Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Nude Protest, Taiwan Style

Taiwan had another of its nude protests today. Unfortunately, unless you live in Taiwan, you're highly unlikely to ever hear of it, let alone see it. Yes, Taiwan's TV stations and evening newspaper had short reports and limited footage about the action, but it hardly shook up the island.
As on previous occasions, this nude protest was staged by a professor and his students with environmental pollution as the target. But otherwise, the protest was hardly a major happening.
First, it was staged in Taihsi, a town most Taiwanese have never been to, in Yunlin County, in the south of the country, far away from the national capital and media center, Taipei. Most local media, and certainly the international media, will not send a news team down there unless there's a major accident or natural disaster.
Second, the footage seemed to reveal there were five participants in the protest. Yes, you read that, five people went naked against pollution.
Third, the five men - no women - spend some time in the water, with the water up to their waist, holding up placards saying that pollution would turn Taihsi into another New Orleans. Necessary hyperbole to get media attention? Hardly, almost a laughable comparison.
This nude protest is not going to achieve anything more than previous protests have. People will read about it in the paper, shake their head, and continue their daily lives.
If a nude protest is going to make any impact, it will have to be larger, more concentrated, and at the right place.
You'll need not five, not a dozen, but dozens, preferably over a hundred people in various stages of undress, and yes, women as well as men. All the protesters will have to stand together, to create an event of Spencer Tunick scale - you know, the American photographer who has crowds of people pose nude in the streets of a world city - and more important, you will have the protesters gather at a central location where media coverage is certain.
And in Taiwan, I know only two places that would be perfect for such a protest: the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, with its huge plaza familiar with tourists as well as regular protesters, and Ketagalan Boulevard, the wide avenue in front of the Presidential Office Building, the scene of many protests in 2004.
But in the end, my personal opinion is that nudity is not really a protest weapon. It will shock some people and bring attention to the cause, or rather the protesters, but nudity should not shock. Nudity is human, and I'd much rather relax nude on a beach, sunbathe on my terrace, and do sports in the nude, rather than be walking around in the middle of a hot city.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

INF Congress 2006

It looks like I'm going to have to miss the next world congress of the International Naturist Federation, unless I win the lotto. Just joking there, but because of my fulltime job and other obligations, I will not have enough time off to allow me to travel to Spain in early September for the congress. The meeting takes place from September 7 thru 10 at El Portus, in Eastern Spain, on the Mediterranean Coast.
My other plans, which include food and fashion, are to take me home to other parts of Europe, and to Sicily in particular, probably in June or July. I'm not too sure how naturism-friendly that beautiful island is, but I would assume not too much. If my assumptions are wrong, I would still be able to spend at least a short time of my holiday practicing naturism.
Otherwise, I'll have to rely on old Taiwan. The past six days saw the Chinese New Year, the major holiday period of the year on this island. The first few days were rather miserable, with lots of rain, but later on, the weather turned to a real spring holiday, with fog interfering only in the early morning and late evening. Still, because of the absence of public naturist grounds, the only place where I've been completely nude lately is my home.
My resolution for the new year - Chinese or otherwise - should be to finally get working on my TINA idea - my plan to set up a naturist organization for foreigners in Taiwan named the Taiwan International Naturist Association. Because of the legal situation, it will be impossible to register it with the authorities, but at least it could exist in name and in fact, on the ground.
Turning from foreigners to Asians, the latest proof that there is a "market" for naturism in this part of the world is provided by the forums at, where a number of Malaysian naturists have been posting lately. Staying there, the International Naturist Association has changed its official name to Clothes Free International, Inc., but that's a story you have to go and read at their web site.