Letters to the Editor
Having naked women on your cover is offensive and pornographic
Having naked women on many of your covers daubed in slogans does not empower me – it reminds me of page three models who are said to be exploited by men/media. It feeds into western ideals that twerking is good, in my opinion, and loses the message these girls are trying to make (except look at her body; she wants to be a porn star. And I am not religious – yes we get that! It is also a bit clichéd). Much better to put Iman from a Vogue fashion shoot on the front – that would make a point without nudity (assuming you chose the right photo!) Also, having naked women half draped in the Muslim women’s covering showing their nude parts is offensive and belittles the women who choose to cover up…! I find this offensive. Women have the right to cover up or not. Your pictures and not just one, encourages pornographic imagery and the consequences of that – you saying these women want to be part of this industry under their burkas. I am not a feminist as defined by some people but a woman and this is my opinion.
A woman’s body isn’t obscene; veiling it is
Maryam Namazie responds
Whilst Islamists often portray their vile politics as a prescription for the debasement of women in western societies (i.e. against the Sun’s page 3), their image of women is very much the same as the pornographic one. It reveals a deep-seated disdain for female nudity not very different from the tabloids and rooted in the religious/Islamist point of view.
Clearly, when you are faced with an Islamic movement that considers you to be worth half of a man and demands that you be bound, gagged, veiled, and segregated, then nudity becomes an important form of resistance and dissent as well as solidarity.
Nudity is the antithesis of veiling. Of course it is not the only way to resist Islamism and the veil but it is a very modern way of doing so. Islamists want us covered up, hidden, and not seen and not heard; we refuse to comply.
But nudity is not just a protest against Islamism and religious misogyny. It is fundamentally a protest against discrimination, the commodification of women, and the religious and chauvinistic culture built upon it – which is why it is on the increase and has been a part of the women’s liberation movement for some time.
Commodification relies on an objectified image that is separate from the reality of women’s bodies, minds and lives. This image is used to regulate, control and suppress. And this is what religion and pornography share, albeit in different forms. The actuality and frankness of women’s bodies as a form of protest challenges and upsets both. Nudity outrages and offends because of this very challenge.
What makes nudity radical and progressive is also that it gives a practical response. And it is taboo-breaking in the most progressive sense of the word since progress often comes as a result of offending deeply held and misogynist views and sensibilities.
And nudity as a form of protest is relevant everywhere since male chauvinism and the commodification of women is deeply-rooted everywhere. Even in a majority of western countries, women still cannot appear topless in beaches or parks as can men. Breastfeeding in many public places is considered taboo. This gives the nude protests universal significant. Nude protest addresses deep-rooted discrimination against women.
A woman’s body isn’t obscene; veiling it is.