Libertarian Activist's Nude Flag Pose Still Grabs Eyes, Ire

Oregon libertarian once wrapped herself in nothing but Old Glory. Old anger still resonates.

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Theresa Reed posing with the flag. (Photo © David Rolin )

Theresa "Darklady" Reed has been provoking discussion in politics for more than a decade.

In 2002, she ran as a libertarian on a platform of sexual freedom for the Oregon House of Representatives, where she earned 10 percent of the vote, and then in 2004 she ran for the Oregon Senate. Reed also joined a write-in independent presidential campaign with writer Desmond Ravenstone. 

Since those campaigns, Reed has moved from politics to activism, holding a board seat on the Free Speech Coalition and Free Speech Alliance, and writing about sexual freedom issues for the Huffington Post and AVN & GayVN magazines.

But one photo has followed her throughout her evolution: an image of herself nude, draped in the American flag.

The photo, originally taken for a calendar of female libertarian politicians but never used, employs a 52-foot-long nylon American flag that Reed took from the Oregon Libertarian Party headquarters.

"I love my country and my flag, which the picture represents," Reed tells Whispers, comparing it to the photo of Mae West as the Statue of Liberty.

Reed says she has recieved some messages of support for the image, which appears on a number of social networks. But veterans have also expressed anger, telling her she is dishonoring a flag that people have fought and died for.

Reed compares the reaction to the one leveled at Michigan Rep. Lisa Brown, who was banned from speaking on the House floor this month after using the word "vagina."

"Both bring home the fact that women in predominantly masculine pursuits have these body parts too," said Reed, who says she has told veterans who wrote her that the photo was meant in a positive sense. "But I like that the photo inspires conversation."

What do you think of the photo?

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.