Is This Topless Protest Group Run By Women Who Want To See Change, Or Men Who Want To See Boobs?

by Danniah Daher


You’ve probably heard about Femen, that female group of “topless warriors” who, with crowned heads of blonde locks and flowers, paint their naked bodies with slogans and carry out public protests. The international activist group was formed in the Ukraine in 2006, in an effort to battle the country’s desperate prostitution problem, stand up for women’s rights, and put an end to patriarchal dictatorship. Sounds cool, right?

Well…maybe. In Ukraine Is Not A Brothel, an award-winning documentary that has only recently become available for streaming in the US, the trials and tribulations of the group are brought to light. And what we see is not always pretty.


The documentary, directed by director Kitty Green, focuses on Inna, Alexandra, Anna, and Oksana, four of Femen’s most devoted members. We observe their day-to-day lives surviving as radical activists in the Ukraine—and listen to them explain why they do what they do, watch them plan and execute their protests, and witness the string of consequences that follow their actions wherever they go. 

Screen shot 2016 03 21 at 4.56.33 PM

Ukraine Is Not A Brothel’s director, Kitty Green

Whether or not you agree that a group of women exposing themselves in public is the most productive way to effect change, Femen’s topless protests definitely aren’t monkey business. The activities these women participate in are real and dangerous. Ukraine Is Not A Brothel presents the reality of being a woman of Femen, and membership comes at a costly price. Many members of Femen are facing criminal charges and serious jail time. Their families are constantly worried for their safety. Death threats are a regular occurrence in the women’s daily lives. Their homes have been broken into and vandalized. They’ve been assaulted countless times. 

So why do they do it? It’s a question the film explores, and in doing so exposes a little-known truth: Femen is an extreme anti-man and anti-patriarchy organization monopolized by a single leader—and his name is Victor Sviatsky.


Listening to Sviatsky—who is, inexplicably, sometimes interviewed  wearing a bizarre rabbit mask—share his condescending opinion of the group is shockingly mind-blowing, and raises a multitude of questions. Are the women in Femen—many of whom described their reasons for being feminists and participating in the group quite aptly—merely pawns in a game controlled by Sviatsky? Or is it anti-feminist to even consider the idea? 


Don’t miss the chance to stream the film on Amazon or Vimeo, and draw your own conclusions.

More from BUST

Fuckboys: Who Are They And Why Should Women Stay Away?

To Shave Or Not To Shave? Real Answers From Women And Men About The Hair Down There

Flossie Dickey Gives Zero Fucks About Her 110th Birthday

a female group of “topless warriors” who, with crowned heads of blonde locks and flowers, paint their naked bodies with slogans for radical protest. The international activist group originated in the Ukraine in 2006 as an effort to battle the country’s desperate prostitution problem. They stand for women’s rights and vow to end patriarchal dictatorship. Sounds cool, right?

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.