I happened across a reference to the activist group FEMEN.
Never heard of FEMEN?
FEMEN is a group of women who expose their bodies as a form of political protest. This (theoretically) accomplishes two things:
- It draws attention to their message (which is typically written around their bare breasts), and
- It draws criticism from feminists who see this as being exploitative
The group was founded in the Ukraine by Anna Hutsol. Initially, the group’s focus was to fight the rising rate of sex tourism and prostitution in Ukraine. Their current headquarters is in Paris, France. FEMEN is expanding internationally… reaching even into North and South America.
FEMEN boasts roughly 300 active members with ±20,000 followers on VK, the Russia-based, European version of Facebook (with an approximate number of followers on their Facebook pages).
Kitty Green created a documentary, “Ukraine is not a Brothel” (ukraineisnotabrothel.com) that gives some background information on FEMEN. The FEMEN web site provides more on their politics in three languages. BEWARE: Explicit language and nudity abounds there!
As might be expected, FEMEN activists are typically arrested for their public nudity. During one infamous topless protest in Tunisia, three members were sent to prison for “public indecency.” You can see the details of the Tunisian protest at BBC News Africa.
Another target of their activism is Russian President Vladmir Putin. A FEMEN invasion of German trade fair, as reported by The Guardian UK, was meant to draw attention to the issues near and dear to their hearts.
One question that rises from these activities: Is FEMEN helping or hurting feminism? In the video below, the question is asked as to whether FEMEN’s topless activism is porn or power?
While there may be some in that part of the world who appreciate their activities, there is a growing backlash against FEMEN by women.
Non-religious groups of women have also expressed their displeasure with FEMEN. The French Group Antigones came forward with the following statement:
“Femen, you claim that the battles fought by women are feminist,
We respond that they are feminine.
Femen, you claim that women’s rights should be fought for topless,
We respond that they are achieved with dignity.
Femen, you claim that religion is alienating,
We respond that it is for many of us a path to freedom and self-realization.
Femen, you claim that male chauvinism dominates our society and you fight against men,
We respond that it is only with men that we will completely be women.
Femen, you demand gender equality,
We respond that complementarity between men and women is what makes our society rich.
Femen, you are paid to fight for your ideas,
We respond that women’s rights cannot be traded.
Femen, you assert yourselves in violence and indignation,
We unite with composure and determination.”
Regardless of intentions or outcomes… FEMEN seems to be a group that will always be shrouded in controversy.