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FEMEN’s Anna Gutsol on sex tourism and short skirts in Ukraine

When I first started hearing about FEMEN, a Ukrainian women’s organization, I got the impression of a curious hybrid between short skirts and progressive politics – an aggressively visual movement whose members aren’t afraid to, say, dress in next to nothing to highlight their opposition to sex tourism in Ukraine. But in a way that goes above spectacle, FEMEN’s young leader, Anna Gutsol, already has a reputation for being an ideologically advanced social activist with strong, if scandalous, convictions.

I recently sat down with Gutsol in a cafe by Kyiv’s Independence Square, to talk about everything from her organization’s tactics of harassing sex tourists to the endless debate about women and housework.

Natalia: Before we get into the meat of things, I have to ask – do you ever get scared? You must piss off plenty of people.

Anna: Everyone’s been asking me this question lately. At this point, I’m wondering: should I be scared? But the thing is, I refuse to. I believe in what I’m doing. And there are plenty of people in Ukraine who are sympathetic to our cause.

Natalia: I’ve read a lot about FEMEN recently, but I’d like to hear you describe your organization firsthand.

Anna: 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. Look around you, nobody wants to be a Girl Scout here.

Natalia: Your image is definitely not Girl Scout-esque. Do you get criticized for your provocative social protests?

Photo courtesy of FEMEN
Photo courtesy of FEMEN

Anna: Of course. 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.

Natalia: Would you describe yourselves as a feminist organization?

Anna: No. We use eroticism in our approach and our dress. That’s not sanctioned by feminism.

Natalia: Personally, I’m a feminist and I’m down with eroticism and revealing clothing. I bristle when some of my Western compatriots criticize me. I tell them that this is how every woman in my family looks, and I’m not about to switch from dresses to burlap sacks because of someone else’s perverted reaction to the dresses.

Anna: Exactly. Look, this is part of our culture. To deliberately make yourself unattractive in Ukraine is to consign yourself to the margins. That’s not what we want.

Natalia: Our culture, of course, has its dark side.

Anna: Yes, because we conceive of beauty as something that’s there to be demeaned. Look at our night clubs. This is where our young girls go to get groomed to trade on their looks as if it’s their main function in life. Showing off your boobs and getting a free drink is promoted as the pinnacle of womanly achievement.

Natalia: Which brings us to the sex industry. Why do you so strongly disapprove of it?

Anna: Ukraine is a very patriarchal society. Our sex industry is fueled by poverty and, let’s face it, ignorance. It’s a completely immoral, exploitative business.

Natalia: What do you think of harm reduction and decriminalization in regards to sex-work?

Anna: I’m not going to stand on the street and beat prostitutes over the head with my purse and ask them to reflect upon their deeds. I think harm reduction is important. These women should be working without additional risks to their lives. But let’s get real about Ukrainian society. If we decide that prostitution is suddenly OK, all hell will break loose. Around here, people don’t think about purchasing sex, they think of it as purchasing a human being. That’s very different from, say, a legal brothel in a nation where, perhaps, attitudes are different. You know, I even heard that in foreign brothels, nobody wants to entertain Russian or Ukrainian clients, because these men have a reputation for serious abuse.

Natalia: Why do you think this is the case in Ukraine?

Anna: We never had a sexual revolution to speak of. In the Soviet days, we were all repressed. We’re still reaping the consequences of that. You know the old saying: “there’s no sex in the Soviet Union.” On one level, that was true. Sex was largely unacknowledged. I don’t think that things have improved so much in recent years. We don’t have decent sex education in this country. And we’re still very sexist.

Natalia: I’ve read some accounts of what prostitutes around here go through on a regular basis, and have spoken to several, and some of the stories are hair-raisingly horrifying. Even the people who are supposed to be protecting these women often get in on the act.

Anna: I’m telling you, the sex industry here is merciless. So when people talk about decriminalization, or legalization, I have to ask them to stop and think about the implications. I think our sex-workers need help, but I also worry about the young girls who are set to become sex-workers. What they’re getting into is a nightmare.

