By protesting everything, the FEMEN women's rights group actually protests for nothing.
The embarrassing FEMEN show went international last week, when a handful of the publicity-crazed group exposed their breasts in France, Switzerland and Italy.
The movement began in 2008 when a group of female students started protesting Ukraine’s prostitution problem by dressing provocatively and marching through central Kyiv carrying signs reading “Ukraine is not a bordello.”
FEMEN’s intentions appeared good: They brought international attention to a serious issue that the Ukrainian authorities do little to solve.
But that is where the problems started. With no sense of irony, some of the women appeared to enjoy the attention that their breasts were drawing, and reduced the number of clothes they left on.
They became publicity-obsessed showgirls who nowadays seem more interested in putting on a performance more worthy of a tawdry strip joint.
They have protested everything, from Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving alone to International Monetary Fund Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged sexual infidelity. They have even protested a city ban on hanging laundry from balconies.
But when you protest everything, you protest for nothing, particularly if the protest is simply an anarchistic bearing of the chest. They are now hurting Ukraine’s image as much or more than helping any social cause.
The nature of news journalism, particularly in the age of the Internet, means that photographs of these protests will always be popular as they generate clicks.
But women of FEMEN, it’s time to wake up: People are not clicking to look what you are protesting about. They probably don’t even notice.
The Kyiv Post has covered FEMEN since its inception. But we are rethinking these decisions as we have grown weary of their actions and wary of the members’ aims.
We will continue to write and publish photos about FEMEN when we find their actions newsworthy, but they are increasingly less so.
Moreover, it’s not clear who funds this group’s ambitious schedule of appearances or the aims of the financial backers.
If FEMEN would get back to their original mission of bringing attention to important causes, rather than just to themselves, we’ll be glad to keep covering them.
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