女性経済学者 Victoria N. Bateman は今月、テレビやラジオの番組に相次いで全裸で登場。「離脱すれば、英国は裸一貫になる」と離脱阻止を訴えた。教壇に立つ名門ケンブリッジ大学の学生向けにも全裸で講演したという。
She began with a declaration: “Brexit will happen over my naked body.” She made a brief justification of her way of presenting the lecture, which was simultaneously an artistic statement and an academic exposition. “Art has a power to go beyond what academic writing alone can offer”, she told the audience. She spoke of how the Cambridge UKIP branch tweeted a link to one of her protest videos, claiming incredulity that she was a fellow of the University. To which her response, with which the audience was undoubtedly in full agreement, was: “Can women, who have bodies, not also have brains?”
However, most of the talk focused on substantial analysis of Brexit, rather than her method of presentation. She listed the facts about the positive contributions made by EU immigrants, talked of the foolhardiness of breaking away from the world’s most advanced free trade block in a world turning its back on free trade, and lamented the turn from a “free, open, and tolerant society.”
But her talk was arguably at its most interesting when it moved away from the economics. After noting that both remainers and leavers, according to polling, have nearly the same attitude when asked about ‘capitalism’, she explained how the biggest divergences between these voters seems to have been cultural – for example, they differ widely on attitudes to the environment, and feminism. That, she implied, is why the rhetoric of ‘take back control’ was so powerful. She pointed out that getting rid of borders would add more to the economy than trade liberalisation. As she argued, “in medieval times, the way that elites controlled the population was by limiting our freedom of movement”, although she seemed to accept that we have sadly rejected the sort of thinking that might lead to a freer and more tolerant society.
The talk finished with members of the audience going up on stage to sign her body as an open petition against Brexit. I was able to ask Dr Bateman several questions via email, covering her style of naked protest and the various fraught issues into which the Brexit debate is recurrently drawn.