Topless Ukrainian Feminists to Protest Euro 2012 - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-22-2012, 03:14 PM   #1
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Topless Ukrainian Feminists to Protest Euro 2012

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Anna darts gleefully around the two sparsely-furnished rooms situated through an archway off a steep street that climbs up from Kiev's Independence Square. She is a general showing off her new headquarters.
"This is going to be our training room for our Euro strikes," she says.
"That's for the girls to get fit on for when they scrap with the police or have to run away from them," she says, pointing to a set of wall-bars and an overhead muscle-tone pulley-bar by the front door.
The topless activists of the Femen women's rights group, whose eye-catching antics have made them the cover girls of international feminist protest, are shouting loud and clear that their attendance at next month's Euro-2012 soccer tournament - welcome or not - can be counted on.
Bare-breast public appearances - flash-mob-style - by the neo-feminist group are guaranteed throughout a month-long Euro soccer feast expected to draw a million or so foreign visitors.
Indeed, Anna Hutsol, a small 27-year-old with close-cut, flame-dyed hair and the group's main ideologue, is warning of a blitz of stunts to dramatize Femen's view that Euro-2012 will only fuel prostitution and the former Soviet republic's sex industry which it says demeans women.
Ukraine's police, gearing themselves to control hundreds of thousands of rowdy visiting fans, might find themselves just as busy with the small army of activists that Femen plans to field.
"We are going to do everything we can to interrupt and disrupt, to break up these (Euro) events," Anna said.
She says she has 40 or so Femen activists on stand-by for action in Kiev with two or three in each of the other Euro cities -- Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk.
"We've got people coming from abroad too - a Brazilian woman and someone from France," she said.
So what do they plan for the tournament, which opens in Ukraine on June 9 and runs for the whole month? Will they "streak" onto a pitch? Will they raid a VIP box? Will they pull off an en masse Femen spectacular at the July 1 final in Kiev ?
"I can't give you concrete details. But we'll be staging all sorts of strikes - at stadiums and alongside, at press conferences and at cup ceremonies, everywhere," she said.
"Of course, we'll be going to Poland, too," she said. Neighboring Poland is co-host of the tournament.
For Femen, Euro-2012 is both a target to be disrupted and a platform for protest. Far from being a showcase for a modern European state as the authorities envisage, the Euros will only hurt Ukraine's future by boosting prostitution and making it a sex tourism destination in Europe, Femen says.
It is an event the group has spent at least two years sharpening its knives for.
Some critics question the sincerity of their beliefs and dismiss the young women, all in their 20s, as attention-seekers.
Don't their topless antics only provide images for a prurient, sex-obsessed media and re-inforce the stereotype of Ukrainian women that Femen is fighting against? Do their tactics help or hurt their cause?
Eccentric and contradictory though it might seem to some, stripping down to the waist publicly is the only effective weapon the group has found to get attention, Femen says.
"Euro-2012 will not help Ukraine develop. The only thing that will develop is the sex industry here. Euro-2012 will help make Ukraine one big Euro brothel," says Sasha Shevchenko, a tall, blonde 24-year-old and a regular participant in topless actions.
SEX TOURISM
Other Femen core activists are Oksana Shachko, 25, a waif-like icon painter who handles design for the group, and Inna Shevchenko, 21, a blonde, former journalist who has the same surname as Sasha but is no relation.
Since the group set itself up in 2008 - then using a downtown cafe as its operational base - it has gone on to establish itself as a global reputation.
There is something to Femen's complaints about sex tourism.
Any online 'Ukraine' search on the Internet soon throws up a dating ad for Ukrainian girls "looking for" foreign men.
Though prostitution is illegal in Ukraine, pimps regularly work central Kiev streets, such as the Khreshchatyk boulevard, handing out visiting cards for erotic massage parlors or walking up to foreign men to direct them to apartments for sex.
Equally, young women often complain they are approached on the streets and propositioned for sex by foreigners.
Prostitution parlors have sprung up in many apartment blocks in advance of the Euros, Femen says.
