Pussy Riot: whose freedom, whose riot?

by HUB Newsfeed

Please reblog this radical feminist analysis of the Pussy Riot controversy.

Recently there has been lots of noise around the arrest of three members of Pussy Riot, a Russian anarchist female punk band. The media almost unequivocally represented them as the modern heroines of our time, fighting for freedom, democracy, sexual liberation and peace against a dark and ruthless dictatorship (articles are to be found in the NYT, Le Monde. The Guardian, etc.) Feminist groups all over the Western world are sending links and petitions to “free pussy riot”, and demonstrations have even been organised in support of the group by big institutionalised organisations such as “Osez le féminisme” (dare to be a feminist).

Now while I support without ambiguity the liberation of Pussy Riot’s members, it’s worth pausing for a minute to ask ourselves, as radical feminists, what the political dynamics are here. Why would Western media denounce so passionately the repression of feminists in Russia, when it usually only diffuses information that supports male supremacy and patriarchy? Feminism has long disappeared from any malestream media, except when journalists can turn it into male masturbation material, that is pornify either our suffering or our resistance to it. What’s going on here?

Before learning more about the case, the first thing that made me frown was the fact progressives were hailing Pussy Riot as the “new feminists”, despite that their name is fairly insulting to women. It is certainly not apolitical, since we are in a context in which pornography has deeply colonised our movement and the only groups that the media presents as feminist are those that either insult us or reclaim the very instruments of our subordination, that is, male sexual violence, PIV, pornified femininity and all the associated harmful cultural practices. These tactics of destroying the meaning of feminism form part of a general worldwide backlash against women.

I found it suspicious that Pussy Riot was getting so much media attention, even for pseudo feminist standards. You can measure the degree of feminism of an action by how men react to it, and if men collectively cheer and celebrate it, then you can be pretty sure there’s something wrong about it, or that it doesn’t somehow support our liberation from men. And as far as I can recall, even the slutwalks didn’t get as much coverage or public appraisal. What was it that men liked so much about Pussy Riot?

Well, under closer inspection I discovered that the high level of coverage was related to – though indirectly – promoting men’s right to women’s sexual subordination and the pornification of our movement. The arrested women actually form part (and are victims of) a mixed anarchist group called “Voina” (meaning “war”), founded in 2007 by two men called Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaïev, who regularly engage the women in extreme and degrading women-hating pornography as part of their public “political stunts”. Some of Voina’s men have actually already been incarcerated in 2011 for hooliganism – which is punished for 7 years of prison in Russia, but their bail was paid for by an artist named “Banksy” four months after their imprisonment. (More information can be found here and here)

Included in their anti-government actions are a “public orgy” in the national museum of biology in a room full of stuffed bears, where several men anally penetrated their female partners in a position of submission, including one heavily pregnant women, as a metaphor to “bugger/fuck Medvedev”. “Medved” means “bear”, hence all the stuffed bears – this was meant to be symbolic, artistic and revolutionary according to the activists. Here the male anarchists literally used women as dead bodies or receptacles through which to make a political point to other men. Violating women as a means to offend other men is nothing else but an age-old patriarchal mechanism – behind which the intended target are us, for men to bond over our annihilation.

Another planned stunt in the name of “sexual freedom”, inspired by extreme forms of pornography such as zoophilia/ necrophilia, includes a member of Pussy Riot masturbating with a dead chicken in a supermarket under the watch and camera of the anarchist males, after which she inserts the dead chicken entirely into her vagina and hobbles with the chicken inside her out of the supermarket. This is how the male members themselves describe their act of “liberation”:

“How to Snatch a Chicken: A Tale of How One Cunt fed the Whole of the Group Voina… in honor of their hero, a 19th century political philosopher/prisoner, Voina’s president’s wife dubbed “Vacuous Cunt With Inconceivably Huge Tits,” smuggled a chicken out of a grocery store in said “Vacuous Cunt…”  [the journalist comments] : First, the troupe searched for a large and fresh enough chicken. Then, the store isles and CCTV cameras were blocked by the members of the group holding up banners with “FUCK WHORING YOURSELF!” smeared on them in I-don’t-want-to-know-what. The blockade allowed Vacuous Cunt to promptly stuff and smuggle the poultry out of the store, which was then presumably cooked and eaten.[1]

The president is presumably Oleg, and the woman in question, apparently his wife – a situation which would qualify as domestic abuse and sexual slavery given the level of violence, women-hatred and humiliation directed at the women involved. The woman is reduced to a corpse to be ‘stuffed’ in the most degrading and insulting way. No woman would desire such things as inserting a dead chicken in her vagina in public were she not under heavy control and terror. Also of note is the fact that one of their children was brought to this stunt, visibly no older than four. Sexual exhibitionism in the presence of children may also qualify as child sexual abuse. How deeply has women-hatred sunk into men’s minds, that they are incapable of imagining a riot without it being a by-the-book copy of a gonzo porn film? Here again, we see men instrumentalising women and using sexual torture of women as a means to communicate a political message (which if not totally vacuous, communicates nothing other than their hatred of women).

Perhaps the most saddening action of all consisted in filming one of the women naked, covered in cockroaches, meant to be understood as “sexy”. The association of women to filth and parasites to be eliminated couldn’t be clearer. This is women-hating, genocidal propaganda at its most dangerous form. Voina’s men give the world to see where women’s place must be, even when fighting against authoritarian regimes: head down, underneath men and fucked by them.

Now what does this mean for us, what can be understood from the media’s silence about Voina’s pornographic exploitation of women, when all the attention is focused on promoting Pussy Riot as our modern heroines? The effect and intent is political. While all the public eyes are set on the Russian representatives of the state and religion as the ultimate fascists, dictators and machos, we are made to forget that the primary oppressors and tyrants of these particular women are the men closest to them, that is, Voina’s men and their use of pornography to demean, oppress and enslave their female comrades. They are their everyday police, the fascists and colonisers breaking the women’s resistance, occupying their souls, sentencing them to public humiliation and subordinating them through sexual abuse. We are made to forget that these women are doubly victimised: first victims of the violence by the men of their own group, they are then punished and held responsible for the abuse committed against them.

