This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. I realize some people support FEMEN because of its willingness to protest against Islam, but their tactics elsewhere have been hostile and ugly. Especially in France. FEMEN is not a feminist group of activist women. It’s a group run by a guy who uses women and disruptive tactics to push his agendas.
It’s the Ukranian feminist group that embarrassed President Putin. Its activists have staged many protests against sexual and political repression by stripping to their waists in carefully choreographed media stunts. “Our mission is protest, our weapons are bare breasts,” runs their slogan. Now, a new documentary screening at the Venice Film Festival has revealed that Femen was founded and is controlled by a man. Ukraine is not a Brothel, directed by 28-year-old Australian film-maker Kitty Green, has “outed” Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the group… However, Ms Green reveals that Svyatski is not simply a supporter of Femen but its founder and éminence grise. “It’s his movement and he hand-picked the girls. He hand-picked the prettiest girls because the prettiest girls sell more papers. The prettiest girls get on the front page… that became their image, that became the way they sold the brand,” she says.
These tactics aren’t even original. It’s the same old Chicks Up Front philosophy of the left in action. At least PETA is actually run by a woman.
In the documentary, Ms Green pays tribute to Mr Svyatski’s organisational abilities and charisma but questions his influence over the group. Only gradually did she become aware that Mr Svyatski was pulling the strings behind the scenes. “Once I was in the inner circle, you can’t not know him. He is Femen.” Initially, Mr Svyatski refused to allow Ms Green to film him but she was determined that he should feature. “It was a big moral thing for me because I realised how this organisation was run. He was quite horrible with the girls. He would scream at them and call them bitches.” When the Femen founder finally spoke to Ms Green, he sought to justify his role within the organisation and acknowledged the paradox of being a “patriarch” running a feminist protest group. “These girls are weak,” he says in the film. “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.” Mr Svyatski insists to Ms Green that his influence on the group is positive. However, when he is asked directly whether he started Femen “to get girls”, he replies: “Perhaps yes, somewhere in my deep subconscious.”
So FEMEN is exactly what you expect it to be. A Mansonesque group with a bunch of female groupies, but without the murder.
One of the Femen campaigners talks of the relationship between the women and the movement’s founder as being akin to “Stockholm syndrome”, in which hostages feel sympathy for their captors.
Maybe there should be a feminist protest to help FEMEN activists leave.