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Is Stripping Naked an Effective Form of Protest?

Monika Valantiejute argues why a group of Hungarian students were right to turn up to class naked in protest at draconian regulations set down by their University.

In Kaposvar University, Hungary, a group of students turned up to class in nothing but their underwear, or, in some cases, with nothing more but conveniently placed textbooks over their bits and bobs as a way of protesting against the university’s restrictions regarding clothing. Men are to wear suits or jackets, whilst women are not allowed to be seen in mini-skirts, low cut tops and heavy make-up. Instead they are to wear trousers, long skirts and blouses.

Were the University of Kent to introduce regulations regarding the type of clothing that students are allowed to wear on campus, it is fair to say that the majority would feel outraged. As a female, I would personally feel belittled and insulted for having to consider the length of my skirt and the amount of make-up I apply when going to university.

The university released a statement asserting that the new restrictions were necessary: “This is a community in which we all need to respect each other by wearing the right clothes.” It would certainly be interesting to hear the university’s definition of disrespect, because it is difficult to fathom how shorts or a skirt could ever offend someone.

Yet, is turning up to class naked an effective way of protesting? It is difficult to imagine that a few placards or official complaints would be effective enough to change the minds of people who are clearly stuck in the past. It makes one wonder how an academic institution, consisting of educated individuals who are very much aware that they live in the 21st century, would be able to deem the length of a woman’s skirt disrespectful.

By turning up to class naked, the Hungarian students were able to challenge such patriarchal attitudes and send a clear message to the authorities at the university: that such restrictions on what clothing students can wear are, on the one hand, authoritarian, and secondly, completely over the top.

University should be a comfortable environment in which students feel they can wear whatever they please, especially nowadays since students are required to pay as much as £9,000 a year to be there in the first place.

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