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April 04, 2010


Melissa May

Um...tacky! And how do you instruct someone to "be respectful" about stripping down nude in front of strangers? Is there a disrespectful way too? How can you tell the difference? That part doesn't really make any sense to me.


As a religious Jew I find this totally ridiculous, and I feel sorry for religious people (of every persuasion) who have to be subjected to this. And people complain that the Christians are taking over the public square!

Pink Hijabi

You are not a killjoy, and I would be completely scandalized. I think a lot of people like this believe that everyone shares the same laxity and values that they do....they don't take into account that some people won't think its funny.

I live in Austin, TX and I see this behavior everyday of the week. Austin has two very notable characters who walk around/ ride bikes in thongs everyday....everywhere...even in family neighbourhoods :(

A Man

We have this amazing thing in America called 'The Law'. You yourself state that 1) They were wearing underwear and were not actually naked and, 2) according to the legal code of the state of New York, apparently it wouldn't have mattered even if they had been. Do I think you're a killjoy, no, there's no point in name calling, you do have a right to your opinion. You also have the right to lobby your state representative for legislative change to New York's indecent exposure laws but I can't help but think that there are many other more serious issues facing us today that could benefit from the strength of conviction that you display.

women's studies student

Great article Erica. This type of invasion of space is to some degree, oppression--just not in the way we usually define it. As someone who is becoming more religious myself as a Jewish woman, these kinds of acts make me wish we had a new definition of open-mindedness. Because I don't think this is appropriate, I am seen as narrow and frigid--which feels really upsetting and marginalizing.

A student in one of my women studies classes wanted to watch porn for one of our lessons. I know it was sort of a joke, but I felt really left out because it seemed like everyone else thought it was a funny/great idea. We didn't end up doing that--but we did have to check out a "feminist" porn website before the next class.

I really do love that in women studies we are careful about our language in the way we talk about women of diverse race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. But I often feel left out because I am the oppressed, conservative/religious woman who isn't comfortable with her sexuality. I wish you guys were all in my clasess so I could have a good sense of community.

Headless Unicorn Guy

I just chalk it up to Stupid People Tricks.

"Stupidity is like hydrogen -- it's the basic building block of the Universe."
-- either Harlan Ellison or Frank Zappa

But then I'm a guy, and I remember being 10 years old and male where anything gross, disgusting, or shocking was hilarious (AKA Bart Simpson Syndrome).

Erin P

That it takes place in a confined space makes everyone a captive audience. That's the part of this equation that transcends performance art or free expression...

While it may bring smiles and laughs to some people, it can also constitute a risk to public safety because of those close, moving quarters. The only thing I can think of that would be worse is "pulling it off" in the hot, sweaty summertime. I spent many a summer working in NYC and trust me, it's so crowded in there, you're practically entwined with perfect strangers as it is...

Hannah Herman

Wow, this really cracks me up, and here is why:
On the one hand, for us modest folk, who have a respect and dignity for our bodies- seeing people do this is upsetting.
But, the part that makes me laugh, is that its 2010. In NYC. And the culture is so entrenched in low standards of dress, and "self expression" (aka public displays of flesh and nudity), that seeing people strip is kinda no big deal. This follows along the idea that Wendy wrote about in her book: the part about how private parts become no big deal when you make everything about the body casual...no difference between one's genitals and "an elbow".
So, I find this prank to be of no shock. Unfortunately!
Also, I want to comment to women's studies student:
Number 1, I think you raise great points! And, I sympathize with you situation; it must be terrible to be the only one with more depth and sensitivity in a class full of feminist porn watching people:(
It is so upsetting to hear that a Womens Studies class, that has so much potential for good, is seeped with so many base topics. I too am a student, taking a women's studies class- its a different type of WS class- called "Jewish Women in the Medieval Ages: Stereotypes and Role Models", and I absolutely love it! We read and discuss aspects pertaining to the ways women lived, were treated, their rights, status, and how the "system" failed or empowered them. It is my hope that you and the rest of us students only encounter classes and professors who identify & study women with dignity and sensitivity...

Headless Unicorn Guy

If they picked the right subway train and time, they'd have to compete with that crazy Jamaican woman in red who rides around singing "ME NO LIKE LES-BI-ANS!" at the top of her lungs. (Lots of camera-phone videos of her on YouTube.)

Or hire her for accompaniment. No-Underwear Subway Ride strip-tease visuals and Crazy Jamaican Woman audio track -- now THAT would be a head trip!

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