FEMEN – Our weapon are bare breasts

Founded in Ukraine

FEMEN is a radical and feministic group of activists founded in Ukraine in 2008. The initiative was taken by Aleksandra Sjevtjenko, Oksana Sjatjeko and Anna Hutsol. Since 2013 Inna Sjevtjenko has had the leading part and been the spokesperson for the group. Since the growth of the movement the residence has been moved to Paris. Femen is well-known all over the world but their international breakthrough came with the demonstrations in Ukraine in 2008. After this Femen has performed demonstrations in several countries.

The important discovery of Anna Hutsol

Anna Hutsol was born in Russia in 1984 by Jewish parents but moved to Ukraine in 1991. She studied sociology and economics and worked for a time as an assistant for the Ukrainian schlager star Tina Karol. Anna was the one founding Femen Ukrainian women telling stories of broken promises about work abroad. There was also a large need of women’s liberation and equality in Ukraine. Anna has told that it was her work together with Karol that made her see in what ways they could get attention in media. Since a spokesperson in a feministic convention often are forgotten just minutes after their speeches but the colour of their underwear can live in people’s memory for years to come, the solution was to make their points dressed in less and with their bodies as provocative signs. Femen started their actions to improve the conditions for prostitutes in Ukraine but continued to women and people’s rights all over the world.

The body as a weapon

Femen early started to make their actions very light dressed, but at a demonstration at August 24th in 2009 Oksana Sjatjeko revealed her breast totally. This was highly attended in the media and came to be the hallmark for the organisation.  Toplessness and nudity was a strong feministic weapon. In many of the actions for Femen they were arrested by the police, which was their goal since it led to lots of attention in the media.  At a demonstration in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, when Oksana and some other women were demonstrating for the release of some political prisoners, they were arrested by the Belarus police. They were taken away and taken to a forest where they were forced to take off their clothes and were submerged in oil. They were threatened with fire but managed to make it out of there. Oksana left the group after a few years to return to her life as an artist. Oksana was found dead in her apartment in July 2018. Presumed suicide.

Femen – of current interest

Femen keeps on with their demonstrations all over the world. The last and very noticed demonstration was a protest against US president Trump when he visited France on November 11, 2018 on the 100-anniversary of the end of World War I where victims where to be saluted. President Trump was going by car along Champs Elysees when three activists with messages on their bare breasts did everything in their power to get to the vehicle. Femen sees it as hypocrisy when those responsible for the ongoing wars are canvassing for peace. They refer to Trump as well as Putin, Erdogan and Netanyahu. The Femen-activists has been charged for sexual exhibition. This, however, makes the feminists even more determined on their fight for world peace!