Today is not about Google, about Alphabet the fines connected and other matters like the new Novichok perfume today will be about values. This is not going to be a nice (read: kind) article, if you get offended easily then quickly walk away from today’s story.
Unlike the naming and shaming of off shore property holders hiding it within corporations, we also have other issues; some of them need to be illuminated. I need to walk a fine line between obnoxious and disgusting, mainly because I do not comprehend what some people did. This happens, we all have those moments that we merely are in the dark on some activities, we are in the dark on what happened and we are in denial. That was probably the first thing that went through my mind when I read ‘Femen co-founder Oksana Shachko found dead in Paris flat‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/24/femen-co-founder-oksana-shachko-found-dead-paris-flat). The story gave us that she committed suicide. I have no problem with that part; I merely see it as a choice made. I am not judging whether it was the right or wrong move, I have been in places equally dark. I never understood Femen as an organisation. I did not oppose it, people demonstrate and oppose all the time, this was merely another protesters group and I am fine with that. They set themselves apart in the way as quoted: “Operating under the slogan “I came, I stripped, I won”, Femen as a group quickly drew attention around the world with its bare-breasted demonstrations against sexism“, I would, with a sense of humour suggest that they printed the T-shirts: ‘Veni finem vici‘, optionally with printed boobs in the background of the text, if that made them their fortune to do even more, so much the better.
The part that I never understood is seen with “Shachko was among three members “kidnapped” by security agents and forced to strip naked in a forest after staging a topless protest mocking the Belarussian president, Alexander Lukashenko. The agents poured oil over the three women, threatened to set them on fire, and cut off their hair, Femen said“, I think that some men were massively overreacting.
There is sexism all over the planet (I am not stating that this is a good thing). Merely that when it comes to the acts they did, the most offensive thing I could have thought of would have been: ‘Nice tits!‘ The image (in this case non revealing one so that the censors at Facebook will not get a heart attack), shows here to be really pretty and really nicely shaped. So from that perspective I get that she might be a Femen fan. The issue is that apart from the message against sexism, there is close to zero actual information on her. Even when I search now, her death is what is giving her visibility, which is rather sad. If I wiki the group, I get: “a Ukrainian radical feminist activist group intended to protect women’s rights. The organization became internationally known for organizing controversial topless protests against sex tourism, religious institutions, sexism, homophobia, and other social, national, and international topics. Founded in Ukraine, the group is now based in Paris“, in this, the one part stands out are the several mentions all over the world regarding the overreaction of the Security Service of Ukraine (Служба Безпеки України (СБУ)) in this matter, all indications tell us that them catching a pedophile (or Catholic priest) in the act would have gotten a more humanitarian (read friendly) treatment, that for a group of women that opposes patriarchal views and all kinds of bigotry by going topless, can you even comprehend the overreaction?
The protest given by Femen protest outside the Secret Service Building in Kiev (August 2010) gives rise to the accusation that civil servants might have looked out of their window twice that day, so how offensive is that? I believe that Femen has been standing up for the right reasons, but how effective were they? It seems that until someone dies, the media takes little notice, in addition when I see “But in recent years the group has struggled with internal divisions as well as legal proceedings against its members” the thought comes up that Oksana Shachko might have considered that too, if that was the case, it is even more sad that she went into that dark place and never left. So when we see: “Shachko was abducted again by unknown assailants during a visit by Putin to Ukraine, according to the group. A lawyer for said Shachko was beaten so badly that she was briefly hospitalised” we are not surprised that it happens, yet most of us are puzzled that the overreaction is so large. It seems like a level of hypocrisy that I have never seen over a matter that should not even exist (but it does, I know that).
What I did not know is that in 2013 a documentary was made on Femen by Kitty Green, the trailer (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHyPSREmeRA) of the movie ‘Ukraine is not a Brothel‘ shows the media taking the frenzy, the people judging, yet smiling and taking photo’s whilst the police is showing to be overreacting with nightsticks. Kitty Green gives us in several interviews on how Femen was raising awareness. I dig that and especially the setting where the overreaction can be seen as fear. Yet is it that simple? Is the overreaction that the SBU showed was merely fear?
It was in the interview when I noticed a ‘comment’ that included “Kitty Green clearly doesn’t have the vaguest idea of what is needed to empower women“, as well as “question the political motivation of these girls and point out the damage they do to the grassroots movement“. My issue from this becomes, what makes the issue of any grassroots movement being more important or pressing than whatever Femen raises? The interview (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3MfTfeBzJc) is interesting to hear. I wonder if Oksana Shachko realised that the battle against patriarchy had been going on pretty much since WWI, it is also interesting that there are a lot of feminist groups that oppose and attack the view of Femen. This is interesting in a bad way, because if feminists cannot stick together in whatever way they use to create awareness, how can they ever truly succeed?
Is that a weird question?
It was the BBC that actually gives the goods (at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20028797), in 2012. Here we see the two parts that matter: “Femen did not go topless at first, but they insist stripping off has won them a wider audience for their message – without undermining it“, as well as “Alice Schwarzer, editor of Germany’s leading feminist magazine, Emma, calls them “courageous and clever” as well as “creative”“. I personally think that Alice Schwarzer got it right. A group of women led (or co-led) by Oksana Shachko decided to get creative and being clever about raising awareness. Let the media cover it all and give a massive rise in visibility. The fact that we must now realise that the loss of one non-celebrity woman has hundreds of newspapers covering it proves in part the approach of Oksana Shachko worked. I also reckon that Kitty Green made the documentary before it was too late and it optionally immortalises the views that Oksana Shachko had in life.
For all my flaws and mistakes I made in the past, I cannot fathom in any dimension or universe how violence against Femen would ever work, violence because of women shouting their believes topless? It makes no sense to me. Either you escort the ladies away, or let them have their 132 seconds of fame and everyone smiles, there is literally no upside to assertively act against protesters who act in such a non-violent way, in this Ghandi was right, nonviolence resistance takes the wind out of the sails of the other side. So are my values screwed? I do not believe that they are. Did Oksana Shachko have screwed values, or did Femen? I equally believe that not to be true. Creating awareness is almost never a bad thing, the fact that they did it in a non-violent way is pretty awesome, which merely leaves us with the question on what pushed her over the ledge. I reckon that there will be plenty of people likely to have that question. Will there be an answer? I do not know, what I do know is that this time Oksana Shachko is all the news again, but from my set of values for the wrong reason, the fact that none used the word ‘sad’ in the message, at best quoting others on the use of ‘mourn’ is a good as it got.
When I look into the death of several others in the past year, we are treated by the media to ‘I’m sad our time together was so brief‘, ‘spoke out about the heartbreaking loss, calling it “shocking and sad”‘, as well as ‘I am very sad to report‘, yes they all got the word ‘sad’, but not Oksana Shachko. Perhaps she was too young for people to get sad over her. So in the end, we need to ask plenty of additional questions. How do we valuate values, and more important, when others question those and other values, as well as levels of morality in a non-violent way, why are they at that point given less consideration?
I believe that to be an important question, don’t you?