If you’re unfamiliar, FEMEN is a Ukraine based feminist group with chapters throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. I was first alerted to Femen at Maryam Namazie’s blog in August of 2012. (Also in November 2011, when Egyptian feminist Alia al-Mahdy posted photos of her naked body wrapped in an Egyptian flag.) See: here video here and here and here and here, and yet again in March 2013 when Amina Tyler’s story broke out – whereby one of many voluminous posts appeared such as Today is our day to defend our Amina
“April 4 was our day to defend our Amina. The 19 year old Tunisian FEMEN activist whose only “crime” was to post a topless photo of herself saying: “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” and “fuck your morals.
Whilst she has done nothing wrong, she has been effectively detained incommunicado by her family with the help of the police, and the latest reports say she has been drugged and beaten.
Amina says though that she has no regrets. Our beloved Amina, this day is for you…
Some of the actions taken and statements made in support of Amina have been posted below.
- On 4 April, there were actions in Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Brussels, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Kiev, London, Malmo, Milan, Montreal, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, San Francisco, Stockholm, Vancouver, Warsaw and more to mark 4 April, the International Day to Defend Amina. You can see reports and photos from various events here as well as below:
- A committee made up of Mina Ahadi, Nesan Nodinian, Gaby Schmidt, Eduard Von and Ahmad Rahmani met with the head of the Tunisian Consulate in Bonn to raise the demands of the….”
Read the rest: Today is our day to defend our Amina.
All religions have a disturbing view of the female body. Islam is no different. The perfect woman under Islam is invisible. Islam is only worse in many ways because of its access to political power via the far-Right Islamic movement. Sharia law and Islamic states legislate and impose misogyny and perpetrate the debased view of women.
Women in North Africa and the Middle East will be freer the more Islam is relegated to a private affair and Islamism is pushed back from the public space. Actions like Amina’s help to challenge Islamism at its very core.
Islamism’s obsession with women’s bodies and its insistence that women be veiled, bound, and gagged means that nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance.
Nudity is the antithesis of veiling. Of course it is not the only way to resist Islamism and the veil but it is a very modern way of doing so. Islamists want us covered up, hidden, and not seen and not heard; we refuse to comply.
But nudity is not just a protest against Islamism and religious misogyny. It is fundamentally a protest against discrimination, the commodification of women, and the religious and chauvinistic culture built upon it – which is why it is on the increase and has been a part of the women’s liberation movement for some time.
Commodification relies on an objectified image that is separate from the reality of women’s bodies, minds and lives. This image is used to regulate, control and suppress. And this is what religion and pornography share, albeit in different forms. The actuality and frankness of women’s bodies as a form of protest challenges and upsets both.
Nudity is deeply humanising and revolutionary because it challenges the religious/pornographic view of women’s bodies and reclaims a tool used for women’s suppression. Nudity outrages and offends because of this very challenge.
I am very much in support of protests of this calibre because of the shame that children in industrial schools in the past were made to feel about their bodies. It abhorred me then, that adults could ridicule and mock the bodies of prepubescent girls, who were made to stand naked with their legs and arms spread-eagled whilst they were painted with white stuff. Or, when they had to line up in a queue, and were forced into hot baths with each other, with no respect shown for their bodies. The same child inmates were also made to dress and undress underneath their nightdresses for fear of being told they were immodest by the religious. The body was a shameful thing, and they were reminded of this fact throughout their whole childhood. So many survivors of industrial schools were forced to wear bandages around their chests in order to flatten them, so that they would not become a distraction. I remember children being told by a nun to walk and not run on the corridors, as their breasts heaved and wobbled and were such a disgusting sight. The negative image of the body was always brought to the fore by the nuns, who were obsessed with reminding adolescent girls of the dirtiness of their bodies.
I think that no person has any god-given right in this world to make women and girls cover themselves from head to toe, because they see the body in the same way as the religious at Goldenbridge saw the bodies of girls. Every single human in this world owns their own bodies. They’re not the property of any one else. They’re not the property of a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, or any extended member of the family, who think that they can discard it and get rid of it by way of so -called honor killings, to suit their warped cultural mindsets.
H/t Ophelia Benson Freethought Blogs site.