By holding Pussy Riot as examples of resistance, being silent about the pornographic violence and denouncing the state and religious authority as the only oppressor, it follows that the media is complicit with the men from Voina. It protects the anarchist’s individual impunity, and more generally, furthers all men’s interest in promoting rape and women-hating propaganda. It also prevents women in general from identifying men’s sexual violence and the harms of the penis as the primary agents of our oppression. It distracts and disgusts women away from feminism. What kind of dignity and respect for our movement can women have if the only models of resistance given to us by the media are those to be seen by millions of men as humiliated, soiled and degraded in this way?  Even the most brave and valiant women, who fight bare handed and alone against Putin and the religious authority, must be shown by men to the world as surrendering and conquered.

If we want justice for the women imprisoned and to show true solidarity, we need to not only denounce the injustice by the Russian state, but also denounce the violence by the men from Voina. We need to recognise and openly denounce the pandemic levels of sexual violence present in most male-centric leftist or anarchist activist groups, whereby women are often pimped by the men of the group for pornography or expected to submit to extremely violent or degrading acts in the name of “sexual freedom”. What counts for these men is to fight for men’s total public access to women, especially militant women, because it really serves to put all women back in line. The weapon of mass destruction against women is the penis and this is why all men are focusing on making Putin look bad while they say nothing about the bastards of Voina.

For our sisters, for all women, we need to say out loud that this is not feminism.

HUB Newsfeed

[1]http://www.animalnewyork.com/2010/voinas-latest-action-is-fowl/ (Warning! Pornographic still image included in this link.)

119 Responses to “Pussy Riot: whose freedom, whose riot?”

  1. Reblogged this on femonade and commented:

    reblogging…and then backing up my blog!

  2. Brilliant, original work and a crystal-clear analysis.

  3. Reblogged this on Women's liberation without borders. and commented:
    Un article important à lire, qui fera l’objet d’une introduction à un de mes prochains articles concernant le “féminisme pornifiéé.

  4. Loving it!

  5. reblogged this on beyourownwomon.wordpress.com. Great article, thank you !!

  6. Malestream media did an impressive job in concealing their ties to Voina, incredible given it was their *main* group, and some of the women were MARRIED to them!! How could any journalist doing his job properly miss on those facts?? It’s obvious it was all intentional. It’s also scary to see how the media lies to us or re-writes reality to such an extent – the news they select, what they choose to say about them, and how they write about them – it’s all about myth-making. Their purpose is evident: the aim is not to inform and to be accurate, but to reinforce a particular ideology and a particular power, which always turns to be male power over women

  7. I had seen Pussy Riot in the news a couple of times before reading this, and it sounded sooooo rotten, now I know why. They used to accomplish this agenda of portraying a group of leftist militant and sexually humiliated women as ”the feminists” with FEMEN for example, but now there is Pussy Riot as well. With that name I instantly knew there was a focus on them as ”feminist heroes” for some twisted secret male agenda, once you’re a radfem you can’t be fooled that easily. But most people can and will get fooled.
    This is why I hate leftist men so much; they are as woman-hating as the right-wing ones but just uncovered, the ideology naked in all its rawness. So the women in Pussy Riot are being portrayed as feminist heroes fighting for women’s sexual freedom when what they truly are is direct victims of massive terror and holocaust from the oppressors. And women shut up, and shut up, and shut up, and put up with everything, everywhere. Until it all blows up, and it will eventually.

  8. Equating women with disease and filth is a theme of even soft-core pornography and “glamour shots”, and so the fact that some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to take photos of women covered in cockroaches does not surprise me at all.

    HItler used exactly the same propaganda tactics when he wanted to dehumanize the Jews, only that time he used rats.

    The seriousness of what porn does to women’s status can never be underestimated.

    Rats and cockroaches are disease-ridden creatures, so when you use them to draw a link between a group of people (Jews/ women/insert vilified group here) ,and “filth and disease”, the effects are profound and far-reaching.

    It’s a short step from designating a certain group of people as dirty, to dehumanizing them, to justifying any type of atrocity committed against them. In fact, if they are disease-ridden then–the thinking goes– you’re doing humanity a favour by getting rid of them.

  9. I am so appreciative of this post. I am sometimes swept away by seeing women doing outrageous things in the world to upset the status quo. I was supportive of PR’s fierceness and courage. However, upon reading this, I am sickened at where these young women are at in terms of what they think is feminism. And maybe they don’t see themselves as feminist. I don’ know if they call themselves feminist? Does anyone here know? I can see now they are being used. I do love the courage and ferocity they seem to have, but perhaps I need to take a closer look.

  10. Reblogged this on demonista and commented:
    Holy shit. A must read

  11. Tweeted and added: Brilliant analysis of malestream media misdirection.

  12. “This is why I hate leftist men so much”. Doublevez, and many thanks to the writer of this amazing post.

  13. Reblogged this on More Left Than Thou and commented:
    I don’t agree with everything here but it is very interesting. I also think that if Russia was for intervention in Syria the West would not have taken up this story.

  14. Thanks for this, I had no idea. Lesson learned: do a little research before supporting a cause I know very little about.

  15. Do they see themselves as feminists? Found on Rancom FB, quoting one of the Pussy Rioters, and her partner/husband.

    “[The] only thing that can save our daughter, my wife and all of us, is a revolution, so that’s what we’ll have.”

    “We were searching for real sincerity and simplicity, and we found these qualities in the yurodstvo [the holy foolishness] of punk.”
    —Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

    Sound like Feminists to you?

  16. Reblogged this on Ethical Equinox and commented:
    I knew something was amiss when all the cool kid celebrities started supporting them. Release them, yes; call them stalwarts of women’s liberation, sadly not.

  17. Copy comment from fb: “Also, I can imagine the feeling of betrayal most women would feel when they discover this. I feel very sorry. I wonder if the malestream media won’t actually release these facts after a moment: after creating the myth of pussy riot, they show “their dark side” (ie: “pussy riots were in fact sl***!!) to make all the women who supported PR feel ashamed.” This is deliberate, to rob positive female identification from us. The only ones who should feel shame are those abusers.

  18. Great article and a good reminder to always question everything.

    Noting this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voina

    It says Tolokonnikova & her hubby split from Voina in 2009, and formed their own faction (Pussy Riot), which means they probably weren’t involved in the cockroach or the chicken vagina stunts. I hope not, anyway.

