Do Ukraine and Russia Need Feminism?

I have an extra reason to dislike FEMEN and Pussy Riot that I want to discuss here. I would have been bugged by their actions no matter what, but it especially pains me that they have chosen to call themselves feminists.

Russia and Ukraine are in dire need of a strong feminist movement. I watch a Russian TV program and every other woman shares that she was a victim of violence at the hands of her father, husband, boyfriend, or a male acquaintance. Or all four. Every other Russian or Ukrainian movie shows a female character who is viciously raped by a man and who comes to realize that it was all for her own good and she has to love him in return. Rape is tragically under-reported and under-prosecuted because the victims are treated like garbage and like they deserved it.

A big reason for this is the myth of male scarcity. It is drummed into women’s heads that men are hard to come by and have to be tolerated no matter what they do to you in order to be retained in your life. This is the legacy of the post-WWII generation that did experience a lack of men after the horrifying losses of the war.

In the 1970s-1980s, when a generation of women born after the demographic balance was reestablished grew up, a veritable avalanche of movies filmed by men and books written by men promoted the belief that men are still scarce and have to be placated at any cost. Since then, the narrative of gender relations has not changed.

There is a dire need in these countries for a feminist movement that will create a different narrative, that will engage in a painstaking, slow work of addressing every instance of sexism. But who wants to waste time on boring hard work, right? It’s much more fun to wave your breasts around and jump on an altar, making headlines and getting your picture taken. In the meanwhile, the very word “feminism” is getting discredited. The feminists who do want to do the work and make real change find themselves in a situation where anybody who hears the name of their movement immediately associates them with fame-seeking silly clowns.

FEMEN and Pussy Riot never did a thing to advance the rights of women. They are shrewd enough, however, to realize that calling themselves feminists will attract the attention and support of gullible Westerners who are dying to find familiar labels they can attach to an alien cultural reality in order to make it more comprehensible.

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14 comments on “Do Ukraine and Russia Need Feminism?

  1. To be honest I don’t know enough about Femen or Pussy Riot to have a strong opinion on them (specially Pussy Riot, since all I know is the whole prank-trial-church-prison theme). However, regarding Femen and the situation of women in Ukraine (and I’m sure you have more authority than I to speak about it) aren’t they taking the discussion of women in the society, how lots of them end in prostitution and etc to the whole society?
    Obviously media loves them due the breasts, but as they said, it was the only way they found to be heard…

    • “However, regarding Femen and the situation of women in Ukraine (and I’m sure you have more authority than I to speak about it) aren’t they taking the discussion of women in the society, how lots of them end in prostitution and etc to the whole society?”

      – Yes, the way our women end up in prostitution is that their whole lives, the only image of a woman they see offered to them is a person who sees her only value in her naked body. The only logical way to combat this would be to show that women can be valued for other things: our minds, our professionalism, our character. Yet FEMEN still insists on the naked-body version.

      “Obviously media loves them due the breasts, but as they said, it was the only way they found to be heard…”

      – Heard about what? All they do is promote the image of a Ukrainian woman whose only purpose in life is to wave her naked body parts at everybody.

  2. I find African feminism to be a lot more rational than Western feminism, as you know where you stand with it. Also the concept of sisterhood, in African terms, is more fundamental. You are a sister in arms, not a sister in mystical oneness of oozy je ne sais quois. Western feminists also attack you if you’re not precisely like them. They urge toward ideological oneness, whereas those from Africa are generally working to solve practical issues of domestic abuse, HIV, FGM, etc.

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  4. interesting commentary here… i am doing a masters on gender in politics in the post soviet bloc… pussy riot and femena are controversial yet they are considered third wave feminist movements, they seem more extreme due to the conservative climates of russia and the ukraine…they break down the second wave constructs, which are subjective and help to create an individualist self determined women with a strong sense of empowerment, also anna hutsol is on the right track! femena has plans to be the first all womens political party as well – feminism extends beyond gender equality

    • ” pussy riot and femena are controversial yet they are considered third wave feminist movements, they seem more extreme due to the conservative climates of russia and the ukraine…they break down the second wave constructs, which are subjective and help to create an individualist self determined women with a strong sense of empowerment”

      – If that’s the conclusion you have arrived at in your thesis, I’m afraid this degree will not take you far. What you wrote is . . . how do I put it mildly? . . utter garbage. There is no 2nd and 3 wave of feminism in Russia or Ukraine. These are not states of the USA. These are different countries with a completely different history of feminism.

      I’m sorry to tell you this, but you are getting a bizarrely bad education.

      • It’s actually pretty bad even if it were about one of the US States. There should be a rule against having more than one buzzword per sentence… The text produced within education system should be … well, educational, not sound as a charter of a secret society… At best. At worst, it reminds me my student daughter’s “I have an assignment due tomorrow, but it is OK, I can bullshit well enough about this subject”.

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  6. This vision may be wrong, nowadays, but it works.

    Russian women are much more feminine. They’re easier to handle. They know how to treat a man. And if this is based on a lie and requires a bit of slapping around, I absolutely have no problem with it. We shouldn’t repeat the mistake we made in the Western World.

    It also has other implications. Russian teenagers are easy to get for money, because wealth is concentrated in few hands and most students are pretty poor.

    Russian porn is the best porn there is right now, hands down. You never see fresher pussy around. Young students (or general layabouts) getting fucked on camera for hard currency, 300 EUR/USD or becoming your sugar baby for peanuts.

    We’re talking about girls of legal age who look 16 and are BRUTALLY fucked all over, and don’t even have to fake it like the lame, over-tattooed American girls do, because they’re used to the idea.

    Fuck, if I had any power in that country, I’d actually fabricate news about “the lack of good men” all the time. I’d spin it as a national tragedy. I’ll show images of women alone left in the cold.

    And then it would be pussy paradise for those brave enough.

    (I know it reads like a troll post, but it’s not. God Bless Easy Russian Women)

  7. There will always be protesters AND methodical political activists in any political or social movement. I don’t mind the protesters too much IF the methodical political activists are media savvy and able to get their voices heard. The media-friendly blandly dressed activists’ statements start looking reasonable to the viewing public, when compared with the protesters. I am not terribly fond of in-church protests, but I have to admit that the then-scandalous invasion of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Catholic Archdiocesan seat of NYC, located in Manhattan) by Act-Up AIDS activists early in the epidemic was both needed and prophetic. Media had been slow to respond to the epidemic, and the Cardinal-Archbishop had been obstructive in the “wages of sin” manner that characterized the Catholic hierarchy’s approach to AIDS.

    • Here is a novel thought: Kiev and Moscow are not NYC. These cities are located in different countries and even on a different continent. As hard as it might be to believe, Ukraine and Russia are not boroughs of New York or even states of the US.

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