Feminism Eastern European Style

by W.F. Price on June 10, 2012

FEMEN is at it again, baring breasts and making noise at male events to attract attention. The Ukrainian women of FEMEN are generally much more attractive than the equivalents here in the Anglo world, because they haven’t yet adopted the sedentary lifestyle of driving everywhere and gorging oneself quickly on supersized meals. This does allow them to attract a fair amount of attention, but to Western observers it is rather puzzling, since our feminists take a decidedly different approach. In fact, it often seems that they are inviting rather than defying men.

The main concerns of FEMEN, as they state, are sex tourism and harassment of students in Kiev. I’ve never been to Kiev, but I imagine it can be a problem there. Certain cities in Eastern Europe have become magnets for a trashier sort of young Western male who, with his working-class paycheck, can really live it up in relatively poor Eastern Europe. When I was in Riga, I saw a bit of this, but Latvia seems to have passed that stage and is slowly converging with the northern European norm.

Ironically, what feminists were agitating for in the straight-laced mid-20th century West has been part of Eastern European society for far longer than it has in the West. Bolshevik policies legalized abortion and no-fault divorce 50 years before the West did the same. Women were also taken out of the home and put to work alongside men from the beginning. Although Bolshevik logic finally led to social and economic collapse, something resembling social equality did arise in the postwar era, and according to what I have heard from those who lived through it, society was fairly conservative and women, although hard-pressed in life to handle both family and work, had fairly decent lives under the protective umbrella of the state.

All that fell apart after the Soviet Union crumbled, and shock-therapy capitalism set off an orgy of prostitution and gangsterism. Ukraine was hit severely, and is still feeling the effects. As one might have expected, the social and work equality of the preceding decades removed men’s incentive to protect the women around them, so white knighting was off the table, leaving Eastern European women to fend for themselves in a much more ruthless world where the government no longer had the means or will to protect them. This led to exploitation on a grand scale, and a culture of “get it while it’s hot” sex for profit. Although I never spent time in Eastern Europe during the worst years of this (I was living in Peking at the time), I did know some Ukrainian and Russian women in China, and it was really a bit sad what they’d been reduced to. To be honest, it was appalling to me, as a very young American who had never seen anything like it before.

So I do have some sense of where FEMEN activists are coming from, and I think I understand their motivation to some degree. Essentially, what they are doing is saying “Look at us! We are beautiful! We are worth more than 50 Euros!” This is far, far different from what Western feminists have in mind.

What happened in Eastern Europe is just more evidence that nothing can really substitute for the family. Replacing men with the state will work for some time, but it isn’t sustainable, and the consequences for women can be harsh on a very wide scale. Sure, men may not be perfectly reliable, but most are good enough. When you put all your eggs in one basket – the state – you’re asking for a major catastrophe when things fall apart. Western feminists are singing a siren song other women would be wise to recognize for the danger it is.

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