Move over, Pussy Riot.
In the wake of the Pussy Riot trial, we at Nerve have been talking about other political dissidents who we've found particularly attractive. The purpose of this list is to give space to famous state-smashers we find both physically and politically/ethically/morally appealing. Call us crass, but we happen to think you can simultaneously admire a man's revolutionary idealism and his shapely buttocks. To the barricades!
10. Maud Gonne
If you want to really get a sense of how beautiful the revolutionary Irish feminist Maud Gonne was, just ask an English major at their local fast food establishment of employment. Gonne was muse to poet W.B. Yeats, and a considerable portion of his work is dedicated to comparing her to Helen of Troy, Pallas Athena, Deirdre, and a variety of other mythical tragic heroines. That's how foxy she was: she inspired some of the greatest poems of all time. Plus, like many dream-women, she was eternally unattainable, spurning Yeats to focus instead on fighting for Ireland’s freedom in the face of British colonization.
9. William Sloane Coffin
Despite being born into New York City's upper crust, William Sloane Coffin never stopped fighting for the little guy. A talented singer, athlete, and concert-level pianist who once wanted to work for the CIA, Coffin became an activist while serving as chaplain at Yale University. He passionately agitated for the civil rights movement and was active in organizing Freedom Rides to protest segregation, for which he was repeatedly jailed. In his early years, he was also a remarkably square-jawed kind of all-American handsome; look at how handsomely pissed-off he is in that mugshot. Call Joaquin Phoenix and bring on the biopic.
8. Roxana Saberi
Out of all the intrepid journalists who've been wrongfully imprisoned in recent years, Roxana Saberi may very well be the intrepidest, as well as the most symmetrical. Like a renegade cop with her badge revoked, Saberi filed news reports for six years despite having her press credentials revoked by Iranian authorities. Her defiance led to her arrest in 2009; she was charged with espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison. Saberi was released a few months later after her sentence was commuted, and has since written a book about her ordeal. Her continued work on behalf of Iran's unjustly imprisoned just adds to her near mythical levels of badassery.
7. Joe Hill
A Swedish immigrant to the U.S., Joe Hill worked odd jobs from New York to San Francisco as part of the Industrial Workers of the World. He was also a successful political cartoonist and songwriter who wrote some of the most beloved pro-labor songs of his (or anyone's) time, like "There is Power in a Union," and "The Preacher and The Slave." Hill was later tried for murder, and while many (including President Woodrow Wilson) fought for clemency, he was executed by firing squad. His legacy as a champion of the working class remains untarnished. Also, look at his eyes.
6. George Ives
George Cecil Ives is regarded as one of the earliest gay rights activists, a writer who tirelessly dedicated his life to combat the oppression of homosexuals. Ives even went so far as to form the Order of Chaerona, a secret society of gay men that provided a means of communication for his otherwise silenced contemporaries, like some kind of gay Justice League, only not. Ives’ good friend Oscar Wilde (surprise) was smitten with his good looks, and we’re inclined to trust Wilde’s judgment in these matters.
NEXT: "It hardly seems fair that someone so intellectually acute should also be able to rock the Buddy Holly look…"
5. Noam Chomsky
Philosopher, linguist, activist, and guy responsible for 75% of the quotes your friends post as their Facebook statuses, Noam Chomsky is among the greatest minds of our time. Chomsky’s big, beautiful brain has given him a "sexy professor" vibe for most of his life, and while at eighty-two he could just lie back and let the academic accolades pile up, he remains one of the country’s sharpest political critics. Plus, look how handsome he was! It hardly seems fair that someone so intellectually acute should also be able to rock the Buddy Holly look.
4. Angela Davis
Ronald Reagan once personally tried to bar Angela Davis from teaching in California; if you can piss off the Gipper, you're okay by us. After being wrongly accused of murder, Davis became the third woman in history to be added to the FBI's Most Wanted List, and was eventually arrested. She served for eighteen months before being acquitted of all charges. She's since become a popular public speaker and lecturer, as well as an advocate for gay rights. Sign of profound dissident sex appeal: her distinctive, afro-rocking style was adopted by sex symbol Pam Grier in ideologically loaded blaxploitation films like Coffy. Respectfully, that's more than you can say for Eugene Debs.
3. Malcolm X
Simple rule of thumb: if Denzel Washington can convincingly play you in a movie, you are one attractive political dissident. Fiercely devoted to his wife, Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X was also a devout Muslim; for both reasons, he probably wouldn’t approve of being honored for something as base as sex appeal. But tough cookies. It’s his own fault for having been as dashingly handsome as he was radical.
2. Bobby Sands
Bobby Sands had great hair. We’re talking a head of Grade A, TRESemme-approved, full, luscious locks. There: now that we’ve demeaned one of Ireland’s most revered political figures, we can move onto the sad part. As well as being really goddamn handsome, Bobby Sands organized a hunger strike for prisoners' rights, one that led to his death and the deaths of nine other men. The fatal protest resulted in a surge in IRA recruitment, and strained political tensions in Ireland. But man, just look at that magnificent hair. Like a lion’s mane, that thing.
1. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is like the poster child for political dissidents. The anti-apartheid activist’s tribulations and triumphs are as numerous as they are well-documented by Morgan Freeman movies, so let’s dedicate this space to admiring a less-discussed distinction: his raw sexual charisma. Compassionate, stoic, magnanimous, Mandela could have established democracy in South Africa with a single smoldering look.