FEMEN or not?

My break with the organization.

One week ago I did my first protest without being topless.
I explained to the world media that I am not a part of FEMEN anymore, but I operated as a “freelance-activist”.

Obviously my time with FEMEN was very intense and it’s not the most easy decision to cut the cord after so much had happened.
Remember, I celebrated big successes with FEMEN when attacking Putin, for example, and also I was going through very hard times when I was in Tunisian jail.

And most of all, I still feel that the topless protest is something very powerful.
But I proved, that also without being topless it’s perfectly possible to transport a strong message.

And furthermore I felt that exposing my breasts that day would not have helped at all.

Here I want to share my thoughts I had during my emotional and intellectual break with the organization of FEMEN.

A statement I wrote in February 2015:

 

FEMEN or not.

A radical protest group like FEMEN does not only grow with the strengths of it’s arguments but also with its activists.

When I did my first protest in the name and style of FEMEN, that was in February 2013 against the german neo-nazi-party NPD in Berlin, this fell into the period of FEMEN’s history when many new young women* joined the topless protest and our bodies carried the message of the “new feminism” all across the globe.

Delighted we were about the new feeling of power of our bodies, invincible we felt when our actions succeeded, and back then, almost all of them did.

Look at FEMEN then, look at FEMEN now.

At the right time and place we caught the perfect wave and it carried us so high we almost thought we could fly.

How pathetic we look now when we try to catch the same wave, like an old clown in the arena of an empty circus telling his old jokes over again and nobody laughs anymore, and when they do, they laugh out of pity.

But not our bodies have let us down. Not our form of topless protest. Not how we let speak what before only had been spoken about.

It’s what we said. And what we did not say.

Let’s take a look at the world now and what do we see:

Birthland of FEMEN, Ukraine, bleeding madly.

The countries to which FEMEN first expanded: fascist riots in the streets. Xenophobia, racism, islamophobia, economic inequalities and massive unemployment.

The USA, place where FEMEN always planned to conquer: Police slaughtering their way through the black ghettos.

What do we do about it? Where is FEMEN’s response?  How can we honestly believe in our political relevance if we shun to speak about these issues?

No, we don’t have to speak about everything that’s a big deal in the media.

But is our worldview not a bit narrow if we define patriarchy’s evil as merely Putin+ISIL ?

With statements out there like “I am islamophobic” or “hijab is like a concentration-camp for women*”, with photos proving collaboration between Ukrainian FEMEN activists and Ukrainian fascists, obviously it’s hard to credibly counter racism.

One looks at FEMEN now and sees it all blurry like looking through a fogged window.

Ridiculous activists who like to be seen at film festivals, TV shows and give interviews where they talk about their private lives and relationships.

In the face of racism, war and fascism, FEMEN became a boring and tired sod. Now that’s shameful.

Because there are problems to be addressed.

To be addressed with the irrepressible spirit of the naked truth and the sharp wit of a young woman*.

There is no form of protest more beautiful to me than the strategy of the naked protest.

And I know very well of my task to waste my beauty in order to create beautiful things.

I am absolutely convinced that this world needs young women* to stand up and to break the silence.

But I can no longer be confused with the group of women* who absolutely lost track about their opinions and aims.

I can no longer tolerate their dumb and destructive statements regarding antifascism, islamism, patriotism and feminism.

And very personally I can no longer stop myself from my own political engagement because I’d worry to be lumped together with the silliness of some other FEMEN activists.

Now what some girls* do, among them the FEMEN Belgium, FEMEN Berlin, Amina, is to “reclaim the naked protest”. They turned their back to FEMEN but they do so with their breasts still exposed and their mouths wide open.

Even in my most active times within the movement I was never really a good “group-person”. Peer-spirit and group dynamics are not my elements to swim in. Loyalty is a concept that works for me rarely with people but more with principles. And among the group many girls* often did not know if they could trust me, and other than making clear my ideological intentions, I also never gave them many reasons to trust me on an emotional basis.

When FEMEN became a registered organization in Germany, as one of the best known individuals of the movement I did not take any legal responsibilities.

Some of the girls* became my friends but with many of them the only link was the belonging to the movement named FEMEN.

