ABC News reports that activists from CodePink, a women’s organization promoting peace, protested the politics surrounding the BP oil spill in the following way:

The women posed nearly naked, dripping with ‘oil’ and dragging nets of fish.

The PETA strategy is like a virus, spreading grossly from one social movement to another. Angry Green Girl, for example, Animals Awake, and the Alliance for Animal Rights have essentially copied PETA’s tactics.

It’s striking that this particular one is overtly feminist.  It’s also striking that both Suburban Guerrilla and Feministe failed to remark about the ludicrousness of using (nearly) naked women to protest something entirely unrelated to nudity.  The only reason it makes sense to use women’s naked bodies in a protest is because women’s naked bodies (in Western culture) are things to be used.

Oh sure, they used nakeness as a pun, they noted the “naked greed” of BP, claimed that they were putting their “bodies on the line” in protest, and argued in favor of “stripping BP of its corporate charter.”  But the puns don’t make the nudity make sense, they’re incidental to the tactic of using female nudity as an attention-getting tactic. Nudity comes first, the puns come second, the cause comes… now I’ve said “comes” to much and I’m falling into the gutter myself.  Save me.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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