Den ukrainska feministiska aktivistgruppen Femen i protest mot EM-effekten.

Interview with Anna Gutsol and Tatiana Kozak, FEMEN

2012-06-29 | Sofia Lundkvist , LInnéa Bruno , Cecilia Chavez-Sanchez padlock

SPORT

Den ukrainska feministgruppen FEMEN har väckt starka känslor med sina nakenaktioner mot prostitutionen i samband med fotbolls-VM. Genomslaget har varit omfattande, men de stöter också på kritik för sina metoder. Feministiskt Perspektiv har fått möjlighet att publicera en längre intervju med två av aktivisterna som gjordes redan 2010. Intervjun är på engelska.

Mer om FEMEN på deras hemsida

Intervjun genomfördes i Kiev november 2010, inom ramarna för Stjärnjourens internationella projekt "Young Women Crossing Borders". Femen har godkänt texten innan den trycktes i Stjärnjourens metodbok för WGOs (Women and girls' support and empowerment organizations).

Mer info om Stjärnjouren och projektet finns på deras <ahref="http: www.stjarnjouren.nu"="">hemsida. Där finns även hela boken i engelsk såväl som rysk version att ladda ner.

Interview with Anna Gutsol and Tatiana Kozak, FEMEN

Femen is an action oriented and visual WGO based in Kiev, Ukraine. Three members of Stjärnjouren met with them in Kiev (on our way to Georgia) for an interview and to learn more about alternative strategies for reaching out. Anna Gutsol and Tatiana Kozak are two of the organization’s front figures.

What main issues do you work with?

– We are working against prostitution, sex tourism and for the criminalization of purchasing sex. Regarding the latter, we want to make the demand a moral issue.

What strategies do you use to reach your objectives?

– The first step is to get people to listen to what we have to say. Old strategies used by whom we call classical feminists need some rethinking. We organize outreaching actions where we play on sexuality and eroticism in order to get attention in media and bring these issues upon the political agenda.

How and what type of people do you want to influence and attract to the movement?

– We want to present our message in a way that attracts young Ukrainian women. Many Ukrainian women dress sexy and provocative. And we want women to be able to dress in whatever way they like without being treated like a prostitute. We demand respect, especially from prejudiced foreign men, who come here with preconceptions about each Ukrainian woman being a whore. These attitudes need to change. Here women dress sexy to get a man, because they are dependent on men for almost everything. But it is also about raising awareness. Many girls do not know that they have the right to report to the police if they have been sexually harassed or raped. Women must be educated about their rights and that is one of the things that FEMEN does. We do it in this provocative way partly because we did not have a "sexual revolution" like in for example Sweden – you know, in the Soviet days, we were all repressed in many ways.

– We also want to engage more women and men in the issues we are fighting for and in the work we do. This is one of the reasons why we are not labelling the organization as a feminist one. It is important for us to be an inclusive organization and not exclude the women who need us the most. There is also a general resistance among people in Ukraine - and among people in many other post-soviet societies – to be a member of something or to label yourself. We need to engage people on other grounds.

How was it in the beginning when you first founded the organization?

– The first attempt to form our organization was a few years ago in a small town outside of Kiev and it was not so successful. It was a very theory-oriented local non-international group of separatist radical feminists. This is not the case anymore.

– In 2008 we made a second attempt that went well. Now we are working with both men and women and you don’t need to be a feminist to be part of the organization. Men are members, but unfortunately, what we are doing is still mainly seen as "women’s issues". However, FEMEN is based on the idea that girls should be active participants in society. In our society women are very dependent on men, not least financially. So, to say that a woman should care for herself is radical feminism in this context. Classical feminists are looked upon as non-sexy and men-like. Our strategy is to move away from that image to include more women and men to work for the issues we are fighting for.

How do you finance and organize your work?

– At the moment we do not have an office. We have one head officer, one action planner, one public relations officer and one person who work as a mentor for the volunteers. We finance our work through membership fees and we do not get any support from the municipality. Luckily, two private donors have given some money to the organization. –When it comes to state grants, it is given only for research. Social organizations may receive contributions from political parties, but it is conditional. Then you have to support them and automatically become a onduit to the political party and that is not an option for us.

How do you recruit volunteers?

–We have about 300 volunteers in our organization. We get in contact with most of our volunteers through Internet, where social media such as MySpace and Facebook play an important role. We also recruit volunteers during the many actions that we perform. When organising these actions we often cooperate with young female designers who arrange clothes on the specific theme that we have chosen for the event. We also work with young female DJs, dancers and choreographers and all this also attracts new volunteers. It is important for us not to judge anyone and to say that this is right and this is wrong, we want to gather as many people as possible for our cause to put an end to prostitution and sex tourism. The necessary thing is to participate - you evolve through participation.

What other types of activities do you arrange, besides the public actions?

– For those who enjoy feminism as an idea and want to deepen their knowledge and learn more, we organize discussion clubs and we also have our own cinema club. The ideas for all our actions and activities originate from the girls themselves.

What are your future plans and dreams – what would your organization be like in a few years?

– Well, many people compare us to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, or Greenpeace. They perceive us as something like a feminist Greenpeace. That is flattering, though this is not really the case - yet. But perhaps in the future we could become a worldwide action-based feminist organization and net

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