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Female nudity as political protest

Radical feminists trying to attack and desecrate a cathedral Here is a quote I saw, and my comments:

“Doing what men want is appeasement. Feminism is resistance. Appeasement and resistance are opposing forces; the more you do of one, the less you can do of the other. That’s why these groups are insidious; they divert feminist energy into meaningless acts that only serve male interests. Men don’t care if you write incendiary messages of revolt all over your naked body, as long as they get to see that body. When they hear you call yourself a slut, they won’t know that you’re being ironic and that you’ve reclaimed the word. And they won’t care, because irony is just another flavor of appeasement. They’ll call you a slut in a totally non-ironic, non-reclaimed way. And they’ll insist that insulting you is okay because you’re doing it to yourself. We all have to appease in one way or another to survive, but let’s not confuse that behavior with feminist activism. It’s not. Let’s do as little of it as we can get away with, and as much resistance as we are capable of.”

– M.K. Hajdin in “Nakedness isn’t activism – here’s why”

I’m not sure how this view isn’t very easily exploited by religious bigots who want to forget about female toplessness as political acts around the world (i.e. scaring superstitious men) or the Lysistra strategy in which women collectively refuse sex to sexually entitled men. To them, every instance of female nudity is likened to Femen and even Slutwalk, when those same bigots just see female nudity as something reserved for one man instead of many men, as if they are two totally different things.

What I mean is that modesty appeals to conservative men, and nudity appeals to liberal men; either one appeals to men anyway! There’s no getting around the male gaze unless women can have female-only spaces: it is the male-centric POV of the (false) virgin-whore dichotomy that sees every instance of female nudity as vulgar and degrading, hyper-sexualized and even evilly tempting (victim-blaming for harassment and rape). It is female body-shaming in which this same male-centric POV is prioritized and seen as inevitable, while women get forgotten. The accusations of “self-objectification” fall on their faces since the idea of objectification requires that someone else is objectifying you. So there’s that.


Whether or not you agreed with her, Amina did not deserve death threats.

Furthermore, even in Western countries female toplessness is a political act. Free toplessness, I mean. Just look at how you can “buy” breasts from a magazine or pay a stripper, but mothers cannot breastfeed their babies in public. The attitude from men is basically,”Why should I have to see boobs I didn’t pay for or choose with my wallet?” Breasts, rather than being seen as the mammary glands that they are and not sexual organs, have been sexualized, while male breasts/nipples are not.


“I interviewed a young anthropologist working with women in Mali, a country in Africa where women go around with bare breasts. They’re always feeding their babies. And when she told them that in our culture men are fascinated with breasts there was an instant of shock. The women burst out laughing. They laughed so hard, they fell on the floor. They said, “You mean, men act like babies?” “

– Carolyn Latteier, Breasts, the women’s perspective on an American obsession

“In the 1930s, men’s nipples were just as provocative, shameful and taboo as women’s are now, and men were protesting in much the same way. In 1930, four men went topless to Coney Island and were arrested. In 1935, a flash mob of topless men descended upon Atlantic City, 42 of whom were arrested. Men fought and they were heard, changing not only laws but social consciousness. And by 1936, men’s bare chests were accepted as the norm.

So why is it that 80 years later women can’t seem to achieve the same for their chests? Why can’t a mother proudly breastfeed her child in public without feeling sexualized? why is a 17-year-old girl being asked to leave her own prom because a group of fathers find her too provocative?

[…] I am not trying to argue for mandatory toplessness, or even bralessness. What I am arguing for is a woman’s right to choose how she represents her body — and to make that choice based on personal desire and not a fear of how people will react to her or how society will judge her. No woman should be made to feel ashamed of her body.”

— Scout Willis, in XOJane, on Instagram’s nudity policy and why she recently strolled the NYC streets topless.

Finally, the women protesting are called extremists and militants, but the religious people (especially men) threatening them and assaulting them are let off the hook. I’m not about to feel sorry for people who believe in blasphemy and hold ideologies above women. It’s basically agreed by the masses that these “bitches” deserved what was coming to them and needed to be punished or taught a lesson, and that’s no different from every other instance of victim-blaming. Being religious does not give anyone an excuse to not be a civil human being.


One thought on “Female nudity as political protest

  1. Pingback: Female pleasure and anatomy are still taboo | Your god is a fraud

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