No More Surfing Naked!

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

A few weeks ago, while surfing off the bukit, Bali’s most southern reaches where the population is small and the waves big, I paddled my board out among a group of three young Japanese surfers who were obviously on their holiday. They chatted among themselves, not really giving me much notice when suddenly one of the men suddenly punched his fist up in the air, victory style, and yelled “Banzai!” To which one of the other guys responded. “Doko?” (Where?)
“Banzai!” the guy said again, “Oppai! Oppai desu!” (It’s a breast; it’s a breast!). His friend looked towards the topless female tourists sunbathing on the beach and said, “Hon man! Oppai desu!” (Yes, it really is a breast!) Ahhh, boys will be boys. And girls will take their tops off.
The Balinese, like many local communities around the world who make their living from tourism, wouldn’t be caught dead lying naked on the beach. Frankly, they don’t understand what the big thrill is. But most communities are tolerant of tourists in the buff as their dollars are far more important. Yet it has long been known that Indonesians from Jakarta like to vacation in Bali just to gawk at the brazen, scantily clad tourists. “Banzai!”
But is topless bathing pornography? The Anti Pornography Bill supported by Prosperous Justice Party and Golkar is scheduled to be voted on, and possibly passed, as soon as this October. The passing of this bill would make topless bathing illegal per Article 79 of the Anti Pornography Bill that would no longer allow women to “show off sensual parts of the female body” including, um, exposing your navel. Yes, the Belly Button Battle has begun!
How much is an exposed belly button worth? Apparently from US$21,000 to over $100,000 in fines and 10 years in jail. But I wonder how they can put such values on a navel. Certainly some navels are sexier than others. Should we have our navels appraised? And I’d like to know will navel oranges have to cover up as well? What about naval bases? So what if the spelling is different — that shouldn’t exclude them from the crime.
Makes you wonder how much the penalty is for narrating the story of “the birds and the bees.” They even want to ban suggestive paintings and literature. What next? Will cows have to cover their udders in public? “Banzai!”
This may not surprise you, coming from “the most populous Muslim nation in the world.” But the naked truth is that up to now, “the most populous Muslim nation in the world” has in some ways enjoyed more freedoms than people in my country, the United States.
Even now in Indonesia you can walk around freely on the streets drinking a beer, even on a Sunday (gasp!). It’s a country where entire families, including children (of course!), have turned out to watch Islamic dangdut singer Inul Daratista gyrate on stage in her pole-dance style; where women breastfeed in public; where old women walk around with no shirts or bras, because, logically, “it’s too hot!”; and where I once had a Javanese masseuse who, among mixed company, took off her blouse and continued the massage in her brassiere because the air conditioner was broken. It’s no wonder Indonesians, including the Balinese, are upset with the bill.
What I’d like to know is: Will babies be fined upon exit from the womb? What about all those photos people send of their naked newborns? That’s surely bornography! And what about men — will they be fined for showing their navels? What about men peeing in the bushes? Will there be fines for exposing their organs? I want answers!
And, of course, as has already been brought up many times before, the bill threatens Balinese Hindu culture, cultural icons and even art. Yet the culture of the Balinese people is what brings so many Western tourists back every year to the Island of the Gods.
Not to mention the legions of tourists who come for the world-class surfing. Jafar Alam, a surfer who runs a surf camp in Muslim Bangladesh, says girls there surf in t-shirts and trousers. So perhaps Levis should get in on the act to make surf wear to sell in the shops in Bali. Either that or Billabong could start making surfing burkas.
There is no doubt that passing of this Anti-Pornography Bill will kill Western tourism to Bali.
In the meantime, a recently signed bilateral air agreement between Iran and Indonesia may result in Mahan Air adding daily flights between Tehran and Bali as early as December.
So guys, get your thrills in now, because next month, if the Anti-Pornography Bill passes, you may have to give a kiss goodbye to the naked breasts in Bali.
As for me, I never lie on the beach topless anyway. No, what I’ll really miss is surfing naked.

Amy, who may be spotted this weekend riding the waves around the Bukit in the buff, is at

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