Nice But Misguided (NSFW)

FEMEN - ????? - Ukrainian topless protest group based in KievYou just have to love European street protests – Muslim riots being the obvious exception; they can almost always be counted on to be colorful, entertaining, and likely to feature topless women.

Of course sometimes they’re nice but useless, a jaded European populous being uncaring of the message the women are trying to present along with their bodies.

Other times, however, the topless street protests seem completely misguided because what the young women are protesting would seem to actually be served by the women’s naked antics rather than opposed by them. The Ukrainian street protest group, FEMEN falls, in my opinion, into this latter category.

FEMEN – Nice, Beautiful Even, But Misguided

 

FEMEN states that some of their goals are: “To develop leadership, intellectual and moral qualities of the young women in Ukraine” and “To build up the image of Ukraine, the country with great opportunities for women”

It may just be my American prudery, but I don’t see how what they’re doing develops these young women’s intellectual and moral qualities. I’ll easily grant that they’re building up the image of Ukraine, but I don’t think they’re building it up the manner that they wish to…

As beautiful and attention grabbing as FEMEN’s street protests are, when an organization is protesting against against sex tourists, international marriage agencies, sexism, and other real or perceived social ills, perhaps topless young women carrying our various provocative actions aren’t exactly the best means by which to protest.

Frankly, it seems to me that FEMEN is the best advertising for sex tourism and international marriage agencies that Ukraine could come up with.

Related Reading:

FEMEN : manifeste
Feminisms Matter: Debates, Theories, Activism
Sargent's Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas
The Politics (Penguin Classics)
Feminist Frontiers

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11 Responses to “Nice But Misguided (NSFW)”

  1. Paradigm Says:

    It’s the only way to get attention. Only anti-Semitism can compete with boobs it seems, and in eastern Europe even that is a bit mainstream.

  2. jonolan Says:

    That is actually what the women in FEMEN claim as well, Paradigm.

    I just think that it’s wildly misguided to think that displaying rather attractive, half-naked, young women in a provocative manner is a sound method for stopping the sex tourism trade or international “mail order” bride trade.

    I’m also not sure how a feminist group can think they’re sending a positive message to young women when they’re resorting to showcasing their bodies instead of anything of more lasting value.

    Isn’t that sort of objectification something they’re supposedly against? Or is that a purely American flavor of feminism?

  3. Zhann Says:

    Being a big fan of FEMEN, and being Ukrainian, I can shed some light on this topic. For starters, it is important to remember that you have an American ideology which, outside of the US, isn’t very common. For the most part Ukrainians, for example, do not consider nudity (especially topless women) anything out of the ordinary. Since all beaches are topless, almost all Ukrainians have been exposed to breasts from childhood and don’t think that much of it (most European countries feel similarly). Americans, on the other hand, have been taught from a young age that a woman’s nipple is sacred and if you look upon it for too long you may go blind.

    The girls of FEMEN realized that flashing a tit here and there is the most surefire way to gain international attention, hence they take the opportunity any chance they get (especially if there is a photographer present). Initially, if you follow them way back, this wasn’t the case. If memory serves me correct, they adopted this tactic over a year into their demonstrations … after which, their notoriety grew exponentially.

    Now, I understand the western mentality very well. For the most part, the vast majority of Americans view FEMEN’s actions exactly the same as you do now. However, you have to look beyond their actions to what they accomplish. The girls currently have branches throughout Ukraine and Eastern Europe, all making significant changes within their country. While you see it as pornography fighting pornography, Ukrainians don’t see that at all. These girls have amassed an insane following throughout Ukraine, which is starting to scare the current administration (hence, the increase in their arrests).

    My advice, look past the breasts and more to what these girls are trying to say. I understand that the majority of men are looking at the breasts, especially in breast-deprived America (hence all my posts about them on mizozo), but keep in mind that in their short existence the Ukrainian government have grown scared of their numbers and the people are really rallying behind their ideas. While no laws are changing (yet), I believe if they keep this up they are much more likely to change than if FEMEN never existed.

    … not to mention, I much enjoy the show.

  4. jonolan Says:

    Zhann,

    I’m a fan of FEMEN myself. I’ve listened, as I could through the language barrier, to what they have to say. I like a lot – not all of course – of what they want to accomplish.

    But that “international attention” they’ve achieved – is it good for their causes or actually contributing to the problems, at least in the short term? Which, of course, was my point.

    In America, Ukraine was rarely thought of a destination for sex tourism or mail order brides. Frankly, we had an erroneously poor impression of Ukrainian women’s appearance.

    FEMEN has certainly changed that among those of us who’ve seen them. I think that is more likely to increase sexual tourism in- and “mail ordering” brides from Ukraine, not curtail it.

  5. zhann Says:

    I am not sure I agree with your comment that American’s didn’t think of Ukraine as a Sex Tourist Spot. While you may not have, or maybe those you associate with, I can assure you that this is not the case. Both Russia and Ukraine are flooded with single American men all summer long. While I lived there I would regularly comment on this fact. Americans stand out in Europe simply by their attire. Of course, once they open their mouth, all doubt disappears.

    I do, however, agree with you that their tactics portray a level of counter production. For the most part, most Americans that I have talked to, especially via Mizozo or different routes, all share your view. I am sure this is the same for most Western European nations as well. As you know, though, for the most part all advertising is good advertising. While their tactics are counter intuitive, you must admit that they have brought a lot of attention to their cause that otherwise would have never been.

    … So far, I should also add, I haven’t noticed the slightest difference in ‘sex tourism’ in Ukraine, neither positive or negative. Within Ukraine, however, FEMEN is not only followed by admired. This, at least, counts for something.

  6. jonolan Says:

    I’m willing to concede that point, zhann. While neither I nor my associates thought of Ukraine as a sex tourism destination of choice, that doesn’t mean that others – who actually do this – didn’t.

    Frankly, most of my experience of sexual tourism has been linked to tracing the trafficking of minors for the sex trade and I’ve not traced many through Ukraine as opposed to other nations. Nor have I traced the money or drug transactions through there as often as some of the neighboring countries.

  7. Zhann Says:

    Actually, Ukraine was a hotspot for the trafficking of women (minors too, likely) after the collapse of the Soviet Union. For over a decade life in Ukraine was insane, so most were looking for any way out. Women were prayed upon, promised a great life and such. They were then, for the most part, sold into slavery throughout Europe.

    Of course, now Ukrainian women are far more careful, but many were caught in such a fashion. While I lived there I must have heard dozens of similar stories, many with an accusatory tone.

  8. jonolan Says:

    I didn’t run into much involving trafficking minors in Ukraine, but it’s not like I was doing the tracking for every case in the world either – and the cases had to in some way intersect with the US for me to become involved.

  9. Zhann Says:

    Wow, a statement like that opens up many questions …

  10. cmblake6 Says:

    It does serve the purpose of attracting attention. And the muslims are driven insane which serves to point out their lack of control to all, as far as the “international scene”. As for myself, I found that quite refreshing. Would that America were so non-prudish and free!

  11. jonolan Says:

    I haven’t heard a single word out of the Muslims about FEMEN. I assume that they either just haven’t heard of them or write them off as decadent infidels.

    It’s not like Ukraine has a large Muslim population to cause these girls trouble.

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