The Topless Protests: FEMEN!

FEMEN is a Ukrainian Feminist Group which has been gaining popularity for its radical ideas and the manner in which the members of the group campaign. I read about their ideologies and their famous ‘topless protests’ a few days back when I heard about Amina Sboui, widely known by her pseudonym Amina Tyler. Amina, 19, hails from Tunisia which is an Islamic Middle Eastern country (as we all know) and she became eminent after she posted topless photos of herself on the internet (on social networking site, Facebook) as a part of a female rights’ protest. Her bare body was marked with the phrase: ‘My body is my own’ and her act vandalized the beliefs and principles of the ultra-conservative Muslims who have been objecting against her since she first came into picture in March this year. Following that, Amina was remanded in custody on 30th May, 2013 as she has been accused of carrying a container of pepper spray and desecrating a cemetery by scrawling the words ‘Femen’ on a wall near the city’s main mosque. She was arrested outside the cemetery and was charged with the possession of a self-defence spray. In one of her hearings in the court, Amina told the judge that the spray had been given to her by a foreign journalist for her safety and she had been carrying it for the past two months.


Femen has been attracting huge media attention since the past few years as its members have always been involved in flashing their bare breasts, an act which grabs people’s consideration almost instantly. Two French and a German woman are currently being held in custody as they were involved in topless protests outside the Ministry of Justice in Tunisia while asserting that Amina be freed. This incident is one of its kinds in a Middle Eastern country where women do not have the right to voice their opinions and express their defensive or immoral ideologies freely. This has really shaken a huge population of Tunisia. Many women are also dissenting against what Amina did with slogans that say that one can fight for women’s rights even with their clothes on. In an interview with a young Femen activist, the journalist emphasized that Femen’s manner of revolt might be presumed as something which is against the very core of feminism i.e. their acts are further commodifying the female body. The activist in turn replied that the members of the group are new-age feminists and they want to astound the people so that they are straightforwardly heard and noticed.

In another article regarding Femen, I read that two topless Femen protestors unexpectedly entered the finale of Heidi Klum’s popular show: ‘Germany’s Next Top Model’ which left everybody in awe because even the organizers had no clue of this. The words that were written on the torso of these topless women said: ‘Heidi Horror Picture Show’ because feminists all over have been criticizing this display of women in inadequate clothing and lustful moves where they are supposed to shake their behinds and be hot, sexy and offer something to the viewers (in the way Heidi Klum puts it). In general, Femen gate crashes political and media events with high adrenaline vulnerability.

One motive that prompted me to write this post was to make you aware of Femen while another cause was that I yearned to know your outlook on the same. I am all okay about the freedom of expression and the method in which different people desire to let themselves be considered and noted. However, what I am currently pondering upon is the outcome of the efforts of Femen’s members. They have become all the rage because of their notoriety; also, people are hearing them out. There might be others in different parts of the world who are taking encouragement from the group’s courage and defiance so that people take feminism seriously. Yet, when I think of Amina, I know she must have earned a bad repute in the Arab World where people are heavily criticizing her and might even pose a danger to her life. She had the valour to stand up for herself and for all women even though she knew what her act would earn her: grave condemnation. I do not doubt Femen’s motives nor do I denigrate them because in a way I salute their guts for doing something that is really intricate and impracticable for most of the women. What I hope is that their endeavours lead them to achieving something tangible, something real and constructive. If you would like to share anything about Femen, then please do leave a comment. I truly need some enlightenment here.

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