Posts Tagged ‘Femen’

Tell It To The Marines

May 6, 2015

This year’s May Day celebrations in France exhibited a bit more novelty than usual: an inter-generational, cross-gender family feud within the country’s leading neo-fascist clan … and a new graphic style for Femen body art!  All in the same place, at the same time!  Zut!

The far-right Front National’s traditional Paris May Day rally –its annual tribute to Joan of Arc–  was disrupted by women from the Femen activist group, who made mock-Nazi salutes from the balcony of a [four]-star hotel and disrupted a speech by party leader Marine Le Pen.  The topless activists wore blonde wigs and had “Heil Le Pen” and “Stop fascism” [sic] written across their chests, unfurling banners linking the party’s logo with the Nazi party.  For five minutes, they drowned out Le Pen’s speech with a bullhorn, chanting anti-Front National slogans while the crowd booed.  Three men from the party’s security service then forcibly pulled the women inside before one of the men raised his fist to the crowd in an apparent sign of victory.

They will be forced to get dressed,” Le Pen said of the protesters as she resumed her speech.


Quite a novelty!  It’s customary for French politicians to employ force while undressing women!

One thing that wasn’t novel: the classic Femen sloganeering style of uppercase block lettering in black body paint.   But an earlier diversionary foray at ground level unveiled the spring look from the House of Femen.  Black mixed-case lettering on a rectangular red-bordered white background … with a red accent: “Le Pen top fascist”  Lettering that breaks the boundary of the imaginary protest placard emblazoned on the living-body-as-living-placard.  Good to see a graphic designer’s influence at the heart of the message.


And note the symbolism at work in the streetscape background — the signboard of the Hotel Regina.  Do you need to know Latin (or be a latent royalist) to understand that Regina = Queen?  Many, many intersecting cultural vectors impinging at Place des Pyramides, not least of which are those radiating from the statue of Jeanne itself, originally commissioned in 1874 by Napoleon III.  Clearly intended to commemorate the obliteration of the 1871 Paris Commune, the statute is the work of sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet.

Born in Paris, he was a nephew and pupil of Sophie Frémiet, and later he became a pupil of her husband François Rude. He chiefly devoted himself to animal sculpture. In times of adversity he served in the gruesome office of painter to the Paris Morgue.  Named an Officer of the French Legion of Honor in 1878, he became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1892.


If you’re an American not in Paris, replicas of this statue can be found closer to home –in Portland, Oregon and the Big Easy –New Orleans, Louisiana.  Frémiet being who he was, it’s more a statute of Jeanne d’Arc’s horse than of the rider herself, but the notion of a woman borne away by an animal was almost an idée fixe with him:

In 1887 Frémiet had exhibited his “Gorilla Carrying off a Woman” which won him a medal of honor at the Salon.  Although praised in its time, this work now evokes ridicule from some observers for its depiction of a gorilla abducting a nude woman, presumably with the intention of raping her.


Which brings us back to the racist, xenophobic platform of the Front National.  Beneath all the economic, religious and cultural argumentation advanced by the FN to support its project, the underlying message is profoundly simple: “Those black monkeys want to fuck ‘our’ women.”  By which they actually mean, “these foreigners want to fuck the women I claim to reserve for my own exclusive fucking.”  Control over the means of reproduction is what’s at stake; the battle remains just as ugly as the endless struggle over the means of production itself.

But eventually the aging patriarch no longer has the strength to exercise coercive enforcement of his “right” to dominate:

On Monday eighty-six-year-old National Front party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen was summoned to a disciplinary hearing at the headquarters in Nanterre, just west of Paris, but stubbornly refused to attend, calling it “detrimental” to his dignity.  [In his absence] Le Pen was suspended from FN for violating party discipline, by last month repeating his view that the Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” in history.  He had also defended the historical legacy of Philippe Pétain – leader of the Vichy war-time government that cooperated with Nazi Germany.

Papa Le Pen’s reaction was predictably vitriolic:

“Let her get married as soon as possible. I do not want her carrying my name anymore,” he told Europe 1 radio.

