While the naked female form has been celebrated in various forms of art throughout the centuries, it’s rarely featured in its entirety in the contemporary film landscape.

Breasts have become so commonplace in films that their presence doesn’t even garner an R-rating. In fact, baring the bosom has coincided with Oscar gold for the likes of Holly Hunter and Halle Barry. The full frontal female form is another story: a bare pubic area can get a film slapped with the unsavory NC-17 rating.

One of the tools directors use to combat this is the merkin, a pubic-area wig that dates back to the 1400s that covers the more explicit area of the vagina. Surprisingly, shaving of the pubic area was common back then too, not for fashion or aesthetic purposes like today, but to combat pubic lice. They were also favored by prostitutes for covering up signs of STIs like syphilis.

These varying degrees of onscreen female nudity are so enticing to some people that there’s a subscription-based website called Mr. Skin, where instances of nudity are located and rated. Name dropped in the Judd Apatow film Knocked Up, the website attracts millions of visitors monthly.

“It’s the greatest job in the world,” said Jim McBride, the company’s chief executive. “As a kid, I used to tape as many movies as I could with nudity and then I’d save the nude scenes on separate tapes. I really amazed my friends with my nudity knowledge growing up.”

I’m going to step into Mr Skin’s shoes and catalogue some of my favorite instances of female nudity on film, scenes that are revered for their brash and commonplace treatment of a controversial subject:

Sharon Stone – Basic Instinct

Quite possibly the most iconic flashing scene of all time, Sharon Stone never breaks eye contact as she brazenly uncrosses her legs and pauses for a moment before recrossing them during a tense interrogation scene with Michael Douglas. Even though the view is partially obscured by shadows, her confidence in revealing her cooch leaves a very distinct impression of a woman in charge of her own sexuality. I adore this timing and tone of scene so much I spoofed it in a play I was in last year called If Looks Can Kill…. They Will.

femalenudity-juliannemooreJulianne Moore – The Big Lebowski

She’s on here partly for the way she channels her primal nude energy into dude-repelling feminist art, but mostly for the way she says “vagina,” tossing it out there with such conviction. I must admit, I’d love to try splattering paint while strapped naked to a harness, flying 30 feet through the air, but I’d change the music to something less childbirth-y. No stranger to skin on the screen, Moore has also shown off her feisty firecrotch in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts and her heavy breathing skills during a sexy lesbian tryst with Amanda Seyfried in 2009’s Chloe.

Kate Winslet – The femalenudity-katewinsletReader

Winslet’s steamy sex scenes were enough to catch and capture the attention of the Academy, who had nominated her five times before finally handing her the statue for 2009’s The Reader. She plays Hanna Schmitz, a 36-year old woman who seduces and begins an affair with a 15-year old boy, only to cross paths with him years later when she’s on trial for Nazi war crimes.

Though we’re not treated to a full frontal shot, we get plenty of Winslet’s beautiful breasts and bare buttocks as well as a side flash of her nether regions. Since it’s a period piece from the 1950s, Winslet’s grooming had to match, although she revealed to Allure magazine that she had trouble achieving the unkempt bush: “Because of years of waxing, as all of us girls know, it doesn’t come back quite the way it used to. They even made me a merkin because they were so concerned that I might not be able to grow enough.”

femalenudity-elizabethperkinsElizabeth Berkley – Showgirls

What seedy movie about a stripper’s rise to Vegas showgirl could be complete without a bunch of gratuitous female nudity? Paul Verhoeven’s controversial 1995 film Showgirls was the first NC-17 film to be given wide release in mainstream theaters and distributors even had to hire extra staff to verify the ages of the filmgoers. While the film was ultimately a box office flop, it earned a tidy profit in home video sales from all those teenage boys who were banned from theatrical release. It features a predictable array of lap dances and sultry skinny-dipping by star Elizabeth Berkley, who shows off without anything on, on more than a few occasions.

“Long live the topless jihad against infidels!  Our tits are deadlier than your stones!” – Inna Shevchenko

amina protest photoMembers of the radical feminist collective Femen are using their bodies as a weapon against patriarchy by scrawling slogans across their bare breasts and staging protests across Europe. One brave young Tunisian woman was recently threatened to death by stoning for two controversial photographs uploaded to the Femen Tunisia Facebook page.

In the first of the provocative images, the 19-year old activist known as Amina was topless with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest, giving the middle finger with each hand. The second photo showed her wearing thick eyeliner and smoking a cigarette with Arabic text written across her naked torso that read: “My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour”.

