Do topless and nude protests work?

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With nude and/or topless protests apparently all the rage these days, we should answer a few questions about how the Kingson-Frontenac Free Body Society fits in to that scene.

(Short version: We’re not a protest group. We welcome people who do support or enjoy such things, but our events are private, relaxed and much more laid-back.)

When you want to make a media splash, a topless or nude protest is a pretty reliable way to get attention. It is, however, not a very effective kind of attention, for two reasons:

Nude/topless protests are polarizing. They can help to rally supporters around a cause, but they are also virtually guaranteed to galvanize opposition. FEMEN is an extreme example of this; many more people know them as “those angry topless women who keep getting arrested” than by any of their viewpoints. Even more moderate protest movements, though, tend to alienate the very people they are intended to influence – particularly when those who can actually effect change are powerful, well-established, and prone to becoming defensive when questioned.

Protests suggest their cause is a fringe viewpoint, unless the protesters are so numerous as to form a significant fraction of the population. It is fairly easy for entrenched interests to portray themselves as the moderate, rational voice and the protesters as just a small band of radical malcontents.

This is not to say that organized protests are a bad thing, or unnecessary – indeed, there are many key elements of modern society that owe their origins to public protest movements.

We should not naively assume, though, that protesting is the answer to every societal ill. This is particularly true of body freedom and women’s equality, concepts that are simply too advanced for some segments of society to accept if it’s suddenly forced upon them. Where the protesters are few in number and relatively radical in viewpoint – GoTopless marches being a good example – you tend to get a short-lived spectacle surrounded by a lot of camera phones, followed by business as usual with no lasting positive effect.

A better way, in my experience, is that of Mahatma Gandhi – “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

Topfreedom, for example, isn’t going to become the norm through protesting – it’ll become the norm when people just do it, without fuss or hyperbole. “Rape culture” isn’t going to be driven out by marches and slogans, as useful as those tools may be for making people aware of the problem; it’ll be eradicated by a generation of young men who internalize the belief that women are their equals and are worthy of the utmost respect.

We provide a space where people can try being topfree (or nude) without judgment or fear, and where we can talk openly about such things with friends.

The Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society is not a protest group. If you’re interested in GoTopless, the World Naked Bike Ride and other stuff like that, great! You’re very welcome to join us, and you’ll be accepted as friends. Just don’t expect our meetups to be anything like theirs.

Further reading on this and related topics:

The Naked Writer on “Making a Topless Statement”

Free The Nipple

OCTPFAS on why it’s better to keep things quiet

By Matt of KFFBS

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4 thoughts on “Do topless and nude protests work?

  1. Agree with your perspective 100% he way to normalize top freedom or clothes free living is to help folks experience everyday life and people top or clothes free. Then it becomes just another way of being rather than some odd in your face group

    Like

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