Opinion: Nude protesting, not always suitable



Bruce Walton

Bruce Walton

Bruce Walton is a sophomore news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

I saw on the news earlier this week that, while Russian president Vladimir Putin was visiting Germany, some of its citizens were protesting Putin for his new anti-gay laws. I was proud when I saw this, but I had a problem with one particular protest.

At an industrial fair with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, Putin was being shown around the floor in front of a press photo shoot when several women ran in topless with offensive writing on their chests and backs and attempted to attack him. Those women were also protesting his anti-gay agenda. Other than causing a good laugh and making some teenagers’ afternoon, I fail to see how this helped at all.

I recall when nude protesters gathered at John Boehner’s office in protest of his agenda against gay marriage, and of course you remember PETA’s “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign. I was very upset because I keep seeing this go around, and I hate it when women or men use sex or nudity as a cheap ploy for media attention.

Nudity and protesting go back to 1914 and has been used mostly as a way to gain high media attention. But I fail to see how anything can be remembered from a protest or demonstration when everyone is naked. In recent protests, it has been mostly women who put themselves in this state, and it just seems counterproductive.

Women’s rights activists didn’t burn bras for people to know they weren’t wearing a bra; they burned bras because it was a symbol of a patriarchal society’s hold and restraint on women’s freedoms.

I mostly don’t understand how topless women charging at a homophobic, heterosexual man would make Putin realize he was doing something people didn’t want. Naked men would have been better. I watched the video, and when the women came at him he had a little smirk on his face and this playful look. He thought it was funny, because it was a complete joke.

However, there are some circumstances when nudity in protesting is actually very effective and still holds a message to it. The controversial issue of whether rape is the victim’s fault if she was dressed inappropriately — implying that she was “asking for it” — sparked a protest of women marching in underwear, in ripped dresses and even completely nude, holding up signs saying “Still not asking for it.” This was a perfect example of a nude protest that I can agree with, but they are used much more frequently now for almost anything.

I can understand that nude protesting gets a lot of attention, but that’s not the attention that anyone needs for their cause. This also builds a bad reputation for organizations who use nude protesting more than once. I don’t think it’s because nudity is bad, but if you had to get naked to get attention every time you had to prove a point, I’d start to ignore you.

The topless protest in Germany got attention for all the wrong reasons and won’t be remembered for the message. For any organization looking to find more media attention, reconsider nude protesting, because if you were to have something to say, people there wouldn’t listen; they’d just stare and point and laugh.