In defence of nude protest

Dim-witted idiocy or revolutionary?


In defence of nude protest
by Maryam Namazie

Azar Majedi of the Organisation of Women’s Liberation - Iran has attacked the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar and supporting video of Iranian women as being similar to the tabloids (namely the Sun’s page 3), ‘dim-witted idiocy’ and ‘buffoonery’ and Golshifteh Farahani’s nudity as ‘commercial’ whilst supporting Egyptian blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy’s nudity. In her attacks in Persian and English, she has characterised the calendar and supporting video as ‘absurd caricatures’ of Aliaa’s nudity.

Her attack is a masterpiece in dishonesty, hypocrisy, and regressive politics. Let me explain.

Whilst Islamists often portray their vile politics as a prescription for the debasement of women in western societies (i.e. against the Sun’s page 3), their image of women is very much the same as the pornographic one. Ironically, Azar’s ‘arguments’ against the calendar reveal a deep-seated disdain for female nudity not very different from the tabloids and rooted in the religious/Islamist point of view she claims to oppose.

Her accusation that we are ‘playing into the hands of those [sexists] we claim to fight against’ is disturbingly similar to the accusations that Aliaa’s nudity plays into the hands of Islamists.

Clearly, when you are faced with an Islamic movement that considers you to be worth half of a man and demands that you be bound, gagged, veiled, and segregated, then nudity becomes an important form of resistance and dissent as well as solidarity.

Nudity is the antithesis of veiling. Of course it is not the only way to resist Islamism and the veil but it is a very modern way of doing so. Islamists want us covered up, hidden, and not seen and not heard; we refuse to comply.

But nudity is not just a protest against Islamism and religious misogyny. It is fundamentally a protest against discrimination, the commodification of women, and the religious and chauvinistic culture built upon it - which is why it is on the increase and has been a part of the women's liberation movement for some time.

Commodification relies on an objectified image that is separate from the reality of women’s bodies, minds and lives. This image is used to regulate, control and suppress. And this is what religion and pornography share, albeit in different forms. The actuality and frankness of women’s bodies as a form of protest challenges and upsets both.

Despite its significance, Azar insists that the calendar is not revolutionary. Whilst the calendar uses the same hashtag Aliaa used to Tweet her nude photo, it is also in and of itself a revolutionary act - not merely because women were involved though that fact is key. It is revolutionary because it challenges the religious/pornographic view of women’s bodies and reclaims a tool used for women’s suppression. Nudity outrages and offends because of this very challenge.

And it is taboo-breaking in the most progressive sense of the word since progress often comes as a result of offending deeply held and misogynist views and sensibilities. What makes nudity radical and progressive is also that it gives a practical response.

Azar says that nudity only matters if done in a place like Egypt, where threats are real, and male chauvinism deeply-rooted though she knows full-well that one does not have to live in the Middle East and North Africa to face Islamist threats and that male-chauvinism and the commodification of women is deeply-rooted everywhere. Even in a majority of western countries, women still cannot appear topless in beaches or parks as can men. Breastfeeding in many public places is considered taboo. This gives the nude protests universal significant. And threats or no threats, in Egypt or the west, isn’t the point of international solidarity to bring people closer despite any differences?

Azar trivialises acts of solidarity in the same way that she trivialises nudity. Occupy Wall Street takes on the form and content of Tahrir Square so why not nude protests? In fact, the material basis of the protests, including nudity, are similar.

Tellingly, Azar compares nudity with going on hunger strike or self-immolating in order to show solidarity with protestors who go on hunger strike and self-immolate. But hunger strikes and self-immolation are negative forms of protest whereas nudity is not.

Azar fails to see the importance of nude protests addressing deep-rooted discrimination against women because she doesn’t see the deep-seated discrimination in the first place. And like the tabloids and Islamists, our ‘veteran’ friend has such disdain for nudity that she cannot begin to understand how deeply humanising, revolutionary and taboo-breaking it is...


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One step towards breaking taboos

by ramintork on


I looked at the Calendar with an Artist/activist and even my male gaze. The Calendar is clearly not set to be erotic and any erotic
aspects are coincidental. There is a mix of individuals with different
objectives. Some of the poses suggest being comfortable with one's body, one or
two seem to celebrate the beauty of the female form. One or two clearly show
pride in presenting their body. Your image suggests your objective of taking
part in an act which shows your protesting objective. Your body language of
interlocked fingers in front of you indicates being uncomfortable with nudity
but the facial assertive expression suggests determination in doing the pose.
The last image of a mother feeding her baby has great Artistic value.

Within an International arena, presented to a circle of likeminded
people the calendar should work. I don't however see it going beyond that. The
idea is not ground breaking. In my opinion even if it puts a small dent into
layers of century old taboo it has value. A taboo that has been clearly
demonstrated to exist in our out of touch, out of society irrelevant
traditional Iranian left as well as religious or short sighted groups.

As an act against veiling of women it is an admirable act, and as
an artist who has gone and created an entire movement against religious fascism
(//  I would like to
thank you for taking part in this. The Iranian regime has put every effort
in keeping Iran in a box but protesting people ensure we stay in the community
of the global village. In addition certain acts of protest take time to bear


Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Maryam well said

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Maryam you are right but the other side will not budge. Anyway it is the right of individuals to go naked or not. Good for you.

