Monday, February 23, 2009

Malaysia: The Victim Resigns

Should a politician whose nude pictures have been published, resign?
The answer is no, in a case when A-the pictures have nothing to do with sex, B-the pictures are not illegal, and C-the pictures were distributed without the knowledge of the politician.
That's exactly what happened in Malaysia this month with Elizabeth Wong, a human rights campaigner and promising member of parliament for the opposition.
Her boyfriend took pictures of her sleeping at home without clothes on - just like thousands or millions of people around the world - but when he was her boyfriend no more he distributed the pictures by cellphone to harm her.
The result: Elizabeth Wong resigned. Of course she shouldn't have. She was only sleeping at home. If there is any 'moral outrage,' it should be directed not at her for doing something so completely normal, but at the former boyfriend for grossly invading her privacy.
Many Malaysian media have luckily come to her support, showing that the upside down morals of some are not generally accepted. Nevertheless, she resigned, completely unnecessarily. In a blow to human rights, privacy, and non-sexual nudity and personal freedom.
You can read Elizabeth Wong's own side of the story at

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Taiwan Nude Nurses

If you search for those three terms at Yahoo!, is what you get. No titillating story, just a news report about how conservative Taiwanese authorities really get when it comes to nudity.
And here we're not talking about real nudity, just the hint of it. The pictures actually showed the faces and upper body of the four nurses in one of those typical huge streetside ads you see all over Taiwan. None of the supposedly 'offensive' body parts were on show.
The origin of the story, according to the Taiwanese media, is that the pictures were made to 'help the four nurses find boyfriends.' They were not made without their knowledge, and they were not sexual in nature. So there was nothing inherently wrong with those pictures.
The only thing that was wrong, was that the clinic apparently failed to ask its four employees for their permission, and that the ad violated a ban on advertising for clinics. So if the clinic is fined and the ad removed for that reason, there is nothing wrong. But it seems too much like reactions focused on the nurses being nude - even if offscreen - and that conservative thinking about non-sexual nudity was behind the outcry. And that shows what is still so wrong about attitudes toward the human body in Taiwan and other Asian societies.
Partial nudity with young women gyrating in outlandish outfits at car, furniture and computer game shows is alright, but non-sexual honest nudity is wrong.