    I agree that they aren’t necessarily “feminist” (I think any display of female dissent is labelled feminist) but they are still pretty awesome 🙂

  19. And there’s supposed to be something symbolic and revolutionary about the fact the women of Pussy Riot are not named.
    As if there’s anything original about this dynamic; and as if individual women’s deeds and actions are not written out of the history books every day.

    Let’s NAME our feminist women when we can!

  20. interesting about the naming issue cherry — makes it a bit difficult to do proper research doesnt it? or for people who know them to find them, and make sure they are ok (for example). this is exactly what happens when women get married and change their names, especially pre-internet but it still holds true. good luck finding a married woman, to reconnect with her, if shes changed her name. there are many problems with the anonymity thing for women, that are never discussed. the male model of anarchist activism is said to work for everyone, but it makes the women even more vulnerable and isolated in some ways, and makes the men who have harmed them even more unaccountable than they already are.

  21. I had only taken things at face value, but had felt some disquiet. Thanks to this exellent article I know know why. Viona, What a revolting bunch of men.

  22. Patriarchy Watch and others: yes, they are front and centre clearly in the chicken-masturabtion-with-four-year-oid chid watching (and helping to pick out the chicken), and in the anal rapes in the museum. Being anally raped while 8 mos pregnant. This is the oldest use of women; make them think it’s radical, liberating, revolutionary to be raped and sexually abused. Best, get them to offer themselves willingly, love them stroke them, protect them from the bad men (other side). Who are you? We know about rape in war. This is it sisters. It’s not just soldiers lining up at the Korean brothel. There are two videos you must watch. These women are sexually Stockholmed and exploited. There is no “revolution”. This is just a turf war between men; those who have right now, and those who want what the other group has. Coin.

  23. Now I think these must be widely posted WITH the essay, because we are disbelieved, even by other radical feminists:

    The museum rapes for men’s right:to use women as proxy for the men they want to fuck over:
    http://plucer.livejournal.com/55710.html

    The supermarket chicken masturbation for men’s rights to jerk off at women’s debasement proxy for the men they want to fuck over:
    http://nataly-lenskaya.livejournal.com/348825.html
    Жесть

  24. once women around the world are allowed ONE DAY in which we are not penetrated by any man, ONE FUCKING DAY to rest and heal from MILLENIA of being rape-objects for men, and what that means for us, then perhaps we can talk about penetrating women as a revolutionary act, or even a consensual one. PERHAPS! i would think a few years or even centuries would not be too much to ask, but lets start with ONE DAY. for now, currently, men penetrating women is the status quo. its not revolutionary, at all.

    and thanks for the links doublevez (i think!) warning: NSFW/trigger warning though!!! ugh.

  25. also, it occurs to me that males probably enjoy saying “FREE PUSSY” over and over, and having FREE PUSSY t-shirts etc. FREE PUSSY (riot). FREE PUSSY (riot). i could easily make this into a graphic…..

  26. It’s hard to believe that women who think they are feminists (they talk about Judith Butler, who is barely comprehensible in English, let alone Russian) can’t see that degrading themselves by presenting their asses to their controllers in public is just another retrogressive show of male domination of women. Nothing seems to have changed from the strictly male-dominated avant-garde of the 30s. To see some real feminist art, I hope readers will get the marvelous Phaidon edition of ”Art and Feminism”, edited by Helena Reckitt (reprinted in paperback 2006).

  27. And I’ve taken screenshots of your links doublevez, because evidence of men’s disgusting behaviour has a tendency to disappear.

  28. Especially when it involves rape.

  29. I have a slightly different essay version from yours. Mine has hot links. :). But I got mine the same place you got yours. 🙂

  30. Yes, screen shots are good, and I have my copies of all this off the internet and off my computer.

  31. What kills me is that I am getting attacked by people, simply because I say they are not feminists.

    Their closing statements could be described as brilliant, inspiring, revolutionary – but not feminist. Their name is not feminist, and their actions are not feminist.

    To call them feminists detracts from truly powerful and revolutionary feminist women like Dworkin and Lierre Keith.

    Their punk prayer was awesome, but they are not feminist icons.

    They are just very brave pawns in sick misogynist games being played inside a sick misogynist culture.

  32. FCM – you’re so right about people liking the name Pussy Riot. I have a handmaiden friend who kind of wants to be edgy and slightly feminist, but is still totally male-oriented and needs to be seen as sexy – and she has jumped on the cause, and she obviously likes using the word pussy in her statements about it.

    It’s really disappointing to think that women I know are kicking up pussy-pun stinks about this dire situation in order to appear ‘cool’.

  33. are there any actual reasons being given as to WHY PR’s politics are said to be sexual politics, aka. feminism, and why they should be regarded as feminists, aka. advocating for womens liberation from male dominance? and whats the controversy about this post, where we have to take screenshots of our sources in order to be believed? whats at issue?

    feel free to drop links to those discussions here.

  34. Reblogged this on The Stray Bulletin and commented:
    Interesting.

  35. Absolutely sickening. I just knew that when the popular entertainment and music channels covered this something wasn’t right. I immediately doubted the “feminist” title of the pussy riot fiasco when I saw: 1. The name “pussy riot and 2. Mainstream media was actually covering it. And now I know my doubts are justified. I had to read some parts over to get my mind to comprehend the woman-hating, sadistic acts committed by Voina.

  36. I heard about this story in the news here where Pussy Riot was referred to as a ‘feminist band’. Even if I felt delight at seeing the courage of these young women speaking out against religion, I knew just with the name that this had nothing to do with serious feminism. And then that…Thank you for the story! The sad things is that girls who could be interested in feminism may Google them and see all the woman-hating stuff and distance themselves from feminism… or think they have to submit themselves to such woman-hating acts in order to prove that they are liberated. Feminism has been so co-opted that being liberated now includes submitting yourself to any man-designed sexually degrading acts that have nothing to do with female pleasure, or dignity, or safety, or rights – quite the contrary – but only serve to enhance men’s sense of superiority.
    The thing with the chicken, WFT!?!? Since when ‘a woman having the right to do what she wants with her body = feminism’ has become ‘a woman shoving things in her vagina (and hurting herself in the process) for a laughing male audience = feminism’?? Choice looses its meaning after the porn brainwashing…
    Thank goddess for radical feminism!!

