Activism

11 Best Nude Protests

These people are making their voices heard through their naked bodies.

As we’ve written about before (See “7 Weirdest Uses for Boobs”), the world is no stranger to a naked protest. And while using naked bodies to capture media attention isn’t exactly  novel, the ways some individuals have used nudity to fight for their causes, ideals, and beliefs is certainly provocative. Read on to learn how people have tried to “stick it to the man” using only sheer determination and their birthday suits.

Strippers protest church for protesting strippers

Who doesn’t love a good counter-protest? Dancers at The Foxhole, a strip club in Ohio, recently grew tired of New Beginnings Ministries church protesting their establishment for the last nine years, and in turn decided to protest the church topless. According to the Coshocton Tribune, the owner of The Foxhole, George, was fed up with church-goers calling the dancers names, harassing customers, and even taking photos and videos of their license plates. So he organized 30 of the dancers to protest in the buff and give the church a taste of its own medicine during one recent Sunday service.

"We want to let (church members) know how it feels to be under scrutiny," George said. "They come up every weekend. They're very abusive and certainly not Christian-like, not what I read in my Bible. I have to point out the hypocrisy I see and not stand by and let this go on week in and week out."

The pastor of New Beginnings said he plans to keep protesting The Foxhole until it goes out of business, and George said he plans to protest the church for the “foreseeable future.” So who knows when the other stiletto will drop?

Strippers protest their right to strip

When locals violently demanded that the 32 strip bars and brothels in El Alto, Bolivia shut down, around 50 sex workers threatened to march naked in the streets until the bars were reopened. The women also went on a hunger strike in response to the shutdowns, and according to Reuters, 10 of the sex workers sewed their lips together in protest.

"It's not only us owners and the sex workers who are affected, there are thousands of waiters, cooks, bartenders, taxi drivers and street vendors who will be without income," said Ramiro Orellana, spokesman for the business group.

Perhaps the strangest part of this scenario is that prostitution is legal in Bolivia, and regulated.

Cops hire strippers to protest working conditions

In lighter news, police officers in Valencia, Spain decided to bring attention to their “deplorable” working conditions (including old guns and vests, out of date equipment, and lack of vehicles) by hiring strippers and go-go dancers to join them on the picket line. The strippers, according to The Local, were hired to visually illustrate the cops’ lack of uniforms.

The cops took to the streets after four officers sustained minor injuries due to a 17-year-old van’s brake problems. Despite their efforts of grinning and baring it, the cops’ pleas were ultimately dismissed. “An official said the city's local police force had ‘everything it needs to carry out its duty.’”

Protesting against sexism

Speaking of baring it, when Brazilian university student Geysi Arruda was expelled for wearing a short dress to school, her fellow students and supporters (over 250, according to reports) decided to protest the university’s sexist policy by stripping down themselves. Brazilian students at the Universidade Bandeirante outside of Sao Paulo went to class naked or wearing very little in order to take a stand against Arruda’s supposed crime of “flagrant disrespect of ethical principles, academic dignity, and morality.” Arruda spent some minor time in the spotlight, and then transferred to a (hopefully more progressive) school to finish her studies.

Protesting the notion that boobs cause earthquakes

In 2010, Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi claimed that scantily-clad women were responsible for earthquakes: "Many women who do not dress modestly...lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

Sluts just never rest, do they? One tireless woman, Jennifer McCreight, decided to fight this baffling statement with an immodest proposal, which she called Boobquake. Breastivities included women all over the world flooding the internet with pictures of cleavage and wearing immodest clothing for one day in order to determine if any seismic activity occurred. Of course it did, armageddon occurred, and you’re undoubtedly reading this from some kind of lunar module on Mars.

McCreight said the aim of Boobquake was not “serious activism that is going to revolutionize women's rights, but just a bit of fun juvenile humor." Still the Boobquake phenomenon became a kind of activism. McCreight sold tank tops to benefit the Red Cross and JREF. She also encouraged supporters to donate to the AHA Foundation, an organization that strives to "defend the rights of women in the West against militant Islam."

