The Body as a Women’s Prison

FEMEN + my body my rules

There is nothing more decent than nudity. But when hypocrisy hooks its claws into us and transforms the body into an elaborate women’s prison, it is really time to move in the opposite direction.

The men’s locker room at the bakery should scrub. Cleaning trolley rattled and clattered when I pulled it backwards over the threshold. I turned around and one of the bakers was still there.

And if that’s not enough – he was stark naked.

I was young and helpless prisoner behind a shame, hierarchical fear and the uncertainty that too many women drag on for a lifetime – the feeling that the man has right on his side. I was stunned, the head was hot.

The baker’s skin steamed lightly after the shower, and he pulled the towel over his belly. His body, wiry and muscular, radiated confidence. He smiled a little at my fears, but his eyes were serious.

“There is nothing more beautiful than love,” he said and began to dress.

The woman walking alone in the city on the evening do it with hesitation, constantly watched by the eyes that tell her that her very presence is a sexual invitation, that her rights to her own body is far from being obvious.

The situation is worst in the baths. It is also not worse today than it was ten, twenty, thirty years ago. What is happening now is just ripples on the surface of a deep water; women have not occurred their bodies in many hundreds of years in either at home or in public spaces. Laws and tireless feminist work, performed by both women and men, have slowly eased the symptoms but can not cure the disease.

The story is idle.

Even as a little, girl learns that the body is for the man. And because it is not good enough, shameful and inadequate as it is, it must be changed – slimmed, showered, shaved, perfumed, painted, greased. Clothes should hide but highlight; tail should be well shaped, narrow waist, sensual hair, seductive eyes, mouth inviting plump and time constant smile. An auto-erotic ideal harem, where the excitement lays in the ruler’s satisfaction, the man who enjoys his woman.

The woman’s naked body has become a fetish, specifically to the man whose gaze reserved for.

But I’m no one’s woman.

It was different in the finn sauna. There were all naked, nothing was out of the question – men and women, children and adults, obese and skinny alternately. The newly opened birch twigs dipped in water, heated on the benches, spreading the sweetest scent when bathers flicked each other on the back and upper body.

Some rump skump later we throw ourselves into the water, surrounded by the river’s fresh coolness. We floundered on the beach with muddy feet, shared towels and lit a bonfire. Firelight on the naked skin was more decent, more obvious, than any dress can ever be.

Nakedness never shams.

For not so long ago it was common sauna applicable at the public baths around the country. It was very no spectacular, obviously. I myself was never about some oddities; many cast furtive glances at each other but quickly looked away again. But no one wants to be impolite.

Today, men’s and women’s department sauna, and now there is talk even about shared and separate bathing times for women basins. For women have to bathe in peace. If they dare to swim at all.

Compromise is no resort. Going in the opposite direction is the only possible option. So:

Set up common nude bathing in baths. Have finn sauna every day of the week. I’ll gladly offer my antiquated nudity again and again, pushing up my wrinkles in the power-loving male faces until the message got through:

Nudity is unassailable. Only I can own my body.

My body, which in all its functionality and warmth, in its sensibility and strength, it’s a perfect survival machine – it can hunt, run, eat, fight for life. It is the body’s primary function. Sexuality is the secondary – those who do not survive can not keep race on.

But out on the streets is the lone woman still with quick steps and lowered gaze of the evening. Out on the streets blares masked men in a flock of “our women” and use it as an excuse to harass, abuse, hate. She takes a long detour around it all.

For the reason which is behind – it’s not love.


By Katarina Östholm for

Femen Merchandise

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