Axis of Eve
Elizabeth Eve never thought of herself as an exhibitionist. But these days, the 33-year-old history professor with the gold nose ring can barely contain the urge to lift her skirt and flash her skivvies.
“There is something so liberating and exciting about it, you’ve got to try it out,” she said recently as she fidgeted, fully clothed, on the couch in her friend Tasha’s Manhattan apartment. “I was teaching a class on imperialism, ” she continued, “and I was delivering all this material that was kind of new and upsetting, and everyone was getting all worked up and upset, and I was getting all worked up and upset, and all of a sudden, all I wanted to do was flash my underwear! It was crazy,” she said with a throaty giggle.
That’s because she wasn’t wearing just any panties. Elizabeth is part of Axis of Eve, a fledgling group of rabble-rousing feminists and anti-war activists who have taken to flashing their undies as a form of political dissent. The Eves, as they call themselves, are on a mission to sex up protest. They take to the streets wearing “protest panties” which come emblazoned with anti-Dubya double-entendres like “Expose Bush,” “Lick Bush,” “Give Bush the Finger” and “Drill Bush Not Oil.” When the Eves flash them at rallies, the effect is somewhere between a 1970s’ love-in and George Bush’s worst, frat- addled nightmare of a panty raid gone awry.
“The panties have this way of just mobilizing, energizing, inspiring,” said Tasha Eve, a cultural anthropologist who co-founded the Axis with one of her best high-school buddies, Zazel Eve (as an act of sisterly solidarity, Axis members all use the last name Eve when they are in Axis mode).
Tasha, who is 33, was presiding over a late-night panty powwow with Zazel and Elizabeth. As Elizabeth perched on Tasha’s couch, Zazel sprawled on the floor in a cream-colored body suit and lavender “Lick Bush” thong. “I think sometimes verbal discourse is insufficient as a mode of expression,” Tasha said, as if she were delivering a lecture for her fellowship at a prominent New York university. “There’s something raw and wonderful and gratifying about the more gestural expression of the flash. By putting on these bold, outrageous displays, we want to inspire others to also be bold.”
Boldness, of course, has its limits. Though they’re willing to strip down to a string in front of a crowd of hundreds, they’re not yet willing to go fully public by using their full names. “We’re in this double-bind, because we’re engaged in this campaign of exposure, but we can’t expose ourselves,” said Elizabeth. “I mean, I’m a college professor. Can you imagine what the mothers would be like? ‘No, you can’t teach our daughters!’ ”
Not only does she wear a nose ring and show her underwear at a whim, but she, like, doesn’t use proper grammar. Not to mention her subtle wit. She should get tenure immediately.