During a Black Lives Matter protest, amid tear gas and flying rubber bullets, a woman emerged, clad in only a beanie and face mask, and sat directly facing the police and federal agents on the streets of downtown Portland, Ore.
The so-called “Naked Athena” caught the attention of the nation with her bold stance. Her photograph has appeared in news outlets across the country, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, conjuring up both support and criticism. But what all the articles had in common was the question: “Who is she?”
The “Naked Athena” spoke out publicly for the first time since her photo’s fame two days ago when she was interviewed on the Portland podcast Unrefined Sophisticates. She revealed three facts of personal information: her name is Jen, she is a non-Black person of color, and she is a sex worker in her 30s.
In the interview, she recalled the night of the protest and her reaction seeing the police and federal agents blocking the streets and standing like “warriors.”
“This really feminine place in myself felt provoked and fired up,” she said on the podcast. “And I said, ‘I want to be naked. I want to confront them.’ And my partner said, ‘I’ll hold your clothes.’”
Though people have criticized her personal protest, she described it as a form of defiance that felt natural for her.
“I’m naked all the time basically,” she told the interviewers. “I’m a sex worker, and my nakedness is political. And it is my expression.”