  37. im sure the men felt they were being really progressive, eating a chicken that came out of a womans vagina too. after washing it thoroughly im sure! of course, none of them probably bothered to wash it before it went in to her vagina, or think about that at all. nor the fact that its impossible to do this safely bc of risk of salmonella infection (among others) and vaginal injury.

  38. I haven’t seen any discussions about the controversy of this post, but I would assume that it’d be something to do with people believing that we are criticizing the women themselves… for not being radical enough perhaps..? When clearly when you read it properly this is not the focus of the post at all. The focus is to analyze *why* these women have garnered so much attention.

    I’ve just written this comment at my blog which touches on some of dynamics at play here, and why my first instinct was to be suspicious when I heard about these “liberated, brave women”.

    “I clearly remember, when I lived in RUssia, seeing a large group of old women with posters on the main street in St Petersburg. On the posters were written the words “Bring Back Stalin” (or words to that effect). Their point was that, under Stalin, they had been guaranteed pensions and other forms of social security… whereas under Putin’s capitalism they are now guaranteed nothing.

    Imagine! Declaring that living under STalin was preferable to living under Putin. And those women were old enough to have actually lived under STalin’s regime.

    Do you know what the reaction was? Were they thrown in jail? Turned into dissenting heroines? No. They were ridiculed and laughed at. The natural response towards anything women do, when it is not backed up by men. None of those women had any men with them, they were extreme dissenters… and yet not a peep about it in the media.”

    It’s fairly easy to be liberated and brave if you’ve got male backing, or indeed, when you’ve got males directing your every move from behind the scenes.”

  39. In other words, they are brave, no doubt about it, but as has already been said, the media is being disingenuous when it insists on calling them “feminists”

  40. Another thing that is really confusing me is why they chose to focus on the church.
    During the communist regime, which lasted for over half a century, the church was completely wiped out. It was illegal to be religious and churches were turned into museums. In other words, the Church no longer has the same kind of hold over its people as, say, the Catholic Church in Ireland. When communism collapsed, the church did move in to fill the spirtual vacuum that appeared to have been created… but even so it remained a fairly weak establishment after the communists obliterated it and will never recover.

    I’m just curious, really. What is it, specifically, about the Church that made Pussy riot turn their attentions in that direction, when it really has so very little power? When Russian oligarchs are ripping up the countryside for profit, when human rights activists are being shot left right and centre, when environmental activists get beaten up for speaking out, when there is an ongoing war in Chechnya, and yes, when Putin has an iron grip over the country. But most of all, when pornography is rife there and rapes are sky high.

    Why focus on the church?

  41. Hello, I live in Russia and I have been involved in activism here for several years. First I want to thank you for this article, for going against this idiotic bandwagon that everyone’s jumped on so quickly. There are a few Russian cultural things people need to understand to figure out why Pussy Riot doesn’t deserve any more attention.

    First and most importantly, Russia’s youth suffers from a major case of amoral nihilism. They have grown up totally immersed in a world where nobody cares about anybody else, and it seems like everyone is trying to screw you. Girls are taught that they need to marry some man who will become a provider, so it’s important for them to be pleasing to men above all else. It is totally acceptable in Russia for a woman to say she wants to marry a rich man, a particular foreign man, etc. On the flip side of the coin, young men are aware of this, and seem to exhibit a knowledge that at some point, a woman will manipulate them into marriage. Hence I have heard many complaints from a number of women, young and old, about young boyfriends(18-early 20s) who seem to have a stronger interest in some hobby as opposed to sex.

    Prostitution is pretty much considered fine by everybody, including women. Years ago I tried to explain to some women how prostitution effects their lives and relationships with men, and they treated the concept as though it was some kind of revealed knowledge from Mars; it was simply unimaginable. In society at large, it is not considered terribly unusual for married men to utilize prostitutes. Rape, sexual harassment, women trafficking are all topics which are not routinely brought up at all unless they are being blamed on foreigners, Caucasians, or Central Asian immigrants- the favorite targets of nationalists. (As a side note, such nationalists are very influential in the same opposition movement which supports Pussy Riot. I have even seen Neo-Nazi flags at opposition rallies.)

    So that’s the nihilism part of the equation. The other important Russian cultural aspect here is mimicry. Post-Soviet Russia has many movements and sub-cultures which basically mimic things they see in the west. The problem is, they often have a very faulty understanding of the thing they are copying. This is why you have an “opposition movement” full of many liberal hipsters trying to copy Occupy, yet almost totally devoid of Occupy’s criticism of capitalism or class issues. While other Occupy-style protests around the world were arguing about the wealth divide between poor and rich, as well as other issues like racism, Russia’s pathetic knock off included supporters of oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov and racist nationalists. Indeed many of Russia’s liberals see no problem with the inclusion of radical nationalists in their movement. Put simply, they don’t understand the thing they are slavishly copying. This is likely to be a factor in the case of Pussy Riot. They decide they want to be feminists, but they have a poor understand of what feminism is or what women in the West face every day(there is a typical Russian idea that anything in the West is better).

    The burden of proof is on Pussy Riot(or more accurately their supporters) to provide proof of their feminism. Simply labeling oneself something doesn’t count. And we have to factor in these actions they did with Voina as counter-evidence toward that claim.

    Lastly, let me say something about the Church. Contrary to common belief, religion was not banned in the USSR. It experienced crack-downs at certain times, but in other times it received favors, particularly during the Great Patriotic War. Personally I think it was a mistake to go easy on religion, especially the Russian Orthodox Church. The other religions in Russia, such as Islam, Judaism, Tibetan Buddhism, etc. had no links to a modern state, let alone an imperial state- that is to say that the Russian Orthodox Church was the foundation of the Russian Empire. One of the most infuriating things about Pussy Riot is that they didn’t even have the guts to insult the church. When they were charged with a more serious crime they groveled before the Church and made it seem like they were believers who were just very upset about Putin “corrupting” Orthodoxy. It’s nonsense; that church was re-built under Yeltsin, and Putin cannot corrupt what is already corrupt to the core.

  42. Thank you very much for that detailed and informative comment Arslan!
    It pretty much answers all my questions. I threw my thoughts out to the universe and answers were provided.

    Thanks for setting me straight on the fact that religion wasn’T completely banned. I thought it was because young RUssians had told me so (teachers too) when I asked them about it. I have to say I was fairly surprised to see 20 year olds embracing religion and wearing religious symbols as necklaces… because in Western Europe, at least, religion is generally the preserve of elderly women.

