Femen in the UK: A guide for British 'sextremists'
Would you make the grade as a member of the Ukranian feminist group's new British wing?
FEMEN, the Ukrainian feminist group whose protests involve bare-chested young women with political slogans daubed across their bodies, are setting up shop in the UK. Here are five key questions for anyone considering becoming a British 'sextremist':
Why are they coming to the UK?
British women asked them to come, apparently. Femen only goes to places where "we are called upon by women", the group's founder and leader Inna Shevchenko writes in the Huffington Post. "British women have joined our naked army, saying 'we need Femen in the UK'."
What sort of issues will I be protesting against?
Britain is crying out for an injection of topless feminist protest, says Shevchenko. Prostitution, laws about immigration and Islamic extremism are just three of the topics that will "not escape Femen's naked massacre", she says. "Whether it's Derby's Al-Madinah school or Buckingham Palace, Femen will always find the way to be where it's needed."
Will I need special clothes?
Not really. Femen activists wear a garland of flowers in their hair – a traditional Ukranian accessory – and... well, not much else.
Yes, according to an investigation by Italian newspaper Il Foglio. It suggests European activists get 1,000 euros a day when involved in a protest.
Am I the sort of person Femen is looking for?
Supporting Femen's ideology is just the starting point. Members also need to be "morally and physically fit", according to the group's website. You'll spend a reasonable amount of time jumping over fences and wrestling with police officers, so a few sessions at the gym will probably help. The website doesn't mention looks, but being beautiful is unlikely to hurt one's progress through the ranks. A former German member, who asked not to be named, told South Africa's Mail & Guardian: "Femen wants only pretty women. If you were ugly or over 30 they push you away."
Am I likely to get arrested or hurt?
Sadly, you are. The Guardian notes the "heavy-handed treatment often meted out by bodyguards and police" [to Femen members], which means there is "no doubting its members' courage". When Femen activists dressed as "sexy nuns" clashed with anti-gay marriage protesters in Paris, one lost a tooth and another had her nose broken. There are suggestions that a fire at the group's Paris offices may have been lit deliberately. ·