What I mean to say is that, even if in the media and in criticism of ex-FEMEN girls* the group’s dynamics was often described as “dictatorial” with a few ladies* (+“Victor“) on top giving orders and many girls* (blindly) obeying and “risking their lives”­­­­­­ while following orders,

This is not my experience of being a FEMEN activist.

I never followed or gave orders and I have the full responsibility for every single action I did.

Every protest, from my first to my last, was the embodiment of an idea that was greater than it’s members. An idea of liberation spread with the language of a woman’s* naked body.

If there is a way to continue my political engagement and if there is a way to ever protest again, I know that I owe it to the people who once or still supported FEMEN to clarify my current involvement within the group of FEMEN.

I am in loose contact to three or four girls* worldwide who still consider themselves part of FEMEN. We discuss ideological issues and current political events. I gave up speaking to Inna Shevchenko and her group of FEMEN France. I disagree with them on many levels about our ideology, tactics and protests. I am not and very rarely was in direct contact with Anna Hutsol. I never even saw “Victor Swyatzki”. Since almost one year I have stopped seeing the members of FEMEN Germany.

There is absolutely no reason why I should consider myself to be a part of FEMEN now.

It is funny, because even when I had every reason in the world to do so, in summer ’13, shortly after being released out of Tunisian prison, in the documentary “Naked War” by Joseph Paris, I stated: “I am not part of FEMEN. I am FEMEN.”

 

FEMEN is no club to join with shiny member card and regular meetings. Those training sessions they have in France are ridiculous.

FEMEN is: Two women* at a bar laughing about Erdogan loosing his own voice in his election campaign.

FEMEN is: The sigh of my mother when she says goodbye to her daughter who leaves her and the family on christmas eve to spend the night on a train and the next day at a police station.

FEMEN is: An idea of liberation spread with the language of a woman’s* body.

FEMEN is : A fucking meaningless word out of five letters, because the idea of the topless protest does not even need to wear a name.

We should let it work for itself.

 

These were my thoughts when I decided to leave the organization. Whereas it was powerful in the beginning, “FEMEN” now has become a label that does more harm to the intentions of the activist. 

It is a feminist concept to liberate oneself from harmful labels.

There are many things i learned during my time with FEMEN. And I don’t hold any grudges against them, nor do I regret any action. But it was time to move on.

9 thoughts on “FEMEN or not?

  1. Very reflective and good!
    I think it is a wice decision. Keep up the good work and move on!
    Best wishes!

  2. Life is a journey where you find out who you really are, what is important to you and how to achieve your goals. You joined FEMEN at a very young age; a phase in your life. I’m not sure that Femen’s protests are effective. People remember the bodies, but not the message. Now you moved on to the next phase in your still young life and your last protest, an individual one, was the most effective. People remember it. They talked about the message, not about the body. It was shown over and over on TV stations in North America. You’ve learned from your experience protesting with a group and now it’s time to move on. Don’t rush to your next individual protest. Plan it well, and maybe start your own group of activists consisting of young women and men. Best wishes in your journey in life, and to find happiness in your personal life.

  3. Josephine,

    The time has indeed come to move on from FEMEN, and you made a brave effort, but unfortunately you moved in entirely the wrong direction. I’m surprised you don’t realise this mistake yourself. You went to make a statement about the dictatorial, unelected ECB leadership and show solidarity with the Greeks… but what were people talking about? Your thong.

    Your choice of underwear occupies the minds of so many people because they have been programmed by society and the media to judge a woman by such trivial irrelevant standards. And unfortunately you can’t ignore these people. The more thoughtful intellectuals will already be with you, it’s the brainwashed masses of sheeple that you really need to reach with your message. You must find a way to break their programming and make them take notice.

    And so I say the logical next stage from FEMEN is not to cover up and feed the materialistic mindset, the problem was that FEMEN’s protests did not go far enough. It would be far better to totally strip away the accoutrements of a shallow and image-obsessed world, and stand before us in the style of a Greek athlete, naked as the day you were born. For only in complete nakedness do we all stand equal as humans.

    I hope you will give consideration to my thoughts, and look forward to your next action.