"Ukraine is not a brothel." Photo courtesy of FEMEN.
"Ukraine is not a brothel." Photo courtesy of FEMEN.

Natalia: FEMEN has also been actively involved in confronting foreign men who come to this country to get laid. Why do you choose these methods?

Anna: Because foreign men are confronting us! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve spoken to a girl who was treated like trash by some sex tourist who has decided that Ukraine is his personal playground. These men come here with attitudes of utter entitlement, and that needs to change.

There is a strong anti-trafficking effort going on now, which is great, but people forget that sex tourism and trafficking can be linked. How many girls were wooed by some charming foreigner to end up being sold into a brothel abroad? The Euro 2012 Football Championship is coming up as well. Can you imagine how brutal it’s going to be around here when drunken football fans descend on this country? Can you imagine how our women are going to be treated by them?

Natalia: Flying in and out of this country, I sometimes get stuck next to a really sleazy American or Brit. Once he ascertains that I want nothing to do with him, he’ll start pressing me to introduce him to my friends and relatives.

Anna: Oh, it gets much worse than that. It can degenerate into street harassment. Now, I’m not talking about foreigners who come here to work or study or whatever, I’m talking about those people who are deliberately here to take advantage of women. We have groups of young Turkish men literally shouting at women in the street. I asked a Turkish journalist recently: “What would happen if groups of Ukrainian men shouted at women like that in, say, Istanbul?” He had a hard time even imagining such a scenario. Why should it be any different in Ukraine?

Natalia: Stereotypes about us are pretty cemented. In the Middle East, I made the mistake of disclosing my ethnic background to a taxi driver once. He instantly decided I was sexually available. After that, I’d just tell people I’m American. Of course, they’d take a good look at me in the rear view mirror and say, “But you look so Russian!” The way they stared at me when they said it, it was frightening.

Anna: I have a friend who works as a bartender in Germany, and she looks like you – a typical Slav. She tells everyone she’s from Finland. She used to be more honest with people, but then they’d offer her money to have sex with them. Pitifully small amounts of money too! Not only do they think you’re a whore, they think you’re a cheap whore, someone whose desperation can exploit. It is frightening. And these people don’t have a clue about the economic and social circumstances that lead so many of our women into this trade. Or else they are happy to overlook them. Well, we’re here to remind them that no, actually, you don’t get to overlook that.

Natalia: I once sat next to an American at a dinner here in Kiev, and he spent the entire evening talking about how Ukrainian women are disgusting bimbos because so many of us don’t exactly like to cover up. Maybe if I had been a FEMEN girl, I’d have thrown a pie at his face.

Anna: It’s strange, isn’t it? Foreigners come here and have a completely bizarre reaction to our women. I say, they need to respect our traditions. There’s nothing wrong with women who dress provocatively. It’s our style. Get over it.

The other day, I saw this family on the street: a mother, a father, and a little kid. The woman was wearing incredibly tiny shorts and had an amazing body. There was nothing wrong or unnatural about it. Her husband looked happy to be next to her. They looked content and in love. Who the hell has a right to criticize that?

Natalia: Speaking of love, is it hard for a politically active Ukrainian woman to find it?

Anna: Sure. I work in concert organizing, but consider FEMEN to be my actual career. There’s a phrase I use a lot right now: “another one has run away.” For me, it’s hard to find a man who understands me and takes what I do seriously. But it’s not impossible either. There are plenty of men out there who are kind. Kindness, I think, is what’s important. Plus, it’s not like you have to start out a relationship with talking about politics. You have to click first.

Anna strikes a pose on the mean streets of Kyiv.
Anna strikes a pose on the mean streets of Kyiv.

Natalia: Do you think Ukrainian men are generally threatened by strong women?

Anna: I think many Ukrainian men find strong women inconvenient. Think about your typical Soviet set-up, which is still around nowadays: both partners work, but when the wife comes home at 6 p.m., she launches herself into housework, while the husband relaxes. A strong woman may not stand for that. I’m not saying this is a problem in every household, but it exists. It’s prominent.

