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The Ukrainian women’s group are anarcho-feminists who aggressively expose their bodies to the male gaze. Many of them (but not all) embody the beauty norms more familiar in porn and pop stardom. They preach women’s independence, yet are criticized for not being sensitive to the “modesty” values of Muslim feminists.
And now, the greatest contradiction of them all: Femen is apparently run by a man. Or so that’s what everyone rushed to believe, when The Independent reported troubling revelations about to be screened at Venice in Kitty Green’s documentary about the group:
Ukraine is not a Brothel, directed by 28-year-old Australian film-maker Kitty Green, has “outed” Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the group. Mr Syvatski is known as a “consultant” to the movement. According to the Femen website, he was badly beaten up by the secret services in Ukraine earlier this summer because of his activities on behalf of the group.
However, Ms Green reveals that Svyatski is not simply a supporter of Femen but its founder and éminence grise. “It’s his movement and he hand-picked the girls. He hand-picked the prettiest girls because the prettiest girls sell more papers. The prettiest girls get on the front page… that became their image, that became the way they sold the brand,” she says.
The internet was quick to judge, and throw their former darlings under the bus. I’ll admit that I was shocked to think that some dude was pulling all the strings. But in this age of wildfire memes and snap group judgements, not all is always as it seems.
Today, in The Guardian, Femen’s most outspoken member, Inna Shevchenko, wrote a response that was both heartbreaking and credible: