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.