Thursday, March 21, 2019

Don't Neglect Nudist Rights in Aurat March 2020!

Once upon a time (last week) I was rather "regressive" and critical of some of the demands and slogans of Pakistan's Aurat March. But after engaging with gung-ho feminists and reading up on the movement, I have to say I now agree with an elderly gentleman interviewed during the demonstration when he said it didn't go far enough in its demands for women's rights! 

Sure, the manifesto called for urgencies such as equal pay for women, end to honor killings, and abortion and LGBTQIA (the old and "tone deaf" me would have stopped at Q) rights, but it didn't "bring under its banner" another minority group struggling for its "basic human right" to feel "safe" and "be respected" and "have freedom." This group is the growing Naturist Community, whose lifestyle includes embracing nature, healthy eating, yoga, as well as nudity. Yes, nudity, as in going buck naked anywhere, anytime in public "spaces." Please don't "judge."

The Aurat March organizers must be old-fashioned third wave feminists or something because from what I read, it's the more "progressive" fourth wave feminists who realize how important body positivity is and include it in its program for female empowerment. "Progressive" cities like Seattle already allow people to go nude, as long as you don't flash it. 

For body freedom fighters, nudity is not just about their physical and psychological revulsion to clothes, it's about the basic human right to "live openly without discrimination and enjoy equal rights, personal autonomy, and freedom of expression and association." What's more basic than being able to wear your birthday suit, because after all, you were born that way?

Britisher naturist Stephen Gough even went to the European Court of Human Rights to prove that nudity is a "basic human right" as a freedom of expression. Though he lost his case, he is continuing to fight for his right to bare all because, as they say, mera jism, meri marzi (my body, my choice)!

Stephen Gough and friend

Self-identifying naturists argue that by going naked, they want to release the body from "toxic" cultural shame, restrictions, and the sexualization of their bodies. Not only that, but they cite medical and mental health benefits of exposing one's body to sunlight and fresh air. They say those with "fragile sensibilities" who feel "uncomfortable" at people roaming the streets in the nude, should just avert their eyes, or better yet, dupatta ankho pay bandlo (wrap a headscarf around your eyes).

In fact, a 2017 study from the University of London found that the naturist lifestyle may help people lead happier lives. According to the research, those who spend time naked or partially naked around others like their bodies more, regard themselves more positively, and are more satisfied with life.

Michelle Wallen spent thirty years of her life as a textilist (person who wears clothes in public)--and those years were steeped in bullying, self-hate, and depression--before realizing she was really a naturist. As she relates in a moving and inspiring TEDx talk, after coming out in public buck naked, she is now happy, confident, full of life, and most importantly, has a positive body image.

Michelle Wallen
If you really think about it, who are we "to police what women (or others) wear or don't wear" anyway? That's so "patriarchal" and "entitled" of us textilists. 

As for those who slam public nudity by playing the "Islam card," like the KP Assembly which passed a resolution condemning this year's march as "shameful and unIslamic," they need to realize "judgement is one of the main things forbidden in Islam." Anyone who cites Quranic verses to argue against public nudity should be told their "views about our religion are unenlightened and based on shoddy scholarship." 

Believe it or not, according to the latest feminist interpretation of the Quran, not only do women not have to cover their hair, but they don't have to cover anything at all! In the story of Adam and Eve (or Steve, I'm trying to be inclusive here), the couple were unabashedly nude in their early days in the Garden of Eden. Islamists saying we need to go back to the days of Riyasat-e-Medina (State of Medina) have it all wrong. We need to go back to Riyasat-e-Jannah (State of the Garden of Eden)!

Adam & Eve

I'm sure the Aurat March organizers--as vociferous advocates of human rights--won't have any trouble adding naturist rights in their 2020 manifesto as it is a "platform (and perhaps the only platform in Pakistan at this point unfortunately) for ALL women to express themselves how THEY want to and does not differentiate or discriminate based on sexuality, opinions or gender." In fact, many of these feminists "fully defended" Pakistani actress Veena Malik's rights when she went nude in the Indian FHM men's magazine a few years back. 

Of course, most Pakistani women will not be so "tolerant" but that's okay. Only one percent of Pakistanis favor abortion and LGBTQIA rights, according to a Pew Research Center poll, but marchers were able to include those issues in the manifesto this year. Slowly, "dubious minds [will] begin to accept variation in opinion and acceptance of life."

Non-governmental organizations in Pakistan, such as Aahung, World Population Federation, and Organization for Participatory Government, who have already been working with the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) (don't listen to conspiracy theorists who say this organization was started in 2001 to work in tandem with the War on Terror to destroy Muslim countries) can be recruited to be "allies" in promoting naturist rights. The CSBR raises awareness "of how human rights—including sexual and reproductive rights—have been under attack in Muslim societies," according to its website. These NGOs help fight the "use of sexuality as a tool of oppression" and I am sure will be happy to include gymnophobes (those who have an aversion to nudity) to that category.

Since "slogans and such are supposed to be controversial," words alone won't bring shock factor to the Aurat March next year. To "start a conversation" about naturist rights, the organizers can get tips from feminists marching in the International Women's Day parade in Spain in 2014, where Iranian dissidents protested mandatory covering in their country by going stark naked, cutting out the word Allah from their flag, and holding it up against their privates. "Much better, don't you think?" one asked on her blog.

My newly "enlightened," "tolerant," and "inclusive" self urges organizers to add naturist rights to next year's manifesto and invite Pakistani nudists, women (and men and everyone in between), to partake in the march.  If placards with "d*%k pics" started such a firestorm of attention (after all, "no publicity is bad publicity") imagine the public reaction to seeing the real deals!

If this naturist movement takes off in Pakistan, it will solve so many of the feminists' problems! No more pressure to wear a "dupatta" (head covering) or a long "kameez" (shirt)! And, my favorite, no more stinky "mozey" (socks) to look for!  

**This article was written as satire to show the ridiculousness of copying the West's definition of women's rights, freedoms, and progress. Most of the words in quotes--the usual jargon of imperial feminists--were taken directly from arguments they made to me online when I shared my blog with them. However, I am afraid that these feminists, intoxicated by Western education, travels, and accolades--are so affected by intergenerational Macaulayism, that if the Women's March in the US does include naturist rights next year, the Aurat March will too! I wish they would watch some of the talk shows in the US and Britain that allow a peak into the dysfunctional lives of families two generations after the 60s sexual revolution where women achieved so-called "azaadi." Sue Ellen Bowder, author of Subverted and former writer for Cosmopolitan magazine, was a part of the 60s feminist movement but regrets the hijacking of the agenda by the sexual revolution. "After years of promoting the 'Cosmo Girl' lifestyle as a pathway to freedom, I realized the sexual revolution lifestyle is destroying women’s lives, wrecking families, and tearing apart our nation."  Take heed, Pakistani feminists!