Jewish World Review March 28, 2003 / 24 Adar II, 5763

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Bare facts on protesters | From time to time, there are things in this world that I have difficulty understanding. Naked protests would be among them.

I was at an Internet news site when I clicked on a story about an anti-war protest and there appeared a short story accompanied by a big picture of naked protestors, wearing nothing but their birthday suits. There might be a time in one's life when this sort of thing could make a dramatic visual statement, but in this case many of the birthday suits had aged considerably and needed a good steam pressing.

Might we consider that nude protests have an unintended consequence of actually detracting from the message? The spectacle of naked men and women marching with signs does not make me want to call my representative and engage in serious dialog. The spectacle makes me want to get back on the Atkins diet.

I must be in the minority, however, as nude protests are increasing in world popularity. In Australia, 750 women shed their clothes to form a heart around the words "No War." Cute. Apparently the happy face idea didn't get enough votes. So there they are, posed in the shape of a heart, and I'm wondering, didn't they realize that no one on the ground could see what they created? The only way to see what they made would have been to hover 200 hundred feet above ground, which is why they hired an aerial photographer. And yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, or 750 nude women, but it still seems like a lot of nakedness for naught.

In another nude protest, people arranged themselves in the shape of a peace sign on a beach and had an aerial photograph made. The lettering was nice, but all those tiny bodies wedged in the sand looked like small fish you'd pull out of a bucket of bait. That got me to thinking about fishing and the next thing I knew I was thinking about Minnesota and my mind was nowhere near the war issue; proving once again, nudity may not be the most effective form of protest.

In Santiago, Chile, people bared all in a protest at the government palace. Almost all. Women marched three abreast with purses slung over their shoulders, proving there are some things even a nude protester will not part with.

In New York City, about 30 women scrambled into the heart of Central Park, stripped bare amid a heavy snowfall and spelled out "No Bush." They left before spelling out "Brrrrrrr."

In Vancouver, British Columbia, an organizer of about 50 naked anti-war protesters said he hoped their bare bottoms wouldn't overshadow a serious message. Overshadowed? I don't think so. Try grossly overexposed.

An interesting legal aside comes from Oregon, where naked protestors paraded down the main street in Ashland carrying "Buns not bombs" signs. A police officer said the town has an indecent exposure law, but it has to do with making a sexual display, not general nudity. He said these protestors were exhibiting "garden variety nakedness," which is not illegal. That's probably important to know in the event you decide to march in the buff somewhere. When the police come to arrest you, be sure to tell them hands off as yours is the "garden variety nudity." Probably wouldn't hurt if you had a trowel, packet of seeds and some jersey gloves handy, too.

There are no signs that these nude protests will be disappearing anytime soon. Even so, it's not a trend I care to get behind. Or in front of either.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman