Nudity and protest
Nudity is sometimes used as a tactic during a protest to attract media and public attention to a cause, and sometimes promotion of public nudity is itself the objective of a nude protest. The use of the tactic goes back to well published photos of nude protests by svobodniki in Canada in 1903. The tactic has been used by other groups later in the century, especially after the 1960s. Like public nudity in general, the cultural and legal acceptance of nudity as a tactic in protest also varies around the world. Some opponents of any public nudity claim that it is indecent, especially when it can be viewed by children; while others argue that it is a legitimate form of expression covered by the right to free speech.
Even in places where public nudity is tolerated, it is still unexpected enough that its use by activists as a deliberate tactic is often successful in attracting publicity from the media. For example, on July 19, 2020, a young woman wearing only a face mask and stocking cap, later dubbed "Naked Athena" by reporters, confronted police in Portland, Oregon, during George Floyd protests. Despite the deployment of pepper balls and tear gas, she posed for police for several minutes before they withdrew. Photographs of her action went viral.
Some nude activism is not to promote a particular cause, but rather to promote public nudity itself, or to change community perceptions of the naked human body, or as an expression of a personal desire to be nude in public.
Single issue protests
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has used nudity to draw attention to their causes. From 1992 until 2020, PETA ran their "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign featuring celebrities, actors and models.
On 29 June 2016, Cambridge academic, Victoria Bateman walked into a meeting at the Faculty of Economics while naked in protest against the results of the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. She had written on her breasts and stomach "Brexit leaves Britain naked".
Peace and anti-war
The African curse of nakedness
In Africa, women have used stripping naked on purpose as a curse, both historically, and in modern times. The idea is that women give life and they can take it away. The curse initiates an extreme form of ostracism, which anthropologist Terisa Turner has likened to "social execution". The curse extends to foreign men as well, and is believed to cause impotence, madness or other similar harm. The threat has been used successfully in mass protests against the petroleum industry in Nigeria, by Leymah Gbowee and Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace during the Second Liberian Civil War, and against President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast. In 2002 in Nigeria, members of the Niger Delta Women for Justice occupied a platform for oil extraction run by ChevronTexaco in order to protest against negative consequences of oil extraction and missing labor rights. When the military arrived to remove the protestors, the women threatened the soldiers to naked curse them. The soldiers did not touch the women.
A group of about 16 women bared their buttocks and stormed into the offices of the African National Congress (ANC) in Tshwane. The women were protesting against the outcome of an ANC Tshwane branch general meeting. The women claimed bouncers, armed with pangas and firearms, stormed the meeting and stopped them from participating in the voting process to elect the new branch committee.
In November, 2011, a transgender woman from Morristown, Tennessee was arrested and jailed for 21 days by Tennessee police for indecent exposure after removing her top in the parking lot of her local department of motor vehicles after they refused to alter the gender designation on her driver's license from male to female. This was despite the fact that the U.S. federal government Social Security office already had done so. As it is legal for a man to go topless in public and since the Tennessee Department of Public Safety refused to recognise her as female, Ms. Jones decided to protest her treatment by going topless, stating "if I was a male, I had the right to, when I stepped out the door, take off my shirt... It's not right for the state to ask me to be both male and female. A choice needs to be made. They cannot hold me to both standards."
Femicide is Genocide
Human gene editing
On 8 February 2017 artist Rick Gibson walked naked in front of the Vancouver Law Courts in the middle of winter to protest Canada's ban of genetic engineering of the human genome. He walked nude in downtown Vancouver for 11 minutes, 45.75 seconds in a light rain and a temperature of 7 °C (45 °F).
Public nudity movements
Not all people who engage in public nudity see themselves as nudists or naturists or belong to traditional naturist or nudist organizations. Several activists, such as Vincent Bethell, claim that associations with naturism or nudism are unnecessary. Others will point out that many people who participate in events such as clothing-optional bike rides or visit clothing-optional beaches do so casually and without association or formal affiliation to groups or movements. Activist Daniel Johnson believes that labels and affiliations overly complicate a relatively simple phenomenon, alienate others from a fear of over-commitment or undesirable stereotypes, and thus get in the way of integrating nudity into everyday life.
