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Can Getting Naked Save the World?

A Ukrainian feminist movement called Femen draws attention to their cause by stripping from the waist up. Is that political action or simply playing into a hyper-sexual female stereotype? 

What’s the Latest Development?

A nude protest held at a major tourist site in Paris is the latest statement made by the outspoken Ukrainian feminist group Femen. One of the group’s leaders, Oksana Shachko, had to break travel restrictions placed on her by a Ukrainian court to attend. The court ordered Shachko not to leave the country until it was determined whether she would serve a five-year jail sentence for occupying the Indian embassy in Ukraine, protesting against sex trafficking in India. The group, which seek to unite older and younger generations of feminists, were formed in 2008 and are comrades with feminist Pussy Riot based in Moscow. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Latin for femur, Femen are meant to convey a strong image of women. And while the group understands the importance of attracting media attention to their cause, the protesters walk a fine line between symbolizing liberty and becoming commodities of the hyper-sexual marketplace. When it comes to Islamic fundamentalism, for example, nudity is a strong expression against the strict, and restricting, style of dress that women are expected to obey. But when the group posed on the cover of Elle magazine, some feminists thought the group had played into the oppressor’s hand. At the protest in Paris, police on the scene seemed mostly to stare and smile.

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