“The naked body serves as a political canvas to express a message.” — Gisela Perez de Ancha
Prior to encountering activists in the top free movement, I never considered my unclothed body as a political tool. Initially, my clothes free life was something that I only engaged at home for the sake of my own comfort and happiness. Then, I stepped out and took part in clothes free social activities at various locations in the United States. Although I was in the company of others in those settings, I still saw my clothes freedom as something individual and private, especially since those resorts were private and far removed from major areas.
As I dive deeper into research on women and clothes freedom, I see that women around the world are engaging clothes freedom or top freedom to champion political, social and economic issues. In my first installment of Women on Wednesdays, for instance, I discussed how women in the Middle East and North Africa have engaged their top free bodies and clothes free bodies to promote freedom, equality and secularism.
Over the past few days, I have learned of instances where women in Peru and Mexico have engaged top freedom to protest a variety of causes. In Peru, some of top free protests within the past 2 years have taken place over issues such as the decriminalization of abortion with the chant “”Déjala decidir” or “let her decide,” forced pregnancies for victims of rape, and even to protest traffic problems and promote the usage of bicycles. In one case from Mexico, women engaged in a top free protest to speak up about the disappearance of 43 students and a kind of culture of “mass graves.”
One article, “Naked protesters bare all in Mexico,” authored by Tim Rogers, stood out to me as an interesting post on top free protesting in Mexico. In this piece Rogers highlights the efforts of Mexico lawyer and activitist Gisela Perez de Ancha. There are many thought-provoking points in this piece, but one thing that struck me about Perez de Ancha was how she critically considered whether her actions supported the cause at hand or drew attention away from it. For example, she mentions a time when she let her focus wane and resorted to writing things that confused the audience and rendered the protest meaningless.Such critical reflection shows that she is really thinking about the effectiveness of her actions in the context of the political, social and economic causes she and others champion.
So often, when we talk about women’s participation in clothes free life / naturism, we place it in the context of activities at private resorts and beaches. While these certainly are important considerations, I am also seeing that in some places around the world, women are very interested in engaging their top freedom to support specific political, social and economic issues in public spaces. It also appears that there is more activity around top freedom than clothes freedom in some regions, which is another interesting trend I might look at in more depth at another point.
Although women in Peru and Mexico engage their top freedom around political causes, this does not mean that they are not also concerned with issues of body image, body positivism, sexism, reclaiming the body, etc. In his piece, Rogers notes that “for Perez de Acha, topless protest is liberating and empowering. She says getting naked is about claiming ownership of her body and challenging machista gender norms that allow men to go topless in public but not women.” Perez de Ancha further states, as quoted in Rogers’ piece, “We have a right to be naked; it’s not erotic, it’s political.”
“We have a right to be naked; it’s not erotic, it’s political.”
At the same time, Rogers’ piece notes that “Perez de Acha says she has had a hard time recruiting other feminists to join her movement because many Mexican feminists view FEMEN as a type of neocolonialism — a ‘pretty white girl’ protest tactic that has no place in Mexican tradition.” Some women felt that the protests were simply perpetuating certain kinds of beauty standards given the age and physical makeup of the majority of women participating in the protests. In addition, these kinds of protests just did not seem organic to Mexican culture and tradition for some women.
If anything, what I am seeing is that there are so many aspects and layers to the questions of whether, how and why women participate in clothes freedom or top freedom. Looking at these examples from Peru and Mexico was truly educational as it showed me how women engage clothes freedom or top freedom for political, social and economic causes while, at the same time, negotiating a number of personal and collective concerns around body image, body positivism and culture. Within one region we can look at it from so many sides, seeing both the public affair in the form of a protest in the street against forced pregnancies while also seeing those who aren’t in the streets, given the physical makeup of most protest participants as well as the opinion that the protests don’t reflect their traditions.
The practice of engaging our clothes freedom can be incredibly political and public and it can be very private and personal, and women all around the world are approaching these considerations in a variety of ways.
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