“Known for its topless protesters, Femen is a worldwide movement against patriarchy. But are the activists’ breasts obscuring the message?
One day last summer, Inna Shevchenko went into a forest outside Kiev, to learn how to use a chainsaw. The lumberjacks who were instructing her couldn’t work out why she was so keen. “They thought I was just a crazy blonde,” she says, shaking her white curls. “I was acting like: ‘Oh really?'” She affects a coy, clueless demeanour. “‘That’s how you do it? Great!'”
The next day she went to a hilltop overlooking Kiev, and stripped to a pair of red denim shorts, worn with heavy boots, leather gloves, and a mask to protect her eyes. The Pussy Riot verdict was due that day, and in tribute to the Russian punk activists – and to mark her opposition to all religions – Inna proceeded to chop down a 13ft wooden cross that had been there since 2005. Despite her preparations, it wasn’t easy. “When I started to cut it, I thought, ‘it’s not possible to destroy it,'” she says. But after seven minutes it fell, and she posed against the stump for invited journalists. With “Free Riot” scrawled across her bare breasts, she held out her arms to mirror the figure of Christ now lying on the ground.”
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