A discussion in http://martinsworlduk.blogspot.co.uk/ and shared on here, resulted in a long and complex thread about increasing public acceptance of nudity. The most obvious example of this being the WNBR. Discussion and some disagreement followed about the use of nudity as a protest addressing other causes and questioned whether this help or hinder public acceptance of naturism?
In the context of this Richard Foley mentioned the Ukranian group FEMEN as an example of this kind of protest. I had not met them before and looked them up. The best analysis I found was one from the British current affairs magazine the 'New Statesman.' The author Agata Pyzik wrote:
…..(That's)… an important context to remember when considering the Ukrainian feminist collective Femen. They come from a country with an extreme and enormous sex industry, widespread abuse of women, and also "third world" levels of poverty. Femen's performances often take place in eastern European countries known for their lack of respect for human rights, like Belarus, where they were beaten and abducted. But they are also increasingly demonstrating in the west, stopping various international summits and ceremonial affairs.
Recently,they started to "recruit" young Muslim women in France, criticising them for wearing headscarves, saying it limited their freedom as women, and conflating, stereotypically, Islam and misogyny. In doing so, Femen were neglecting the years of struggle that are behind defending the rights of women from non-European/white backgrounds.
Not unexpectedly, they were dismissed by western feminists for crypto- or even open racism and an obsession with nudity, regardless of the context. In this case, both sides misunderstood the delicate circumstances of Femen's protests. Intersectional, progressive western feminists, concerned with the risks of racism and (post) colonialism, speak of Femen’s unhealthy obsession with nudity with suspicious disdain, not seeing that behind the admittedly “primitive” methods and controversial approach there’s a very specific reality that Femen are fighting.
Femen’s message and actions are not universal, and it would be good if the activists were aware of that. In aGuardianpiece responding to critics, Femen organiser Inna Shevchenkogives a clear message of her obsession with Putin, his regime and Ukrainian situation. This is Femen’s context: the post-communist desert of sex industry, sex clubs, girls at your wish every minute of the night and day.When you check into a hotel in Eastern Europe – and the more to the east, the more likely it is – you’re expected to be interested in the wide offer of sex infrastructure: you’ll be showered with dozens of leaflets with “gentlemen’s clubs” and other adult entertainment.
The whole article can be found here: http://www.newstatesman.com/voices/2013/04/white-doesnt-always-mean-privilege-femens-ukrainian-context .
This leads me to think that we need to remember that the majority of protest displays of nudity, in FEMEN's case almost entirely limited to topless women, does nothing to promote social nudism and isn't intended to do so by those involved. I suspect FEMEN would look at our social nudity as, at best, an irrelevance, in their much harder and more serious world.