Going Topless For Feminism: Ukraine’s Protesters Go International

by Sholeh Hajmiragha

Ukrainian feminist group Femen has become famous for their unique form of feminist activism: topless protests.  Since 2009, Femen activists have lifted their shirts in political and social demonstrations in Ukraine and Western Europe, using these shocking and eye-catching stunts to grab the attention of the media and to spread their message.  However, Femen is now moving to expand on a global level.

Femen has just announced that they are now taking their topless protests around the world in order to highlight issues ranging from democratic violations to sexual exploitation.  Having already taken their tops off in various cities of Western Europe, including Moscow, Paris, Zurich, Brussels, and St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Femen now hopes to go even further by covering North Africa and South America. 

Femen members are praised by some as continuing the women’s rights movement of the 1970s and are said to represent a “third wave of feminism.”  However, not everyone is excited by their movement.  Femen has little support back home in Ukraine, critiqued by many as being too commercial and without a sense of direction.  As political strategist Sergiy Gaiday told AFP, “This is a simulation of feminism…(with) no serious political or social meaning,” going further to say, “They use their bodies just to attract attention.”

Femen members, though, are unfazed by the backlash, blaming their unpopularity in Ukraine on a lack of political culture and weak feminist traditions.  Challenging these critiques, Femen’s new international focus makes them the first Ukrainian group to move from national politics into international activism.  As French historian Christine Bard notes, Femen does not have a clear set of objectives or a specific focus, but as they now enter the international field, we can expect to see them baring their breasts in protest across the globe, hopefully enacting positive and real changes around the world.

Source: Capital FM News

Images via: EuroNews, The Guardian

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