Natalia: I’m struck by how Western women often talk about there being a clear choice between career and home. I don’t think Soviet women entertained that notion.

Anna: A career is something you do devote yourself to immensely. You make sacrifices. It’s not that those sacrifices are necessarily incompatible with having a family, but it can be much harder. In terms of plain old work – you are right. Our women did both. And continue to do both. And it’s often very thankless.

Natalia: So how do you go about changing that mentality wherein a woman is exploited but doesn’t do anything about it?

Anna: I believe that women must be educated about their rights, which is what FEMEN is all about. Just to give you an example: so many girls don’t even have a clue that if they’re being sexually harassed, they have the right to appeal to a police officer for help. Obviously, not all police officers might care, but we’ve had positive experiences. There are good cops out there. There is good out there in general.

We can change things here. People tell me, “hey, Ukraine’s not so bad, at least child prostitution here isn’t as bad as in Thailand.” And I say – oh yeah? So should we wait around until it’s worse than in Thailand? No. We need to be active right now. That’s the ultimate goal: helping women get to that stage where more and more of us refuse to be docile, or to be treated as objects, as original sin in the flesh.

I overhead one of our cops say something great to a street harasser the other day; he said, “hey, if it’s not yours, do not touch.” If that’s not wisdom, I don’t know what is.


Natalia Antonova

Natalia is a writer and journalist. She's the associate editor of openDemocracy Russia and the co-founder of the Anti-Nihilist Institute.

41 thoughts on “FEMEN’s Anna Gutsol on sex tourism and short skirts in Ukraine

  1. This is very very interesting and educational too! I had no idea about how women were treated in the Ukraine. I have so much respect for Anna’s strength, courage and her resolve to make a difference for women there. She’s a strong, intelligent woman. There need to be more women just like her.

  2. This is an interesting interview, thank you Natalia!

    I’m fully behind Anna in her battle to improve the lot of Ukrainian women. And I have to say that that surprises me, and that she provides an attractive alternative to the radical feminism in the UK that seems to think the only good man’s a dead one and that the only proper style of dress requires looking as much like a sack of potatoes as possible!

    I wonder to what extent the trafficking discourse has led to this view of Ukrainian women?

    I think fears over the 2012 football championship hopefully will be not realised. I don’t know if you’re reading this, Anna, but you may care to look through my posting here on the sex industry and major sports events:

  3. Natalia, great interview. Her quote about ‘respecting traditions’, that of the Ukrainian tradition to dress with less put the whole thing another context altogether.

  4. Re: sex tourism. Living in Canada, there is a certain perception of Ukrainian and Russian women fairly common amongst men here. Well, at least amongst men who have never actually met and gotten to know Ukrainian and Russian women. The common perception is that Ukrainians and Russians fit into one of three groups:

    1. Sex trade workers. Perhaps this perception here comes from the large number of women who are either kidnapped or tricked into coming here and then forced into stripping/prostitution?

    2. Desparate to find foreign men to marry. Guys I know who have turned to matrimonial sites to find women to marry say there are a huge number of women from the former USSR states/republics on these sites. Perhaps this is where this perception comes from?

    3. Too ugly or rude to be sex trade worker or find a husband.

    Personally, when I hear guys talk like this I am quick to correct their image of Ukrainian and Russian women. There are few cultures that have women with the strength of those in Ukraine and Russia. By that I mean, who live in a patriarchal society and have the strength to stand up for themselves without giving up being a woman. And I have yet to meet a Ukrainian or Russian woman who is not well-educated and very certain of who she is and what she wants in life.

    Rather than look down upon them, such women should be held up as the ideal for others to strive to be.

  5. Sorry, but Ukrainian women only have themselves to blame, just as Russian women. I think they made their bed and now lie in it, literally. There’s nothing “cultural” about short skirts, it’s what any trashy woman wears when she wants attention. Ukraine just has a lot of trashy women. I haven’t been (don’t want to go) but everyone in the world has that impression and it’s there for reasons, sorry.