La fille had her own perspective on the situation:

“I get the feeling that he can’t stand that the National Front continues to exist when he no longer heads it,” she said.

So is Marine Le Pen actually … a Trojan Horse feminist at the core of France’s neo-fascist patriarchy?  Naaaaaah.  Probably not.  More likely she’s a textbook example of an archetypical Daddy’s Girl … on testosterone.


May Day in Paris was definitely a bizarre spectacle on so many levels:  21c patriarchal zealots honoring –even revering– a 15c transgender activist.  The sight of foreign legionnaires protecting a xenophobic ideologue.   A father rebelling at his daughter’s usurpation of patriarchal power.  The lingering 19c specter of helpless womanhood subjected to bestial violation.

Only May Day in Moscow could have been more jarring.




November 23, 2014

What is it about the moon that makes women take their clothes off?   Yes, yes, correlation isn’t causation, but recent reports from Africa describe yet another anomalous ‘coincidence’ occurring under the dark shadow of the new moon:

On Saturday, hundreds of women marched topless through the southeastern town of Zemio in the Central African Republic to protest sectarian violence.  The women said that going partially nude would bring a curse on those responsible for the violence, which has killed at least 5,000 people this year in fighting between Christian and Muslim militias.  This week the fighting reached Zemio, wounding about 10 people and displacing most of the local population, which contains both Christians and Muslims.



Although Medecins Sans Frontieres has an outpost in Zemio, I’m not aware that Femen does too (although the idea of Femen as humanitarian activists is exactly the kind of re-branding I think their organization needs).  This ‘manifestation’ instead appears to be an indigenous response to cultural upheaval in a part of the world where a woman’s curse is a serious threat –because both the intent and capability have been well known for millennia.  Moreover, the powerful urgency of this collective performance is markedly intensified by its deliberate enactment on the very eve of the Feast of Christ the King, the final Sunday event on Christianity’s annual liturgical calendar.

Unfortunately, it’s likely that the men who need to heed this message have been irrevocably indoctrinated by ‘modern’ slavetrader religions which preach submission to the patriarch’s will.


September 24, 2014

You may not have noticed, but twice each month –in the days immediately preceding the full moon and new moon– human behavior often takes an unusual or erratic turn.  Automobile accidents occur with slightly greater frequency, sexual appetites intensify, and ‘impulse crimes’ such as assault, petty theft or vandalism increase.  But don’t just take my word for it:  go crunch the data. It’s out there.

This isn’t just something that happens only in the United States –it’s a worldwide phenomenon.  Case in point: Paris.

Eight topless Femen protesters brandishing plastic Kalashnikov rifles swathed in flowers marched on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on Wednesday urging ‘infidels’ to rise up against Islamic State militants who have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.  One of the women shouted:  “All those who are threatened by ISIS jihadists, show your hostility towards ISIS’s ideas. It’s only by criticizing them publicly that we can destroy them. Infidels, rise up against ISIS.”

The protest comes days after an ISIS spokesman urged all Muslims to kill “dirty” and “spiteful” French citizens, [whose government] has joined the US-led coalition to fight the jihadist organization.


I’m going to guess that the journalist who wrote that article wasn’t really looking very closely at Femen’s faux weaponry, because photos of the event appear to show two pink plastic Beretta 9mm pistols, three or four Uzi bouquets, and maybe one folding-stock AK-47 adorning Place de la Concorde.  But who’s actually counting?  What really matters is that each protester has two breasts apiece, and that Femen’s message is: unite, rise up, speak out, stand up, fight.  Furthermore, the Arc de Triomphe looming in the background asserts the promise of ultimate victory.  Allons enfants de la patrie(-archy), etc.



So, does the presence of so many Uzis in Femen’s arsenal indicate that the organization is now sponsored by the state of Israel?  Inquiring minds want to know.  It’s a credibility issue.