Clothing-optional bike rides
World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international clothing-optional bike ride in which participants plan, meet and ride together en masse on human-powered transport (the vast majority on bicycles, and fewer on skateboards, rollerblades, roller skates) to "protest oil dependency and celebrate the power and individuality of our bodies". This represents one of the few events that combine elements that could be described as pro nudity and pro cycling (as well as environmental).
Many of the political rides have their roots from Critical Mass and are often described or categorized as a form of political protest, street theatre, party-on-wheels, streaking, public nudity and clothing-optional recreation and thus attracts a wide range of participants. Since 1996 Critical Tits has been hosting a "raucous topless bicycle joyride" on Friday afternoon at the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada.
The Spanish movement, Manifestación Ciclonudista Mundial has had rides predating WNBR (since 2001) and has since spread to other countries in Europe.
The protest group FEMEN (founded in 2008 in Ukraine) regularly stages topless protests against sex tourists, international marriage agencies, sexism and other social ills. These protests received worldwide press coverage in 2009. Since late 2011 FEMEN operations became not limited to Ukraine and they have demonstrated in other European countries including non-Ukrainian protesters. FEMEN justifies its provocative methods stating "If we staged simple protests with banners, then our claims would not have been noticed". FEMEN receives small financial backing by individuals. In January 2012, three members of the group staged a topless protest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In October 2013 FEMEN had its largest membership in France (30 FEMEN France local activists in January 2013). In October 2012 the organization claimed it had about 40 activists in Ukraine, and another 100 who had joined their protests abroad.
Naturist and nudist movements
There are a number of groups and individuals who protest for the right to be naked in public.
A group led by Avril X called UrbaNudismo has led several casual nudity excursions in high visibility public urban environments in Brazil as well as some Western European countries.
Naktiv.net is a generic Naked Activities site.
In 1969, in Denmark, 300 individuals participated in a massive naked "wade-in" at a Danish beach. The event helped push forward dramatic reformation in public policy. It is now allowable to be naked at any public beach in Denmark with only two major exceptions: Holmsland Klit and Hennestrand. The remaining 4,700 kilometers of Danish coast are clothing-optional.
- Naturist Action Committee - NAC is a non-profit donor-supported organization that promotes and defends naturist interests in the courts, before legislative bodies, at universities, and to local business communities
- Friends of Disco Beach, Magnuson Beach Bares, Seattle Free Beach Campaign and Body Freedom Collaborative in Seattle
- Free Beach USA
- Barbara LaFleur walked nude into two stores in Saratoga Springs, NY in 2012 as a protest for naturist rights. "She is just a person who believes in the freedom of nudism. That was her explanation", said Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III.
The short-lived Naturist Lifestyle Party in New South Wales, Australia aimed "to bring naturism fully into the public eye, with view to getting an equitable allocation of public resources to those who support the naturist lifestyle." Gerald Ganglbauer convened Free Beach Action NSW, a lobby group for naturism in New South Wales.
Robbert Broekstra (now deceased) was involved in a group called "Friends of Nature". They would often go for naked excursions on public lands, sometimes in urban areas, often taking pictures. He was also involved in INIC (International Naturist Information Center). He authored the book Robbert Broekstra's Nude World and his group appeared in "Naked Travels 1", by Charles MacFarland.
- Wald-FKK – German movement for the liberalisation of public nudity. Founder Peter Niehenke was fined several times for indecent exposure because he went running nude in public spaces.
- Nacktwandern – German movement for the freedom to hike in the nude.
- Integral Nactiv - Nacktiv is a combination of the German word "nackt" (naked) and "aktiv" (active).
The Freedom to be Yourself
The Freedom to be Yourself campaign (TFTBY or FTBY) was founded in 1998 by Vincent Bethell. The group, according to Vincent Bethell is about "the right to be naked in public". Supporters of the TFTBY organized several grassroots naked protests in public in London; there have also been protests in Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Coventry, and some in the United States.
Terri Sue Webb is an activist living in Bend, Oregon, who was one of few activists in the United States active in The Freedom to be Yourself (TFTBY or FTBY) campaign. She has been imprisoned and released multiple times for public nudity. On several occasions she has remained fully nude while incarcerated, often resulting in a much longer jail sentence. There has been quite a bit of media coverage of her activities. Daniel Johnson went nude with her in public on two occasions in 2001 and 2002.
