Friday, April 28, 2006

Nude No Nukes

The wave of nude protests around the world has caught the attention of Taiwan's environmental groups. In order to underline their protests against nuclear energy - Taiwan has three nuclear plants and is building a fourth - the environmentalists want to go nude. That is to say, they've recorded a video which includes a naked woman, shown from the back, with a slogan painted over her body.
Yet this modest form of nude protest has attracted negative publicity, with critics saying they are using women as objects. In order to reject those charges, Taiwan's Environmental Protection Alliance is holding a news conference on Sunday, April 30, to defend their case. The group will show recordings of other nude protests overseas, and try and convince critics that they're wrong, that nude protest is not shameful, and has a long history.
The group has joined forces with gender activist Josephine Ho, a wellknown professor and defender of minorities of a sexual nature. The choice of Ho might not be so positive from a public relation angle, since she has often been linked to practices that are hardly acceptable to Taiwanese at large. It would've been better if the environmentalists had been able to team up with a local naturist movement, but unfortunately, as readers of this blog know, there is no such thing as a strong, organized movement for non-sexual nudity in Taiwan. Let's hope the news conference gets positive coverage, because if Taiwan learns to live with nude protests, it is also likely to be more accepting of naturism.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Naturist Pictures in Newspaper

Two women lying on a sandy beach, the waves in the background. Lying on their back. Completely naked. Until recently, such a picture would have at least some fuzzy patches to hide the offending body parts. But not so in Taiwan's United Daily News on page E7 on April 21. Maybe the reason is that the picture is not part of a news story about a nude protest, or a theater piece. The picture just counts as art. It's part of a series of pictures from photographer Ko Hsi-chieh, and is simply titled "The Benefits of Nudity." The caption doesn't even say where the picture was taken. I looked first for a story with background about the picture, maybe an introduction to the beach where this was taken, or a piece about naturism, but there was nothing, just the picture, the name of the photographer, and the title.
In any event, the presence of a picture of naturists without any sensation, in the family supplement of a major Taiwanese newspaper, just one page ahead of travel reports, is to me personally a major breakthrough for non-sexual, naturist nudity in the Taiwanese media. This picture was presented as art, not as titillation, and its presence could lead more readers to think about naturism as a simple, enjoyable travel activity.
Other nudity in the news here in Taiwan has been strictly non-naturist and rather traditional: TV showing footage of Mexican villagers protesting naked, with all the 'offending' bits made unclear, and a legislator showing off semi-nude pictures from a gay magazine to the prime minister to protest against the tough treatment of the censors given to such publications.
In the meantime, as I found out when walking along the river this morning, summer has arrived. Temperatures above 30 degrees look like becoming the rule again in Taiwan, great weather for sleeping in the nude, as I am doing now every day, but also to launch naturist activities. When, if not now?