Last tuesday we posted this article in German. Here is the Englisch version:
Friday, 25th of January, on Hamburg’s Herbertstraße, Femen attracted public attention with their campaign “Fuck the Sex Industry”. A comparison with the “Third Reich” can’t be denied as some photos on the internet have even been swastika-festooned. A detailed statement? Nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, questions are adding up.
Femen Germany has 1,714 so called Facebook-Likes, the main group has even 80,414. Reason enough for us to ask who these Femen are, what they stand for and what messages they want to propagate. Therefore, we wrote the following open letter.
Open letter to Femen Germany
We, „e*vibes – für eine emanzipatorische praxis“, are a feministic / sexism-critical group located in Dresden, Germany. Last Monday, we got to know about your latest action in Hamburg. After having overcome the first shock, we built up our courage and started writing this letter to you. It’s a letter with just a few of the many pressing questions.
We took a look at the self-conception represented on femen.org, the international website refered to on your national website. It proved to be worth it, as some questions arose immediately:
How do you define “women”? Can women without breasts be Femen? How about trans*people?
“Activist of FEMEN are morally and physically fit soldiers” — What does “morally and physically fit” mean? Can women who aren’t physically fit be Femen? Why soldiers? What symbolism is hidden behind the flowers in your hair? As far as we can tell, the self-conception doesn‘t make that clear.
„hot boobs, cool head and clean hands“ — How do breasts look like when they aren’t “hot”? Do breasts have to correspond to a socially prevailing ideal of beauty?
Presumably “cool head” refers to intellect. How is intellect defined and what about people who fail to reach the required level? What IQ is needed for joining you?
What is meant by “clean hands”? Our first association: “I wash my hands of it.”
How do you define ideology, democracy and patriarchy? In your self-conception one can find that patriarchy is limited to three fields: dictatorship, church and sex industry. How is patriarchy structured in your opinion?
Putting the self-conception presented on femen.org aside, we’d like to ask some questions directly to you as Femen Germany:
Why are the colours of the German national flag used at all and used that much? To what extend is feminism linked to nationalism in your opinion?
Schewtschenko is one of the Ukrainian founders of Femen. In an interview with the German ZEIT newspaper she states not to seek for abolishment of male denomination but for its inversion. The reason is simple: Schewtschenko believes that women are better in dealing with power and that they would not wage wars. “Why else would nature have given us the ability to decide about continuation of life?” (German source: http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2013-01/femen-herbertstrasse-protest)
Do you as Femen Germany share this view?
We grant you that women are discriminated against. This has to be counteracted. But the goal can’t be inversion of power. Instead, the asymmetric power relation itself ought to be criticized. We also decidedly reject your implied biologistic definition of “male” and “female” with distinctly different and naturally fixed characteristics.
What on earth are the contents of the campaign “Fuck the sex industry – the sex industry is fascism in the 21st century”? How do you define fascism?
A swastika substituting the x in „sex industry“, really?!
Why has the action been carried out so close to the 27th of January (Holocaust Memorial Day, liberation of Auschwitz)? We have no doubt you knew about that date’s significance, since you wrote the well known motto from the gate of Auschwitz “Arbeit macht frei” onto the gate of the Herbertstraße and used phrases like “prostitution is genocide.”
You equate the Shoa and porrajmos with prostitution as if women were industrially killed by the millions, only because they are women. This is quite incredible and not at all acceptable. Fascism, genocide and holocaust are relativized and belittled by this.
The German law classifies the unhistorical use of the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” as hate speech. Illegality aside, your use of the swastika and the above mentioned sentence render them socially acceptable again.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see you on February 13th in Dresden with your torches, side by side with old and new Nazis commemorating the women killed by the Allied Forces.