By Jen Thorpe
In some strands of feminism you hear a lot about reclaiming – about taking back words or spaces that previously excluded women and making them women-friendly spaces.
One of these spaces is the Ukraine public space. Women’s rights are not big on the agenda in the Ukraine and their prime minister, Mykola Azarov, claimed that an all-male cabinet was justified because “conducting reforms is not women’s business”.
In recent news a Ukrainian women’s rights group called Femen has been using topless protests, and mud-wrestling to campaign against the sex industry. To raise money for their organisation they sell jewellery and t-shirts bearing painted impressions of their breasts. When a University classroom was asked what they knew about feminism, many of them said they knew about Femen. So they are making some impact – they are getting women’s issues into the public consciousness.
But, many feminists in the Ukraine say that what these women are practising is not feminism, instead what they are doing is making it clear that women’s only value lies in their appearance. In short, they’re taking their tops off because that is the only way that their activism will be noticed.
So what do you think? Is toplessness a viable form of protest? Can women use these spaces to make politically relevant messages, or will they only be remembered for their breasts?