Vincent Bethell made legal history in January 2001 by being the first defendant to stand trial naked in a UK court. The trial was at Southwark Crown Court London. Vincent was naked throughout this court case, furthermore he was found unanimously not guilty. Stephen Gough, also known as "Steve Gough" and "the naked rambler", is an activist from Eastleigh, Hampshire, famous for walking the length of Great Britain from Land's End to John o' Groats in 2003–2004 and again in 2005-2006 (that year accompanied by his girlfriend Melanie Roberts), with nothing on except boots, socks, rucksack and sometimes a hat. He has been arrested several times and put in prison in the course of his rambles. In his last walk he was only arrested twice in England, and released almost immediately, but due to the different legal system and laws in Scotland, he was arrested many more times after crossing the border and spent time in HMP Edinburgh, then moved to HMP Barlinnie Glasgow in June 2008.
Richard Collins has been cycling naked through his home town of Cambridge, England for some time. He has been organizing several protests on the TFTBY Stop Segregation discussion group (no longer in existence). Richard has been arrested numerous times and released, although he was convicted of an offence under section 5, Public Order Act 1986, in Bournemouth, England, on 13 June[year needed] after his nude cycling attracted complaints approximately 12 months earlier. Richard says: "My outings are NOT protests as such but 'activities'. Simply me having fun! And exercising my right to nude freedom!"
The topfreedom movement has challenged the law in a number of countries, especially in North America and in Europe, on sex equality grounds arguing that the present public indecency laws discriminate against women. The movement advocates equal rights for women to be topfree in the same circumstances that a man is permitted to be bare-chested.
The Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA) is a Canadian organization which endeavors to assist women who are having legal troubles exercising their rights to be topfree. Their website states that they serve both Canada and the United States. The organization also aims to inform and educate the public about topfreedom, and to change laws against topfreedom in North American jurisdictions. GoTopless goes further and organizes demonstrations to protest against the legal and public attitude to the inequality. In Sweden, Bara Bröst is active in advancing topfreedom, as is Topless Front in Denmark. In France, the feminist collective Les TumulTueuses has moved beyond seeking equality with men as indicated by their slogan: "My body if I want, when I want, like it is" ("Mon corps si je veux, quand je veux, tel qu'il est").
- Civil disobedience
- Lady Godiva
- List of social nudity organizations
- Social nudism
- Timeline of non-sexual social nudity
- Zevs Cosmos
- Alaimo, Stacy (2010). "The naked word: The trans-corporeal ethics of the protesting body". Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. 20 (1): 15–36. doi:10.1080/07407701003589253. ISSN 0740-770X. – via Taylor & Francis (subscription required)
- Ryan Nguyen (July 19, 2020). "'Naked Athena': The story behind the surreal photos of Portland protester". The Oregonian.
- Lunceford, Brett (2012). Naked politics : nudity, political action, and the rhetoric of the body. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0739167090.
- Deighton, Katie (February 5, 2020). "As Peta retires 'I'd Rather Go Naked', its creator looks back on 30 years of sexy activism". The Drum.
- Espinoza, Javier (1 July 2016). "'Brexit leaves Britain naked': Cambridge academic stages nude protest against outcome of EU referendum". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
- Were, Joseph (3 May 2015). "Uganda: Elderly Women Strip Naked in Protest against Re-demarcation of National Game Park Land". The Independent (Kamplala). Retrieved 2015-05-05.
- "Baring Witness". Baring Witness.
- Guyson, Nangayi (10 June 2016). "Undress for redress: The rise of naked protests in Africa". African Arguments. Retrieved 2016-07-07.
- The Curse of Nakedness Archived 2012-08-21 at the Wayback Machine. Imow.org. Retrieved on 7 October 2011.
- Naked Ploy Is Latest Threat in Oil Wars Archived 2012-07-11 at the Wayback Machine. Commondreams.org (2002-07-31). Retrieved on 7 October 2011.
- Leymah Gbowee and Abigail Disney Shoot for Peace in Liberia. Oprah.com. Retrieved on 7 October 2011.
- "Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen - PBS". Retrieved 23 March 2015.
- "The Ivory Coast Effect" (article). The New Yorker. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- Kraushaar 2015.
