We came up with this idea maybe 6 months ago when we got an e-mail that read, “Hello, we’re French women and we need FEMEN in France.” Then it struck us that FEMEN is spreading throughout the world and can be needed in such developed feministic countries as France.
You say that you’re “the new face of feminism”. What exactly do you mean by that?
Of course, we’re fighting against and for the same things. We’re fighting for freedom of women, for equality. And there’s nothing controversial with classical feminism. But this is what I call “new cover”, this is new style of showing feminism.
France has a long history of feminine liberation. The writer Simone de Beauvoir, of course, was French. Equality is pretty well enshrined in France, isn’t it?
Yes, comparing to other countries, yes. Comparing to my country – to Ukraine – yes. But still, we’re living in men’s domination world. And women are pressed everywhere, where less and where more. In France less than in Ukraine, but still they’re not satisfied, still they’re going to fight. I have to flee my country after I cut the cross in protest supporting Pussy Riot. And I left for France, because we already had this idea.
Just coming back to the point, you cut down the cross overlooking Kyiv’s central square. How does that help your course? A lot of people who are religious find that extremely offensive.
I don’t think that there’s anything controversial with our ideology and our tactics. We’re always acting in this style.
I’m not talking about your ideology. I’m talking about the action of cutting the cross.
Action of cutting the cross was not something new for us, because we explained our anti-religious line one year ago protesting near the same church in Moscow where Pussy Riot made their performance. And, of course, we knew that in Ukraine there will be a huge negative reaction at first, because religion in Ukraine is a kind of tradition.
Nobody disputes your right to oppose religion. I’m just trying to understand what the purpose of cutting down the cross was, what you hoped to achieve.
To cut the cross is to revenge religion and church for all those things that they made to women during hundreds of years. Maybe you can say that it’s a violent protest, but it’s on the border between violent and non-violent.
Even if you’re an atheist or not religious at all, a lot of people would consider that an act of vandalism, though, wouldn’t they?
Yeah, I’m an atheist and for me this is just a piece of the wood. It’s a symbol of blood.
It’s a very important symbol for people who do believe, though.
There were a lot of people saying that we touched their religious feelings. I have a question – no one thinks about my atheistic feelings when I see a big cross in the center of Kyiv. No one thinks about that and it touches me too!
Obviously you’re making a lot of headlines and you’re on the TV because of your naked - topless, I should say, protests. What would you make of criticisms that that doesn’t really do anything to promote equality, because what it does – the media actually is focused on objectifying you which is what most feminists would find pretty apparent.
You can see naked women today everywhere! Look around! On TV, in newspapers, on the billboards – naked women! But naked women with message on their bodies – it’s during feministic protests. Now we’re discussing our activity, not size of my breast. It means that you got the message and other people too.