  6. That was an extremely interesting interview. I knew about Femen in a vague way before this, but it’s good to hear more about them and their ideals. Their approach is interesting too. There are far too many people who think that being sexy and having a social conscience – sometimes even an opinion – are mutually exclusive. Thanks for a thought-provoking and informative interview.

  7. Dina, on a daily basis I see the whole range of women’s dress from full burqha to mini skirts. I pay no more attention to the women in mini-skirts than to the women in pant suits or burqhas.

    This whole debate over what a woman should wear or shouldn’t wear normally happens most often in male-dominated cultures. A woman ought to make her own choice about how she should dress. If she wants to wear a mini-skirt, let her. If she wants to wear a burqha, let her. As long as she does it because it is HER choice, not the choice of her family or culture or religion (or all 3 combined).

    As for men perceiving Ukrainian and Russian women in a poor way, it is not the fault of the women. The blame ought to rest squarely where it belongs – on the men who view women as little more than objects for their pleasure. If men looked at women as equals and with respect, we would not have any need for this discussion.

  8. So let me get this straight.

    These women parade around in bras and panties – and even topless – protesting against commercial sex and sex tourism?

    That is totally insane!

    So, it’s bad for men to come to visit Ukraine to have sex with Ukrainian women – either for free or for a fee – but it’s OK for them to parade around half naked in the street?

    I do not follow the logic of that at all!

    But then again, I could never understand the psychology of women who parade around half naked and get offended if men react sexually to their hypersexual behavior!

    These women are totally insane.

  9. Sam – you should be more responsible than to help spread trafficking paranoia about “the large number of women who are either kidnapped or tricked into coming [to Canada] and then forced into stripping/prostitution?”

    That such women exist is true. That they exist in large numbers is a myth. Have you met any?

    Here the UK government has talked about 4,000 women trafficked into the UK for sex
    since 2003. Only now, in 2009, has the rationale behind their estimate been published, and it’s nonsense!

    Gregory Butler + Dina – women should dress (or not) in whatever they’re comfortable in. If that makes you uncomfortable, don’t visit Ukraine (or the UK, or, indeed, most places).

  10. Stephen P – yes, I have met some and also have known some who got sucked into it. The worst offending countries are hardly the UK, USA, or Canada. It is a tremendous problem in Southeast Asia in particular, as well as in Japan. As far as I am concerned, even one woman forced into it is one too many.

  11. Stephen, with all due respect, with you it seems it is all academical. With me, it is personal.

    Besides, this has detracted from the main point of the posting…

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  13. i have visited ukraine fourteen times since 2000. i now have a 5 yr, B visa and i’m not a sex tourist. i dated over 150 single ukraine women. they all want expensive $100, meals and $50. usd. taxi rides home. when telling girls i can get that same taxi for $15, usd.; day or night; they get mad. one time i gave a girl $40. usd. for a taxi ride and then followed her into the metro for her cheap metro ride home. all ukraine girls are scammers. i walk arround kyiv every day and see women with black eyes and understand why their boyfiends-husbands beat them up.
    if i could fine one honest ukraine girl i would marry her. i have no interest in being with scammers.

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  15. You wrote “There’s nothing wrong with women who dress provocatively. It’s our style.”

    Oh, but there IS something desperately wrong with women who dress provocatively. And your “style” is the style that is recognized world-wide as being what a common prostitute would wear. Especting to dress provocatively, and not provocate men, is so irrational it’s painful and makes me ashamed to be a woman. You are exploiting yourselves and other women in your country. Only when you stop the “provocative” dressing will the world stop seeing your country as one big brothel.

  16. Lara,

    As someone who enjoys flattering her own figure, I gotta say this sounds like sour grapes to me. Maybe with a dash of some religious fundamentalism/evo psych babble.

    “Common prostitute?” Gotta work a little bit of that hate against sex-workers in there as well!

    People like you make me sad.

  17. While I think that FEMEN has brilliant aims and I love how strikingly different their methods of protest are from traditional women’s rights groups, I have to massively agree with Gregory on one point.

    “But then again, I could never understand the psychology of women who parade around half naked and get offended if men react sexually to their hypersexual behavior!”

