On Nudity With Politics


At the turn of the first millennium Lady Godiva rode naked through the streets of Coventry to demonstrate the sincerity of her convictions; namely that her husband Leofric, the earl of Mercia, was overtaxing his peasants. In an act of defiance, she demonstrated that her body, stripped of all modern coverings was a powerful socio-political tool. Lady Godiva, strikingly beautiful and confident, is rumoured to have caused the first voyeur (aptly named Tom) to become instantly blind and in certain extreme cases of the legend die on the spot, so overcome is he with the intoxicating loveliness of her naked body as she rode astride her horse through the town square.

While this is perhaps not the first case of nudity being used to further subversive political views, it is certainly one of the widest circulated legends on the matter. What’s especially interesting to note is that Lady Godiva is by no means presented in a promiscuous light, or even a particularly sexual one (remember that this is the early 1000s and thus this is quite an event onto itself). To a certain extent she stripped her body of its sexuality while using it as a political vessel. What I mean to say is that Lady Godiva’s act of contrition was one in which her role as a woman and her sexuality came secondary to her beliefs (although, the blind Tom might argue this point, having lost quite an important sense at her unwitting hands… or breasts).

I love the idea of nudity and sexuality as a form of political protest. Stripping down for a cause is daring, original and extremely effective. The animal right’s activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has more that once demonstrated it’s willingness to “bare skin rather than wear skin” and whether or not you agree with them and their occasionally aggressive tactics you have to admit that when Pamela Anderson goes topless in front of a store-front you sit up and take notice. PETA takes sexuality as a form of protest one step further in their “State of the Union Undress” in which a radiant young woman outlines PETA’s past and present goals while slowly removing her clothing until she stands, wonderfully naked, in front of the camera. All this goes to prove that nudity and intelligence do not necessarily have to cancel each other out.

In case you go looking for PETA’s “State of the Union Undress” you won’t find it on YouTube, it was banned due to the nudity. Also, just so you know directly after she gets naked you see a bunch of injured animals, so if that’s not your thing you might want to skip that.
P.S. note the old men cheering her on

Watch more PETA videos at PETATV.com.



3 Responses to “On Nudity With Politics”

  1. Amy Says:

    There is nothing shameful or ‘wrong’ about being naked; I believe that women—and men—should have the choice to use their own bodies as political statements. In today’s tabloid-style media it’s the racy, provocative ads that get the attention, so power to PETA for being saavy enough to get their message seen and heard!

  2. Jehan Says:

    i absolutely agree with you Amy, thanks for your intelligent comment.

  3. Sandwich Repairman Says:

    There shouldn’t be any problem with public nudity, but I don’t think this tactic would carry much efficacy in Montreal. Having studied social movements and protest tactics at McGill, I think a bunch of nude people in Montreal would just be called “Friday”.

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