"During the latest Black Lives Matter demonstrations, images of protesters marching in the streets, signs held high, filled our screens. But in other parts of the world, another kind of protest has led to change: defiant disrobing. My research demonstrated that across Africa, mature women have mobilized the power of their nakedness in political protest to shame and punish male adversaries. This genital cursing tactic, works for two surprising reasons: women are the seat of society’s survival and spirits believed to be residing in their bodies can be unleashed to cause misfortune in their targets, including impotence and death.
The first genital cursing occurred in medieval Africa. From the 1920s to the 60s, women participated in decolonization efforts by stripping naked to punish colonizers and their African allies. Yet, the last three decades have seen more instances of naked agency as I call it, than any other period in African political history. Thousands of women of all ages have flashed their nakedness to resist power abuses, land mismanagement, and more.
Women also use other strategies of political participation, including boycotts, marches, and voting. However, genital cursing persists because so has the indigenous religious belief in forces residing in bodies. Given the socio-political efficacy of naked agency, it is a method of last resort that makes most men listen where other mechanisms of resistance have failed.
In the current world, the most oppressed have the most to teach us about creative resistance if we are willing to learn from them."