Mon, Oct 24, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Butcher’s naked tea parties get a lukewarm response

Staff Writer, with CNA

A Greater Kaohsiung butcher is urging the public to join her in a quest to understand more about the human body by socializing in the nude at events such as afternoon tea.

Ruan Ren-chu, who owns a butcher stand in a traditional market, said the idea came to her during an artists’ workshop that she attended in Taipei a few months ago.

Her initial plan was for participants to strip naked and sit around a table sipping tea and discussing topics such as nudity and gender discrimination for two hours.

However, the response to the idea has been tentative so far, with only three women showing up for the first tea party in Greater Kaohsiung last week.

“Nudity is still a taboo in our society,” 53-year-old Ruan said. “People are afraid to talk about it, and almost anything that has to do with the body is considered dirty.”

For example, she said, most females in Taiwan have never even seen their own genitals.

“How can you even expect to clean yourself properly if you have never looked at your genitals,” she said.

Ruan, a self-styled artist, is not an unfamiliar figure in Taiwan. Her protests and bold, controversial actions have often drawn media attention.

In April, she staged a nude demonstration in Taitung, calling for the legalization of nude beaches.

Two months later, she posed as a nude model at a public event in Greater Kaohsiung at which children were present.

“I know I’m attracting a lot of negative attention, but there has to be someone on the frontlines, pulling society forward,” she said.

However, the publicity has not been all negative. Ruan is now the subject of a documentary called Curious Body, which is being subsidized by the National Culture and Arts Foundation.

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