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Nude Women Protest War Again; Men Also Demonstrate
Published on Thursday, January 2, 2003 by the Point Reyes Light (Point Reyes, California)
Nude Women Protest War Again
Men Also Demonstrate
by Ivan Gale

Seeking to "reinvigorate the buzz across the country" from its first photo of women spelling "Peace" with their naked bodies, organizer Donna Sheehan and her group, Unreasonable Women Baring Witness, staged a second, much larger nude peace protest and photo shoot near Point Reyes Station on Sunday.

The sandy shore of Drake’s Beach, rather than a rain-sogged Love Field in Point Reyes Station, was the venue for some 94 women along with more than two dozen men who created two new and separate signs for peace.

Impressed with first picture

Many women who participated in this weekend’s photo said they either didn’t hear of the first event until it was over, or couldn’t attend because it was during the week.

"I was impressed with the first one," said Mary Prudhomme of Inverness and San Francisco, who said she felt like Americans opposed to the White House’s war plans are living in a silent majority. Prudhomme decided to join the second event.

"I just thought, ‘this is something I wanted to do.’ I have no clue if this will make a difference but figured any kind of publicity can’t be bad," said Prudhomme.

Though the first photo enjoyed a splash of success, being picked up in local, national, and international news outlets, even organizer Sheehan conceded the first photograph was "media-dead."

Invigorated with determination to prevent war with Iraq and a ever-growing populate of participants, Sheehan said she decided to continue the campaign for non-violence with another, much larger "Peace" photo.

"The more we do, the better," said Bolinas resident Vivienne Verdon-Roe, who said the first photo inspired Bolinas residents to stage their own version of a "Peace" photo, albeit fully-dressed and incorporating children and dogs. A second Bolinas photo is slated for Saturday, Jan. 11, where all who participate will create a "No War" sign with their clothed bodies.

Bonded at shoot

Along with creating a statement for peace, the participants also bonded at this weekend’s shoot.

"There’s a certain level of defiance, and it’s also just a fun thing to do," she said. "And after the shot, we all got a little wet to get the sand off."

"It was automatic," said local singer and Point Reyes Station resident Rhiannon of camaraderie after the protest photo. "We all ran into the cold, glorious water. It was a great moment. We were washing each other off – The whole thing was very body, very human, very physical. And at the same time, we felt we were doing the best we can to represent the humans who don’t want to go to war."

While the women were comfortable with the second go, the men’s shoot was a new experience for all involved.

Participant Paul Reffell, despite an air of nervousness and uncertainty, said he walked away feeling enthusiastic over the experience of men forming a peace symbol with their bodies.

"Once we were there, we started feeling like we were involved in something different," said Reffell. "It was like family. It was just a wonderful thing."

Big event planned

Organizers said Sunday’s gathering is only the beginning for Baring Witness, as the group plans to demonstrate in the nude as part of a mass demonstration called the National March on Saturday, Jan. 18 on Market Street in San Francisco and in Washington DC. Event organizers said they hope up to more than 100,000 people participate at both demonstrations, naked or clothed.

In addition to lead photographer Jan Watson of Point Reyes Station, the event was captured by photographers Christopher Springman and Oscar-winner John Korty, both of Point Reyes Station, as well as Michel Fraser of San Francisco

A film documentary of the group’s efforts to impact politics through naked protest and imagery is also underway, Sheehan said.

Until the demonstration in January, Sheehan and her partner Reffell will continue spending their time "coaching and inspiring" other people in nearly a dozen cities to create their own "peace" photos.

Copyright 2003 Point Reyes Light


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