Posted: Tue, May 28, 2013 | By: Feminism
by Hank Pellissier
Six hundred years ago, fierce horsemen - Cossacks - roamed the Ukrainian steppes, promoting their freedom and terrifying all opposition. Today a new militant, creative force is emerging from the vast East European nation…
You’ve seen the confrontational sexy photographs of the “topless warriors” - provocative via both definitions. Half-naked feminist-activists shrieking with obscene slogans scrawled on their bosoms, disrupting the gatherings of sexist authoritarian political, economic, religious and social elites.
FEMEN “sextremists” have bared their complaints for five years and they’re already, inarguably, the most visible and notorious feminist group in the world. Their geographical reach exceeds their Cossack ancestors - chapters have been installed in Paris and Sao Paulo (Brazil) with future branches intended for New York and Montreal.
The “jihadist” tactics of FEMEN are not appreciated by all women, of course, nor are they condoned by all progressives, or even all feminists. Critics sneer for a multitude of reasons. Anti-FEMEN essays are everywhere, an excellent example is Le Monde’s essay by Mona Chollet - “The Fast-Food Feminism of the Topless Femen” - where she derides the group’s “intellectual laziness and arrogance.”
Other analysts are more admiring. Jonathan Jones in his report in The Guardian, says, “FEMEN deserve the support the Arab spring got. They’re giving patriarchy – and mealy-mouthed relativists – a kick up the arse.” Another pro-FEMEN observer is Jeffrey Tayler of The Atlantic, who believes, “The radical feminist group has ignited human-rights debates we need to have.”
My opinion? I’m 100% fully supportive. I’m a FEMEN Fan. Here’s why, in a sextet of categories:
#1 FEMEN IS “TOP-FREE” The Ukrainian activists are often dissed as blatant hypocrites and shameless media sluts because they bare their bosoms while simultaneously condemning prostitution and sex tourism. Critics who level this complaint are missing the point. Men don’t have to cover their torsos, so why are women required to do so? Why can’t women be topless? There are numerous “Topfree” organizations around the globe, like the TopFree Equal Rights Association in the USA.
The only reason women aren’t allowed to be topless is because male-dominated society has fetishized their breasts and nipples - this results in mandates requiring their invisibility. Society’s insistence that women can’t be topless is exactly the same moral fascism as [Islamic] cultures that insist women must wear scarves to cover their heads, or burkas to cover their entire physiques. “Don’t arouse us, you evil sinful temptresses” is the oppressive message enclosed in all rules that demand higher degrees of cover-up for women to endure.
FEMEN’s toplessness ignores society’s unfair, uncomfortable, and unequal laws regarding body exposure. Nudity itself is often extolled as a positive in their slogans: “Nudity is Freedom”, “Naked Truth” etc. Let women take off their shirts! It’s their body, not yours!
#2 FEMEN ATTACKS CATHOLICISM. Feminist gripes against the largest Christian denomination are so obvious and justified that they hardly need explanation. Catholicism is grossly misanthropic - women can’t be priests, or pastors, or bishops, or Cardinals, or Popes. Women can’t baptize, or perform Holy Communion, or Confirmation, or Matrimony, or deliver Penance, or the last rites of Extreme Unction. Women are clearly positioned in the cult as the inferior gender, a demarcation that is shameful, unacceptable in our time. Why is it even allowed to operate in a secular nation? In the USA, we outlaw gender discrimination in the workplace, but the Church of Rome can maintain its no-women-in-high-office policy. Additionally, the Vatican bullies women in fertility and reproduction decision-making. Plus it’s rampantly, cruelly homophobic. FEMEN responds to the Papacy’s patriarchal oppression with regular actions - last week their activists appeared at both St. Peter’s in Rome and Notre Dame in Paris, chanting “Pope No More!” with the same slogan painted on their bare chests.
#3 FEMEN ATTACKS ISLAM. Similar to #2, with even greater justification. Islam / Muslim nations / sharia law are all horrifically repressive regarding women’s rights, in multiple ways. Let’s start with the obvious over-dressing in Islam, the head scarves and black burkas, and the fact that women who rebel, like anti-Islamist Egyptian nude activist Alia al-Mahdi, or Tunisia’s topless atheist Amina Tyler, are persecuted and threatened with death. Moving past that, there’s the cruel, misogynistic customs, closely associated with Islam, like honor killings, child brides, female genital mutilation, and polygamy. Women still can’t drive in Saudi Arabia, girls’s schools are still bombed in Afghanistan. Muslim “feminists” have been amongst the harshest critics of FEMEN, but aren’t both “Catholic feminist” and “Islamic feminist”… nonsense terms? Allegiance to the religions referred to obliterates all real possibility of being a genuine feminist. I mean, is “Vampire Veganism” possible?
#4 FEMEN ATTACKS MALE POWER-PIGS. Men in positions of power are frequently the targets of FEMEN’s wrath and ridicule. Vladimir Putin has been harassed for jailing Pussy Riot. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was humiliated in a “sex-assault” by FEMEN, who appeared at his front door in Paris “armed with buckets, mops, rags and other tools for cleaning off shit,” to shame him for being “the symbol of lawless, arrogant rapists and the lust and hypocrisy of the male political elite.”
#5 FEMEN ATTACKS BARBIE & OTHER BIMBOS. Last week, FEMEN burned a Barbie doll at the opening of the Barbie “Dreamhouse Experience” in Germany. FEMEN deplores the sweatshop production of the Mattel product, but primarily, FEMEN hates the Barbie body-type that objectifies women and poisons young girls’s minds. In 2011, FEMEN also attacked a “live” bimbo, Paris Hilton. The American celebrity judging the Miss Ukraine contest was disrupted by a FEMEN activist who burst in to protest the event, denouncing the “meat market for oligarchs.”
#6 FEMEN IS BRILLIANT & FUN. FEMEN’s actions against injustice are always conducted with imagination and courage. Their naked torsos are an eye-catching feature, of course, but additionally, there’s often an agit-prop theater element that’s rudely subversive, like chain-sawing a huge memorial Russian Orthodox crucifix to protest the creed’s complicity in the imprisonment of Pussy Riot. FEMEN’s pronouncements are also passionate and brutal, like their recent threat that they’d find and castrate accused pedophiles in Paris, if they were released by police. Plus, their slogans are witty: “We Came, We Stripped, We Conquered.”
All in all, what’s not to like? FEMEN, and the young women who join the organization, don’t believe social change will arrive via elderly scholars at academic conferences, or well-behaved “Take Back the Night” marches. Obviously FEMEN’s antics - showing their breasts, etc - guarantee them attention. But… is this crass, or just media savvy?
I wish FEMEN unqualified success in their refreshing agenda for Women’s Equality. I hope their movement spreads like a beautiful healing bacteria, to every corner of this inequitable Earth.
Visit FEMEN’s website HERE.