- Moatshe, Rapula (19 January 2016). "ANC women bare bottoms in protest". Pretoria News. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
- Nair, Monica (15 November 2011). "Morristown transgender woman says she went topless to make a statement". WATE.com. Knoxville, TN. Archived from the original on 2012-01-20.
- Wong, Curtis (2011-11-16). "Andrea Jones, Tennessee Transgender Woman, Goes Topless In DMV Protest (VIDEO)". Huffington Post.
- Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (2 June 2017). "Naked feminists stage screaming protest for violence against women". Metro. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
- Smith, Charlie (7 February 2017). "Snffy the Rat artist plans a naked walk in downtown Vancouver". The Georgia Straight. Vancouver, Canada. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Griffin, Kevin (10 February 2017). "ART SEEN: Performance art protest gets cheeky in downtown Vancouver". Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, Canada. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- "Critical Tits Party FAQs". www.criticaltits.com. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- "Manifestación Ciclonudista". 4 April 2004. Archived from the original on 4 April 2004.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Fearless … and topless: Femen activists to bring 'sextremism' to the UK, theguardian.com (19 October 2013)
- Femen wants to move from public exposure to political power, Kyiv Post (April 28, 2010)
- High voter turnout in snow, cold shows triumph of democracy, Kyiv Post (January 21, 2010)
- Ukraine protest over NZ 'win a wife' competition prize, BBC News (2 March 2011)
- Ukraine feminists protest ‘Win a Wife’ competition, Khaleej Times (1 March 2011)
- FEMEN, Organisations MySpace page
- How they protest prostitution in Ukraine, France 24 (August 28, 2009)
- Ukrainian women activists protest against Saknieh execution, Euronews (November 4, 2010)
- FEMEN coverage on Kyiv Post, Kyiv Post (May 22, 2009)
- Exclusive Interview with FEMEN, (December 22, 2010)
- "Ukraine's topless protesters gain fame". USATODAY.COM. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
- Ukraine's topless group widens political role, Reuters (November 15, 2010)
- Topless protesters gain fame in Ukraine The Washington Post (November 19, 2010)
- Keywords: FEMEN, UNIAN
FEMEN takes its act to Paris, Kyiv Post (1 November 2011)
FEMEN participate in Berlusconi protests, Kyiv Post (2 November 2011)
Huffington Post: FEMEN, Ukrainian women's rights group, protests Russian election, Kyiv Post (9 December 2011)
Ukraine topless activists raise SOS from Belarus, Kyiv Post (20 December 2011)
Turkey acts to better protect women from abuse, Kyiv Post (9 March 2012)
- Naked Protesters Draw Attention at Moscow Polling Station, The Wall Street Journal (4 March 2012)
- (in Ukrainian) Femen: "Ми даємо чиновникам і політикам, проср...тися", Табло ID (September 20, 2010)
- (in Russian) Бюст героев, Kommersant (September 20, 2010)
- "Feminist group take topless protest to Davos". The Telegraph. 28 January 2012.
- Femen in Paris: Ukraine's Topless Warriors Move West, The Atlantic (2 January 2013)
- Ukraine's Femen:Topless protests 'help feminist cause', BBC News (23 October 2012)
- "gays hombres bisexuales fotos contactos at". Urbanudismo.com. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "Association pour la promotion du naturisme en liberté". APNEL. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "NAKed and acTIVe - Welcome to the Naktiv website - here to promote Naked Activities!". Naktiv.net. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Morton, Robert. "Naturist Action Committee". naturistaction.org.
- "Naked woman facing public lewdness charges after walking into two New York stores". New York Post. 17 May 2012.
- David Lohr (18 May 2012). "Barbara Lafleur's Naked Shopping Spree Attracts The Eyes Of The Law (VIDEO)". Huffington Post.
- In October 2006, the party was dissolved, as announced by party Secretary and parliamentary candidate Sylvia Else: "NLP winding up." (Topic), in aus.culture.naturist at Google Groups
- "One man's nakedness ambition". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Broekstra, Robbert (1997). Nude World. Internaturally. ISBN 978-0-9636805-2-5.