Femen's argument is that Ukraine's authorities and UEFA, Europe's governing soccer body, have turned a blind eye to the directors of the sex trade who have set up shop well in advance.
"UEFA has social programs like, for instance, 'football without racism'. Why can't it set up the program 'football without prostitution or sex tourism'?," asked Anna.
She is echoed by fellow activist Sasha Shevchenko.
"At the start we had high hopes that UEFA would speak out against prostitution. But after several protests we realized that UEFA and the Euro organizers have an interest in Ukraine becoming one big bordello," she said.
FIRST SHOTS
With a new operational base close to Kiev city centre, Femen has already fired its first shots.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Kiev this month, 23-year-old Yulia Kovpachyk loped up the ramp of an open-air exhibition where the Euro soccer trophy was on public display, ostensibly to be photographed alongside it like hundreds of other sightseers.
She then pulled down her T-shirt to reveal the words "Fuck Euro 2012" - Femen's current slogan - etched in black paint across her torso.
She was seized by security guards, but not before she had grabbed hold of the 60 centimeters (two feet) high cup with both hands.
"Yulia got the usual fine of 119 hryvnias (nearly $15) for the administrative offence of hooliganism," said Anna. "But, of course, we don't pay these fines."
The group has started going further afield too.
For a protest last year outside the Paris apartment of the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, three activists provocatively dressed up as hotel chamber maids - an allusion to his arrest in New York on accusations of attempted rape. He was later cleared and released.
In Switzerland on a bitter cold day in January, Femen activists took off their tops and scaled a security fence at the Davos economic summit.
And in March they went topless at a Moscow polling station against Putin's certain re-election. Oksana's breasts were emblazoned with: "I steal for Putin!"
Their actions typically end with them being bundled away - often physically carried off kicking and screaming - by local police.
But a bare-breast action in the former Soviet republic of Belarus against the country's hardline leadership turned into something far more serious.
Inna, Oksana and a third activist were seized, apparently by members of Belarus's KGB state security agency. Inna says they were driven off to woodlands away from the capital where they were interrogated and made to undress and dress again several times.
Green dye was poured on their heads and, before being abandoned in woodlands, they were told never to return to Belarus.
"It was the very worst experience we have had. Thank God we have not reached the stage of being like Belarus," Inna said.
CAMPAIGN VICTORIES
Anna herself does not take part in topless protests, but reels off recent successes with the pride of a general listing his campaign victories.
"We grabbed the UEFA cup of course. We had our 'sex bomb' action on the metro. There was the protest in the bell tower of St Sophia's cathedral. We staged an action in Turkey in March, then there was Putin and we carried out our action at the Indian embassy," she said.
There are unanswered questions about the group - notably about the funding which allows Anna, Sasha, Oksana and Inna to devote themselves full-time to Femen activities, and pays for travel abroad, legal counsel in numerous court actions and a stack of other overheads.
Anna ducks the question, speaking broadly of "charitable help" from inside the country and abroad and income raised from Femen's online shop which sells branded T-shirts, sweat shirts, handbags and hats.
"The biggest part of our supporters are people abroad. They understand what a woman's movement is all about. Ukrainian society is less ready to help and sympathize. But now we can afford to go to McDonald's whereas before it was a yoghurt and a stick of bread," she said.
And the question remains over just what long-term effect their brash protests will have in improving women's rights. Have they made a difference?
"I can see progress and I can't help but be happy about it," said Anna. "We have new supporters springing up in different countries and they are organizing themselves. This shows that our ideas are not being confined to our country and this city."
"The Euro organizers now know who they have to be afraid of. They have to be afraid of us and they will have to get ready for us appearing at every Euro event," says Inna.
As she leans forward to make her point, the black scrawl of a partly-visible Femen slogan shows at the neckline of her denim jacket.

