NAKEDNESS AS SOCIAL PROTEST

S Kamal Abdali

is a computer scientist and has worked mainly in the theoretical and foundational areas of that discipline. Having served in universities, industrial research labs, and governmental research agencies, he is now retired and lives in Arlington, Virginia, USA.



Nakedness makes a lot of sense as a form of protest. Subjecting oneself to the same conditions that are imposed on people with the goal of killing, subjugating, punishing, or humiliating them is a powerful expression of protest. Thus, self-immolation is the ultimate counter statement against annihilation and savage oppression, hunger-strike is against deprivation and starvation, and nakedness is against forced disrobing.

But outside of the context of protest, nakedness is a natural state. The *homo ​sapiens* needed body coverings at one time strictly for survival. We still need specialized outfit, such as goggles, gloves, or body armor, for protecting our body parts exposed to the hazards specific to various vocations. We also need dresses such as health workers’ uniforms for ensuring hygiene. But much of the other present-day clothing has no serious purpose.

The most annoying are the useless accessories, and it is nice to see that they are on the way out. Hats and vests basically disappeared in the West about 60 years ago. Neckties are becoming less and less mandatory, and can’t last much longer.

Some ceremonial and decorative dresses linger on because overcoming vanity is hard. Still, professors don’t were gowns and hoods anymore, nor do lawyers and justices wear wigs. Also the lower court judges don’t wear robes anymore. But the higher court judges still do, and don’t mind looking ridiculous. The same is true of priests of various religions.

Some dress codes are forced, such as women’s special wear in the name of various far-fetched values. In the Victorian Age of England, which lasted almost until World War I, “modesty” required that legs be covered, and this applied even to the legs of chairs and tables. In the West, the female skirt changed size periodically, with its lower end oscillating between being below the ankles to below the knee. But in the rebellious late 1960s, the skirt shortened enough to finally expose the knees. Another female covering taboo was also broken in the 1960s when the topless female swimwear was introduced. While donning it publicly is probably criminal in many countries, it is a common sight on European beaches.

Nowadays, most of the forced dress codes are imposed by religious authorities. So with the rising tides of rebelliousness against authority, non-adherence to religion, and making bold political and personal statements, such dress codes are bound to be loosened.

Nudist societies existed in ancient times all over the world, and in modern times nudist colonies have existed in the West for a century. Nakedness in daily life is the next living style. It is natural, economical, liberating, and egalitarian!

Editor’s note –
This write up was motivated by an article about the Bangla short story “Draupadi” by Mahasveta Devi in which the female victim named Dopdi Mehejan, shames the male elite who are out to humiliate her with rape and torture, by her nakedness.
The link to the article is

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/50/commentary/draupadis-travels-and-travails.html

 

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