Femen, the infamous international topless feminist protest group much-beloved by bloggers for giving them an excuse to post pictures of topless women, in the name of feminism, has been rocked by the scandalous revelation that they've been secretly run by a guy.
According to a report in the Independent, the new documentary Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, exposes Victor Syvatski as the "founder and eminence grise" of Femen. He does not seem like an especially good feminist, and the film apparently portrays him as a creepy cult leader. In the documentary, Syvatski tells filmmaker Kitty Green why he took over the group:
“These girls are weak… They don’t have the strength of character. They don’t even have the desire to be strong. Instead, they show submissiveness, spinelessness, lack of punctuality, and many other factors which prevent them from becoming political activists. These are qualities which it was essential to teach them.”
But contrary to the Independent's report, Femen activist Inna Shevchenko denied that Syvatski founded the group in an op-ed on the Guardian. Instead, she says, he effectively co-opted it. "He is not a founder of Femen, nor a creator of our topless strategy and ideology," she writes. "But he did lead the movement some time ago."
It's not clear exactly how the takeover happened. Shevchenko just says that "The story described in the film – by Svyatski himself – amounts to nothing other than patriarchy. He is sexism, male domination, and oppression against women personified." Shevchenko talks of his involvement in the past-tense, so it appears he's no longer the leader.
In any event, this will certainly not placate Femen's many critics, many of them feminists themselves, who say the group's strategy is pointless sensationalism and its much-discussed "topless jihad" protests against gender inequality in the Muslim world were driven by ignorance. It does give everyone on the internet another excuse to post pictures of attractive topless women, though.
[Images via AP]