To those who do not approve: This is not a right of left thing. It is a matter of people using whatever means they want to protest. Not everyone needs to approve. If you don't like it fine I don't think anyone asked for it.

Why do people think their apporval is necessary. 


اندر باب چپ منزوی، متفرق، گیج و پرت بی ربط


سی و سه سال است که یک مشت آخوند دزد، قاتل، پلشت در ایران حکومت میکنند ( حکومتی که با کمک و “همبستگی” های اولیه امثال: حزب توده ، اکثریت، رنجبران، بابک زهرائی و … امکان پذیر شد).
حال پس از سه دهه از این عظیمترین شکست تاریخی، رفقای نابغه ما به فکر “تابو شکنی” و سنت زدایی در فرهنگ افتاده اند. دیگرهیچ معضل و مشکل اجتماعی در ایران الویت ندارد، به جز لخت شدن مقابل دوربین.
-به عوض جای گرفتن و ریشه دواندن در جنبشهای اجتماعی ایران و تقویت جناح کارگری ورادیکال در آن جنبشها ،
به جای فکر کردن به مسایل و مشکلات ۱۰،۰۰۰،۰۰۰ میلیون ایرانی که زیر خط فقر مطلق (بنا بر آمار و ارقام خود جمهوری اسلامی جهنم، به اضافه ۲۵،۰۰۰،۰۰۰ میلیون دیگر که فقط در فقر “نسبی” به سر میبرند)،
به عوض دفاع از اینهمه فعال و رهبران جنبش کارگری که در آستانه اعدام و زندان و شکنجه قرار دارند (عبدلرضا قنبری، شاهرخ زمانی، رضا شهابی،…).
“بحث” “چپ” تبدیل میشود به اینکه: آیا باید لخت شد یا نشد؟
زنده یاد عمران صلاحی ستون طنزی داشت با عنوان “حالا حکایت ماست”: اکنون ما و این “چپ” منزوی، متفرق، گیج و پرت: نصفشون هنوز درگیر تکذیب و حاشا کردن سابقه خوشنام “خط امامی” خویش و نصف دیگر در گیر مباحثات زیرنافی.

حالا حکایت ماست! 


An injury to one is an injury to all.


به دختران اعدامی تجاوز می شد که به بهشت نروند


نسرین پرواز: من خودم شکنجه شدم و پاهایم فلج شد. نمی توانستم راه بروم. من قبل از اینکه دستگیر بشوم با دختری به نام یاس آشنا شدم. ۱۴ ساله بود که توی تظاهرات دستگیر شد و سه پاسدار در کمیته به او تجاوز کردند. او بچه بود که حامله شد. رفتم که ببینم بتوانم کمکش کنم برای کورتاژ. در زندان هم با دختری به نام آناهید آشنا شدم که با دخترخاله اش دستگیر شده بود. آناهید وقتی دستگیر شد ۱۲ سالش بود. دخترخاله اش ۱۴ سالش بود. اینها در دوران بازجویی توی دو سلول کنار هم بودند. بازجو به دخترخاله اش تجاوز کرد. آن دو شب ها که پاسدارها توی بند نبودند با هم حرف می زدند. دخترخاله اش به آناهید می گوید که من می خواهم خودکشی کنم و تو نباید ناراحت بشوی. می گوید که به من تجاوز شده و دوست ندارم دیگر زندگی کنم. آناهید خودش برای من تعریف کرد که تمام شب با سر و صدا سعی می کرده پاسدارها را متوجه کند که نگذارند دخترخاله اش خودکشی کند اما موفق نشد و او خودکشی کرد

نسرین پرواز: دختری را بردند توی سلول انفرادی، توی گوهردشت. یک روز او را بردند و بعد از دو روز وقتی آمد حالش بد بود. یک دفعه شروع می کرد به جیغ زدن. حرف هایی می زد که موقع تجاوز در دفاع از خودش می گفت. دوستانش می فهمند که به او تجاوز شده، حال روحیش خراب بود. بعد از چند سال آزادش کردند. آمد بیرون در خارج از کشور دست به خودکشی زد.
خانم پرواز می افزاید: «متأسفانه جامعه برخورد درستی به مسأله تجاوز نمی کند. برای همین کسانی که به آنها تجاوز شده بیشتر از متجاوزان مواظبند لو نروند. خانوادۀ همین دختر به کسی نگفتند که او خودکشی کرده. اما به نظر من خودکشی او یک خودکشی فردی نیست، خودکشی سیاسی است. گفتند با ماشین تصادف کرده.»



I support you

by Rebecca on

Maryam Namazie, thank you for you courage. I support you and all those working for freedom of expression and I support whoever is breaking the taboos. I got the nude calendar and proudly put it up on the wall.

 I hope for freedom for all the women of the world. Thank you!

Do Not Shoot Me

In other news, my laundry is done.

by Do Not Shoot Me on

In other news, my laundry is done. 



by oktaby on

version from anthropology is Neanderthals went extinct. In reality they won the day and rule the world. They'll get this protest when/if they evolve.



You are absolutely right Maryam joon

by anglophile on

Azar Mjajedi is wrong. You "revolutionary" girls are no way near the Sun page 3 girls. If you were I would have joined your revolution today or should I say tonight! See what I mean:     //