We have been watching… The FEMEN girls: eleven plucky activists taking part in a street theater performance mounted in November 2009 to protest sexual harassment of university students by their professors. The metaphor for unwanted sexual attention from teachers is spanking: the girls have been spanked and spanked and spanked again, and as we pick up the story, the twentieth spanking of the day is coming to an end… but the show is going on!
The girls are breaking up their demo at the back. As the Professor releases Natasha, Alexandra presents herself to the Rector and lies down across his knee.
Thrice-spanked Natasha is free…
but it seems thrice-spanked Alexandra is going to be spanked again – but this time with the Rector’s injured right hand!
Kristina presents herself to the Professor with a waggle of her bottom and a tug to ensure that her panties are still tight.
Meanwhile Anastasia lowers herself onto the Dean’s knee – the wrong way up!
The Professor lands a preliminary smack on Kristina’s bottom.
But Olga bravely puts herself into spanking position on top of Kristina.
Meanwhile, Oksana likewise puts herself facedown on top of Alexandra, and Anna makes herself the next tier on the Dean’s lap.
A third layer of girls builds up. Yulianna is now on top of Olga.
Back with the Dean, Anna has unwisely assumed a perfect spanking position on top of Anastasia. But Olesja comes to the rescue!
The Rector manages to get Oksana’s skirt up, but Anjutka piles herself facedown onto the heap – the only time in the performance she goes over anyone’s knee. But it looks as though there’s no room for Evgenia on top.
Finally Natasha leans over Yulianna and the Prof’s pileup is complete.
The sheer volume of girls handicaps the teachers: the intended spankings are defeated by collective action. FEMEN power!
But the teachers keep on trying. Laughing uproariously, the Professor does his best to spank the closest available bottoms, belonging to Yulianna…
Panning right, the Rector has a bigger problem: his arm is pinned down and he just can’t reach far enough to spank those inviting pink panties.
The only damage he can do to Oksana’s bottom is to pinch it. She kicks her legs attractively.
Look at Alexandra. She’s leading the girls in a collective chant of ‘No to the Institute of Prostitution’.
But if you didn’t know that, you might think she was carrying on like a soundly spanked girl!
Look right again, and the Dean is having slightly more success, thanks to the fact that, with only three girls on top of him, he’s slightly less encumbered than his colleagues. Olesja hasn’t chosen the perfect protective position, because it leaves Anna’s lower half still exposed and vulnerable. So the determined Dean starts the spanking:
His main problem is distraction: Anastasia may be out of harm’s way, but there are still two bottoms available to smack.
He pulls Olesja’s skirt up, giving us our first proper sight of her big black panties.
And then she gets her bottom smacked several times more.
It’s a moot point whether that should count as a proper spanking, but there’s not much room for doubt when the Dean’s attention turns back to Anna.
Well might she look panicked, because her skirt is coming up too.
Against all the odds, it’s her third spanking of the day!
And there we are. Three wicked teachers overwhelmed by a gang of pretty girls, their final spanking attempts mostly reduced to near futility. With that, the theatrical event is coming to an end, and the girl bundles have to be dismantled. Natasha gets off the top, but the laughing Professor seizes the chance to give Yulianna one last smack.
The other piles are also coming apart, though Oksana’s skirt takes its time obeying the law of gravity.
Yulianna adjusts her skirt the moment she’s free.
With the other girls off Kristina’s back, the Professor decides to try his luck,
and warms his hands in preparation for warming her seat!
She gathers up her books and makes a speedy escape.
She too adjusts her skirt once she’s upright,
though it has to be said that she’s not all that keen to cover up her allegiance to FEMEN!
And so the performance, and the spankings, are finally over. The girls have really enjoyed themselves (and two of them, Anjutka and Anna, went out of their way to say so on social media afterwards), but they are all a little tired, and many of them are a little sore, too.
The spankers’ chairs are removed. The girls have taken the name cards off the back.
‘Dean’, ‘Rector’ and ‘Professor’ are torn into little pieces and thrown on the ground. The performance is over now, and it’s time for the politics to kick in…
Much of the internet and press reaction to the demo was predictable. Louts called the girls prostitutes and sniggered about taking teaching jobs in Ukraine. Some speculated about how difficult it was to find volunteers to take part, and whether the girls got spanked harder than they had expected. Reporting the protest gave journalists worldwide plenty opportunity for puns, but this example from a Hong Kong newspaper takes the prize:
‘A Ukrainian women’s group says the lesson being delivered in front of the education ministry in Kiev is a slap for authorities, who are failed for turning the other cheek when hit by harassment claims from female students rather than getting to the bottom of them. Main targets of the spanking team are male professors at colleges, said to be in a class of their own for leaving no marks when some girls face exams.’
The papers mainly treated it as an oddball ‘man bites dog’ story: in effect, ‘militant feminists spanked in support of women’s rights’. But it was a lot more sophisticated than that.
