I finally convinced my parents that the Daily Mail, though cheap and an “easy read”, is terrible – so they went and bought The Sunday Times (the Guardian? The Independent? No?). Mum handed me the Sunday Times Magazine and Style, telling me they were really good and I should read them. Having been heavily influenced by the Vagenda these past months, I originally intended to look through Style and see if there were any silly stories telling me how to look hot or something, but the Sunday Times Magazine caught my eye with “WE CAME, WE STRIPPED, WE CONQUERED – Feminists open up a bold new front” over an attractive topless lady with her fist in the air looking all-powerful a whatnot.
“Ooo, this is a pleasant surprise” I thought, innocently, as I turned to page 16…
Katie Glass (the writer of this fabulous article) is reporting on a new and hot Ukrainian Feminist movement Femen. She starts off describing them as militant and tells us how they’re going further than “burning bras in the fight against patriarchal repression”; these ladies are going protesting topless, painted with political statements such as “New Amazons” and “Death for Patriarchy”. As well as the Ukraine they’ve been to Istanbul, Italy, Paris, Vatican City, and Russia; all half-naked and fighting for women’s rights. For the most part I love them and think they’re pretty awesome, but unfortunately this article neither does them justice or what they’re fighting for.
First off, Katie Glass likes to segregate these “New feminists” from “Old Feminists”:
Femen: “We’re cool girls, we’re attractive, we’re beautiful, we are trying to draw attention to problems, to find solutions. We are offering a new Feminism”
Katie Glass’ response: “They’re not man-haters, morons or marionettes”
“You could try comparing Femen to the protest movement SlutWalk, but they are far more hardcore. They do not prance around in novelty pants, demanding something as lame as the right to be sluts.”.
… Wow. Yep you read that right, apparently all those women who were naked, topless, or dressed in “novelty pants” (lingerie?) at SlutWalk weren’t hardcore and demanding the right to be a slut is lame. So is defending a woman’s right to wear what she wants lame? And going on a protest in a city centre bearing naked flesh, in order to publicise and shame the problems with victim blaming in Rape cases not hardcore either right? NO. SlutWalk and Femen are two branches from the same tree – FEMINISM. Both hold the opinion that a woman’s body is her own. Femen use their naked bodies to fight oppression; SlutWalk showed an array of different levels of naked flesh to fight against victim blaming in rape cases (something that comes under the oppression of women, ne?), but nooo SlutWalk is lame.
This leads me nicely on to my second point on how Katie Glass and The Sunday Times Magazine like to focus on how attractive these young ladies are. Her interview starts out with her describing what they’re dressed in (tight leather dresses and knee-high boots), as if the fact they’re hot is a huge surprise. Glass really likes to hone in on the fact that Old Feminists aren’t attractive. The article describes slim hipped, blonde women with “pert breasts”; yet on their website I can see a variety of different women, of all shapes and sizes. Even on one of the pictures the Time’s uses there is a round lady with “Big Change” written on her tummy, is Glass blind to this? Or does she only think the stereotypically attractive ones are worth a mention? I’m left feeling that Katie Glass thinks there’s no place in the world for ugly feminists. Unless you’re politically savvy, scream violence whilst soldiers drag you away, and you’re hot, you’re a man-hating moron.
Of course that is quite a ridiculous statement to make. What grates me most about this article is that it is laden with ignorant hypocrisy. On the one hand you have an awesome militant feminist movement getting publicity (heck, I wouldn’t have known about them if it wasn’t for their eye-catching front cover), but on the other you have a writer that has a very ill-informed understanding of “Third Wave” feminism, and is thus projecting a fairly negative image of it. Other than when casually referenced whilst describing what Femen have been up to, there is minimal focus on why they’re doing what they do, and why that is important.
Movements like Femen need to get publicity not just of their tits if they’re going to reach their aims, they need (as with every activist movement) education alongside, something Katie Glass’ article does not give. This article degrades feminism to only being interesting enough to read about if it is cool, topless, and pretty – and that is detrimental to both Feminism and the Femen movement (I think so anyway).
For the original article by Katie Glass, wither buy to newspaper, or go to http://www.thesundaytime.co.uk and sign up for £2 a month (I wouldn’t pay that, personally).