FEMEN’s mode of action

“Come out, Go topless and Win!”. That is the moto of FEMEN, a feminist Ukrainian organisation who fights for gender equality created in 2008. The organisation became internationally known after organising demonstrations where activists protested against the practice of sex tourism, of marriage agencies or religious institutions exposing their breasts to the public eye. More recently, the story of the Tunisian Femen activist Amina Tyler called the attention of the entire international community. After the topless photographies of the 19-year-old girl mocking Islamists with body painting written “F*** Your Morals” and her sub-consequent disappearance, FEMEN’s visibility increased even more.

FEMEN’s mode of action i.e. women activists protesting on streets topless, is definitely a success in the sense that the movement managed to catch the attention of international news. Yet, a lot of people and especially women, argue that their mode of action is disrespectful and shocking. Are there wrong forms of protest? Or if the aim of protest is to sensitise and get people’s attention, every way of action should be considered as valid? Moreover, considering that human rights and gender equality are disrespected in the majority of countries in the world, aren’t these kind of protests still necessary to get public awareness?

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