Every protest movement draws inspiration from the incubating culture and the desired message. Brazilians have incorporated soccer balls into their recent protests against the cost of holding the World Cup and a lack of public services. Last year, French dairy farmers protested the slumping price of milk by dumping 3.5 million liters of milk near the iconic Mont Saint-Michel. So what are we to make of the recent rise in streaking as social protest in China?
According to the news site News Post Seven, the number of young people arrested in Beijing for streaking suddenly jumped in May and the numbers continue to rise. On June 14, there was even an incident at Beijing University, known as China’s most prestigious and exclusive university.
Around 4 a.m., two nearly nude men began a performance by the side of a pond on campus known as the Early Dawn Lake. Wearing just red thong underwear and shoes, the two carried blow-up sex dolls and appeared to be planning to jump into the pond with them. They were grabbed by the campus police before they jumped, however.
Both men turned out to be alumni composers, and when they were interviewed about the incident, they said it was performance art meant to raise awareness of intellectual property issues in music, though they were not clear on the connection to blow-up dolls and thongs.
A reporter for the Communist Party commented, “The rise of streaking among the youth of China is no doubt a reaction to the current state of our society. They are feeling hopeless and isolated, and obviously this is one of the tools they are using to call attention to that.”
There was another incident in May where a female student at a Dalian technical university staged a naked and silent sit-in. This time, it wasn’t the campus police, but the local police force that dealt with the issue. No matter how many times they asked her about the reasons for her actions, she refused to say a word.
Other instances reported in Beijing included young men streaking through the downtown business area carrying crosses.
Some commenters on the article mentioned that nudity is commonly used in political protests because it has inherent impact. Others chalked the rise in streaking up to the exuberance of youth or an expression of perversion. Neither view explains why the number of such incidents would suddenly be on the rise, but perhaps one of our savvy readers can tell us why young Chinese are suddenly so big on going buff.