Oh good grief.
Australian film-maker Kitty Green has named Victor Svyatski as the wizard behind the curtain of Ukrainian feminist group Femen. Green alleges that Svyatski not only supports the group, as Femen had previously acknowledged, but actually founded the organisation, as well hand-selecting the “prettiest girls” for their topless protests. Love or loathe Femen – and it is no secret that I am no fan of theirs – this is plain depressing.
For the documentary, Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, which is being shown at the Venice film festival, Green recorded an interview with Svyatski in which he acknowledges he may have started the group to meet women. His reply is a masterclass in how to cop out: “Perhaps yes, somewhere in my deep subconscious.”
I never did think the topless protests were a good idea, so I never promoted them, but I didn’t realize they were such an ungood idea as that.
Did we guess that something might have been going on? The clues were there. Topless protests featuring mostly skinny, “pretty” European women. The slogans: “Our mission is protest, our weapons are bare breasts”, “Nudity is liberty” and “Better naked than in a burqa”, gave off an unpleasant stench but didn’t necessarily point to a male svengali figure in the background.
Well yes and no. I wasn’t sure about it myself – was it just another way to exclude all women except the hot ones? Or was it a blow for sex-positive feminism? I couldn’t tell, and of course, being ugly, I have a built-in bias against forms of protest that don’t work well for ugly people, or that just plain exclude them.
In Green’s film, Svyatski talks of the campaigners needing a firm hand as they lack strength of character – and he is the one who will teach it to them. “They show submissiveness, spinelessness, lack of punctuality, and many other factors which prevent them from becoming political activists. These are qualities which it was essential to teach them.”
No one is saying men can’t be involved in the feminist struggle. Allies are an important component in the march towards equality But if you have friends like this, who needs enemies?
And really, people – if a guy says “I have a great idea for more feminism! Show your tits!!” then take a second look, all right?