    While I am not at all condoning street harassment or sleazy men in general, it seems difficult to argue against the fact that *in general*, the more skin you show off, the more provocative you are dressing.

    My personal opinion is that if a woman does dress with less (or smaller) clothes in public, in any country, they should definitely expect more attention from hot blooded men. Men are very visual creatures, and if you are not prepared to have someone stare at your legs, don’t leave them exposed in public, and the same goes for absolutely every part of your body. If you are comfortable with people appreciating your body, then go for it.

    Of course, I also completely agree with “if it’s not yours, do not touch”. If you are touched in an inappropriate manner because of a foolish person’s assumptions, do not hesitate to make it very clear how you feel about this. Possibly involving the palm of your hand and their cheek.

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  19. Dina, Slavic women are anything but trashy.

    They are truly wonderful women who actually embrace their femininity instead of embracing obesity, masculinity and man bashing like Western feminists do.

    Also last I checked, feminine dressed women get the attention and dates while feminist dressed women fume over classy and sexy dressed women taking away “their” men.

  20. ukrayna needs such fresh views…a balanced society will only be reached when people take the power equally, whether it is based on gender roles, economic roles or religion/politics…

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  22. i am a guy from istanbul, i am turkish. our society is not an open society, we have roots to middle east and i admit that we have some rude guys living in istanbul or other parts of turkey. AND, if we consider from the other side; i except that mini skirts or some other sexy clothing makes a woman happier because she gets some attention, and lives her gender. but the russian or east european girls can go beyond the border sometimes. i have been to Antalya in turkey last summer and the girls from the east europe were dancing on the dancers platform just to attract more attention and they do it! the Femen organization has held their protest at the turkish embassy but this is not about an ethnical problem, in usa most women do not wear mini skirts so the man are not used to that vision too. Be ROMAN in ROME, means your culture is not others culture, so they will not consider like u consider it.

  23. My question to you all is, why are all these men so obsessive about sex and so often brutal sex? I put it to you that they are deffective, either due to chemical imbalances, poor parenting and guidance, or society as a whole is to blame. This is not just a Ukranian problem, it is global, there is sexual abuse on every land mass on this planet, regardless of clothing preference. When it comes to sexual abuse no-one can rightly blame any woman, the blame can only belong to the beast taking something for his own selfish pleasure, they are also the ones to blame for the sex trade in the first place, it is their demand, no woman wants to sell her body, utter desperation forces women into this horrendous trade. Another question, how can any man enjoy having sex with an unwilling participant, be it woman, child or animal? Are u starting to see why I say deffective? So many mens perception and approach to sex is so warped and violent, this is not natural, it is supposed to be enjoyed by consenting persons, if it were not to be enjoyed then orgasms would not exist, let alone the whole sex act which can and should be a natural delightful experience. Do we have to resort to mass castration to protect women, children and animals? or simply educate society to embrace the natural femininity within us all? Once people realize that femininity is something to be admired, appreciated and respected, the obsession of dominance, power and greed will dissipate, masculinity absolutely has its role to play but can only function at its best if its in harmony with femininity, it is so simple.

  24. To Gregory A. Butler:

    I have a response to your post that I think is best summed up by paraphrasing words written by a former blogger who went by Biting Beaver.

    She angrily pointed out that it was illegal for her to asexually display her breasts, for her own reasons, where others might see them (for instance, to beat summer heat while mowing the lawn, as a man might do). But that it was legal for someone else to make a profit selling photographs or videos of her breasts to others.

    I know this isn’t exactly apples-to-apples comparable, because what you’re asking is about women sexually displaying their legs/breasts. (While being angry that someone else can make a profit (or get a rise) off of the display of and/or violence against their (or any other woman’s) legs/breasts/vaginas.)

    But…I think there’s a little bit of the whole “You shouldn’t oppose me using my breasts the way I want as much as or more than you oppose someone else using my breasts the way he wants” thing in my loose analogy. I hope.

