A group of Iranian women living abroad have recorded a video message in which they defend women’s rights – while posing topless. The women speak straight to the camera, explaining their reasons for posing nude: “My nudity is a ‘no’ to stoning to death,” “For those who want to but can’t…”, and even: “Why not?”
“The Islamic laws Iranian women are subjected to are what’s pornographic, since they define women as sexual objects”
Maryam Namazie Today – 8 March 2012 International Women’s Day – the Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar is being launched in homage to Egyptian atheist, student and blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy who posted a nude photo of herself, announcing the post on Twitter under the hashtag, #NudePhotoRevolutionary.
The calendar is the idea of campaigner Maryam Namazie to support Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and join her ‘screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy’.
Namazie says: ‘What with Islamism and the religious right being obsessed with women’s bodies and demanding that we be veiled, bound, and gagged, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance.’
The calendar is designed by SlutWalk Co-founder Toronto, Sonya JF Barnett who says: ‘I felt that women needed to stand in solidarity with Aliaa. It takes a lot of guts to do what she did, and the backlash is always expected and can quite hurtful. She needed to know that there are others like her, willing to push the envelope to express outrage.’
These women are continuing the trend that started with Aliaa Al-Mahdy, a young Egyptian activist who posted a naked photo of herself on her blog in the name of freedom of expression,sparking a huge controversy last November. They say they were also inspired by Goldshifteh Farahani, an Iranian actress in exile in Paris who bared her breasts in a video honouring young actors selected for the Césars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars.
However, this new video is a promotion for an even more risqué calendar, showing female activists from around the world posing fully nude, from head to toe. The organisers say the proceeds of the calendar will go toward women’s rights organizations.
On nudity and the calendar, Mallorie Nasrallah says: ‘When a tool of oppression can be turned in to an assertion of power, it is a beautiful thing. Nudity when celebrated harms no one, and when made shameful and barbaric harms everyone.’ Nina Sankari says: ‘In solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, I would like to stress that our bodies (and thoughts) belong to us and to nobody else.’ Anne Baker says ‘Men in frocks constrain, control and intimidate women the world over in the name of God … it has to stop.’
Greta Christina says: ‘Sexual freedom is an important freedom — but it’s one that commonly gets ignored or trivialized.’ Maja Wolna says: ‘Irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, religion or culture we are equal. Personal dignity is a foundation of human civilization.’ Amanda Brown says: ‘Dogma will never determine where I sit, what I wear, or how I live’ and Poppy Wilson St. James says: ‘I find it strange that it is more acceptable to seen on screen violence and guns than even a nipple. There is something wrong with our mindset if that is what we accept as the norm and shy away from nudity which is a completely natural state.’
According to Emily Dietle, ‘If it weren’t for people who took a strong stand against misogyny and for free-expression, we’d still be in an age where showing your ankles was taboo.’ Alena Magelat says: ‘Our naked body is our challenge to patriarchy, dictatorship and violence. Smart people we inspire; dictators are horrified’.
The women in the calendar stand firm in solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and the countless women across the world who are denied basic rights, freedoms and dignity.
Join the ‘Scream’ on Facebook and on Twitter under the hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary.