In your face

Little did I know that my visit to the Eiffel Tower last week would coincide with an organized demonstration. As we approached the monument from the Trocadero side, we saw that a group of spectators and press had amassed off to the side, with the tower as a backdrop. Edging closer, to my surprise and my 13-year-old son’s delight, we saw a cluster of women who were stripped to bikini panties, holding signs that proclaimed, “Muslim women, let’s get naked!”

Bemused more than shocked, I took advantage of the photo op and moved on to other things. After I returned to the States, I decided to look up the demonstration to see what it was all about. It turns out that the focus was intended to protest the objectification of women. Hmm.

While I certainly don’t want to be viewed as an object myself, I wonder if this is an effective way to communicate the cause. Yes, it got a lot of attention, but I’m pretty sure that most people were drawn in by the spectacle and probably don’t remember much but the naked bodies.

Women or men, we don’t want to simply be bodies. We want to be intelligent, funny, engaging creatures, remembered for our contributions rather than the way we look or the space we fill. In this case, if no one remembers the speech because everyone has been so captured by the nudity, hasn’t the demonstration accomplished exactly what it was trying to eliminate? Then again, I did look it up to learn more, so maybe it did have some positive effect.

I’m still pondering, but I’d like to know what you think. Comments, please!