Femen began in Ukraine as a movement against the national sex trade.

Getting Naked, Ukraine

It is difficult for a news editor not to publish beautiful women with perfect breasts getting naked for liberal causes, and since its first topless protest in 2008, Femen has received global coverage for its actions, overtaken “feminism” as a Google search term, and
now boasts over 150,000 members worldwide. The group’s founders hail from eastern Ukraine, where feminists are viewed with a suspicion otherwise reserved for vegetarians, and they preach resistance against patriarchal society by stripping off in front of symbols of oppression.

“Classical feminism is like an old sick lady that doesn’t work any more,” Femen co-founder Inna Shevchenko told the UK’s Guardian newspaper in 2012. Coming from a man, such words might be dismissed as misogynistic, but from a fierce, female activist they presage Femen’s radical, uncompromising Femen member Amina Sboui renounced the group after fellow members burned extremist Islamist flags outside a liberal mosque in Paris, France. One year earlier, a Femen protest against sex tourism during the Euro 2012 soccer championship in Poland was chased by a counterprotest of naked Polish prostitutes carrying signs that read: “Femen! Get the fuck out of our business.” Other gaffes play into concerns that Femen may be more about self-promotion than activism. Just one year after waving banners in Milan reading, “FASHION = FASCISM,” Femen’s leaders were paid to model lingerie in Turkey for Chinese clothing company Suwen – covering up the very things that made them famous.


From the pages of COLORS #88 - Protest.