A while back I wrote A Brief History of Nakedness. In its first section I explore the topic in religion and spirituality. Most of the historical material on this topic – the theories and practices – were advanced by men. In the second section I explore the political dimension, in which nakedness is used for protest. Interestingly it is now the women who play the pioneering role. From the legendary Lady Godiva protesting about taxes to the ‘Breasts not Bombs’ movement against the Iraq war, through to the Femen movement, it is women who have led the way in using the naked body as a means of drawing attention to important issues.
The latest chapter in this story is occurring right now with Cambridge academic Dr Victoria Bateman appearing naked in public to express her dismay at the lunatic behaviour of the British politicians who seem determined to undermine democracy by ignoring the lies that were told to obtain a ‘Leave’ vote in the Brexit referendum, the Russian attempts to sow confusion, and the fact that it was in reality a minority of the adult population who voted to leave (so much for the sickening refrain: ‘We must obey the will of the people’!) Our friends abroad look upon us in dismay as they watch us wilfully self-harming.
Dr Bateman joins a long line of brave women who dare to use their own bodies to try to make people come to their senes. “Brexit is the emperor’s new clothes… ” she says, “Britain has sold itself a project that cannot possibly deliver on what it promised. Britain faces many, many problems right now from housing to the NHS, and the European Union is not the cause of those problems.” read more.
The usual argument is that such behaviour is exhibitionism. John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme suggested this. Dr Bateman’s reply: “I am completely comfortable with my own body, I view women’s bodies as one of the big battlegrounds that we face today and actually by engaging with society about women’s bodies, one of the things it shows is the way in which people are quick to judge women purely based on their bodies. For thousands of years men have controlled what women can do with their bodies, and women’s bodies have been seen as something purely existing for sex and for babies. So what is wrong with a modern-day woman taking control of her body and using it to give voice to what is the most depressing political subject in Britain right now?” She has invited Jacob Rees-Mogg to debate with her naked, but I doubt he has the balls.
Watch Dr Bateman talk to the BBC through this link.