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Ukraine: Bare Breasts and Saving the World

FEMEN organisation spreads its charm around all Europe, obstinately claiming that it is a community action. What is the objective of it? It does not really matter. 

Aktywistki FEMEN, źródło: FEMEN Women's Movement

FEMEN activists, source: FEMEN Women

Only yesterday did I chance upon another news about another protest of Ukrainian feminists from a belligerent FEMEN group, who have astonished me with their form of taking action for a few years now. Most of you have probably heard of “naked” protests, during which these young women take it to streets naked.

Few people have managed to dismay me, then amuse and finally embarrass with their battles. And it is not my innate modesty or catholic upbringing.

The form of the protest had always seems so stupid to me that I used to shake my head in pitifulness, but not this time. I have taken pains to get to know these women, not only from behind. I have decided to give them a chance and prove myself that their fight requires flashing in public and that I simply did not recognise a heroic act when I saw one.

Watch FEMEN manifesto:

FEMEN manifesto from FEMEN Video on Vimeo.

Important subject, poor performance…

I looked through popular media and learned that those Ukrainians express their objection in really important matters and I am writing this without any sarcasm. For those who, like me, stopped their gaze at the bodies of the activists instead of looking into their souls, I will quote a few examples: fight against poverty, freedom for political prisoners, protest against prostitution and objection to Tymoshenko’s imprisonment.

What is the problem with this organisation? For me there is only one – the form.  In fact, the triumph of form over content. Incredibly important topics are ridiculed by this form. Who cares for poor children, when he can stare at pretty young naked women, felt up by policemen in front of government buildings!

I know that every form of protest, even (or rather especially) a controversial one, is good if it attracts someone’s attention, but these ladies attract the spectator’s eyes and this is it. I do not understand the explanation that it is how they attract the world’s attention and focus it on the subject of the protest, because in my opinion they draw the public attention away from what they want to say.

Watch FEMEN protest against prostitution:

FEMEN_GIRLS from FEMEN Video on Vimeo.

I watch them on TV, see them yell and taking their shirts off and I do not know what this masquerade is about. I have nothing against naked breast. In my opinion democracy should allow for this form of entertainment, but what is the aim of connecting it with lofty causes? If you, dear FEMENists, want to flash in public, maybe you should do it just like that? I do not understand how breasts could contribute to the fight against prostitution. I am even wondering if they do not have an opposite effect.

Not wanting to be accused of ordinary woman envy, I would like to point out that I am very thankful to the organisation for providing me with so many aesthetic impressions. At the same time, I would like to ask the activists not to connect this happening with saving the world.

On behalf of European women

Moreover, which annoys me the most, FEMEN, just as every feminist organisation, claims the right to speak on behalf of all European women – including me. Unfortunately, no one asked me if I would like to express myself in this way.

Do their protest mean that in the 21st century I, as a woman, still need to behave like a madwoman in order to make other people hear what I am saying? Ukrainian feminists try to make us all believe that if they said the same things completely dressed, no one would listen to them. It may even be true but the problem is that they are not being listened to right now, though everyone stares in astonishment. After their demonstration, the only thing left are the sad pictures which are an affront to human dignity and laconic mention in press about the FEMEN feminists taking their shirts off once again. What for? Hard to say…

Watch FEMEN press conference in Poland:

FEMEN IN POLAND from FEMEN Video on Vimeo.

How long will their breasts, so frequently watched, cause controversy? What will show us those ladies when the audience is satisfied with their sight and gets bored? Maybe this time it will an act of public copulation? But I will better stop suggesting fantastic new ideas.

As a woman, I feel piqued that someone is yet again suggesting me that I can show something to the world only with the use of my sexuality. Obviously, I do not call (God forbid!) for women to fight against their sexuality but I suggest leaving it in the appropriate place, e.g. in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

I am writing all this only because no one has ever managed to save the world with bare breasts, though many have tried. I am completely for bare breasts and completely against connecting them with ideology.

Watch Barbara Włodarczyk’s documentary “Szerokie Tory” (eng. Wide Tracks) about FEMEN women:

FEMEN на Telewizij Polska from FEMEN Video on Vimeo.
Article prepared by

Author: Daria Będkowska

Student at the Faculty of History, Department of Judaic Studies, Jagiellonian University. Editor and manager of “Society and Culture” section at A member of Scientific Section at the Department of Judaic Studies, chairwoman of Jewish film section. Interested in Judaism, religion as well as national and ethnic minorities in the European Union.


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Translated by Marta Lityńska

Autor "Współpraca" to oznaczenie artykułów osób, które występują na łamach gościnnie i nie są na stałe członkami zespołu.

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