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Nude Twitter Calendar Promotes Sex Education and Gender Equality in Macedonia

Avid Twitter user and freelance photojournalist Ivana Batev has joined forces with other Macedonian Twitter users for the second year in a row to create and publish a calendar that promotes sexual education and gender equality through nude subjects and interior design concepts.

After the successful first run in 2013, the 2014 charity calendar with artistic nude photos of Macedonian Twitter users, who volunteered their time and bodies, was launched on Sunday, December 29, 2013 in Skopje. While last year's edition promoted breast cancer awareness, the topic for this year's Twitter calendar is sex education with a secondary focus on interior design. The current edition also introduced a much wider diversity of models, including males, while last year's calendar featured a brave all female cast.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014. Message for November: Gender equality is not a threat to the family.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014, message for November: “Gender equality is not a threat to family.”

All Twitter Calendar photos are published under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

The driving force behind the 2014 calendar, Ivana Batev, known as @ref on Twitter, tweeted:

…Whoever thinks that to undress in Macedonia is not revolutionary doesn't live in the same society as me, and I envy them.

The tweet was also quoted by Novica Nakov in his English-language post about the calendar. He wrote:

I agree with this and I think that this is the strongest statement we can send with the photographs today. Kudos for all the people who were audacious enough to undress before her.

Also, big thanks to HERA who provided sex education tips in 140 characters twitter format and to everyone who bought photographs. The money will be used to help marginalized communities in Macedonia.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014, message for January: No always means No! Nakedness is not a substitute for consent.

Macedonian Twitter Calendar 2014, message for January: “No always means No! Nakedness is not a substitute for consent.”

Ana Vasileva, who is a member of the initiative “Fight like a woman” (@borisezenski), which supported the callendar with direct participation, wrote on her blog [mk]:

On daily basis, thousands of women around the world are subject to persuasion that they are too fat, too wide, too hairy, that their skin is too dark, that they are not beautiful enough, smart enough, good enough. Thousands of women around the world constantly buy countless cosmetic products and clothes to make themselves more beautiful, to hide themselves, to cover their “flaws.”

Facing this, we say: “We like our bodies just the way they are. Our legs carry us where we want to go, our hands create miracles, our breast fill us with admiration, our heads build towers and break walls. Our bodies are not objects to be punished or forced to fulfill certain societal standards, our bodies serve for our pleasure – and for no one else, our bodies are ours only!”

Aside from the social change and awareness that the authors and participants of the calendar intend to raise, there is also a charitable aspect to this unique project. Namely, funds gathered from the sale of the hard copy calendars will be donated to people from marginalized communities in Macedonia.

The Twitter discussion around the hashtag #твитеркалендар (#Twittercalendar) included many positive reactions, from applauding the courage of its participants to praises of the characteristics of some of the models, who went by their Twitter handles or anonymously in some of the more revealing photos. The few nagging trolls that spoke up on Twitter were soon directly contradicted with tweets like this one by Macedonian Twitter user @ordanoskiv:

Instead of (unjustified) criticism of the Twitter calendar, you should aim your weapons at the kitsch on the Vardar Quay.

[Referring to the construction Skopje 2014 project which resulted in world media such AP and Spiegel deeming Skopje "capital of kitsch."]

According to local news aggregator Time.mk, some 40 online media in Macedonia reported on the calendar. However, only a few of them included links to the entire calendar and, even though it isn't labeled as pornographic, some of them labeled the articles and its images as “18+” material.

  • Makedonier1991

    Filip Stojanovski the propaganda man of the loser opposition in his element spreading tweets from not related persons as arguments, what a dumbas

    • Rexon

      You are born in the 90s your argument is invalid.

  • Mercedes Vega

    How does this picture make a positive statement on women equality or any progressive message? All these women look young and ” hour glassed” shape. To me this is another way to attract publicity. Nudity like this ends up becoming a distraction rather than a positive statatement. And in the case of the men they at least put an older man who was not unfit. Lastly, all these people look White so who ever wrote this deserves kudos needs to double check with their senses.

    • s.

      Well there’s a really good explanation to this Mercedes.
      Nobody chose these women during a casting for models or in any particular way (same goes for the men in the calendar). These are people that *volunteered* to be in the calendar. They are twitter users who decided that they are comfortable with their bodies and more importantly, that they want to contribute to the *cause* of the calendar which is promoting certain non-patriarchal values. Particularly the picture with the bunch of women on it, says that even though a woman is nude, that itself doesn’t state that therefore she wants to engage in sexual activities, and adds that her body is hers only. Some of the other calendar photographs fight the government’s attempt to raise the natality rate of Macedonia, by instructing women to focus on their *role* as breeding machines, and reproduce as much as they can, promoting a ferocious anti-abortion campaign. These are just some of the values these people *voluntarily* chose to represent by exposing their bodies to the conservative Macedonian public.
      As for racial diversity, if you’ve ever been to Macedonia, or researched this topic, you would find that you’d be lucky to see a person of a different race who actually isn’t a tourist, and if you did see them, you’d also see a herd of people running around them trying to take a photo with them – as harsh as it sounds. To clarify, if there was a person who volunteered to be in the calendar, regardless of their race (or body shape – since you mentioned it), they would-have-been-in-the-calendar.

      • TV Guide

        “As for racial diversity, if you’ve ever been to Macedonia, or researched this topic, you would find that you’d be lucky to see a person of a different race who actually isn’t a tourist, and if you did see them, you’d also see a herd of people running around them trying to take a photo with them”

        - Have u ever been to Macedonia?

        Mercedes Vega is right. Even the topic of the calendar is as stupid as it can get..

        “the topic for this year’s Twitter calendar is sex education with a secondary focus on interior design.”

