Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Geisy Arruda of Brazil Keeps Berkeley Naked Guy's Fight Alive

Geisy Arruda, a Brazilian student at Bandeirante University in Sao Bernardo do Campo (near Sao Paulo), managed to get herself expelled for wearing a skirt that was deemed 'too short' by the people who get to decide these things, although in the pictures the skirt was no shorter than any skirt you'd see in a bar in a college town on any given night. At least that is what I am told.

This is strange to me for many reasons. Apparently it was not only the uptight, made-for-80s-college-exploitation-movies administration prudes who chided Arruda for dressing like 90s fake TV lawyer Ally McBeal, who also fought the power by wearing short skirts (she was also on a hunger strike, although they never explained why). Her fellow students also jeered her, and some are being suspended for that reason. Also, isn't Brazil famous for men and women running around naked or nearly naked? Somebody wiki that for me, please.

Geisy's story reminds me of Berkeley's Naked Guy, aka Andrew Martinez, who stirred up controversy in the early 90s by wandering about the UC Berkeley campus with no clothes on (he did wear sandals, and sometimes compromised by wearing a bandana, but not on his head). Naked Guy made the talk show circuit, but his story took a sad turn, as after college he had to deal with homelessness and schizophrenia, and committed suicide in prison at 33.

It would be easy to chalk up Martinez's naked activism to the mental illness he struggled with, but that would be disrespectful to his memory and to those who suffer from mental illness. It's possible for a mentally ill person to still have a mind of his own and strong beliefs. Geisy's story reminds us that people are still strangely uptight, and I'll be the first to admit that in above 80 degree weather, having to wear clothes can really suck. I'm also pretty sure this kind of thing drives the sort of people who founded the Creation Museum batshit insane, and I have to support that.

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