Treat of Breast-Litovsk

July 9, 2014

Really, I’m curious: why is it that the Associated Press news agency suddenly considers the image of a silkscreened representation of human breasts to be acceptable/suitable for publication, distribution and dissemination to its customers and the general public … but hasn’t distributed prior news-event photographs of the actual breasts themselves?  What’s the doctrinal basis for this hair-splitting editorial policy?  Please enlighten me.

credit? Associated Press

credit? Associated Press

Is the image acceptable because the breasts and their bearers are shown being punished by a government institution, rather than being depicted asserting political opinions as individuals (and as insubordinate representatives of a subordinated social group)?


Make Art, Not War

June 19, 2014

Lunghu has previously written about the combination of message and medium chosen by the European activist group Femen, and its waning effectiveness.   He’s still waiting to see whether Femen will merely continue to deploy minor twists and tweaks in their traditional tactical repertoire, or whether they can make the quantum leap to an entirely new strategic approach.  Meanwhile, the game is changing  –art once more imitates life in order to further commodify the novelty of a formerly shocking spectacle.

Compare and contrast:  European media outlets take a starkly different approach to covering female public nudity … depending on the message intended by the body in question.

Exhibit A.  Femen chooses a soft target at the Musée Grévin waxworks as Merkel, Hollande, Obama and Juan Carlos look the other way.



Exhibit B.   Performance artist Milo Moiré displays her hidden assets to show the Basel Art Fair what transparency in Swiss banking should look like.



Looks to Lunghu as though she’s riffing on the classic Femen signature style:  black ink, block letters, bodacious boldness.  But her message isn’t outrage and anger.  Instead, it seems to be a silent, ambiguous commentary on consumerism, eroticized marketing schemes, and the importance of sturdy shoes.  Reflect deeply upon this.


Weird Al-liance

December 6, 2013

You may have heard:  Ukrainians are revolting.  No, no — Lunghu’s not referring to their cuisine or the diminished standards of cleanliness often imposed by a long, cold winter.  Here we’re talking about the current social upheaval (public protest, its attendant repression, etc.) that has resulted from Comrade Bear and Comrade Wolf’s proxy war to control the breadbasket of Europe.  But if you’re seeking a conventional analytical discourse about generational conflict, divergent social aspirations, democracy and so forth … what are you doing here?  Lunghu will almost always cede the strategically-insignificant low ground to the Beltway blitherati and their mainstream media mouthpieces: go read the Washington Post and New York Times if you must.


Instead let’s briefly explore an obscure tangent, one of the little-noticed (perhaps deliberately ignored?) casualties of the Ukraine conflict.  Femen.  Harassed into exile, largely isolated from other political movements in the Ukraine, herded to the margins of social discourse in Europe, almost completely ignored in the world beyond.  Not so long ago, Femen’s protest actions would at least receive (modest) media coverage [irony intended] in Europe, if only because bare breasts beyond Page Three can sometimes help sell newspapers too.  But Femen’s relationship with the Fourth Estate began to head downhill after early 2013 cameo appearances in Davos, Notre Dame, and Tunis.  It’s one thing to focus political ire on the usual villainous suspects (Putin, Yanukovych, et al.) and quite another to publically challenge the patriarchs of capital, church and petro-islam.


Editors and publishers in many media outlets began to characterize Femen demonstrations as ‘stunts’ or stopped reporting them altogether.  Perhaps it was merely that the novelty had worn off, or perhaps it was just the inexorable process of Propaganda Model journalism at work: Femen’s message probably isn’t something that broadsheet and tabloid advertisers want delivered to their target audiences.

Unfortunately, Femen hasn’t been agile enough to adapt.  Over-reliance on mass media dissemination of their message has become an organizational weakness and a strategic vulnerability.  In response, they’ve tried to double-down (or is it “up the ante”?) – card-playing tactics that sometimes reveal a gambler is substituting escalation and blind hope for careful analysis of the underlying mathematics.   In the past several months, Femen actions have become increasingly strident, scattershot (aimed at an ever-wider variety of targets), and outrageous —all in an attempt to regain media attention.  Wake up – it ain’t happenin’.  How far beyond topless can you go, anyway?  Zombie topless? Maybe once. Then what?  A music video with Weird Al Yankovic?

