Would you be willing to take your top off in freezing cold weather for justice? Topless members of the Ukrainian protest group FEMEN showed up at Davos this week to protest the oppression of the poor. Their slogan: “Our God is woman, our mission is protest, our weapons are bare breasts.”
FEMEN have been around since 2008, and the group has a history of showing up at major events and stripping down in protest of whatever’s bothering them: censorship, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, and domestic violence, among other issues.
At Davos, three topless protesters from the group railed against the World Economic Forum by painting their naked breasts and torsos with slogans including “Gangsters’ party in Davos” and “Poor because of you.” “We came here to Switzerland to Davos to explain the position of all poor people of the world, to explain that we are poor because of these rich people who now sit in the building,” protester Inna Schewcenko told the AP.
Obviously these methods are … unorthodox. And in some ways, the women are easy to dismiss. They’re conveniently slim and pretty, and they’re not behaving in a way that’s likely to get them invited inside. But they are also impossible to ignore. Like it or not, beautiful women have a way of attracting attention to protest movements. See also: Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street, and various “protest babes” around the world.
But the women of FEMEN do more than attract news photographers like moths to a flame. These women are performing something like a primal scream. They’re rabble-rousing and disrupting, and confronting the staid masculine atmosphere at Davos with something wild and feminine and, well, dangerous. There’s something to admire there, even though I also want to tell them put on a jacket already.