The FEMEN of 2009 didn’t subscribe to the joyless Andrea Dworkin school of feminism, which postulates that men demean and oppress women by looking at them with a sexual eye, and that erotic representations of women are the root cause of sexual abuse and rape. Those of us whose kink is (imaginary, fictional) nonconsensual spanking know just how silly that is. So did FEMEN. That’s why snide remarks about ‘trying to put out the fire with oil’ miss the mark. Feminists will never force a fundamental change in men’s sexuality by wearing overalls and scowling. Instead, FEMEN actively celebrated femininity and used their own sexual attractiveness for positive political ends. It was the sexiness as well as the originality of their protest ‘actions’ that helped get them noticed (the spanking protest in particular caught the media’s imagination), with the aim of raising awareness of the issues. And that means it’s time for a message from our benefactresses…
The ‘A-Ta-Ta’ action came about after Vasily Mikhailov, the Rector of one of Kiev’s institutions of higher education, was jailed as a pedophile. The authorities insisted that this was a single, isolated case of sexual misconduct by a senior academic, but the FEMEN girls, many of whom were students, had grassroots knowledge to the contrary: there was a wider problem of sexual harassment by some teachers, and the victims were often too frightened and embarrassed to complain or go to the police, lest they be expelled or thrown out of student housing.
FEMEN’s demonstration was intended to call attention to the problem and demand action from the Ministry. The performance, purporting to show how pretty girls can pass their exams in Ukraine, was a potent metaphor, not necessarily a literal enactment of the cause for complaint: teachers who demand sex for grades are abusing their students, so the spankings made a witty representation of both sides of the coin.
FEMEN were asking the Ministry to set up a formal investigation of the problem, establish an anonymous helpline for victims of abuse and automatically suspend academics from duty should they fall under suspicion. Back to Kiev now to see how they got on…
After shouting some more slogans, the girls attempted to force their way into the Ministry to deliver their demands in person to the Minister of Education. The redhead in jeans on the extreme left is Anna Hutsol, the third co-founder of FEMEN.
They were quickly ejected, much to Olesja’s annoyance in particular.
But about ten minutes after the spanking performance had ended, word came that the Deputy Minister, Taras Finikov, was coming out to speak to FEMEN. Alexandra swiftly decided to turn it into another photo opportunity: she would walk up to Finikov with her bottom exposed to the cameras. But a quick check of her rear aspect revealed disorder in the panty department!
Oksana helped straighten her out, tucking Alexandra’s ‘private panties’ out of sight, and she was all ready to go.
While they waited, it seems Kristina had an idea of her own, which also called for a nice snug bottom.
This time it was Alexandra who helped out.
What Kristina’s going to do will have to wait for a moment, because Finikov is coming out, so it’s time for Alexandra to make her exhibitionistic entrance.
There followed an impassioned discussion between the activist and the politician, who accepted a letter outlining FEMEN’s demands.
According to one observer, the encounter failed as a civilised exchange of views because Alexandra kept interrupting the Minister and the others wouldn’t stop chanting slogans.
The most piquant part of the meeting came when Alexandra insisted on showing him her bottom. ‘Look,’ she seems to be saying, ‘I’ve been spanked!’
What did Finikov think of that?
Well, probably not what it looks like there!
Bottoms continued to be a center of attention elsewhere, too. While Alexandra was busy showing her panties to the Minister, most of the other girls got together for one last photo opportunity, one last shout.
And now we see why Kristina needed her panties straightening out. She ruefully fingers her spanked bottom, then shows it off to the cameras.
The other girls get the idea: Yulianna brings her pink panties into view, and Olesja hitches her skirt up too.
Anjutka too puts a rueful hand on her bottom – even though it was never spanked!
Natasha joins in, sort of,
and as Anastasia’s skirt comes up, we see exactly why the Rector didn’t raise it for her spanking!
Finally Evgenia comes on the scene, and the photographers get a lovely lineup of soundly spanked girls, including three pairs of colorful panties and one bare bottom.
Last of all, Alexandra arrives, fresh from some television interviews, and she leads the girls in a conga line of spanked bottoms.
They were spanked in a good cause. Sexual blackmail by a very small minority of unscrupulous professors may be a problem that disproportionately affects young women, but that doesn’t mean it’s just a ‘women’s issue’: everybody, irrespective of gender, should care about honesty and integrity. Students should be awarded grades in accordance with the quality of their academic work, and if anyone awards or accepts a high grade for any other reason, they are, in plain terms, cheating.
‘I am a 5+ student,’ declares Olesja. Obviously she is – but only because the Professor got to spank her!
FEMEN went on to stage further inventive protests and stunts in the ensuing months and years. The possibility that the Euro 2012 championship might be used as an opportunity for sex tourism and prostitution was highlighted in a mock football match in subzero temperatures. The players included five girls from the spanking protest.
(In the last picture, the girl in the white panties is Olesja.)
During the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election campaign, they handled corruption by stopping motorists and offering to buy their votes in what they called a ‘Sexit Poll’.
