LONDON — In homage to Egyptian student Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, activist Maryam Namazie has created “The Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar” to mark March 8, International Women’s Day.
Last November, in the center of her country's political storm, Elmahdy posted a nude photo of herself on her blog in bold defiance of Islamist's misogynist obsession with women's bodies.
Namazie is lashing out and asking supporters to join Elmahdy's "screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”
The women in the calendar said they stand firm in solidarity with Elmahdy and the countless women across the world who are denied basic rights, freedoms and dignity.
“What with Islamism and the religious right being obsessed with women’s bodies and demanding that we be veiled, bound, and gagged, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance,” Namazie said.
The calendar is designed by SlutWalk Co-founder Toronto, Sonya JF Barnett who commented, “I felt that women needed to stand in solidarity with Aliaa. It takes a lot of guts to do what she did, and the backlash is always expected and can quite hurtful. She needed to know that there are others like her, willing to push the envelope to express outrage.”
Namazie solicited women from around the world to tell why they supported Elmahdy along with submitting nude photos of themselves for the calendar.
Among the women who were selected and posed is Saskia Vogel, a London-based “sex-positive feminist,” writer and XBIZ contributor who appears as the March, 2013 entry.
‘This calendar hopefully will reach people who are uncomfortable with empowered female nudity, and encourage them to reconsider their feelings about the nude figure,” Vogel said.
She added, "The way nudity is policed, not just in the Islamist relationship to the body that Maryam discusses when she speaks about the motivation behind this calendar, but also in contemporary American culture, encourages a perverse relationship with the body. It speaks to an intrinsic fear of the female form and also of one's response to the female form. Why do people need to take the world to task for urges and reactions they cannot reconcile within themselves?
"Though the press generated around this calendar and the fact that it is a collection of beautiful images, by wonderful photographers like Lucy Fox-Bohan and Ben Hopper, we're raising awareness, which is often the best one can do. Hopefully, our message will make a positive impact on someone who finds it difficult to engage with the nude female form respectfully and sanely. You know, destabilizing the equation that female nipples are equal to obscenity."
Others who joined the "scream" include mother and daughter Anne Baker and Poppy Wilson St James, teacher Luisa Batista, We are Atheism Founder Amanda Brown, atheist bloggers Greta Christina and Emily Dietle, FEMEN activist Alena Magelat, photographer Mallorie Nasrallah, actress Cleo Powell, freethinker Nina Sankari, and Maja Wolna.
The women were photographed by Julian Baker, Adam Brown, Grzegorz Brzezicki, Lucy Fox-Bohan, Agnieszka Hodowana, Ben Hopper, N. Maxwell Lander, Mallorie Nasrallah, Mark Neurdenburg, Vitaliy Pavlenko, and Michael Rosen.
The calendar can be downloaded on Namazie’s website or purchased for less than $20 in support of the women’s cause.