Here’s the latest, briefly covered only by the French press:  rather than burning in effigy, pissing on Viktor Yanukovych in the streets of Paris.  The law of diminishing returns is definitely in full effect.

Five women from the Femen feminist movement gathered in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Paris on Sunday, bared their breasts and urinated on photos of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to condemn a crackdown on protesters angry about his rejection of a key EU deal.  The EU agreement would have opened borders to trade with Europe and set the stage for an easing of travel restrictions but Yanukovych reneged at the last moment, saying his country could not afford to sacrifice relations with Russia.


This counts as a media splash? Only in the smallest possible sense of the term.  In Lunghu’s none-too-humble opinion, things at Femen have gotta change. It’s time for a new strategic plan, a new communications campaign, an improved mode of discourse.  And don’t count on Facebook and Twitter to get the job done, either.  This is an organization in crisis that urgently needs an internal coup d’etat, a revolt by the palace guard, an ideological purge … or perhaps a far more boring democratic/egalitarian reorganization.  Lunghu’s got some ideas.  Call him before you’re desperate.  He’d love to meet you in Paris.


Father ‘Nos’ Best

April 10, 2013

No one should consider it a stunning surprise that a certain august personage in Moscow has provided a semi-official reaction to Femen’s recent Hanoverian rebuke of Vladimir Putin.  For those of you who haven’t been paying attention …

Topless female demonstrators shouted “fuck the dictator” at Russian President Vladimir Putin as he toured an industrial fair with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.  Merkel and Putin were attending the Hanover Messe in northern Germany, where Russia is this year’s guest country. … It was not clear whether the women in Hanover were Femen members.

Perhaps Comrade Bear considered a direct response to this unseemly challenge to be beneath his dignity –or even that of his official spokesman.  Or maybe he recognizes that gender politics isn’t his forte.  Whatever the reason for the ‘official’ silence, Moscow’s choice of surrogate messenger, message and venue is rather telling:


Feminism is very dangerous, [because] feminist organizations proclaim pseudo-freedom for women, supposed to be displayed first of all beyond marriage and family,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with activists of the Ukrainian Orthodox Christian Women’s Union in Moscow.
“The feminist ideology focuses not on the family or bringing up children but on a different function of women that is often set against family values,” he said. “It is probably not by chance that most feminist leaders are unmarried women.”
The patriarch stressed that women should first of all be “the center of family life, the hearth keepers.”  He praised women for not only doing housework but also going out to work.


Patriarch Kirill said women fare well in many professions today, which, he said, means they can be good wives and mothers and at the same time work “for common good” if “their priorities are set in the right way.”

As long as you bear in mind that ‘family values’ is used as a codeword for patriarchy in Russia as well as the United States, the Patriarch’s discourse can be seen to embody a perfect internal logic.  Apparently there is something that superpower nations can agree upon: feminism is very dangerous to the status quo.


April in Paris

April 8, 2013

If you need a venue to stage a protest against the cultural boundaries imposed by strict-constructionist Islam, Paris is the city to do it.  Really, if you want to protest just about anything, go to Paris. And, as always,  April is the time to do just about anything in Paris.

Even in Paris, however, Europe’s most visible protest movement doesn’t make its presence felt with mass marches through city streets. A few vocal activists suffice to ensure that the message is heard.


Its message is not the most broadly accepted, nor is it particularly representative of European cultural attitudes.


Its protests are nominally non-violent, but only in the sense that they provoke unilateral use of force by police as a vehicle for demonstrating the ultimately coercive nature of state power.


And while it’s one thing to denounce a faceless, amorphous patriarchal oppressor like fundamentalist Islam, protest is much more tangible when you’ve got someone like Comrade Bear conveniently right in front of you as the very personification of 21st Century dictatorship.  Almost makes the sidetrip to Hannover worthwhile.