One driver misunderstood and drove off with Alexandra’s bottom half sticking out of his car window!
A more frivolous cause for protest was the Ukrainian team’s failure to win even a single medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. For FEMEN were nothing if not patriotic.
The national sporting failure was sardonically marked with ‘Cows on Ice’, a farcical display of winter sports on an ice rink. Here are Alexandra in blue and Evgenia in pink:
Here’s a demo about interruptions to the hot water supply in Kiev: public bathing in their undies!
After the elections returned a more oppressive, less Western government, FEMEN’s activities were more centered on feminist issues in domestic politics, and they were arrested more often – usually under statutes prohibiting public nudity.
In 2011, they protested the sex scandals associated with the then Italian President Silvio Berlusconi… by pelting the Italian Embassy in Kiev with panties. Here you can see how they smuggled their ammo close enough to the embassy: by wearing them!
(That’s Alexandra on the left.)
And as the focus shifted more and more in the direction of nudity, they tried to raise funds by selling ‘boob prints’ in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Oksana went one better and made hers a ‘bottom print’!
How did the ‘A-Ta-Ta’ performance sit in the context of all these protest ‘actions’? At first, it seems, quite well. At the end of the year, FEMEN had a photoshoot commemorating their various protests of 2009, from Alexandra’s bold exploit of throwing a cake at a misogynist writer and the sexy football match, through demos about Google and the swine flu epidemic. (The second girl from the left is wearing underwear made out of protective anti-flu face masks.)
And there dead center is Kristina dressed up in a version of her ‘A-Ta-Ta’ outfit and showing her bottom to the camera yet again. This time she sports heels rather than boots and a different, briefer pair of panties. But the crucial difference is that there’s no Rector to spank her…
So in 2009, it was a show FEMEN felt proud of, and rightly so: biased though I may be, I’d name it as the most tightly conceived and wittily executed piece of protest theater they ever did. But I bet it won’t be restaged in the feature film dramatization of the group’s history that is due to begin shooting in 2020. For latterly, it seems, the show has been forgotten, or even airbrushed out of their collective memory. Maybe that’s because FEMEN is fissile, like all ideologically committed movements. (Think of the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea.) There have been several splits in the past decade, reflecting changes of thinking, strategy and personnel, so the more radical modern FEMEN may well look back in embarrassment on their early escapades like ‘A-Ta-Ta’. But it goes without saying that I’d be delighted to be proven wrong about that!
And what became of the eleven girls?
After trouble with the Ukrainian security forces in 2013, Alexandra Shevchenko and Oksana Shachko relocated to Paris, where Oksana became an exhibited artist; Alexandra is still in France, but, sadly, Oksana is no longer with us. Evgenia Kraizman stayed in Kiev and remained associated with FEMEN, whereas Anastasia Terekh distanced herself from the movement as the group embraced full nudity in their protests and became more radical in their politics. Anna Volokhova also stayed in Kiev for a while, got herself tattooed and did some modeling, before eventually moving to Vietnam. Kristina Novickaya became a professional dancer and model with an international career; at the time of writing she’s no longer blonde and lives in Dubai. Yulianna Lavrenko and Olga Kachanova both settled down to domestic bliss and children. And as for Olesja Kolyucha, Natasha Fomulyaeva and Anjutka Efremova, we don’t know what became of them. But hopefully they are all healthy and happy!
Back in 2009, the spanking leader board reads like this, with the results in the traditional reverse order.
Anjutka doesn’t appear to have gotten spanked at all.
Last place for her!
It’s hard to adjudicate between tenth, ninth and eighth places. Anastasia, Evgenia and Olesja all got just one spanking each, but only Evgenia apparently got it on her panties, which ought to give her the advantage.
But Olesja and Anastasia both got extra smacks, which evens the score a little and will be a useful tie-breaker later, too. Olesja got them on her panties in the final bundle,
whereas Anastasia was smacked by the Rector immediately before her brief skirt spanking, and it was in effect on her bare bottom!
So you’ll have to make your own mind up who goes where in that group. At least it’s clear who belongs in seventh place: with two spankings, one on her panties and one on her skirt, it’s Kristina.
But two girls got two spankings on their panties. Olga comes in at the number six spot.
It was a spectacular show,
But Yulianna pips her into fifth place
by virtue of the extra few smacks she got on her skirt in the closing bundle.
And for the top four we have the girls who each got three spankings. In fourth place comes Natasha,
who got two on her skirt and one on her panties.
The number three position goes to Oksana,
who got two spankings on her panties and one on her skirt.
Anna’s first two spankings were on her panties,
but the third one started on her skirt and finished on her panties, which just secures her second place.
And the winner is Alexandra,
because she got all three spankings on her panties!
After the show, Alexandra was asked if she was cold performing outdoors in November. ‘Not cold!’ she answered; ‘Very hot!’
In every sense!
Note: Two contemporary news reports, including some of the video footage shot during the performance, may be viewed here and here.