        - Wtf is this? Im gonna put a picture of my naked body to show how sexually educated I am and also support lgbt??? And also look at my cool living room setup…

        This is just a thrive for attention nothing more.

        • novica

          The ‘interior design’ thing is part of the more fun aspect of the project. Some of the photographs are going to be used as exploration of the topic ‘what parts of the home can be caught on camera while making erotica/pornography’. This is not really explained in this article, but anyhow it is not the primary purpose of the calendar.

          It would be nice if the GV people translate all the messages bellow the pictures, and maybe then you can see more clearly the context of them all.

        • s.

          “- Have u ever been to Macedonia?”

          Yes I have, I’ve been all over Macedonia. I’ve lived in Macedonia – several parts of it. Now I live in Skopje, and I assume you do too, because I know the “herd of people running after” isn’t the case here, but it most definitely is in the rest of Macedonia. I’m telling you this because I’ve talked to women of different races and especially in the more rural places they feel like (and I’m gonna quote) “animals in the zoo”. These are their words and they certainly don’t like it. (anyhow, back to the topic)

          “- Wtf is this? Im gonna put a picture of my naked body to show how sexually educated I am and also support lgbt??? And also look at my cool living room setup…”

          When you look at it from that perspective, of course it’s gonna sound like that. Even if she was wearing a tuxedo your sentence would go like this “Im gonna put a picture of me wearing a tuxedo to show how sexually educated I am and also support lgbt???”

          I understand that some people such as yourself don’t find this calendar or the idea behind it suitable or effective. What puzzles me is that you don’t do anything to show them that there’s a better thing to promote these values. Take initiative, show them how you imagine this happening. It’s really easy to spam all over the internet about something that you don’t like, but what’s hard is actually doing things a better way. Somebody spent a lot of time and energy creating this calendar, in order to raise awareness. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. What did you do?

      • Mercedes Vega

        I respect your point of view, and to be honest as a woman, I believe that trying to make a statement by taking of ones clothes only reinforces the objectification of women as negative sexual symbols. This might have worked in the 60s or 70s but is now overrated. Why not deconstruct patriarchal paradigms by capturing images of women engaging into leadership or creative roles? By using our bodies to counter a patriarcal message we are only using the same tool that the world uses to denigrate women. I appreciate the time you took to reply and would like to remind you that this is my opinion as a young women of color who is also comfortable with her body but doesnt feel the need to have to expose it to make a statement. As you can see I feel very strong about women issues everywhere and this kind of publicity often gets lost in translation.

        • novica

          Your points are spot on. In fact there are many ways to raise issues of gender and sex-education. However, in this current situation, the people involved, decided that this is the way to do it.

          Maybe for a different set and setting it should be done differently, but in Macedonia it fits nicely into the general struggle for more rights, emancipation and tolerance.

        • s.

          “As you can see I feel very strong about women issues everywhere and this kind of publicity often gets lost in translation.”

          …the same way it got lost in this case. Let me explain. I understand where you’re coming from and why you don’t appreciate nudity being a part of this campaign. What you didn’t catch, probably because they didn’t translate all the pictures from the calendar, is that all of the posters in the calendar focus on education in the field of *sexual rights* of women and minorities and gender roles, and therefore they found it suitable to showcase women and don’t forget, men, naked. This calendar is not about women’s representation in the business sector, women’s leadership initiatives etc., it’s about sexual rights and education. Another thing you missed seeing is all the men in the calendar, engaging in activities that in Macedonia are seen as women’s roles (ironing, sowing, cleaning); and even emotions (men crying is seen as a weakness or a feminine characteristic).

          The reason I don’t think this directly offends women and makes them look bad, is that there are also men exposing themselves for the sake of playing the same roles and showing that these things are not something that women are exclusively made for. These photos are not to be hung in a truck cabin, because, as the message in one of the photos says, “even though they’re naked, that doesn’t mean that they’re ready for sex or feel like it whenever the man wishes for it”, unlike pornography – where women look seductive and willing to do anything.

          Again, this is the message I believe the author of this campaign went for, and I appreciate that at least somebody in Macedonia does something to initiate a healthy discussion about these issues, unlike many (and I’m not thinking of you of course when I say this) that are only here to criticize because they don’t really care about women’s issues at all.

          • Mercedes Vega

            I saw the man in the calendar if you would read my first posting you would know my opinion in regards to that. everything I have stated is my opinion based on what I have seen throughout the years. I have no problem with nudity and also not comparing this to pornography, I am certainly smarter than that. But, what I am trying to tell you is that to mainstream followers, will STILL continue to see just young nude young women. I won’ t even pretend that I am more aware of the specific issues faced in Macedonia. I will speak on what I know about the common issues we face as women. Women are seen as sex in most parts of the world and when women use their bodies (often the part used to oppress them) to make a message, we fight a battle with the same hand that degrades us. In response to the men, there will always be a double standard and men are taught to embrace their body, whatever shape it is. In fact in the men’s picture they have one man that is overweight, but the women they are all slim and young. Volunteer or not that still reflects what people are comfortable with their bodies in your society. As most of you mentioned this might work for your country because sexual liberation is still a problem. I understand the idea of taking back control of our bodies’ rights but we must take control of our bodies first I wish you the best in your campaign and hope it some how makes its point of sex education clear.

  • Pingback: Nude Twitter Calendar Promotes Sex Education and Gender … | fitnesshold | fitnesshold

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  • Susan Parris

    No saggy bellies. No saggy boobs. No grey hairs. No wrinkles. Not a realistic portrayal of society, whether it be in Macedonia or any other European society. However, I do appreciate the point it’s trying to make. Next time maybe try to get a wider spread of “humans” :D

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