Bare Bones Activism

For international relations types, understanding the people and issues of a given area is a must for any effective professional. Following activist movements is a great way to understand the issues and people in any given society. Three things come of this: 1) You will learn about the issues at hand. 2) You will learn about the ideas centered around them. 3) You will learn how the ideas became public discussion.

While the first two usually deviate from issue to issue, rarely do the methods and means by which they make the issues known deviate from issue to issue. However, when it does occur, you get to see a lot more than you bargained for, due to the great lengths activists go through to be seen and heard. This is because activism requires a stripping away of the status to quo to expose a stark view of reality.

Getting naked has been an extreme method to get heard, but it seems to be just getting weirder.

Since 2008, FEMEN activists based out of the Ukraine and Paris have been protesting in their birthday suits all around the world to promote awareness and change concerning a variety of feminist and democratic issues.

Who could forget their ambush on Pooty and Merkel?

In 2011, Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk-rock band, started making waves with the Russian government as their lyrics were subversive to Putin’s reign. Many of the issues they covered dealt with feminism, LGBT issues, and democratic rights. While standing trial for hooliganism last year, the Russian prosecutors informed the public that in 2008 one of the band’s ‘leaders’, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, had participated in an activist orgy with the Russian street-art group Voina called, “Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear“.

Safety first! Always use safety goggles when operating a chainsaw.
Safety first! Always use safety goggles when operating a chainsaw.

As an act of solidarity, FEMEN cut down a cross in Kyiv as a symbolic gesture to stand with Pussy Riot through their trial. While the Femenberjacks were naked, they did wear safety goggles.

Last year, an artist from the group, Liberate Tate got naked and her cohorts covered her body with an oil-like substance, poured out of cans with BP labels, to bring awareness to BP’s mishaps with the Deepwater Horizon and protest their sponsorship of Tate.

If that isn’t weird enough, earlier this month, Petr Pavlensky, an artist/ activist in Russia nailed his testicles to the cobblestones of Red Square. squareThis was a symbolic protest against the decent of Russia into police state. He too has stood in solidarity with Pussy Riot, but instead of getting naked, he sewed his mouth shut.

Now today, I’m combing through one of my many news feed and I see that Casey Jenkins, a member of the Craft Cartel, the Australian Pussy Riot types who brought you embroidery porn, will now be bring awareness to feminist issues via Vaginal Knitting.

I can’t make this stuff up people.

But I have to ask… Is making signs, holding rallies, and distributing media not cutting it anymore? Does one really have to engage in protest orgies, cut down crosses that honor victims of communism, vaginal sew, or nail their sack to the cobblestones of Red Square to make a point? Are these methods more or less effective than the #Kony2012 hashtag? I don’t know, but 21st century activism sure is interesting to say the least!


One comment

  1. Excellent piece. The answer is: it depends. It depends on the target audience. The leadership in the US is more responsive to hashtags, but Putin apparently responds to a different drummer. It could be that Putin is more authoritarian and less sensitive to public opinion.

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