"I honestly believe Brexit leaves Britain naked."

Her nipples may have been enough to thwart the forces of anti-feminism; but to halt the march of populist nationalism, this Cambridge University lecturer has resorted to full-frontal nudity. 

Victoria Bateman, an economic historian and feminist activist, gained internet fame in June when she ​tweeted out a photo of herself at Cambridge faculty dinner in a see-through body suit. The slogan "My body, my choice" was scrawled across her clearly visible breasts. 


Her stated goal: to protest society's shaming of women's bodies and systematic control over their lives. 


Then, last week, Bateman took her naked activism to another level. In apparent reaction to the British government's unveiling of a draft agreement to pull the country out of the European Union, she tweeted old photos -- from June 2016, when British voters first said "yes" to the exit -- that captured her nude on the Cambridge campus with the words "Brexit leaves Britain naked" printed on her chest. 

Always one to push the envelope, Bateman quickly followed-up with a video of herself exposing her breasts and bush during a personal and principled plea against Brexit. Declaring her feminist commitment to freedom, she averred understanding of Britons' desire to free their nation from the "shackles" of the European Union. But more important, she said, is the imperative that the United Kingdom and its continental partners "check" each others' illiberal impulses. 

"The European Union concerns individual nation-states working together to keep a check on each other to ensure that individual rights are upheld," Bateman said. "And so as far as I'm concerned, Brexit is something that leaves our individual rights as British citizens vulnerable."


That, she concluded, is "why I honestly believe Brexit leaves Britain naked, and why I'm sitting in front of you naked today, and why I'm going out into the world protesting Brexit naked."

As after her protest earlier this year ​​-- and her 2014 ​turn as a nude muse for a portraitist -- Bateman's anti-Brexit tweets triggered criticism of her ​exhibitionist activism and the ​culture of ​self-indulgence it allegedly reflects. 

However, as Bateman ​told Pluralist by email in June, she sees such criticism as further proof that her activism is necessary. 


"You could say that the reaction proves my point," she said. "That many people do (of whatever gender) associate the female body with sin and shame, and judge women on the basis of it."


And if the populist politics behind Brexit demonstrate anything, it's that politics is fundamentally personal -- and often indecent. 


Cover image: Cambridge University lecturer Victoria Bateman poses naked to protest Brexit in a photo she last tweeted on Nov. 15, 2018. (Twitter)