    1. Don’t listen to this comment.
      It is patronizing, mean, sexist and vulgar.
      The one behind it lives up to the chosen pseudonym: Degenerate.
      The opinion he/she is expressing does not at all match the intellect and intelligence that you have been demonstrating through your actions!
      Listen to the comment from Giora instead, that is much more relevant and constructive.
      Best of luck!

      1. There is nothing mean about my attempt debate with Josephine over tactics. In fact, I was very polite, I started by commending her brave effort, and finished by asking her to consider my view.

        You, on the other hand, just instructed her to ignore my opinions and do something else instead. Excuse me for pointing out your hypocrisy, to accuse me of patronizing her whilst you are the one bluntly telling her what to do.

        Josephine is a grown woman with a mind of her own, and whether she chooses to follow my suggestion or do something else, it will be her choice – not the result of someone giving her orders. Unlike you, I credit her with the intelligence to make the smart choice.

  4. Joe, no flattery here-just stating the facts and cold truth, albeit unpalatable to you. You do what you want and so do I (as everyone else), irrespective of and, above all, independent of any outcome or consequence. You don’t ask permission from anyone and I’m not asking anything as such from you. No double-standard mentality here. You barge in our rooms and I barge in yours. Only in this case, expect no confetti from me-I don’t like glitter. That said, as a Greek I’m neither ‘touched’ nor affected by your stunt as it had nothing to do with either the ECB ‘dictatorship’ (as you prefer to say..) nor protesting in defence of the Greeks. We as Greeks are in no need of your inane and naive attention-seeking demonstrations. If you would like to find a noble cause, you may go to Africa and follow the example of those genuinely extraordinary and fascinating erudite and dynamic women and men who risk their lives on a daily basis for a true cause, never relying on their parents’ income but fight on their own strength and their own means to develop and aspire. In stark contrast to you, I am no hypocrite; I could never reach the highest calibre of these laudable men and women who work so hard as medical doctors, nurses, teachers-you name it.

    What I find appalling and downright emetic about you and your like is that you play this silly role of ‘holier than thou’. You have apparently noticed that you are already old news.. Stop using Greece as a means to feed the hunger of your own insecurities. It’s just cheap and trashy of you. No need to worry about us Greeks. We have a surplus of clowns as you and we could not sustain any further circuses. Nonetheless, we muster both the intelligence and the strength to weather even the worst of storms. Our politicians are way below par in terms of dignity and self-respect, but we as Greek citizens always find our way through the vast darkness without the assistance of hypocrites and poor misguided fools.

    Unfortunately, I came across that imbecilic image of you and your friends holding bottles of ouzo protesting in favour of Greece and my stomach churned. What a load of rubbish.. You have been watching too much of ‘My Big Greek Fat Wedding’. No, we do not drink ouzo all the time, we do not throw plates and say ‘opa’ all the time, and we do not dance to syrtaki at a whim. I am diametrically opposed to all forms of sexism but also racial bigotry and stupid simplistic two-dimensional stereotypes. Unfortunately, you are utterly clueless when it comes to Greek culture and heritage; your attempt to attain some sort of philosophy degree really means nothing, especially when so many highly educated young women and men endeavour to achieve far more important and significant university degrees in this acutely competitive world.

    You see, Joe, even though you’re below 25, your mode of protest is severely cob-webbed conservative, old-fashioned, outdated and quaint. In our day and age, we have got minds and critical thinking to understand that revolution derives from within not from sprinkling glittered confetti on middle-aged bureaucrats. Draghi has already forgotten about you. Yes, he sure was scared initially but that was because he thought you were a nutcase terrorist. He eventually calmed down when he realized you were just a nutcase wasting his precious time.

    Anyway, all I want to say is that you are a bore. You are as gripping as a bald tyre-the ultimate insomnia cure. In a few years’ time you will become the housewife of some dude who will pay for you in order to raise his kids. Face reality, Joe, you are not rebel-yell material. You are full of noise and smoke but with infinitesimal substance. To re-iterate, leave Greece alone. We, as a nation, have got many battles to fight and the least we need is a Don-Quixote fool on an ass carrying along his torn from time windmills.

  5. This was indeed a very strong and emotive message.
    You seem to be quite strong with the words as you are with your actions.
    Keep up the good work and always be your self.

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