News: Nude Women’s Day Parade in San Francisco

Claire Gilliland, News Editor

Women’s History Month has just ended, and International Women’s Day took place during this month, on the eighth of March.  People are given an opportunity to reflect on the lingering societal issues and instances of sexism, and this means a lot to many young women.

“Growing up, I never knew [Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day] were actual things, their existence was never celebrated or even talked about,” sophomore Kate Lagera said.  “I’m glad I’m alive during a time where women are celebrated and recognized for their progress in society.”

People across the world have celebrated these holidays differently  — some by sharing stories of excellent women and their successes throughout history and into the modern world.  Others, meanwhile, have celebrated the holiday differently.

On April 3 San Francisco held a Nude Women’s Day Parade as a belated celebration of International Women’s Day.  The event was intended to allow women to take pride in themselves and their bodies and help them feel empowered during a month in their honor.  The parade included “men, women, and everything in between,” according to its Facebook page, and the coordinators told participants to dress “as bare as [they] dare.”  

The coordinators, specifically Esperanza Santi, got a permit from the city’s police department to host the event for two and a half hours, and they used this time to walk through the city and even stop by City Hall to take pictures.  The event intended to allow women to feel safe in their bodies and not feel like they were being inappropriate while simply being themselves.

“The event poses great values and promotes body positivity which is something many women struggle with today,” Lagera said.

“Women are often treated as sex objects and at the same time shamed for wanting sexual freedom,” Santi said on the event’s Facebook page.  “Many men in our society today don’t want to relinquish control over women’s bodies and souls.  Many women will shame and attack other women out of ignorance and jealousy.  As long as those attacks are supported by our culture none of us are truly free nor safe.”

Santi continued to say that the Nude Women’s Day Parade was established to allow women to take back control of their own bodies.  She said that, even as far as society has come toward equality, there is still a vast difference in the way that the public perceives a naked woman versus a naked man: a naked man is normal, or perhaps a threat, while a naked woman is a sex object.

Many agree that body freedom for women is important and a good, if slightly late, way to celebrate International Women’s Day.  The Nude Women’s Day Parade Facebook page shows that 119 people attended the event, though this is less impressive when compared to the 764 invited or even 326 interested.  Santi encouraged even those who would prefer to remain clothed to come, and it may seem that not many showed up, these numbers are a start.

“Once a woman gets enough courage to get nude in public, if it is done in a positive environment, it is truly liberating,” Santi said on the Facebook page.  “It is really important for us as a society to examine issues of body shame, issues of oppression of women, issues of sexual violence.  It is important to grow and heal and to ultimately create an environment where a nude woman can be safe in public.”

The group behind this event, including nudist Gypsy Taub, hosted a nude parade on Valentine’s Day with less attendance but thought that it was important to spread their message in relation to Women’s History Month.  They believe that women should be allowed to do whatever they want in their bodies, including but not limited to marching nude in public.

The event had a police escort to ensure that none of its participants would be harassed for being naked in public.  Some, however, were not taking the event seriously.  

A Yelp page dedicated to the event had borderline sexual harassment as men planned on “putting up a lawn chair.”  The people on the website were completely ignoring the purpose of the event in favor of making fun of the type of people that would go to the event, saying that they were the type that no one would want to see naked.

A society where people joke around about sexual harassment like this and ignore the serious good intentions of the event is just what Santi and Taub hope to correct.