Lunghu has only one complaint about this recent spate of direct action from Femen:  media editors in Europe have apparently decreed that full-frontal photographs of Femen protests will henceforth be rationed to a limit of one per week.  American editors just ignore the story altogether.  Fuck their morals, too.


The Belles! … The Belles!

February 12, 2013

How could they have missed it?!!?  All those feng shui masters out there prognosticating for the Year of The Snake, and nary a one —to Lunghu’s knowledge— predicted that Benoit Seize would throw in the towel rather than take the full count of ten.  That’s pretty poor predictive analysis, even by the rather permissive standards of feng shui prophecy, where the goal is usually timing, timing, timing rather than location^3.

It’s certainly true that in the Year of the Dragon, at least one feng shui soothsayer asserted “In 2012 the annual star number 6 is in the central place. Number 6 [represents] the law, government, power, the father figure, especially in the realm of religion. The power of such people will be challenged.”  And it’s certainly true that 2012 saw serious challenges to the authority of Benoit Seize, in the form of “VatiLeaks” and the subsequent trial of papal valet Paolo Gabriele.  But nobody called out Pope Benedict by name or anything quite so specific as actually citing his star chart for signs of trouble ahead.

Still, the omens were there for anyone to see.  After all, is there any greater challenge to the pretensions of patriarchal authority than stark female nudity?  Femen activists don’t think so.

gratuitous partial nudity (part 1)

gratuitous partial nudity (part 1)

That’s why Femen staged one of its trademark “top-down” demonstrations at Piazza San Pietro just one month ago.  In Lunghu’s view —to the extent that it matters— this protest was a strategic masterstroke (pun? maybe) despite its obvious tactical deficiencies.  Femen’s most glaring error was to accuse B16 and the Catholic Church of homophobia.  While the nature of the claim virtually guarantees media coverage of Femen, the charge itself is almost completely non-credible.  Why?  Because legions of scandalous episodes in recent decades  —from Ireland, to Massachusetts, to Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Mexico and beyond— make it amply clear that the Catholic Church has long been homophilic rather than homophobic.  However, this dark truth is the last thing that the Vatican can afford to admit, since its claims to legitimacy and spiritual authority rest squarely on the myth of clerical celibacy and asexuality.

The Catholic Church asserts the right to regulate human sexual behavior (in the guise of “morality”) based on a particular interpretation of dubious ancient texts collectively known as “the Bible.”   Like the referee in a soccer match, legitimacy in this regulatory role is largely derived from a perception of impartiality.  As celibates, Catholic clergy could plausibly claim to “have no skin in the game” – no personal subjective interest in the intimate intercourse of frail and fallible humans.  However, once priests can no longer be distinguished from ordinary mortals on the basis of sexual abstinence, their impartiality becomes suspect and legitimacy becomes forfeit.  All the more so when their sexual partiality is repeatedly revealed to be directly contrary to the publicly-espoused doctrine of the religion, which glorifies (regulated, appropriately sanctified) heterosexual procreation.

In this context, what Femen should be protesting is a) the blatant hypocrisy of Catholic doctrine;  b) persistent misogyny and subjugation of women within the Church;  c) the role of organized religion in propping up the tottering edifice of patriarchal society,  or d) all of the above.  Unfortunately, none of  those issues attract media attention.  Not even in Notre Dame Cathedral.

gratuitous partial nudity (part 2)

gratuitous partial nudity (part 2)

So when the usual Femen suspects stripped off in the nave of Notre Dame to celebrate(?) Pope Benedict’s resignation, you really have to ask for whom those belles actually toll.  The way Lunghu reads the tea leaves, B16’s resignation is an attempt to influence the choice of his own successor with subtle, unseemly, and ultimately despicable politicking behind the scenes. (Obviously, that would have been impossible if he’d made the traditional feet-first exit.)  Whether or not this stratagem will succeed remains to be seen.   Lunghu thinks not.  He has had a prior vision (perhaps divinely inspired, perhaps not) in which the next pontiff will be … the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.  What odds do the Singapore bookies offer on that action?

totally gratuitous partial nudity (part 3)

totally gratuitous partial nudity (part 3)