Free Pussy Riot [Jasmina Tesanovic]


I used to say, "This will not be my war anyway" to my daughter, to my young colleagues, and friends feminists or not: to girls.

We fought in the seventies eighties nineties for freedom of choice, for divorce, for contraception, for women's human rights, against domestic violence, for peace in the world. We fought incessantly, ruthlessly, risking our careers, our private lives, our security and normality. And we accomplished a lot, all over the world; in Italy, in Serbia, in USA, name it.

The second wave of feminism was standing on the shoulders on the suffragettes from the beginning of the 19th century, who often gave their lives for women's rights. Then I got tired, and not me only. The world took a bad turn, not only in Serbia during the nineties, but everywhere after September 11!

The Globalization of Balkanization put at stake all the conquests of women and not only of women: terrorism, and raging war on terrorism, brought us police right-wing technocrat dystopian states where human rights became just another word for nothing left to lose. I told my young girls then: you must fight it now, this is your world, the one we inadvertedly left you. Learn how much you have inherited from your grandmothers, don't take it for granted because you are may well lose it, step by step, bit by bit. To the church, to the state, to the financiers.

Proof of this new world we are living in is the conviction of the punk Russian band Pussy Riot, convicted of blasphemy against Russian church and state, sentenced to two years of prison because of an art performance in a church. Of course, if women dared to protest in a Moslem mosque, a harsh repression would be “normal,” but since this event happened in a Russian Orthodox church, there are still voices all over the world who link this new repression to past violations of civil rights. Easy to link Putin to Stalin, but what about many long centuries of Christian culture-war and land-war, burning heretics and witches, torturing their dissidents and scientists, and Catholic-Protestant land-wars convulsing Europe for a century? And for that matter, what would happen to American punk artists invading a Mormon Tabernacle to insult Mitt Romney? Would they escape unscathed?

Two of the Pussy Riot activists sentenced to prison are mothers of small babies. World stars like Madonna, Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney have written open letters and petitions for their liberation. Even Putin, the old new Russian leader the main target of their protest performances, expressed his hope that they wouldn't get the maximum sentence of three years. So, they got two years.

They have already even in the slammer for six months; but they have achieved the world fame for their act and their bravery. One wonders if they will be forced into exile, in the style of Taslima Nasreen in the 1990s, or the Russian dissident political artists and scientists of the 1970s. Does this evergreen usual method of uprooting the rioters, so as make them inoffensive in another country, in another language, still work in today's globalized world? Nowadays being forced into exile can make a domestic discontent even more incendiary.

Thanks to the Internet, to the globalization of the activism, music, culture and politics, there is hope for the Pussy Riot girls, if not for their country, Russia, and their fussy sultan, Putin. Putin is one of the best friends of Berlusconi, and the third member of the gang was Ghadaffi, now dead and gone with all his harem. Only a couple of years ago, these three notably macho world leaders would meet in their fancy villas to congenially plot another world order, along with their accompanying harems of Italian showgirls, Libyan female bodyguards, Russian siloviki astronaut spygirls, and so on. Their women were chattel, though often in uniform instead of burqas. The Pussy Riots girls wear red balaclavas when they perform as punks, as rioters -- as those who just won't have any of those new-old fashioned ways of “women and children” first: meaning women as the first sent to the slammers.

Their name is not vulgar, it is provocative; the red of their masks is not Communist, it's the color of blood; their personal story is not private, it is political; and by now they do not stand only for Russia but for a a generation of young women, visible or invisible, wrapped in chains of this new age which wants to destroy “bad girls”.

Whatever they do, they are doing it in my name too!

(Image: @tom_watson)

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    1. They’ve already been sentenced.  There is no way donating to their lawyers is going to change their sentence.

  1. What a great statement of HUMAN LIBERATION!  I applaud PUSSY RIOT and their tactics.

    In fact, I think it’s time someone opposes the unjust and interminable oppression of the Palestinian people, by a STATE that aligns itself wholly with one religion and ethnicity. 