  25. Меня зовут Валентина, и я – УКРАИНКА! На этот форум меня занесло случайно, я пишу диплом на тему “Развитие туристического предприятия на основе маркетинговых стратегий”, хотела подыскать информацию касательно видов туризма и обнаружила ссылку на статью Натальи “о секс-туризме”. Да таковая проблема есть и у нас, и методы борьбы FEMEN вполне понятны, ведь у нас, на всё что касаеться издевательств над женщинами, просто закрывают глаза. Прежде всего наши мужчины. Поэтому мне было приятно узнать что есть Анна и все те девушки-волонтеры, которын идут на такие акции.

    Однако я и огорчилась прочитав некоторые отзывы о данной статье, а точнее о украинских женщинах и Украине в целом.

    Да, мы не самая развитая страна во всем мире и у нас есть прблемы, но мы люди и имеем человеческое достоинство, такое же как и у всех.

    И очень печально, что “некоторых созерцателей” Украины и Украинских женщин цепляет в данной проблеме торговли телом, только стиль одежды.

    Но это в душе и в менталитете, а в реальности многие украинские мужчины относятся к этой самой женщине мягко скажем неуважительно, как фоновому обязательному режиму, и это не из-за одежда…
    А из-за мужского менталитета (передающегося половым путем из поколения в поколение;), некоординируемого обществом, законодательством, иногда и самими женщинами, настолько “прибитыми”, что они воспринимают такое отношение как данность.

    На самом деле у женщин Украины очень тонкий вкус, который гармонично соединяется с её сексуальностью и женственностью, что же касается неадекватной одежды, то тут уже причинв в дурном вкусе или же нехваткой денежных средств, то этого, извините, полно во всех странах (не в обиду будет сказано, такова статистика).
    Украинка – это прежде всего женщина, жена, мама – любящая и стремящаяся к любви, а потом уже карьеристка.

    Но это в душе и в менталитете, а в реальности многие украинские мужчины относятся к этой самой женщине мягко скажем неуважительно, как фоновому обязательному режиму, и это не из-за одежда…
    А из-за мужского менталитета (передающегося половым путем из поколения в поколение;), некоординируемого обществом, законодательством, иногда и самими женщинами, настолько “прибитыми”, что они воспринимают такое отношение как данность.

    На самом деле сексуальная одежда лишь один из способов самовыразиться как женщине, быть привлекательной. А привлекательность ЭТО БИОЛОГИЧЕСКИ НОРМАЛЬНО!!!

    Я обожаю мини юбки (ношу правда редко, ибо у меня к счастью есть и другая одежда;) и не считаю, что это причина относиться ко мне не уважительно, да это можно не понимать другим народностям, но оскарблять или говорить, что я сама виновата, в насилии, извините ни одна женщина (без садомазохистических склонностей), сама об этом не попросит, так что не надо говорить, что во всем виновата одежда, а лучше если вам это интересно загляните в суть.

    Как сказал замечательный русский писатель Антон Чехов: “В человеке должно быть всё прекрасно – и душа, и тело, и разум”.

    Всего самого наилучшего Всем кто понял моё послание, а кто не понял, Вам тоже всего хорошего ;))))))))))))))))

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  28. This article was really well written, in that it was very clear and direct in discussing some contemporary problems Ukraine women are facing.

    There are some parallels with the culture in Australia. Notably, just because women might want to wear revealing clothes she shouldn’t have to put up with the rubbish as a result.

    That is a major problem Australia is facing with respectd to Muslim immigation. Where one senior Islamic leader [Taj el din]- put the blame on the women for being raped. Describing those who wear revealing clothes as “being a piece of uncovered red meat – and he implied that men were like cats.

    Hopefully, this discussion – unites some strong good willed men from Ukraine : to set a standard for men coming into the country – on how to treat women.

  29. also reply to Tamsyn –>

    In the next few years there will be studies – assessing the correlation between violent pornography and men’s desire for violent/brutal sex.

    Over the last decade – the videos available on the internet have been becoming – more and more, demeaning, rude, and violent towards women in the films. Some of the videos are shocking, not illegal, but way too full on.

