“Our campaign is about being alive, being human,” Bethell has
said. “Why do people have such a strange reaction to the human
form?” His protests also draw attention to body image issues,
and what he sees as the sexualization of the human body. He
says people are rarely offended by his actions, more often smiling
and offering encouragement.
So all this leads one to wonder what new forms
of nude protest we’ll see in the future. Will unions opt for
a mass streak rather than a strike? Will pro-censorship campaigners
get naked to promote their fight against porn? Will the sporting
shooters get out their weapons in order to protect their guns?
And next time the neighbour’s dog barks all
night, will banging on their door naked make any difference?
Can road rage be enhanced by some subtle mooning? If someone
cuts into the queue at the bank, will you immediately strip
off to make your anger known? And if your child is being treated
unfairly at school, will a quick flash in the principal’s office
help at all?
Yes, it would seem the future of protesting
could be very, very interesting.
By the way, if this article has been in any
way offensive to you, please send all nude photos care of this
A version of this article first appeared in the Sydney Morning
Herald. They didn't pay me for it and I didn't agree to give
them the rights to it :( They also don't own the electronic
rights, so it shouldn't be available on the web here.
War Protests - Naked Men News
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