    I think taking over a synagogue by a heavy-metal bondage girl-group, hurling obscenities and religious intolerance at their unappreciative audience of unappreciative, religious ART HATING Jews is the way to really create a statement and forge the solidarity of international sisterhood resistance to oppression!  Mock the books and rituals of this state-sponsored patriarchy! Defile the supposed “holiness” of their sanctuary!

    What?  You mean that’s not the same thing? Oh, sorry.

  2. Bare chested macho man, Putin (like Paul Ryan) is afraid of 3 young women. Both consider themselves the epitome of their nation’s manhood (because they’re both delirious and sociopathic). Why are so many men afraid of women? Afraid to the point of punishing them and denying their rights and equality. Why?

  3. Perhaps you should read about the actions of their anarchist affiliation Voina before claiming they act in your name:
    http://radicalhub.com/2012/08/20/pussy-riot-whose-freedom-whose-riot/
    Not all female dissent is inherently feminist.

    The men who have abused the human rights of Pussy Riot are not just in the Russian state. Be suspicious. The circus surrounding this case is not because of a concern for feminist expression, it is because they are three young, attractive women in a band named Pussy Riot.

    Where was the outraged media coverage for Anna Politkovskaya?
    http://cherryblossomlife.com/2012/08/21/in-memory-of-anna-politkovskaya-the-woman-who-frightened-the-russian-state/

  4. Not sure why everyone feels the need to talk shit to pile on top of the two years of forced labor these women are sentenced to… or the guilt by association by claiming they’re the exact same thing as Voina.  Something’s fishy about all this noise.

    The more I read the comments the more I become convinced there’s some warehouse full of people being paid to plaster every comment section on the internet with authoritarian bullshit.

    1. The intention is to question why the West is paying so much attention to Pussy Riot under the guise of female liberation (as well as free speech) but neglects to do so when the subjects are not young, conventionally attractive females who make good use of sexual provocation in self-sabotaging political stunts. It’s analogous to the ‘Slutwalks’, in this sense.

      It’s possible to do this and also believe they should never have been arrested. But anything other than a simple treatment doesn’t seem nearly as popular, because people don’t actually give a fuck about the state of female liberation.

  5. I am really interested in this point: “And for that matter, what would happen to American punk artists invading a Mormon Tabernacle to insult Mitt Romney?”

    In the country where I live, we DO have a blasphemy law. And you can get a three-years sentence for that. It’s rarely put in effect. Still, I would think there would be serious consequences if you, e.g. would dance around with masks the altar of a church as a form of political protest. Therefore, they’d dub the three “rioters” unforgiven – and the media circus here is BULLSHIT squared.

    But what about the US?
    I guess it would be an official outrage to dance on the altar of any church in the US, but what about the law? And what about, let’s say, three feminists with masks protesting by singing a punk version of, you know, “O! thus be it ever, when freewomen shall stand…”?
    Imagine maybe Lady Gaga, Madonna and Yoko Ono doing that.  Just in front of a Mormon temple against Mr. Romney’s views on abortion (which I don’t know about in detail, mind…)?

    Now, anyone with a degree in law who can seriously comment on that?
    I know your (and the british) system work differently than our codified law – but could you be so kind to enlighten me if there is a precedence to this hypothetical situation?

  6. Blasphemy laws are a red-herring.  The issue is bigotry and freedom.

    Supposing it were “anti-semitic” to protest like this in a synagogue, why is it NOT a hate-crime to do so in a Russian church?

    1. Well, if you completely ignore that the protest might actually be about something, that might make sense. But it’s just a straw man argument. If a synagogue were actively colluding with the government to bring about totalitarianism, the protest wouldn’t be antisemitic.

  7. I’m less than thrilled that the illustration uses a nickname for my genitalia to connote “Coward”.

    Man up! Sack up! Have some balls! = strength, courage.

    What a pussy! Bitch out (as in losing one’s nerve). = weakness.

    Sigh.

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