  43. I’m in my early 20s and here in the West religion is not a big deal anymore, it’s widely accepted that the church are bastards and psycho puritans. There has been a huge agenda of politicians, writers, philosophers, rockstars, whoever had a public voice, speaking up agains the church – and that sponsored by the patriarchy for a reason. You can speak up against the church here in the West and you’ll be supported by many patriarchs at the top and by many people, if not most, and this is traditionally a deeply Catholic country (Spain), but still, it’s very acceptable and mainstream and cool to criticize and insult the church, but obviously they are not accomplishing this agenda in order to liberate women, they’re doing it because they know religion is on its way out, so they now have to further a new one, the other side of the coin – porn-culture. It is nowadays not acceptable by any means to insult or criticize porn-culture, the messages the media sends about women or porn itself. Lately there has been a terrible liberalization of prostitution and increasingly more and more women are becoming tolerant of it if their male partners use it and thinking of it as a choice for a job.
    That religion and the church havew been and are a massive tool of oppression for women is true, but it’s not the real deal anymore, it’s on its way out. The real deal is still the same ideology, but now morphed into porn. That’s the current dictatorship, you can’t criticize it, whereas you can criticize the church and it’s cool. What is uncool and would make you a social outcast in patriarchy is often what is ruling at that time. I see my life as a woman more threatened by porn-culture nowadays than the church. Of course this is a convulsing time and it could change, so we have to keep the church in line, that’s true. But the tendency on which patriarchy has invested a lot of money and resources, is overthrowing religion because it doesn’t work anymore, and indoctrinating society in porn-culture instead.

  44. I’m not a feminist (I am a woman), I am an anarchist. I like your article, though. Except for the part you label voina as anarchism. It is not anarchism.

  45. i think PR deserves attention, just not the kind its getting — these women are now at risk of extreme male violence and sexualized violence including repeated rapes and possible impregnation while they are incarcerated, even as they have been the victims of extreme male violence and sexualized violence already. as are many incarcerated women on the receiving end of male violence both coming and going. its very weird to see western musicians and artists backing PR as if artistic expression is whats at stake here and no more — like the chilling intent and effect on WOMENS SPEECH that occurs when women are subjected to the misogynistic, patriarchal violence of state control. also of note and deserving of much attention, as noted in this article, is that fact that male-centric anarchist activating harms women and places them in harms way both coming and going. it does not have the same consequences for men. if it did, the men wouldnt do it.

    also, arslan mentions the bad copies and emulations of western culture generally. PR seems to have “copied” western feminism about as well as the pomos and sex-pozzers have — its interesting that this is what is always done with feminism, we see very bad emulations and “copies” (or reversals) that have the opposite intent and effect from the original and that this happens here and everywhere, when the topic is feminism, not just in places who might badly-copy western culture generally. and as karma said above, can anyone even imagine what judith butler must come out as saying when trans-lated into another language, or read through the lens of another culture? the mind reels.

  46. You’re welcome, Cherryblossomlife. The truth is that in Russia, almost every Russian is “Orthodox”, by which they mean they were a cross around their neck. The church has been revising Russian history so that it always holds the moral high ground no matter what period of Russian history it is talking about. Of course Russian history is a major problem for the country’s leaders. The Russian Empire was a failure, post-Soviet Russia is a corrupt madhouse, and the biggest accomplishments ever made here were made under that very regime the current regime needs to demonize, if ever so carefully. Their response seems to be to keep young people ignorant of the past in general. I was shocked to find out that teenagers are being taught that Russia’s problems today were caused by the Revolution of 1917, which “set Russia back.” The truth is the exact opposite, but the youth have no idea. Nihilism rules the young. As I said, Pussy Riot and Voina are products of that.

    Also, I too am skeptical about Voina’s “anarchism.” They are probably as anarchist as Pussy Riot are feminists.

  47. FCM, yes there is definitely a parallel between what Arslan is saying the Russians do with western ideas in general and what people do to feminism all the time. (erase it, badly-emulate it, or simply reverse it to serve some other group’s needs).

    Arslan, you’d know better than me, but “corrupt madhouse” was what I saw when I was there too.

    Sanja, the Western (US and European) media has been referring to them as anarchists, which I take to mean a group of people who have combined left-wing and liberal ideologies (in some form or other) and taken them to extremes. If they destroy property to demonstrate their contempt for “the state” then they fit this description pretty well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something had been lost in translation along the way.

  48. also, to rephrase my question above, what do doublevez’s links show us to be true that people — including other radfems apparently — are denying? i followed the links. i saw photographic evidence of voina’s porny exploits. are people saying this never happened? or that the people in the pics werent really there? or what?

    the thing about “lets have PIV/PIA/PIM everywhere” being a part or sum of your “activism” and then filming or photographing your activism is that you are creating porn. if you have political objections to porn, or are triggered by it or whatever, you cant even properly research this issue because to see what voina does is to see porn. and they are specifically excluding raped women, currently and exited prostituted women, radical feminist women, conservative women, and women who object to porn and/or cannot view it for whatever reason from participating in their “revolution” arent they? and including only those women who ARENT triggered by it or DONT find it objectionable. ie. it does not center women or even include many or most of them and cant! this is a serious problem. and i do object to people saying that manarchists arent “real” anarchists. wouldnt it be more accurate to say that anarchism fundamentally disregards and perpetuates womens sexed reality because its designed to do that, as are all male-centric ideologies? radical feminism is the only one that centers women.

  49. Radical feminism is the only political ideology that does not erase, invisibilize and/or trivialize women’s labour and women’s reality.

  50. There are Western so-called anarchists peripheral to our movement who are justfiying this, calling our stance on this ‘intellectually dishonest’, and making other Voina supportive statements. See Rancom.FB.

  51. Cherry Blossom. We saw that erasure this year in Canada, when the unofficial official left, the New Democrats, stood en masse in parliament to deny prostituted women inclusion in the (such as they are) protective legislation. They stood against MP Joy Smith’s bill that would have broadened the definition of ‘exploited’ to include more than fruit pickers and trafficked women, iow, our native women on the streets, and other marginalised women. In effect what they did was support the brothel law being challenged at the time, which was successful. Recently Smith’s changes to the Bill did go through, with the support of the ND party, but the message was clear: men’s political strategizing before women’s safety. It wasn’t a good time to stand for it in the spring when they were having leadership changes. Nor did they want to support Smith, a conservative MP.

