Being the patriotic, red-blooded American that I am, it's in my DNA not to care about soccer. And yes, I know it's become a bit of a clich to say that, but in my case it's actually true. I really, really, passionately do not care one iota about the world's most popular sport. If soccer never makes it big in the U.S. — despite all the decades we've been told it's just about to — I think I'll be OK.
Given that sort of attitude, you might find it odd that I'm even aware of a soccer tournament called Euro 2012 that will be taking place next month in Ukraine. I have to say I find it a little odd myself, and under normal circumstances, I promise you I would have no idea such an event was being staged. These, however, are not normal circumstances.
You see, Euro 2012, which I assume will include squads from throughout Europe, will be hosting not just soccer teams and their fans but also, apparently, topless female protesters. And as a patriotic, red-blooded American male, if there's one thing I'm supposed to like as much as I dislike soccer, it's topless women. Thus, I imagine you can see how Euro-2012 managed to pop up on my radar.
Now, if you've ever heard of Ukraine before (I'm assuming you're also an American, so there's no guarantee you have), it's probably because it's home to Chernobyl, which, as you might remember, was the site of a massive nuclear disaster back in 1986, when Ukraine was still known to most Americans as Russia.
It turns out, though, that Ukraine is also home to a militant women's-rights group called Femen, an organization that the news service Reuters described as “the cover girls of international feminist protest.” Femen's preferred method of voicing its outrage, it seems, is to stage bare-breasted public appearances, and its members have vowed to do so next month during Euro-2012.
The reason behind the promised displays, according to Femen member Anna Hutsol, is to point out Femen's concern that Euro 2012 will contribute to prostitution and the burgeoning sex industry in Ukraine. Evidently, even though prostitution is illegal in Ukraine, when foreign men arrive there, pimps immediately approach them on the street and “direct them to apartments for sex” — presumably with prostitutes rather than the pimps themselves.
Sure, that might sound nice, but I see Femen's point: Being forced to wait in an apartment while pimps steer foreign men your way to have sex with you probably isn't such a great gig for the women involved. I imagine this is especially true if you've been kidnapped, drugged and beaten into submission to make you more amenable to being essentially raped.
So I think we can all agree that Femen's motives are pure, and its cause is just, but I still have to question the group's methods, and I'll explain why.
Right now, Euro 2012 is expected to draw somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million foreign visitors to Ukraine. I'm going to assume that most of those visitors are soccer fans. However, when word gets out that the games might be disrupted by topless women, there's a good chance that even more visitors — these ones lecherous scumbags who could care less about soccer — will show up just hoping to see breasts.
Once the games are over, and fans with a vested interest in the teams involved take to the streets to beat the crap out of one another, what does Femen think the lecherous scumbags will do? I'm just guessing, but it seems to me that said scumbags will probably track down pimps and allow themselves to be directed to apartments for sex. Such would be an understandable — if hardly condonable — reaction for guys riled up from having just seen half-naked women.
If that ends up being the case, then Femen will have inadvertently contributed to the very problem it was trying to solve. So what's the answer? Well, it would seem to me that Femen might make a more convincing argument if its members stage protests wearing chastity belts and signs over their breasts saying something like, “Not for sale!”
That, however, would run counter to Femen's established tactic, which Reuters noted is “the only effective weapon the group has found to get attention.” Therefore, you can expect breasts to be on display during Euro 2012, and maybe, just maybe, you can expect American men to give a rat's patootie about soccer for the first time in their lives.