I was able to look at the protest from a different angle after Ophelia Benson at butterfliesandwheels.org pointed out in her Notes and Comment Blog post Down in the muck the hypocrisy of those insiders who were against the actions of Femen
Bodies That Matter: The African History of Naked Protest, FEMEN Aside
What is arguably one of the most powerful manifestations of naked protest over the past century took place during the Women’s War in Eastern Nigeria (1929) and was a significant manifestation of black women’s resistance to colonial authority and racialised Western notions of the body. The significance of the history of this method continues to manifest in naked protests, which have taken place in West, East, and Southern Africa as recently as December 2012. Yet these black women and their unyielding fearlessness to literally put their bodies on the line and stand against multinational oil companies, corruption, and violence, receive little visibility in the mainstream. Sometimes, even in their own countries, their commitment and strength is dismissed as foolish, unfruitful and futile.
In this era of social media and new technologies FEMEN’s tactics are able to gain notice through their chosen mediums of expression and well connected network. The issue is not so much that they use naked protest as a method, but rather that we continue to confuse our disapproval of how their tactics mimic imperial feminism with the method itself. In other words, FEMEN’s expansion into the Middle East and North Africa is likely a glaring example of imperial feminism, but not because of the method. Women of color, specifically throughout the continent have been using naked protest and genital cursing for centuries to express their intolerance and perform resistance. FEMEN’s naked bodies aren’t the only bodies making waves- while their tactics are highly visible, they have yet to shut down an entire oil facility for seven days with the simple threat of disrobing.
Story by OKA Contributor: Maryam Kazeem
According to Femen website:
FEMEN – is the name of the new woman.
FEMEN – is the new Amazons, capable to undermine the foundations of the patriarchal world by their intellect, sex, agility, make disorder, bring neurosis and panic to the men’s world.
FEMEN – is the ability to feel the problems of the world, beat it with the naked truth and bare nerve.
FEMEN – is a hot boobs, a cool head and clean hands.
Be FEMEN – means to mobilize every cell of your body on a relentless struggle against centuries of slavery of women!
FEMEN – is an ideology of SEXTREMISM. FEMEN – is a new ideology of the women’s sexual protest presented by extreme topless campaigns of direct action.
FEMEN – is sextremism serving to protect women’s rights, democracy watchdogs attacking patriarchy, in all its forms: the dictatorship, the church, the sex industry.
The magic of the body get your interested, the courage of the act make you want to riot.
Update: 10 / 4/13
Come out, Go topless and Win!
I’m including some excerpts of an opposing view of Femen.
Femen: Feminism’s Enfant Terrible
April 10, 2013 Written by Danielle Paradis
FEMEN exploded onto the activist movement in 2008, its members quickly became internationally recognizable for going topless, and now naked, to protest sex tourists, sexism and other social ills in the Ukraine. The movement has since spread internationally. They have recently been in the news for the activist actions of a young women from Tunsia, Amina Tyler as well as April 4, 2013 International Topless Jihad Day. While I pray for the safety of Amina and the end of oppression the world over I also see that FEMEN is using her as the poster-child of a movement that runs on shock-value, and often speaks over the voices of the women they seek to ‘liberate’. Most recently FEMEN attacked sex workers taking to the stage in Paris to shove a nude woman who had been giving a lapdance on stage onto the ground repeatedly. While yelling, “Go rape yourself”, because apparently using nudity is only appropriate when FEMEN decides it is. They stated: Mainstream sex industry is allowing millions of user to download each day billions of disgusting images staging women in the most humiliating way as possible to satisfy the beasty lust of patriarchy. It’s a bizarre ideological mash-up when the irony of harming a woman to fulfill their goals seems to escape them.
FEMEN is all over the place ideologically speaking recently, they have even sought registration as a non-governmental organization. They even have the good fortune of a wealthy male benefactor Jed Sunden, the owner of KP media.
Rev. Against Patriarchy – Feminism is out!
A gloriously crude topless ‘jihad’ from a Femen activist | Jonathan Jones http://gu.com/p/3fvjz/tw via @guardian
Skepchick | The Privileged Underprivileged:
RDFRS: Today is our day to defend our Amina http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/4/4/today-is-our-day-to-defend-our-amina#comment-box-25 …