  52. im also not saying that this article is poorly researched, quite the contrary. ive just noticed some potential and actual barriers to knowing the truth about PR, its connections to voina, and about researching and understanding voina and (m)anarchism in general, and how it affects women. and how specifically patriarchal these barriers are, and 2 of those have come out in the comments of this post. one is the issue of anonymity, where the members of PR are anon — LIKE WOMEN ALWAYS ARE all the time. historically, womens problem is not that their identities are known, but that women are not allowed to have identities at all, not even in their own homes. this is largely acheived by making women change their names, and taking on their fathers surnames, erasing their identities and making them difficult to find by people who actually care about them. in this way, the women of PR are made more vulnerable in some ways that the men are not, as i mentioned above. and in this way, the anon component of anarchist activiating reproduces womens patriarchal problems, rather than solving them. it does not do that for men. the second mechanism is the porn issue. men sticking their dicks into women reproduces womens patriarchal problems, it does not solve them. its also unethical and problematic that *only* women who are able to physically tolerate looking at porn will know what manarchists actually do. luckily, there are some radical feminists with a high tolerance for that, so that they can report back to the rest of us. but beyond even that (the outsiders perspective) what other revolutionary movement requires that of its members? to be physically able to tolerate looking at porn and accepting pornographic imagery? WTF?

  53. rancom deleted that convo doublevez.

    BTW i am experiencing some thought-termination around this issue. thinking through all of this is like working through mental molasses.

  54. Arslan, THANK YOU so much for that explanation! I really appreciate the time and thoughtfulness that’s inherent in your writing. Between Arslan’s post and this post in general, we get accurate reportage. Too bad mainstream media couldn’t be bothered, but I sure as hell can’t say I’m surprised.

  55. “Radical” modern art is just as susceptible as the previous 5000 years of art to misogyny, objectification of women’s bodies, exclusion of women artists, limitation of female artists to young, attractive women, use of pornography for sensationalism and publicity, and so forth.

    As several commenters have discussed, Pussy Riot calls itself feminist. (The Huffington Post calls it “radical feminist” which it is not.) Radical Feminism will take exception to the facts that its spokesman is Tolokonnikova’s husband, that it is an offshoot of the misogynistic Voina, and that its “feminism” is sex-positive. I would respectfully suggest this to them and to all “feminist” bands: to make your work radical feminist, do not objectify your own bodies, don’t consider the male gaze, don’t involve men, don’t limit your members to the young and attractive, don’t use sex for sensationalism, and don’t degrade women generally in making your musical or artistic statements. As fcm points out above, don’t be anonymous unless you have to be for safety; take credit for your work. That’s revolutionary. I have seen a lot of “ironic” uses of non-feminist attitudes in contemporary feminist art; obviously, irony is only possible if the underlying stance is non-ironic, that is, free of male control. It’s just another complication to overcome, that feminist work has to think its way through all the molasses, with new issues of sexism, control, and misogyny popping up with each new day.

  56. “take credit for your work.”

    umm… it was me that pointed out the name thing 😉

  57. Ashland Avenue,

    I don’t think it’s case of mainstream media not bothering to report it properly. I think the obfuscations have been created on purpose, because as the article points out:


    the media is complicit with the men from Voina. It protects the anarchist’s individual impunity, and more generally, furthers all men’s interest in promoting rape and women-hating propaganda. It also prevents women in general from identifying men’s sexual violence and the harms of the penis as the primary agents of our oppression. It distracts and disgusts women away from feminism. What kind of dignity and respect for our movement can women have if the only models of resistance given to us by the media are those to be seen by millions of men as humiliated, soiled and degraded in this way? “

    We should not underestimate how much the media strives to depress women’s spirits, and that this is often the main motive behind any reporting. That’s why Sheila Jeffreys coined the term “malestream” media. As women, we sometimes don’t realise how much energy patriarchy/men need to expend in order to keep us down. Erasing or ignoring our achievements is one way they do this, but another way they do it is to report, with a salacious thrill, on political, liberated “feminist” women getting locked up in jail.

  58. knowing that women are under the COMPLETE domination and control of sadistic misogynists while in state custody — and many, many of us are — gives men as a class a collective boner. reporting on individual cases gives them that extra tickle. it is absolutely nauseating. and it has a chilling intent and effect on ALL WOMEN.

  59. Absolutely. The politics are peripheral to this, really. Pussy Riot women in jail gives men boners, which is a good enough reason to report on it. Call them feminists, extra boners points. Call them *radical* feminists, and… women have been completely colonized and destroyed.
    Thankfully they’re not radical feminists though.

  60. And I’ve just realised what else it does. It makes Western men look like the GOOD GUYS LOL

    The ole “aren’t you wimmin lucky you don’t live in Saudi Arabia… or Russia… now shut the fuck up and stop complaining about your own men.”

  61. TO clarify in case I’m misquoted:
    I said “thankfully they’re not radical feminists” *not* because it would be worse if radical feminists were in jail, but because it would be a disaster if even radical feminists believed that kow-towing to porn culture would liberate us from men. Thankfully, radical feminists resist it, is what I meant.

  62. I am curious about the stated aims of the actions. What were they trying to accomplish with all the porny weirdness?

  63. The cockroaches on the woman’s stomach described here were indeed on that of a Pussy Riot member, namely Nadezhda Tolokonnikova who is often called the lead member.

  64. Ukrainian group FEMEN cuts down cross with a chainshaw to show support for Pussy Riot (toplessly, of course):
    http://femen.livejournal.com/220299.html

  65. I followed both links and viewed/watched the material. And I don’t think there is any doubt these guys were basically making their own gross, icky porn, and that they were doing it knowingly. In the museum ‘orgy’ it struck me that almost all the women had forced smiles plastered onto their faces no matter what the men were doing, whilst the dudes were there with looks of intense and serious concentration. And yeah, that’s a porn thing. The woman has to be seen to ‘enjoy’ whatever is happening no matter how painful or degrading it is.

    In the chicken video, a group of men erect a cardboard barrier around the woman – presumably to stop the security cameras seeing what they’re doing, rather than to protect the woman’s privacy – and then keep popping their heads over the top of it to watch her like it’s their own private peep show or something. The whole porn-performance aspect is also furthered by the fact that the woman’s vagina is completely shaved.

