-To The Editor:
In the Feb. 4 edition of the Kyiv Post (Yanukovych: Sexist-in-chief
), Maria Popova, a member of the Femen women’s group, disparaged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for inviting investors to come to Kyiv to experience “Ukrainian women taking off their clothes in spring.”
What is there to criticize?
Yanukovych can hardly hope to entice investors with anything else his country has to offer these days: “Come to see our broken infrastructure!,” “Have a look at our begging pensioners!,” “Enjoy one of the most corrupt judicial systems on earth!,” “Try to navigate the least business friendly bureaucracy in Europe,” “Pay bribes to be let go by vodka-drinking policemen for speaking English after midnight on Kreshchatyk.”
None of these slogans will lure investors of sound mind to Ukraine, so the president went for the only tangible asset Ukraine currently has: Ukraine’s young women.
Femen reacted irately to such a brazen advertisement of Ukraine’s women’s dress style, as their monopoly of making young Ukrainian women look sluttish internationally will come under dire threat if Yanukovych continues to promote Ukraine this way. Because, in fact, during my years in Kyiv, I have never seen a Ukrainian women take of her clothes in public, lest she be a member of Femen.
But the Femen leadership did not really understand the president’s good intentions. He is in no way trying to dismantle Femen’s monopoly, but in fact he is finally acknowledging the great service Femen does to the nation: thanks to their frequent getting naked in front of the international press, including jumping around bare-breasted for the entertainment of foreign TV viewers for no sensible reason except a desire to be on TV, Femen has given the world a lasting picture what a Ukrainian girl is: beautiful, slim and ready to undress as soon as a camera is pointed at her.
Yanukovych’s great error was to forget to mention that such displays of naked girl gatherings can be enjoyed all year round in Kyiv, not just in spring.
So Maria Popova’s call for the impeachment of Yanukovych is an overreaction, born out of a misunderstanding. But such a lack of thought is standard for the leadership of Femen.
Every time they move away from their naked to spoken messages, the complete opposite effect happens. They attempt to show that Ukraine is not a brothel by showing the same world lots and lots of young girls’ bosoms. They denounce pornography as degrading to women, but protest with a pornographic actress.
Such contradictory messages and lack of coherence are hallmarks of Femen’s activities. Thus, the leadership of Femen should be grateful for the clarity with which Yanukovych conveyed Femen’s only over-arching message to the world: “Ukrainian women easily take off their clothes.”
And with Femen’s continuous advertisement campaign to investors’ base instincts and Yanukovych finally extending presidential gravitas to their campaign, bright times await this country as a future hybrid Thai-Belarus.
Thomas Claus Theiner is a Kyiv-based political consultant who specializes in long-term political and media campaigns. Currently he is preparing to launch a revamped ukraine.com and has been coming to Ukraine regularly for four years.