Needless to say, since the release of Wikilicious, my glamour/art nude poster calendar in aid of whistle-blowers, a higher-than-usual rate of exaggerated eye-rolling and agonized 'Must we?' 's have been directed at your faithful correspondent here. Why, after all, could I not just sit tight in tailored office wear behind my tastefully-designed desk and issuing scathing but well-worded critiques of NSA surveillance or prisoner abuse. Or maybe, at a pinch, I could try the soapbox harangue. In a suit. Not the birthday one. Such activity, it has been suggested, would just make everyone sooooooo much more comfortable.
And that is precisely why it is so ineffective. Having reached the exalted status of Doctor and Lecturer in International Law, it would indeed be only the expected thing for me to issue a moving and lengthy harangue on human rights on the subject of such notables as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. That pre-converted would listen and feel confirmed in their views, the vast majority would simply ignore it - not necessarily through ill-will, but out of boredom, time-constraints, the strain of following a discourse that is predicated on many years of specialized education, when really after a hard day's work, you just want to get smashed/ spend time with your children/go to the gym/insert activity of your choice here - and absolutely nothing would change. In fact, it is one of the great idiocies of those critical of government policies (be they austerity, surveillance, violations of the laws of war or anything else) that if only we talk enough, something will change. This is wishful thinking. Personally, I cannot think of one change that has ever been achieved merely by talking about it and the great social mobilizers of out rime - Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. - seem to have spent most of their time multitasking. Sure, there's got to be some 'debate', but at a certain point we just start turning in circles and that is generally the point where we start tearing each other down. All that frustration has to go somewhere.
Thus, in addition to my writings on the issue of whistle-blowers, I decided to do something. It was important to me that that something be simple and fun. After all, I am on the side of the righteous here, it's only fair that we all have a walloping good time. A revolution without dancing isn't worth having, and all that jazz.
From this starting position, I surveyed my options and noticed the plethora of charity calendars out there, particularly the "nude" ones. A quick search on ye old internet confirmed that people seemed to like this kind of thing, and I could see why - perfect combo of naughty and nice, yes/no? And a little part of me thought, yeah, and I could do it with great photos, too, because having worked as a model next to my studies, a good photo was not something I was currently lacking. From there the idea of running a charity calendar in aid of whistle-blowers gradually grew on me. I always felt that killing two birds with one stone exhibited a woeful lack of ambition. This project would take out the whole flock because: a) nude work reveals the body, just as whistle-blowing reveals facts that are important for decision-making in society, giving the project a pleasingly cohesive theme b) the project required people to do something, ie donate their money to the five whistle-blowing organizations we are supporting, thus getting everyone away from the habit of simply complaining and into the habit of meaningful participation, c) the calendar also addressed our perceptions of what "hot", "sexy" or attractive" is in a twofold manner - by implying that standing up for other people, revealing the truth and having some measure of courage should really be our yardstick for "hot", and by basically asking people to back tiny, non-breast-implanted, non-blonde, really quite austere and rather dominant, but bloody intelligent moi as hotter than your typical swimsuit calendar model - and d) keeping up, as Stephen Colbert would put it "production values". It is said that the devil has all the best tunes - well, not anymore.
That's grand, Roz, you might say, but no one's going to get that. This was, indeed, the risky part, but I had faith. I am happy to report that the vast majority of people who have heard about this project (from here to Serbia to Sri Lanka), seem to have fully comprehended all of the aforementioned rather subtle points, that women and men are purchasing this calendar in equal numbers, and that my (for a pessimist) astonishing level of faith in humanity has once again be rewarded. In fact, I'm quite impressed - people are not only basically good, apparently they are even better than I thought. So condemn me as a harlot if you will, but the fact remains that if we are serious about wanting to fix the problems in our society, including those revealed by whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, we're all going to have to put our money where our mouth is and get used to getting out of our comfort zones.