Ukraine's topless fighters plot to storm the Euros | Reuters

I found this to be weird. How is running around topless supposed to protest prostitution? They're going to give football/soccer fans an eyeful, not make them think buying sex is wrong. How can you protest women being treated like meat when you reduce yourself to just a body part in the eyes of (most likely) drunk sports fans?

Anyway, I thought this was funny in an odd way. And you're likely going to have the media cover these women as they protest all over Europe, and have more women around the world join them.
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:28 PM   #2
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Femen is spreading. They've been protesting in France, Italy and in Sweden where they protested against Islamic dress in front of the Iranian embassy.

This Slate article takes a look at their growth, and their topless protests and whether it is worth it.

Do Femen’s topless protests raise awareness about women’s rights or just titillate? - Slate Magazine
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:48 PM   #3
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:10 PM   #4
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Another Arab Spring?

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Amina, a 19-year-old Tunisian aspirant to the radical, Ukraine-born feminist group Femen has been delivered by her parents to a psychiatric hospital in Tunis, according to reports received by Femen leader Inna Shevchenko in Paris. Amina (her last name is unknown) had posted topless photos of herself on the Femen web page she created for the group in Tunisia several weeks ago. One photo shows her topless, smoking a cigarette, with "My Body is My Own and Not the Source of Anyone's Honor" scrawled in Arabic across her chest. Another shows her raising her middle fingers to the camera, with "Fuck Your Morals," written on her torso. The site was subsequently hacked and temporarily plastered with citations from the Quran.
The head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Tunisia, Almi Adel, a Salafi Islamic preacher, has called for Amina to be "stoned to death" for posting the images. He warned that Amina's action could cause "epidemics and disasters" and "could be contagious and give ideas to other women." Media reports say Tunisian secular law would punish her with up to two years in prison.
"Amina and I were in contact by phone until four days ago, when she disappeared," Shevchenko told me from Paris in a Skype interview on Friday afternoon. "Her phone went dead and her Facebook page was removed, which also meant I lost all my correspondence with her. I can't get hold of her." Since late February, she and Amina had been discussing Femen's ideology and the inauguration of a branch of the movement in Tunisia.
Shevchenko was also alerted to a video in which Amina's aunt declared that the aspiring Femen member "is now with her family. She had decided to kill herself and so posted nude pictures of herself online," which Shevchenko characterized as "a typical way of reacting to a woman's demand to be free--they say she's gone crazy or is being too emotional."
Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, author of the 2006 bestseller The God Delusion, has taken up her cause and is calling for a day of action in support of Amina. Twitter is ablaze with reaction to the events (check out #Amina) and a petition has been posted online demanding that those who threaten Amina's life face the courts.
Femen itself issued a statement calling on women to "Fight for their freedom against religious atrocities" and to "Use your body as a poster for the slogans of freedom. Bare breasts against Islamism."
Amina's disappearance follows her appearance on the popular Tunisian television talk show, Labes, on March 16. With her face blurred, apparently to protect her identity, she explains her decision to join Femen.
I asked Shevchenko what she planned to do in response to Amina's detetion. "The only question for us is," she replied, "when are we in Femen going to Tunisia?"
Tunisian Woman Sent to a Psychiatric Hospital for Posting Topless Photos on Facebook - Jeffrey Tayler - The Atlantic

I actually admire Amina for daring to do this in a Muslim country where women dress from head to toe, or certainly not like Westerners. That took guts and bravery. I hope she survives the hospital and is set free, if possible.
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Old 03-23-2013, 10:01 PM   #5
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nothing to admire at all

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1050719/th...-FEM-570.jpg?6

you don't yell fire in a crowded theater
bingo in community center
or post nude pictures if you are in a country that has laws against it

there are many things women in Tunisia are more concerned about than western style sexploitation behavior
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:37 AM   #6
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You gotta start somewhere. Should Rosa had given up her seat anyway?

I agree Femen's insistence to protest while topless is counterproductive - hence JT's GIF above - but in a Muslim country, I think it is a big statement to post a topless photo of yourself with the words "My Body is My Own and Not the Source of Anyone's Honor". Maybe it is too over the top and radical for a conservative country, but ruffling feathers is usually what protestors do.
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Old 03-24-2013, 03:43 PM   #7
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do not get me wrong, I think FEMEN should try and bring change to Muslim countries, this may have been a decent shot at it

Femen topless protest in Istanbul/Turkey-Femen aktivistleri Türkiye'de soyundu (2) - YouTube

these women got locked up for a couple of days in one of the more moderate Islamic States and hopefully when the sensationalism was set aside their message about acid attacks got heard and discussed

If they were Turkish women there would be little notice of this and they would have simply been labeled crazy or possessed with evil spirits.

If Rosa Parks had put on a bikini and went to a whites only country club and jumped in the pool she would be unknown.