    Now its a game of who can top the other company by reaching the bottom first.

    And men who watch it, it can’t help but have an affect on their minds and what they associate with is necessary for “Getting off”.

  30. Hm…. It is very interesting thing even for me – for ukrainian girl. I was living in Ukraine 30 years I had never ever noticed women are treated.
    I was a student at Univeesity, I was PhD candidate and I had not been treated by anybody. It could be strange, but also after my graduation I had a choice to get a job in several University.

    I will not understand FEMEn protest technics.

  31. I enjoy provacative women. If you have it show it YOUR way. I agree with femen. Women have rights and deserve proper treatment without conditions. I am white, 59, male who respects all women. All people should be judged by who they are not what they seem to be. To do otherwise is just ignorance.

  32. Very interesting interview, though I knew the main issues already. But it is interesting to read something about the attitude of women in Ukraine and Russia and its perception. To commentwriter “Dina” I’d like to say, sorry, you have no insight into Ukraine and follow just stereotypes. In every country you find updressed women with a stupid brain who have no other wish than to be married by a Mercedes or BMW owner. But that is not what I found in Ukraine as how the majority is. I acquainted a bunch of women, I admire the style most of them did have, the way they dress which shows that they are really aware of their attractiveness. But they all where well educated, very smart, extremely kind and interesting conversation partners. Most of the friends in Ukraine I have are female – coincidence or standard- when I met men and women together, the women did speak English and the men not. I xpd that women in Ukraine take a much bigger interest in the world than men. To me, it seems there is no female problem in Ukraine, but a real male problem(in Russia probably too). The inferiority feelings of men lead to violence and opression of women by men. Its their way to get out of the pressure that a dark tradition of society gives them unconsciously: That men have to be powerful. But in a modern socitey, there’s nothing left to do for many men according to power, so we need to discuss the fact that we have to have a new role for men. It would be so easy to find that role, men protecting women in case they need it. And if not, be happy on their own. Happiness is a thing that comes with culture, many men have lost every cultural root. I remember Greece in the early eighties: men were sitting in the cafés playing Tavli and just being content with their lives (on the other hand some of them may have left all the work to be done by their wives). It seems so difficult for people to be happy by only the fact that they are alive and can think. Modern society tells us to aks for more all the time -more property, more friends, more status, more sex. But in the end we have nothing and have not learnded to deal with that. I fear the future when crude oil runs out and economy collapses. This will be the explosion of problems that should have been solved today. What I think is that Femen needs definitely male members – men need examples and heroes they can adjust to, and men protesting together with Femen would show male spectators: We are partners and not opponents to these women struggling to improve female lives. It was a good thing that DJ Hell joined them – I wished that more people, known or unknown, joined. And I wished that more people would take Femens actions serious and not spit at them becaise of their nudity.

  33. Women taking radical steps in not unheard of. On October 31st, 2009, Code Pink organized a protest rally outside the White House to coincide with President and Mrs. Obama’s official Halloween party. As many of the guests were family members of military members, the Code Pink press release encouraged attendees to dress as “zombie soldiers”. On August 13th, 2011, organizers held their first Slut Walk. As noted in the Washington Post, “In a feminist movement that is often fighting simply to hold ground, Slut Walks stand out as a reminder of feminism’s more grass-roots past and point to what the future could look like.” The women of FEMEN are known for their scandalous tactics, much like the women of Code Pink and the organizers of Slut Walks, but they are the new face of feminism, women who are not afraid to speak their minds or show their bodies. They are women who are willing to break all the rules, all the social convention commonly adhered to in their societies and fight for what they believe is a just cause.

  34. It seems some people are missing the point about women’s bodies being their own and, whether they’re paraded around or not, men DO NOT have the right to assume they’re available.

    Men are not generally sexual predators so why do so many people insist on apologising for the few that are and laying the blame with the women? Do you blame a shop’s window dresser if looters raid it?

    FEMEN are challenging dangerous and dark assumptions that need to be recognised for what they are. This is a global problem, not limited to Ukraine.

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