    In light of these activities, it seems that some are now trying to say that this is not ‘real’ anarchism or that these men are doing it wrong and other ‘proper’ anarchists do not behave like this, but anarchism is always a movement that has been extremely sexist. That’s what it is, not accidentally or out of a lack of enlightenment or something, but because men in the anarchist movement knowingly and cleverly draw women in with promises of revolution and freedom and then exploit and abuse them for their own enjoyment and convenience.

    This is not new, it has been going on for more than a hundred years, as evidenced by the case of a woman like Emma Goldman. Goldman was amazing – she was incredibly brave and intelligent and she accomplished an amazing amount in her lifetime, but I would argue she did this in spite of the woman-hating in the anarchist movement and not because of it. She was in an ‘open relationship’ with fellow anarchist Alexander Berkman, but what this translated to in reality was Berkman living with Goldman and having numerous affairs with other women, whilst she disliked the whole situation. Instead of realising this was because of the exploitative tactics underlying Berkman’s behaviour, Goldman blamed herself for not being ‘enlightened’ enough to accept his behaviour, and for not wanting to make herself sexually available to multiple men.

    As usual, if a woman has a problem with whatever brand of misogyny the man is pedalling, then she is the one who is being unreasonable.

    Thinking about the imprisonment of the PR women, and the multiple ways this is going to impact on their lives forever, is difficult. First of all, even aside from the general dangers of violence and abuse in the prison system, they will probably be targeted for extra harsh treatment specifically because of their involvement with this leftist movement. The highly sexualised nature of the movement, and the part women play in it, will be used to justify rapes and other abuses by the prison guards and whoever else wants a turn – they are slutty women who are always up for it with ‘their’ men, therefore they ‘deserve’ to be raped by the other side as well.

    Meanwhile, the leftist men will be safely on the outside grooming new female recruits to degrade and exploit themselves, who down the track will also possibly be encouraged to challenge the authorities and subsequently go to prison for the good of the movement.

    Any abuses that the PR women suffer in prison will be used by the leftist men to justify their cause to women – you know, when these women finally get out, having been mentally and physically brutalised, with notoriety and stigma attached that means they will most likely not be able to get normal jobs and support themselves – they will be more dependent than ever on these leftist men for ‘kindness’ and ‘protection’; and these leftist men will say, see, look how this evil conservative system has ruined your life and thank god you still have me to look after you, cos what would you do otherwise? And then it will be back to the porn videos and business as normal. And even if the women do start to realise it’s bullshit by then, what can they do? They will be shunned by the mainstream and will have to rely on these abusive men for whatever ‘protection’ they decide to give, which will be contingent on the women’s continued submission to male dogma.

    Honestly, I understand why a lot of women are having trouble wrapping their head around this and thinking about all of the many implications, because it is just so horrific, and so cold, and so calculated, and so very, very hateful.

  66. So many good points there Weirdward.

    In Loving to Survive, Dee Graham coins the concept of “societal Stockholm syndrome”, where she points out that the repercussions of surviving a hostage-type ordeal manifest differently in men and women.

    When men are released by their captors, their ordeal is over, and they begin to heal.
    WHen women are released by their captors, the hostage situation follows them. They cannot ever escape male violence. It is in their homes, it is everywhere around them; it is patriarchy.

    That’s why it’s never a good idea for women to join male-led movements, such as the anarchist movement because, as FCM points out, the consequences of doing so are drastically different for both sexes. Kind of like the fact that the repercussions of PIV are drastically different for both sexes, I guess. (Most women are in denial about that one too.)

  67. One couple, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and her husband, I believe, have contrived some connection with Canadian citizenship (tentative, one has/one doesn’t, something) which I believe was done to try to give them Canadian gov protection while they pursue their careers as ‘artists’ in Russia. We haven’t heard the end of it yet. As you can imagine, they are supported by the left and trendy here. It’s not going to be enough because the Russian community here is not left, and will ostracize them.

  68. Reblogged this on Exiled Stardust and commented:
    Everyone in the world should read this.

  69. Of all the anarchist groups I have known, all of them have a history of making porn out of men raping of women, or out of women’s emulation of men raping women (in the case of “lesbian” porn). It’s actually a cliche of anarchism, especially now with the predominance of queer, pro-porn ideology in those spaces

    Also, the aim of showing Russia as the dark and nasty dictatorship locking up heroic “feminist” women is definitely to say to western women “shut up you have it better than them”. Excellent point Cherry! It’s all the more obvious that it’s the Western media that started off reporting it this way.

  70. Yes this theme comes up a lot in the media.
    Western men are the heroes, saving damsels in distress in other countries, and western women have no business fighting for freedom in their own countries when women in Afghanistan are forced to do XYZ etc

    It’s cultural elitism, on the part of Western men, but it’s NOT cultural elitism on the part of western women, because we do NOT say that Russian/Arab/Iranian men are worse than American or European men.

    Quite the opposite.

    We say that all men, no matter their background, are cut from the same cloth.

  71. If we’re radical feminists, that is

  72. and purchasing women from “other countries” as “wives” counts as saving, not harming. MOAR hero points.

  73. Yes when western men buy “Mail order brides” from the Phillipines and Thailand , and visit Russian prostitutes, their motives are altruistic. They’re HELPING WOMEN, don’t you see!
    LOL

  74. Thank you for shedding light on the topic of Pussy Riot, which has been portrayed in the US media, especially the faux-leftist “alternative” news sources, as a female punk band a la the American Riot Grrl bands of the 90s. After watching a few videos, it seems pretty clear that there are no women playing instruments in any of them. The balaclavas and dresses serve as a way to disguise dudes playing guitar and bass. So there are no women in “Pussy Riot,” except until it is time to get arrested of course.

  75. it’s sad how women do not appreciate themselves and how much over-exaggerate men

  76. This is such awesome and important work. Thank you.

    It’s also heartening to see it highlighted on IBTP with the one commenter who whined about linking to transphobes being ignored. Same on the Reddit thread, cries of “transphobes” were smacked down.

  77. wait, are people saying that the musicians of PR are men? interesting.

  78. agreed linda. 🙂 it was nice to see the ad hominems disregarded. perhaps these acts of intellectual honesty will continue? stay tuned i guess….