Rosa Parks took a measured step to make progress, the same could be said for Jackie Robinson as he abided by Jim Crow laws when he was the first black player in baseball.

Amina could have done something to help women in her country, instead she has given ammunition to the people that say the West wants to debase women to sexual objects.


I did not respond to the Slate article because I think FEMEM is a mixed bag.
In the West and Europe after they get everybody looking at their hot little bodies, not any fatties (i mean normal women) in many of their pictures, one then looks at their cause, and hopefully considers it.
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by deep View Post
In the West and Europe after they get everybody looking at their hot little bodies, not any fatties (i mean normal women) in many of their pictures, one then looks at their cause, and hopefully considers it.
This I agree with, good point! All the women are slim with small breasts. Why not have more diversity in terms of body shapes?
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:28 PM   #9
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O ΠΟΥΤΙΝ Και η ΜΕΡΚΕΛ Δέχονται επίθεση από Γυμνοστηθες - YouTube


score one more for FEMEN

(I'm a fan)




Russia President Vladimir Putin unfazed by topless protesters in Germany: ‘I liked it’ - NY Daily News
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:09 PM   #10
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Putin's face says it all.

From a link in that article:

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"This day will mark the beginning of a new, genuine Arab Spring, after which true freedom, freedom without mullahs and caliphs, will come to Tunisia! Long live the topless jihad against infidels! Our tits are deadlier than your stones!" Femen wrote in a statement on its Facebook page.
In honor of in Muslimah Pride Day, women shared pictures of themselves holding signs with sayings like “Femen can’t tell me what I can and can’t wear” and “Nudity DOES NOT liberate me and I DO NOT need saving.”
Read more: Muslim women organize online counterprotest to Femen's Topless Jihad Day - NY Daily News

Not a good idea to encourage Muslim women to celebrate their bodies the Western way. They see it as imperialist and Muslim women are probably more concerned if too much of their arm is showing than too much breast. FEMEN should concentrate on Western women, because Muslims have an entirely different culture.
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:16 PM   #11
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I completely agree, different playing fields require different tactics

that is why I believe Amina, the 19-year-old Tunisian woman made the wrong choice.

as for FEMEN, I did not even know Putin was meeting with Merkel, now this protest (stunt) and their cause gets a lot of exposure (no pun) in all the media cycles
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:33 PM   #12
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:07 PM   #13
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Two thumbs up from Putin!
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Old 04-11-2013, 03:08 PM   #14
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I've researched and thought over Femen for the past few days, and so far I am leaning toward not being a big supporter of them.

I agree that a woman has the right to her own body and there is too much misogyny in the world. But their tactics seems to be more about creating chaos rather than dialogue, which is what's really needed for women's rights.

They talk about destroying patriarchy but what kind of world do they envision without it? Yeah I know - no rape, no oppression of women. But what kind of role would we have then? What kind of role would men have?

And that's another thing: what is Femen's attitude toward men? Are they equalists or misandrists? I've seen photos of men joining them in the topless protests or taking pictures of themselves with their topless girlfriends or wives (check Femen's website or Facebook page since the media won't show that), but what is Femen's belief about men?

They don't seem to have a manifesto or anything. They claim to be keeping their major goals secret for now, but I would like to know about their attitude towards men and also motherhood. There are some radical feminists who look down at women who want to be married to men and have kids with a husband. Is Femen the same way?

So I'm leaning toward not being a big fan of them. I support some of what they say and do, but it leans toward radicalism and I am against radical feminism. And I fail to see how I am a slave, as Femen claims I am.
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Old 04-11-2013, 03:25 PM   #15
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This op-ed sums up my views:

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For Femen, this has been their greatest shortcoming; approaching feminism in a dogmatic manner and placing a monopoly on what is and isn’t freedom. This has rendered them an isolationist and largely intimidating group, especially for those new to their cause. Femen chain link themselves into a box that reads: “our way or the high way.” And if you happen to be a feminist and disagree with them, then you must not be a “real feminist.” And if you are not a feminist and dislike their way of thinking, then you must be oppressed by “Islamism” and in immediate need of a dose of freedom (ointment administered by Femen, of course).
Op-Ed: Where Femen Has Gone Wrong | The Feminist Wire
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