The pictures sparked an outcry from religious conservatives in Tunisia who insisted that she be punished not just according to sharia law, which would result 80 to 100 lashes, but that she be stoned to death for the severity of her actions. Tunisian preacher Almi Adel’s fear that her act could implant disobedient thoughts in other women’s heads seems to be coming to fruition, as Femen has declared April 4th Topless Jihad Day.

“Religious dictatorship begins by enslaving women, but a woman’s act of self-liberation is the first step toward destroying the sharia regime.  Topless protests are the battle flags of women’s resistance, a symbol of a woman’s acquisition of rights over her own body!” wrote one of group’s leaders, Inna Shevchenko.

Founded in Kiev in 2008, Femen has spread across the globe thanks to their broad, radical attitude and strong social media presence. Their three major targets in the war on patriarchy are all religions, dictatorships and the sex industry. While they protest what seems like a diverse array of issues- gay rights, anorexic-thin models at Milan Fashion Week, Euro 2012 and disgraced lecherous former Italian prime ministers to name a few- what remains constant is the attention that they attract from baring their breasts.

Some have criticized Femen for their topless warrior tactics, charging that their reliance on the shock factor and sex appeal of skin seems counterintuitive. The group firmly believes it is an attempt to reclaim the female naked body, in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

“A woman’s naked body has always been the instrument of the patriarchy,” said Shevchenko. “They use it in the sex industry, the fashion industry, advertising, always in men’s hands. We realised the key was to give the naked body back to its rightful owner, to women, and give a new interpretation of nudity … I’m proud of the fact that today naked women are not just posing on the cover of Playboy, but can be at an action, angry, and can irritate people.”

Amina was initially attracted to Femen because of their visibility in promoting women’s rights and freedoms. In her last interview before her disappearance, she told Italian journalist Federica Tourn that women in Tunisia are ready for a change. “Women have reached the height of self-determination: we no longer obey any authority, neither family nor religious. We know what we want and we make our own decisions.”

Unfortunately, Amina’s point of view is still the slim minority in contemporary Tunisian society. Since threats were made to her life, she vanished from the public eye. After her family vocalized their shame and disappointment with her, reports even emerged that they had her involuntarily committed to a mental institution, and members of Femen began to fear for her life again. Amina’s lawyer Bocha Bel Haj Hmida, a well-known Tunisian women’s rights activist, debunked those rumors when she made a statement that Amina was “home and well.”

As a burlesque dancer and strip karaoke aficionado, it both baffles and deeply saddens me that there are places in the world where the simple act of baring your breasts is enough to get you killed.


I once had a friend who could queef on command. The first time I saw her perform this uniquely feminine, though certainly not ladylike, bodily function was in front of three gay men. They giggled with glee and disbelief as she popped their queef cherry.

A queef, also known as vaginal flatulence, a vart, a pussy fart or a fanny fart for ladies across the pond, occurs when air that has been pushed into the vagina is expelled.

As a woman become aroused during sexual intercourse her vagina expands, allowing excess air to sneak in. Sometimes a queef can occur when the penis enters, as there is less room for the air. They also can occur after sex, when the vagina has returned to its normal size, thus expelling the air. Frequently changing positions during intercourse can increase the likelihood of pussy farts, as the more times the penis is completely taken out and thrusted back into the vagina, the more likely it is that air will be trapped in and pushed out.

Queefing can also occurring during other activities like yoga or pilates that involve bending and manipulation of the body. Since it is not comprised of intestinal gasses like a traditional fart, a queef has no odor.

To prevent or cut down on queefing, some doctors recommend Kegel exercises as a means of strengthening the vaginal muscles and pelvic floor. This allows the vagina to achieve a tighter grip around the penis, forming a more complete seal that doesn’t allow air in. Using lube during sexual intercourse has also been known to reduce queefing.

The best way to deal with a queef during sex is just to laugh it off. It’s a perfectly normal thing that happens to every woman at some point in their sexual escapades. South Park weighed in on this debate in a hilarious season 13 called “Eat, Pray, Queef”, where queefing gets banned because the men don’t find it funny at all, despite their preference for fart-based humor.

Some find the noise to be appealing, and downright arousing. As with just about anything else you can think of, there are a ton of porn videos on the internet devoted to girls of all kinds queefing their brains out. Radio shock jock Howard Stern held the world championships of queefing, where he pitted two women against each other to see who could exert the most queefs in the shortest amount of time. The winner, Abby, managed an astounding 93 queefs in 30 seconds, equaling about 3 per second. You’ve gotta see it to believe it!