punk phd / feminism / motherhood

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

FEMEN - "get your tits out for the lads"?

My first exposure to FEMEN was on Newsnight yesterday and after a quick google search it seems I'm a little late to the party with blog posts over at the f-word on this group of feminist protesters (here and here). So what are FEMEN about? From the short piece on Newsnight my only guess is to somehow rebel against patriarchy through streaking and a few raised vocalisations. And I use the word streaking deliberately to compare this to the kind you get at a football match e.g. society doesn't really respond much to it and it's generally seen more as a comical gesture than an immediate threat. I certainly don't understand how women getting out their tits is going to smash the patriarchy...

I've seen a post in which FEMEN's use of the female body is spoken about as follows:

FEMEN’s tactics aren’t about women controlling their own bodies, they’re about letting the media control women’s bodies – the media says: “we won’t pay attention to you unless you’re hot and naked” and FEMEN obeys. So who’s in control here, again?

I couldn't agree more with this and something I felt really supported this idea in the Newsnight piece was that these women's bodies which were being exposed seemed to all fit into society's idealised view of how a female body SHOULD be - what's so shocking about that? Is this not also reinforcing ideas about which bodies are acceptable to be viewed publicly?

The FEMEN leader is referred to as having cut down a cross in support of Pussy Riot. To insinuate the two forms of activism are comparable seems almost laughable to me - Pussy Riot's members conceal their identity. The focus is not on them, it's on the music; the words...this couldn't be further from FEMEN's focus if they tried. And whilst I support Pussy Riot in their approach, taking off my top is not my revolution.