Truth be told, I have so many issues with FEMEN, I wouldn't even know where to begin, but I'll attempt to explain them all here as best as I can. For those who don't know (and there are many of you), FEMEN is a Ukraine-based movement started in 2008 to protest the growing sex industry in the country. The movement soon branched out and began protesting other gender issues, including the perceived oppression of women at the hands of religious institutions.
We know young women bouncing back from eating disorders, trying to renegotiate their relationships with food and their bodies, and mothers trying to square their nurturing instincts with their identities outside the home. But we found that many women were talking around those complexities without actually talking about them.
If you're a parent, you've probably by now seen the cocky, controlling, pretty weird letter written by Kim Hall to all teenage girls her teenage boys may ever come into contact with online. Letters like the one Mrs. Hall wrote to teenage girls are a prime example of how rape culture perpetuates itself in today's society in an insidious and innocent-looking way.
Have you heard about Hugo Schwyzer taking a break from the feminist internet? He's leaving, and he wants you all to know that it's because you're such meanie heads. Yes, you. Posting your snarky tweets about his freelance gigs, commenting your agitated words under his writing. Can't a man speak for women and just be left alone?
In a movement where the main thrust is equality, you wouldn't think that bullying would be a problem. But it is. As feminism fights the dominant ideology, those within the movement sometimes forget to put down their dukes when they turn around and face each other. This is where bullying plays a large role in feminism. All this he-said-she-said, back-and-forth, and the point of the movement gets lost as former feminists wade around the murky waters of their own egos and trivial bickering. This happens on the internet, on the street and in academia too.
It really bothers me that mainstream body image activists tend to pick and choose their battles, focusing primarily on larger sizes and sexuality while ignoring the small. When being small is ever even mentioned, it's often lip service. At best, they acknowledge that it is an issue, and then never discuss it again unless someone else brings it up.
The feminists have discovered The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After. Or, at the very least, decided that they can't go on ignoring it -- and they're definitely not sold. But does taking a modern approach on Austen's classic work ruin it? Which approach really reduces Austen's work? Taking her principles seriously, and asking how her insights might apply today? Or dismissing her ideas about love and sex -- wherever they don't overlap with modern enlightened opinion -- as blind prejudices that she would surely grow out of if only we could whisk her to the 21st century?