On Sunday, The Daily Beast's Lizzie Crocker touted Femen's "gangs of attractive, topless women condemning religion, agitating against misogyny, and fighting dictatorship," as she introduced her interview of Inna Shevchenko, a prominent member of the radical feminist group from Europe. Crocker prominently featured a picture of Shevchenko wearing nothing but jean shorts at a protest in an attempt to emphasize this characterization.
The reporter noted how the members of the anti-Christian group refer to themselves as "sextremists," and pointed out some of their beyond crude tactics (which has not only included topless protesting, but also public urination). While Crocker also highlighted Femen's general hostility to religion as a possible "totalitarian instinct," she failed to mention that they have specifically targeted and disrupted Catholic Masses and events.
After using her "attractive" label in the first sentence of her article, "Femen's Topless Sextremists Invade the US," Crocker zeroed in on a recent protest in France, where the far leftists demonstrated against the ousted president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych:
Five Ukrainian protesters gather in front of their country's embassy in Paris to register their disgust with the authoritarian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. They shout. They pump their fists. Their breasts exposed, covered in revolutionary slogans. They pull their underwear to their ankles, squat down, and unleash streams of piss on a photo of a grimacing Yanukovych.
"Dictatorship in its pure form originated in Ukraine, that’s why we are coming today here to pee on this face--in the face who is bringing dictatorship to Ukraine under the protection and influence of Russia and Putin," Inna Shevchenko tells a phalanx of tittering reporters and photographers, in heavily accented English.
The Daily Beast writer continued with a brief history of Femen, and underlined that "no one paid much attention until they adopted a head-turning strategy: painting feminist messages on their tits. Femen has transformed into a global movement led by Shevchenko and backed by 250 activists in nine countries. It now plans to open its first outpost in the United States."
Crocker led the actual interview of Shevchenko by asking about her group's plans for the U.S.: "Why does Femen need a branch in the United States? Who is Femen aiming to target in the U.S.? Will you take on religion, politicians, and public figures you consider to be misogynists?" The native of Ukraine outlined that "American women expressed their support and impatience when fighting puritanism and conservatism using Femen tactics....We will not leave religious institutions in peace, with their lobbying for anti-women policies. And Republican politicians will not walk the streets without worry [if they] lobby for anti-women laws. Femen is a special troop of reaction and punishment. "
The reporter didn't give Shevchenko a completely softball interview. She highlighted a recent extreme quote from the Femen member in her second-to-last question: "In a recent interview with The Guardian, you said that you 'strongly believe that one day religion has to be forbidden, the same way fascism was forbidden.' Do you think this instinct is at cross-purposes with other aspects of your activism? Isn't this a totalitarian instinct?"
Shevchenko stood by her statement:
Well, my personal emotions regarding religion are expressed in a very radical way sometimes. And I do not regret it and will repeat it again and again. I can't tolerate such an intolerant thing as religion. I don't want to respect my enemies, I want to fight them. You call this a "totalitarian instinct." I wouldn't. I named evil as evil. I said something bad is bad.
We can't clean up the world from religion completely and I wouldn't suggest banning it. But I call to give religion the small place [in society] that it deserves: as fantasy, literature, etc. But not as the only truth and law. As it's still that way for billions around the world.
Religion is not a personal issue anymore, it has become political. It doesn't exist only to provide moral support anymore, but to replace constitutions and supplant human rights with [religious] tradition. Religion is oppression and we are going to fight it with whatever "instincts" necessary.
Crocker also noted that the Femen member got her notoriety by cutting down a "13-foot cross in Kyiv to protest religion and Pussy Riot's prison sentence." However, she failed to include that the cross was "erected during Ukraine's 2004-05 Orange Revolution in memory of the victims of communism." As National Review's Andrew Stuttaford pointed out shortly after Shevchenko's act of vandalism, "It is...an insult to the memory of the millions of Ukrainians who suffered and who perished under Communism, not least in 1932-33's Holodomor, the monstrous man-made famine that Stalin added to the tools he was using to break the back of the Ukrainian nation."