  79. “perhaps these acts of intellectual honesty will continue? stay tuned i guess….”

    My bubble has burst already. Hoyden About Town are now giving Twisty credit for exposing the misogyny of Voina.

    http://hoydenabouttown.com/20120824.12223/friday-hoydens-pussy-riot/

  80. Linda Radfem, yes, it’s always annoying when people refuse to acknowledge or cite an original source because it was written by a radical feminist.

    The idea for this article, for example, dated 25th of August,
    http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-antigovernment-protesters-jail-time-pussy-riot/24677862.html

    is uncannily similar to that of the POlitkovskaya article on my blog, where I made the point that other dissidents, such as human rights activists, do not receive the same attention as Pussy Riot.

    It is titled: “Media Frenzy Over Pussy Riot Obscures Legal Plights Of Lesser-Known Protesters”

    And, unsurprisingly, in typical malestream style, and in a typical patriarchal reversal, they have twisted it to imply that the “power of the pussy” means that women are more empowered than male activists when it comes to attracting the media’s attention for political causes. They seem to forget that men are the puppeteers behind the media in the first place, which means it is men who get to decide what, and who, ends up on the front page.

  81. Yeah I see what they did there, cherryblossomlife. The undeserving women of Pussy Riot are taking attention away from the poor male activists. We women just don’t know how powerful and privileged we really are.

  82. This is getting ridiculous. A video taken at the Oslo Freedom Forum 2012:

    Quoted from PatriarchyWatch’s blog:

    And now please watch this off-putting, downright strange video of Pyotr Verzilov in May 2012, smugly profiting from his wife’s arrest.

    Look at his body. Look at his face. Listen to the creepy things he says, and the odd way he says them.

    AND LOOK AT THE SHORT VIDEOS HE SHARES OF PUSSY RIOT STUNTS. YOU CAN SEE THAT SOME OF THEM ARE DUDES!!!

    http://patriarchywatch.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/wake-up/

    at 8:07
    “To come back to the Pussy Riot case…it also became a very tragic case and very closely connected to myself because one of the arrested members is my wife Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and also the mother of our 4 year old daughter.

  83. I just want to make a point about the fact that TOlokonnikova and Verzilov have different surnames. When Russian women marry, they will continue to be addressed by their patronymic name (their father’s surname) throughout their lives. In other words they get to keep their maiden name, unlike Western women, and Muslim women.

  84. My bubble has burst already.

    aw, sorry linda! 🙂 that was both fast, and unsurprising (and unsurprisingly fast).

  85. also, i saw that you pointed out hoydens sleight of hand over at twistys, and that one of twistys commenters said something about this post being “actually” posted by HUB Newsfeed. not sure what his actual point was (or if he had one) but was he suggesting that there is, or is there really some ambiguity or plausible denyability here regarding the authorship of this post, or the fact that this is original work published by Radfem HUB? watch the erasure of radical feminists and radfem work happening in real time, and history being rewritten in real time. fascinating.

  86. Men dress up as women for all sorts of reasons, don’t they.
    Sometimes it’s because they prefer peeing in women’s bathrooms rather than men’s; other times it’s so that they can wheel out their wives when the time comes for the police to make arrests.
    The bottom line is: men do whatever the hell they like and women suffer the consequences.

  87. I’m keeping a look out for “shock reveal” news items about PUssy Riot’s connection to Voina, FCM.
    They’re not going to rewrite history on my watch, although I’m sure they’ll try.

  88. I don’t know SaraClue, who pointed this out above, but we can all look at the videos and make up our own minds about whether some or all of the instrumentalists in Pussy Riot are men. If this is true, it adds a whole new level of appropriation and exploitation and brings in a long history in the music world of using impostors, such as the Monkees starting out not playing their own instruments, Ashlee Simpson not really singing on stage, Milli Vanilli, the woman “singer” on the “OPP” video, and many other examples of lying to the public in ways that are more or less forgiveable and often involve exploitation of young people who don’t have the power to stop what’s going on. But this adds one more dimension: by calling themselves “a feminist band” they are laughing at and appropriating the hard-won credibility of bands like riot grrls as well as the work of feminist artists generally. This isn’t performance art or irony, it’s plain old sleaze.

  89. watch the erasure of radical feminists and radfem work happening in real time, and history being rewritten in real time

    I cannot believe that the anti-radfems are trying to erase radfem work again, or maybe I can. I actually have PMs from the young radfem who wrote this starting from the 18 August, unfortunately my computer blew up on the 20th around the same time she sent me the first draft. I actually encouraged her to do a post about this, because the information she encountered was very disturbing. She has done a great job of reporting this, and also the additional analysis of the malestream media etc.

    It could ONLY be radfems to break this story. The sex pozzer libfem types are all down with the pornification of women, so there is nothing very shocking for them to reveal. In fact, it shows grave inconsistencies in their politics if they even bothered reporting the exploitation of these young women as shocking, given the usual libfem spiel is that it is ’empowerfulising’ etc etc. It’s time the libfems woke the fuck up and realised that embracing (one of) the means of female subjugation is not at all ’empowering’, that they are just doing what their masters want. It’s actually time libfems grew up and became actual feminists, instead of the pretending that they are feminists.

  90. He was interviewed on CBC Radio 1 about three days ago. I suggest you keep an eye on it: both Q (a puke-worthy dood vehicle) and The Current are likely ones to monitor. CBC Radio 1 is available on Sirius Satellite Radio and streamed online in Canada (maybe elsewhere). If a radio interview, it will be podcast and MP3 a day or so after.
    http://www.cbc.ca/gsa/?q=Pyotr+Verzilov+

  91. I can’t stand the fact he’s getting all this kudos and publicity out of his wife’s suffering.

  92. I can’t stand the fact he’s getting all this kudos and publicity out of his wife’s suffering.

    I know Cherry. SHE goes to prison and HE goes on an international lecture tour and gets treated like a hero!

    Meanwhile, back in Russia, who is advocating for his wife’s welfare, visiting her, arranging legal representation, making sure the prison authorities know they are being watched so they don’t perpetrate abuses etc. And who is looking after the daughter???

  93. Hopefully one of the grandmothers is taking care of the child.

    I’m disgusted with the western malestream media, and I’m disgusted with the Oslo “Freedom” Forum.

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