LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR, 20 MINUTES (France)
PARIS –Eight members of the feminist Ukrainian group FEMEN celebrated Pope Benedict XVI's resignation announcement this week by disrobing inside Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The bare-breasted activists rang the cathedral's new bells -- currently exposed in the middle of the nave -- with sticks, before getting carried out by the cathedral’s security and visitors (see video below). The bodies of the protestors were painted with slogans hailing Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and the recent passage in Parliament of a law allowing gay marriage in France.
By now, such images, um... barely ... make news, after months of similarly provocative demonstrations around the world to promote the rights of women and gays have often led to clashes both with police and their political opponents.
But this time, may have been different. The loudest criticism seemed to come from the French left, as Paris’ openly gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, slammed FEMEN’s happening: “I disapprove of an act that turns the beautiful fight for sexual equality into a caricature, needlessly shocking many believers,” Delanoë was quoted as saying by France's Le Nouvel Observateur.
Eloïse Bouton, a French representative of FEMEN, justified the action: “We chose this place because it symbolizes the oppression on women. We’re not here to please everyone […] we want to be visible in the news. Men are everywhere in the media landscape, they have an opinion on everything. Women need to speak up for what they stand for,” Bouton told daily 20 Minutes.
A picture from the FemenFrance official feed:
— FemenFrance Officiel (@Femen_France) 12 février 2013
A fiery tweet in reaction to the event:
— Olivia13 (@Prav13Olivia) 12 février 2013
Translation: "I won't shed a tear if Notre-Dame's bells fall and squish those harpies"