Avevo scritto questo testo [QUI la traduzione in italiano della loro lettera aperta alle Femen] e le donne che hanno dato vita al #MuslimahPride ne chiedevano una traduzione. Grazie ad Arianna D. per il grande lavoro fatto! Buona lettura.
Like I said, eventually Femen’s activity was really perceived as neo-colonialist. And since women do not wish to be exploited in order to validate new and old imperialisms, they started a campaign in which they basically claim to be over-determined by Femen, they blame the latter for redefining their needs and state that they do not need to be freed at all.
Someone already calls Femen islamophobes because they do not get the reason why they went in front of the Great Mosque in Paris – where all they obtained was a picture of a man kicking one of them. But then they had done the same thing in St. Peter’s, where the police had tackled them and a believer in a fur coat had hit one of them with an umbrella. In Russia they had sawed a cross in order to jump on that mediatic bandwagon thanks to which the Pussy Riots have received support by half of the world. Then they came here and tried to free us from Berlusconi, too. And, yeah, well.
Let’s not forget that their actions originated by them trying to denounce how Ukraine women were considered by sex tourists and the rest of the western world. They conveyed a harsh and authoritative view on pornography and prostitution when they stated that they do not even support those who actually choose to take up that job. They want to save and to stand in for everyone, as a matter of principle.
But as long as your demands originate from you, your needs and your interpretation of reality, what you are up to is a fight for self-determination; therefore no one can tell you that you are wrong, because nobody can stand in for you in choosing the way you want to portray yourself.
Later on, Femen’s fame increased and their seek for a media effect that could keep them on the front pages went alongside with their vigilante-style methods, which act regardless of local situations. In Russia they sawed a cross, but they were not accompanied by the same large group that had supported Pussy Riot, who meanwhile were actually ending up in jail for singing a punk song inside a cathedral. When they went to St. Peter’s, the LGBT community looked at them sympathetically; someone wrote, “what the hell, we should be the ones doing this”, someone else was saddened and brought up the fact that a picket line with a banner, on a crowdless day but still in the same square, had cost Facciamo Breccia’s militants no end of charges, but no one had ever paid attention to them again anymore. So: they went to St. Peter’s and said something gay-friendly, but they did not really connect with LGBT local situations, because those realities may have told something more than they could say on that subject. Maybe they would have even wished to, I don’t know, participate?
And now there is this thing about saving Amina and shaming all Islam and the Muslim religion without talking to local feminists – who do support Amina, but in their own way. If Femen had gone to St. Peter’s and tried to free one of the women who were there to listen to the Pope, I guess that those women’s reaction would have most likely been anger, because feminism is “up to each of us” and freedom of choice must work for everyone; so you do not get to tell another woman what or whom she should free herself from. Fights must be self-determined, or they are just not fights.
Standing in for Muslim women, over-determining them, redefining their needs, imposing them some practices that are even more prescriptive than the ones already existent, shutting them up by making them appear oppressed and not letting them decide where to go and why, that is exactly what Santanché was doing when she tried to take a burqa off a woman in front of a Mosque. This is neo-colonialism. As much as I like them, with their sassy boobs and their imposing themselves on the media on an international scale, I must say this.
This is the risk you run when you are the one chasing the media instead of the other way around. In the end, media choose the language and the modality and they force you to use shocking forms like a sensationalist element capable of outraging people; and while you are looking for the best way to get people to talk about you, you end up being exploited for other aims. You are not breaking up or subverting anything at all: your attempt to communicate is assimilated and neutralized; as I said, the power that comes from using your body as a political space and the victimization of all women makes you functional to a marketing that promotes all kinds of wars and repression in the name of salvation.
You can find the Muslim Women Against Femen’s group HERE and HERE you can find a series of shots of women portraying themselves. HERE you can find an open letter to Femen. There is this very authoritative and paternalistic habit of thinking that, if women do not say exactly what the conservative/radical feminist So-and-So says, then they cannot free themselves and they need to be helped, because they have internalized some sexist frames and they are sick people in need of help; which is essentially what sexists think when they see you showing off your boobs and they wish they could confine you and sedate you with drugs.
When feminism imposes some expression codes to other women or people, it becomes a dogma and it is not feminism anymore; not to me anyway. Feminism is a wonderful resource that gives you the instruments to find the way through which you wish to free yourself. It is you asking me to do something with you, not for you or in your place. But if you are expressing your needs and saying that you need support and in the meantime you establish that you have the universal truth and that everyone who does not share your views is sick, sexist or a bitch or whatever, then you are a neo-colonialist too. About my needs, my time and my political demands.
Do you agree with this definition of self-determined fights? And if you don’t, what would you say is the difference among the Catholic church, the Muslim one and the Feminist one?
Update: Lalli points out to me that “A few days after Amina’s affair, the Muslim Women’s Network published a release in which they expressed their support for Amina, but they also denounced the inaccurate information spread by the international press and the social networks (i.e.: death penalty was abolished in Tunisia in 2011, making it thus impossible for Amina to be sentenced to death by stoning). You can find the release here: http://www.redmusulmanas.com/muslim-women-s-network-release-breasts-and-fatwas in english, and here: http://www.redmusulmanas.com/comunicado-de-red-musulmanas-pechos-y-fatuas in spanish. Some days later, Femen answered to it but they still didn’t take into account the Muslim women’s release: they did not sympathize with them and neither did they say a single word about the matter. This made the rage of the Muslim women explode: they are now accusing accuse Femen of eurocentrism and of violently censoring whoever does not practice feminism their same (hegemonic and neo-colonialistic) way. There are several interesting articles properly debating this indignation, among which: http://nasreenvrblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/lo-que-ensenan-los-pechos-de-amina-la-chica-de-tunez/ (in Spanish).