FEMEN is a movement that confronts patriarchy with nudity.

“Femen is our attempt at rethinking the history of feminism in its entirety. We believe that if women are left with little more than satisfying sexual desires as a life purpose, then our sexuality must become politicised. We are not denying our potential to be treated as sex objects. On the contrary, we are taking our sexuality into our own hands, turning it against our enemy. We are transforming female sexual subordination into aggression, and thereby starting the real war.” -Inna Shevchenko

I need some education here. I am an old school feminist, maybe even a dinosaur at this point of my life. I confess I am uncomfortable when protest movements use women’s bodies as objects to attack patriarchy. I instantly think of Audre Lordes’ famous dictim, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” But I am also male; so, in the most important sense, what I think doesn’t matter. Still, as an ally, I would deeply appreciate learning from a discussion on the question whether such tactics as “naked jihad” and “slut walks” are expressions of empowerment or internalized oppression.

I realize the most helpful answer probably will not be a “yes” or a “no,” but an analysis of how such tactics help and hurt the movement. As I say, my initial response was skepticism to such tactics, but when I saw that the Femen confrontation of Putin hit such a nerve, and how young Amina Tyler, a 19 year old Tunisian was imprisioned simply for writing a message on her own nude body, I began to suspect that I have some learning to do.

I am saddened when I try to follow this conversation online because male voices quickly crowd out the space for women to reflect on these strategies. So I am requesting a conversation by women only. We males can follow the conversation, but only to respectfully listen and learn. It would be particularly helpful to hear from Muslim women about what this tactic means from their perspective, as much of the protest has focused on Islamic practices.