Femen: who are they and why do they cause so much rejection?
Femen is an activist and peaceful resistance group that leaves no one indifferent , not even so many of the groups of feminists, who often look at them with suspicion. There are also different theories about its foundation, pointing out some that have served the United States of America as a weapon to destabilize the countries of the Middle East, and others attributing them a role as a group financed by entrepreneurs to harm the feminist struggle.
Although their public appearances are scarce, they always turn out to be extremely media and they manage to appear in the headlines of newspapers at an international level. Their fields of action are usually congresses or political meetings, transnational economic entities or even in women's fashion company openings, always with the same modus operandi: call attention.
- Related article: "Types of feminism and its different currents of thought"
Who is Femen?
Femen is defined as an international organization that fights sexism and religious impositions against women, in addition to being considered "the special forces of feminism", the militias of the movement, as it appears on its website. They make it clear that they use the transgression of norms to claim .
The context must be taken into account to understand the emergence of a group with radical slogans or actions justifying violence. The origin of Femen is Ukrainian, and although it seeks internationalist meaning, the main object of denunciation are the sexist abuses that occur in that country, as well as in neighboring Russia. The majority of their actions are acts of protest carried out by naked women from the waist up, with slogans painted on the body .
Numerous non-governmental organizations, human rights entities and local journalists, show that in these Eastern countries there is still a sexist line to the detriment of the female gender, both at the socio-family level and at the political-economic level. Recall the incidents of the feminist music group "Pussy Riot", who were imprisoned and dissolved as a group for breaking into a church.
On the other hand, The members of the Femen group are constantly exposed to potential police repression , as well as sentences that can sometimes reach two years in prison, because Ukrainian laws are significantly more severe than in the rest of Europe.
Femen has as one of its main goals to reach where institutionalized feminism does not come directly: charge strongly against religion . In 2014 they went directly to Pope Francis in the Vatican Square, when the usual mass was celebrated, to perform one of their acts of protest.
- Maybe you're interested: "Types of sexism: the different forms of discrimination"
The Femen method
As we have already mentioned, Femen's modus operandi responds to what the Suffragists once began with the help of Emmeline Pankhurst back in the 20th century: street violence and public uproar to attract the media. With an added plus that supposes the naked torso and a clear intention to show the breasts with a message inscribed in them.
Why are they so rejected by feminism?
The most classic feminism, the well-known feminisms of first and second wave , they view with skepticism the use of the body of the woman as a showcase to achieve repercussion, even more so when the activists in question are not very representative of the majority of women, being white, with little connection with religion and, in its early stages, close to beauty canons. Some associations and institutionalized organizations see this method as counterproductive, and denounce the fact that the physicality of women is again exposed to the service of media consumption.
Femen is rejected, too, by a great historical difference: Western feminism takes them almost a century ahead. Outside of Femen, protests against sexism no longer focus on questioning religion as a simple fact "contaminating reason", but trying to include in feminism groups that try to perform non-sexist readings of their own religiosity , which implies a clash of interests in the methodology.
In addition, these feminist institutions decline to support Femen openly because they consider it an ambiguous collective and little elaborated in their theories. This group of Ukrainian origin seems to position itself before a very ambiguous sexism idea, while the majority of feminist groups elaborate theories based on the concept of patriarchy.In this sense, Femen's orientation seems to be closer to a liberal conception of gender problems, as it protests against the violation of forms of repression applied against women as individuals, not as a collective.