|Sometimes they wear tops. Via FEMEN's NSFW photostream.|
The response of Men's Rights Activists? "Distatesful." "Stupid." A "monstrosity."
And why is this? Well, because these particular topless women are members of FEMEN, a group of women who protest against sexism and sex tourism by baring their breasts. Needless to say, when the group protests, the media shows up, cameras wildly clicking.
All this has gotten the attention of W.F. Price at The Spearhead. And he's not happy about it:
Femen represents, if anything, the devolution of feminism into its bare essence. These women have leapfrogged all the steps taken by the Western feminist movement, which first presented concern over women and children, then equality between women and men, and not until recently female supremacy and license as their goals.
I'm not quite sure how boobs = female supremacy. But Price's argument, such as it is, is a model of careful reasoning compared to what the Spearheadies said in the comments. To Papa Smurf, the protests
show how fickel some women are. That sort of Ideology is infectious and contagious like their gonorrhea infested vagina’s. If you want a society to prosper and develop then your going to have to keep your women in check and order. full stop. No negotiation because negotiating with a emotional, self deluded, attention seeking female is pointless.
That little masterpiece got 30 upvotes from the assembled masses, and one downvote.
XS, meanwhile, responded to Skadi, who'd made a few remarks actually supporting the protesters, with some remarks that demonstrated exactly the sort of misogyny the FEMEN women are up against:
Skadi, the system is not against young Ukranian women, they just spread their legs for the highest bidder because that’s all they have to offer. They’re looking for western feminist privilege, just like the skanks in Western Europe. Women contribute nothing to society except babies, and bitch and moan about it for all their lives.
Misterb aka misterbastard, meanwhile, spat forth an incoherent manifesto that ended with, uh, a call for mass murder.
It was a matter of time, when Eastern European women would become like the or worse than feminists in both of our countries.
Feminism had produce such monstrosity. The so-called Christian Right doesn’t realize the full dangers of immorality and feminism. ... The loony left want free love and murdering people, with the approval of others.
Speaking of Eastern European women, they used to be considered attractive by western men. But not any more. Who would want to sleep with a woman who has more than three partners?
the dangers of sexual transmitted diseases and HIV still hovers over the head of Eastern Europeans. And those women are pretty stupid to realize, of what they are throwing away. Their dignity, their health.
any idiot who peddles moral relativism, is nothing short of being a murder. he or she should be killed and burned.
Last I checked, this comment -- with the killing and the burning and everything -- had garnered itself two dozen upvotes, and only 4 downvotes.
It's not terribly surprising to discover that the FEMEM women are far more articulate about what they are up to than their critics. FEMEN leader Anna Gutsol explained in an interview last year what the group was about and why it relied on sex appeal to sell its message:
FEMEN is based on the idea that girls need to be active participants in society. And by “active,” I don’t just mean “active enough to land themselves husbands.” We want more women to develop a social consciousness. We’re also against the idea of sex tourism and the sex industry in general in Ukraine. And we want to package our message in a way that’s going to be appealing to young Ukrainian women. ...
People sneer at us all the time: “You’re against the sex industry, but you are all dressing like sex-workers.” But Ukrainian sex-workers by and large don’t own their own bodies. That’s not how it works with us. When one of our girls went topless on Independence Square, she was doing it as a radical act. And it gets people talking. Our sexy image causes debate. You need to have debate if you are ever to move forward. So many activists have no idea how to engage the media and the public. They’re dour, uninteresting. FEMEN is the opposite of that.
Though FEMEM fights for women's rights, Gutsol doesn't actually see the group as feminist. "We use eroticism in our approach and our dress," she told interviewer Natalia Antonova. "That’s not sanctioned by feminism." (Actually, it is, at least by the non-Dworkinite feminists who seem to make up most of the movement today.)
Now, it's certianly possible to make cogent arguments for and against this kind of activism. There's no question it's gotten the group a lot of attention. Do these protests effectively challenge sexism, or do they reinforce it? Probably a bit of both, though the reaction these protests have gotten from the Ukrainian authorities and from the guys at The Spearhead suggests to me that FEMEN must be doing something right.