Farmers protest using cow’s udders

Speaking of boobs (kind of), another unusual protest involving mammaries entailed some irate farmers in Brussels. According to the Telegraph, 2,500 farmers from all over the EU protested falling milk prices by blockading roads with tractors, lighting tires and hay bales on fire, spreading manure, and the coup de (mardi) gras, spraying cops with milk right from the cows’ udders. Despite their, uh, ingenuity, the farmers ultimately failed. “The farmers' major demand -- limiting production through quotas to drive up prices -- met with no success. EU officials said they still intend to gradually create freer markets for European farm products.” But let’s not have a cow about it, okay farmers?

Protesting climate change

in 2007, 600 “wear-nothing” protesters sent a “chilling message” to “do-nothing politicians” by stripping down to their birthday suits on a glacier in order to combat the effects of global warming. The protest was part of an installation by artist Spencer Tunick, and according to Greenpeace, the project noted (in one of the punniest articles on climate change ever written): “Without clothes, the human body is vulnerable, exposed, its life or death at the whim of the elements. Global warming is stripping away our glaciers and leaving our entire planet vulnerable to extreme weather, floods, sea-level rise, global decreases in carrying capacity and agricultural production, fresh water shortages, disease and mass human dislocations.”

The article warned that if global warming continued at its rate, there would be no glaciers left in Switzerland by 2080. An icy prospect, indeed.

 

Stripping to protest high gas prices, more bike lanes, and to stop deforestation

Few of us relish the thought of paying more at the pump, and one man in Germany chose to make his displeasure known by filling up only in pumps (okay, technically black shoes). According to the Australian Times, “Staff said they would not file a complaint with police as the naked protest had not made staff feel threatened -- and added they were not exactly sure if it was a crime as the petrol station was private property.”

In a similar spirit to the World Naked Bike ride, cyclists in Peru protested in the buff in order to secure more bike lanes from the city government, and to demand more respect from motorists in general. Viva bush!

And though he only took his shirt off, who doesn’t love a topless Harrison Ford protest? The Hollywood heartthrob also Indiana-joneses to protect the rainforest, and shaved his chest on TV in order to call attention to the dangerous greenhouse gases emitted when forests are burned. “It hurts…every little bit of rainforest that gets ripped out over there,” Ford told Access Hollywood.

Stripping to protest censorship

In a move that makes a lot more sense than waxing-as-rainforest-metaphor (not that we’re complaining, Harrison!), Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s daughter, Scout Willis, protested Instagram’s anti-nudity policy by walking topless through New York streets. She documented her protest with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple, and wrote things like: "Legal in NYC but not on @instagram," and "What @instagram won't let you see."

Instagram’s policy states that “Accounts found sharing nudity or mature content will be disabled and your access to Instagram may be discontinued.”

Despite her toplessness, Willis received ample support from fans, who tweeted things like "True inspiration to all women #equality.”

Canadians protest surveillance camera by mooning it

In 2009, between 100-300 Canadian protesters dropped trou in order to protest a U.S. surveillance balloon floating nearby. According to The Globe and Mail, the balloon held a $1 million camera that “is sensitive enough to read the name of a ship from about 14 kilometers away.” The protesters considered the balloon an invasion of sovereignty and privacy and “reared up” to show their ire. "The issue's been brought up,” said, Eli, one of the protesters, and presumably his pants were brought up too. “And hopefully something's going to be done about it." We hope Eli keeps reaching for the moon.

Man goes nude to protest potholes

Last but not least (amount of nudity), residents in Saskatchewan, upset over road conditions in their town of Leader, took off their clothes, got in canoes, and posed inside the town’s main roads’ potholes. The naked canoeists kicked up a row when they put together a calendar in 2006 that aimed to show the provincial government how bad the roads had become. “All to no avail, frankly,” said one resident. Though the naked protest may have failed, we’re sure they succeeded in rocking the boat at least a little.

Anna Pulley writes about sex and queerness. Find more at annapulley.com

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