These self-styled feminists and naked shock troops of Ukraine are protesting against Russia

The feminist group, Femen held a topless protest in Paris against Vladimir Putin’s forceful invasion 

author_img Priyanka Chandani Published :  10th March 2022 07:09 PM   |   Published :   |  10th March 2022 07:09 PM
Femen held a topless protest

Femen held a topless protest

On Monday this week, feminist group Femen held a topless protest in Paris against Russian invasion of Ukraine. With the colours of Ukrainian flag painted on their bodies, 50 activists gathered on the Champs-de-Mars in front of Eiffel Tower.  A video of all women protesters has surfaced on the internet in which the women are seen wearing no upper garment.

The group demanded that Ukraine should be integrated into the European Union. A statement by the group read, "Ukrainian's only crime today is to fight for their freedom, for their desire to be free and sovereign in their country. We must react firmly to the absolute violence inflicted by a dictator with imperialist ambitions whose trademarks are confrontation and repression. Today, by declaring war on Ukraine, Putin is above all declaring war on democracy."

For the unversed, the self-styled feminist women group, Femen, also known as naked shock troops of feminism was founded in Ukraine in 2008 and is based in France now. And it is best known for its bare-breasted protests in its home country.

Not so equal idea

France is a country with a firmly ingrained protest culture and street demonstrations. However, back in India, the protest has raised many eyebrows and it doesn’t seem to have gone down well with Twitterati.

"Feminists are funny sha! I was expecting you all to join the army and show the world how equal to men you really are. Instead, you decided to show Putin b**bs like it will make an impact in an already over-sexualized world. (sic),” wrote a Netizen. "I am sorry but wtf is this? “‘Feminist against war’? What does being a feminist have to do with the war! Such an empty gesture and feels to me they are using this good publicity to push their own agenda which is pretty disgraceful. (sic)," commented another Netizen. "Someone has rightly said liberal feminism is nothing but fashion show, (sic)," wrote another Twitter user.

Feminism or Sextrimism

Sometimes, less is more, is what the thinking of the Ukrainian feminist movement Femen, best known for its bare-breasted protests in its home country.

The group has been organising topless protests against sexism, sex tourism, homophobia and other issues since its formation. Femen was formed after stories of Ukranian women being sexually exploited abroad started appearing. The group self-described itself sextremist and has been running international training camps and recruiting many women including some well-known fashion and film celebrities.

Certainly, this is not the first time that Femen has gone striped to protest. In 2012, seven young women stride purposefully toward the stone facade of France's Justice Ministry. They threw their coats to the ground and were seen with slogans painted across their bare bosoms. “Justice screws us,” they yelled in French and unfurled a black banner that read “Rape Club. This is Femen.”

In 2013, five members of the group had surrounded Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Hanover Trade Fair. Last year, the activist group organised a topless protest at Paris's Musée d’Orsay against the museum's barring of a woman from entering the galleries until she covered up her low-cut dress.

The group is already well-known in Eastern Europe for protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

The naked protestors

From dentists to feminists, nudity is a frequent part of French protest culture. So where does this urge to undress during demonstrations come from? A recent case in point is the last year's César movie awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars, took an unexpected turn when actress Corinne Masiero stepped onstage dressed in a blood-stained donkey’s costume, tampons dangling from her ears, and stripped naked. The scarlet letters written on the actress' chest and stomach read, "No culture, no future." Her protest was against the unequivocal denunciation of the government’s Covid-19 policies, which saw theatres, concert halls and cinemas close down over three months. The instance made headlines across the world, but it wasn't new in France.

Actress Corinne at Masiero César movie awards

For years, protesters in France have used nudity as a tool to capture the public’s attention on a wide range of issues. Women’s right activists, environmental groups, animal rights activists, local councilors and cyclists are just some of the groups that have stripped naked to make their voices heard. However, one wonders if going nude is the only way to make a point, since protests in France are not rare.