Caius Economics Fellow’s naked protest show
My time seeing Victoria Bateman bare all for her 18+ event.
Cambridge’s ‘naked professor’ came to the Junction in the evening of Monday 14th, braving a 40-strong audience and cameramen.
My two friends and I had been supervised by Dr Victoria Bateman for British Economic History last year, and we’re unanimous in thinking that she’s superb at her job. We’re also all well aware of her tendency to protest in the nude; see her naked attendance at a Faculty meeting, a video on Feminist economics wearing nothing but £70, and appearing in a nude portrait to be displayed in London.
The talk opened with a fully clothed Bateman taking the stage, warning the audience of what was to come and asking those of a sensitive persuasion to leave (no-one did). She then launched into the opening notes of an anti-Brexit tirade, honestly mimicking many a drunk Cantabs’ enthusiastic grumbles. Then, off came the scarf, the coat, the shirt and the skirt. The audience sat rapt as she stripped completely, co-ordinated with the high point of her introduction; reading out the slogan written across her chest; ‘Brexit Leaves Britain Naked’. She’s in great shape, nerves visible at the start but quickly fading, and her speech is loud and clear. Hidden by the censor bars is a sizeable chunk of pubic hair.
The content was predictable – immigration, the NHS, freedom of movement and so on – with the odd metaphor breaking from the norm. Not having the ability to travel to and live in EU countries, she says, would take us back to medieval times, when feudal lords, in the knowledge their underlings couldn’t escape, would drive wages up and working conditions down. She calls wanting the ‘£350 million’ for the NHS similar to the bus fee to get to work; your financial status doesn’t improve by not getting on the bus. You quickly forget that she’s naked. Also, apparently 18% of Cambridge’s science funding comes from the EU. Who knew?
Remaining in the EU apparently gives us the ‘most bang for the buck’, a phrases she uses repeatedly in supervisions, ‘or’, she says, ‘most bang for the Euro’. Some people laugh. She loathes the distinction drawn between skilled and unskilled migrant workers, pointing out that the average migrant is more educated than the average native Brit, and says that ‘for every barrister, we need a barista’. More people laugh.
The link she draws to her nudity is the ‘Take Back Control’ mantra used so often by the Brexit camp; Dr Bateman is a hardline feminist, linking the saying (which she strongly attacks) to her reclamation of the power held by her own body. It’s tenuous, but in a Britain with more opinions on Brexit than it can stomach, it takes something special to get your voice heard. She’s not Cumberbatch, Geldof or Delia Smith (that said, if Benny wanted to protest literally anything in the nude, DM me with the time and the place), and she’s better placed to guess the consequences of Brexit than all three.
The talk closed with the first ever ‘human petition’ – which means, evidently, getting dozens of signatures on your naked body.
Her next protest is scheduled for later today (Tuesday 15th), where she plans to walk as far into Parliament as possible nude before, presumably, being arrested.