FEMEN. If one had to describe them it would probably be “topless feminist activist group”. And while that is one way of looking at them, member Sasha Shevchenko thinks it is a bit of a narrow-minded point-of-view. Yes, they do frequently go topless at protests, but they didn’t start out that way, nor is that what they are all about.
Sasha believe that the topless aspects of their activism was a reaction to the way that their home country of Ukraine is perceived globally as a hotbed of sex tourism. An allegation which is entirely unfounded. It is because of their work in this regard that the group is the subject of a documentary by Australian filmmaker Kitty Green entitled Ukraine Is Not A Brothel.
Sasha herself has mixed feelings about the film stating that it is only one interpretation of what they do. She feels slightly disappointed that so much of the film focuses on the mysterious, a man who was reputed to have started FEMEN. Given the perspective of the movie, this is framed as very peculiar given that so many interviewees state that women are treated like subservient slaves. Does this mean that the women of FEMEN are as well?
Hard to say. Sasha will say no, but can understand where that belief may come from, especially when anything is perceived as radical. But, whatever your belief about their methods may be, they have worked. FEMEN has gone global, or at the very least, is expanding. The women now call Paris home and are looking at the bigger picture – or at the very least all of Europe.
The film itself is actually pretty well made. I appreciate the fact that Green interviews as many members as possible – including Victor – as well as some of the other affected people, such as parents and relatives. Although it definitely does have a slant about which way it leans, it is subtle and lets the viewer make their own judgements, though most will probably end up agreeing with the film’s perspective.