- Anita & Wolfgang Gramer. "Nackt und aktiv, Bücher über nackte Menschen in der Öffentlichkeit". Nacktiv.de. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Millward, David (2001-01-11). "Buff justice as naked artist is cleared by jury". London: Telegraph. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Judd, Terri (2001-01-11). "Nudist campaigner walks from court a free (and naked) man - This Britain, UK". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "UK | Nudist 'not a public nuisance'". BBC News. 2001-01-10. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Tania Branigan (2001-01-11). "Injustice laid bare by naked campaigner | UK news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "report in University of Edinburgh School of Law's Scots Law News". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13.
- "Topfree Equal Rights Association". www.tera.ca.
- "Swedes fight for topless rights". Metro.co.uk. November 19, 2007.
- Victory for topless bathers Article from The Local
- "Topløs svømning har altid været tilladt". Politiken. 19 December 2009.
- Mon corps si je veux, quand je veux, comme il est Archived 2012-03-25 at the Wayback Machine Tumultueuses website
- "Des féministes enlèvent le haut dans une piscine à Paris". L'Obs. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
- Carr-Gomm, Philip (2010). A brief history of nakedness. London: Reaktion. ISBN 1861896476.
- Lunceford, Brett (2012). Naked politics : nudity, political action, and the rhetoric of the body. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. ISBN 073916709X.
- Nude & Natural Takin' It to the Streets: The Cutting Edge of Naturism by Mark Storey, 23.4: 73, Summer 2004. Mark claims "The future of naturism is on public lands. To gain naturist freedoms on public lands will require getting naked in public".
- Nude & Natural The Offense of Public Nudity by Mark Storey
- Nude & Natural Naturism and Civil Disobedience by Mark Storey
- Nude & Natural The Bethell Approach: A Protest Colloquy/The Bethell Approach: Is the Time for Mass Nude Protests Upon Us? 21.2 Winter 2002. Includes statements by Vincent Bethell, Mark Nisbet, Cec Cinder, Paul Rapoport, Les Rootsey, Morley Schloss, T.A. Wyner, and Mark Storey.
- Nude & Natural (N), Guerilla Nudity/Wave Makers: Introducing the Body Freedom Collaborative by Mark Storey. Issue 23.1, Autumn 2003.
- Nude & Natural (N), Terri Sue Webb: An American Bethell/Beyond Safe Havens: Oregon's Terri Sue Webb ":: Naked Media Alliance". Bodyfreedom.org. Archived from the original on 2010-10-26. Retrieved 2010-09-01. by Daniel Lorenz Johnson. San Francisco's Nude Skate Dude: How a naked roller put body freedom on wheels. Issue 21.3: pp. 24–28, Spring 2002.
- Kraushaar, Wolfgang (March 2015). "The Globalisation of the Naked Protest". Digital Development Debates. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Exposed and stark naked -- on purpose: But not all nudists support 'guerrilla' plans for prominent public exposure, by P-I reporter Kathy George, April 7, 2003. George, Kathy (2003-04-07). "Exposed and stark naked - on purpose". Seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Trio behind the arts: Three activists put on an eye-opening display yesterday by taking most of their clothes off at the Fremont Fresh Art Festival, by P-I reporter Kathy George, 16 June 2003 Front page of local section, with color picture George, Kathy (2003-06-16). "Trio behind the arts". Seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Fisher, Mark (29 March 2019). "The shock of the nude: Brazil's stark new form of political protest". the Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- Being Human A film by Lisa Seidenberg, 31 minutes, 2003 Metro Video
- Taboo - 40 Years of Censorship. Part 1 of 4: Shock of the Nude; BBC2 Television series ran at 9:50 pm (40 mins). Aired Wednesday, 21 November 2001.
Videos and pictures
- 30 minute documentary by Johnny Zapatos (High Altitude Films) of the first World Naked Bike Ride to take place on the streets of London (4 parts)
- Pictures of the World Naked Bike Ride on Flickr
- You Never Bike Alone - Feature documentary includes section on WNBR history
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nudity in demonstrations and protests.|
- Skin-Freedom activism - Stop Racist Human Skin Phobia.
- Naked Protest blog
- World Naked Bike Ride official site – general information and other resources
- World Naked Bike Ride wiki site Archived 2008-07-24 at the Wayback Machine – lists upcoming and past events, provides information for joining existing and creating new rides
- BBC article about Steve Gough following his first successful walk.
- BBC article about Steve Gough following his second successful walk.
- University of Edinburgh, School of Law, Scots Law News has many references to Gough.
- UrbaNudista YouTube Video