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25 Synonyms for 'Pussy Riot,' for news presenters who'd really rather not say 'pussy' on-air


What I imagine Wolf Blitzer's facial expression was the first time he read the words "Pussy Riot" off the teleprompter.


Pussy Riot. Image: Denis Bochkarev

The outlaw Russian activist organization Pussy Riot reportedly chose their name as a clever troll: one of the group's members said she thought it'd be a way to provide a little fun for English-speakers who followed their story. And she was right. Every time I see CNN's Wolf Blitzer say "Pussy Riot," or hear a dry NPR anchor's voice intone those two words, I think I'm going to die laughing. Pussy Riot finally managed to do what generations of feminists before them could not: they normalized the word "pussy."

But I asked Twitter to help me come up with some more "polite" synonyms for news anchors who still wince when they have to say the p-word on-air. Here's the list, some of which are my own, some of which others must take blame for.

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Cossacks horsewhip Pussy Riot at Sochi

Members of Pussy Riot, including the recently freed women Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were brutally whipped, sprayed and beaten by cossacks representing Russian authorities at the Sochi Olympic Games. The women call the Olympics a political event, and report that they have been harrassed and detained continuously since arriving in Sochi to protest them.

Some other members of Pussy Riot have repudiated Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina and do not consider them to be representatives of Pussy Riot any longer.

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Pussy Riot's Amnesty International press conference

Joly sez, "The good folks at Tom Tom Magazine captured Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina talk about the importance of Pussy Riot's collective structure, being influenced by punk and Riot Grrrl, and a Russia without Putin. February 5th, 2014. Skip to 7:00 for when they start talking. The video begins with Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne, speaking off camera."

Pussy Riot Amnesty International Press Conference at Barclay's (Thanks, Joly!)

Pussy Riot in Putin's gulag: daily forced gynecological exams


When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova walked out of the Siberian prison camp IK-50, they were defiant. The Pussy Riot members said they wanted acquittal, not amnesty, and an affirmation of the right to protest in Russia. Tolokonnikova gave the press a V-for-victory and shouted "Russia without Putin!"

But afterwards, in a phone interview with the Guardian, Alyokhina described the horrific conditions inside, where women were put to slave labor, and where Tolokonnikova faced daily, punitive forced gynecological exams for three weeks.

Pussy Riot has called on western countries to boycott eh Sochi Games in February.

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Pussy Riot members speak

Two members of Pussy Riot have travelled to London under a cloak of secrecy to speak to the press about the plight of their bandmates in Russian labor camps. Laurie Penny was one of the reporters who got to interview them in a small, no-photos press conference:

These girls are young. Very young. For their safety, I can’t say how young, but imagine how young you think they might be. Are you imagining it? They’re about five years younger than that. When they arrived I wondered, for a second, who let a couple of moody work experience kids into a clandestine meeting...

And then there’s the cultural backlash - including sexist attacks on what Pussy Riot stand for. "The simplest example is the idea that there’s a [male] producer behind us, or that we must be being paid by foreign governments - nobody can imagine that women themselves are expressing their opinions!" says Schumacher.

"In the Russian mass media they're saying we're stupid girls, not able to think. Among the orthodox believers, in the media, they tell us to stay at home, do cooking, give birth to children," says Schumacher. "And Masha and Nadya are attacked for not fulfilling their roles as mothers." This last is particularly cruel, because not only is it the Russian state that placed Masha and Nadya in Labour camps far from their children, but both have been denied the usual clemency that allows mothers of young children to receive suspended sentences.

Pussy Riot: "People fear us because we're feminists"

"Free Pussy Riot" lingerie commercial

Blush, a German lingerie company, created a campaign that either co-opts or honors (or both) Pussy Riot, sending a scantily clad lingerie model in a knit balaclava to walk through -15C weather in Moscow holding a FREE PUSSY RIOT sign in order to advertise their clothes and to advertise freepussyriot.org, which legitimately raises money for the defense of the Pussy Riot women who have been sentenced to labor camps for singing an anti-Putin, anti-corruption song in a church.

“Free Pussy Riot” Lingerie Campaign: Appropriate or Appropriation?

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: We are all Pussy Riot

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Becca Tarvin shares this photo of a gang of revelers dressed as Russian art-provocateur-heroes Pussy Riot.

Pussy Riot activists sent to secret harsh labor camps


Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been sent to regions known for hosting Russia's harshest hard-labor camps, places that once served as Soviet gulags. The 24 and 22 year old mothers -- who performed a song protesting the Russian Orthodox Church's connection to the Putin regime in a cathedral -- have been sentenced to two years of hard labor. Though the regions to which they've been dispatched is known, no one -- not even their families -- has been allowed to know exactly which prison-camps they are incarcerated in. The Guardian's Miriam Elder reports from Moscow:

"These are the harshest camps of all the possible choices," the band said via its Twitter account on Monday.

...Confusion reigned on Monday as relatives and lawyers tried to assess exactly where the women were sent. Both Perm and Mordovia host several prison camps, some of which comprised the Soviet-era gulag system. Prison authorities declined to comment on the women's whereabouts.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had petitioned to serve their sentences in Moscow, arguing that they wanted to be close to their children. Alyokhina has a five-year-old son named Filipp, while Tolokonnikova has a four-year-old daughter named Gera.

Pussy Riot band members sent to remote prison camps

(Image: Free Pussy Riot Posters & Designs 07, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from centralasian's photostream)

Pussy Riot solidarity protests: Topless lady with chainsaw cuts down massive crucifix in Kiev

.

More photos here, some NSFW.

(Via Steven Leckart.)


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.

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