From Belarus, With Love

Dear ‘Pussy Riot’ and ‘Femen’,

 

First of all, please don’t be insulted that I am addressing both of you as if to one. I thought that we could just talk as women for a moment then go on our busy way. I don’t even expect you to reply, I completely understand that changing the world takes precedence to talking to me just because I am a woman.

 

Since I’ve started, let me just say that I’m so happy to meet you, even if only ‘virtually’. It’s not just that I have heard so much about you but thanks to YouTube, I’ve been so fortunate as to have done some seeing too. I totally got the hint that the ‘seeing’ bit is pretty important for both of you what with your staged poses, so model-like, bright colours and/or bare breasts. Maybe even more important than hearing you, your voices, your words. I totally get it.

 

Now why am I writing this letter?

 

I’ve been trying to figure out if Belarus feels a little left out not being included in the whole ‘radical feminist’ (excuse the phrase) scene and I thought you could help. Russia’s got you, Pussy Riot, and Ukraine has/had/still nostalgic over you, Femen. Does Belarus need their own ‘Riot’ group?

 

I don’t want Belarus to be the guy who comes to a +18 house party in his dad’s suit . You know, that awkward guy who is there to just gawk, shuffle around and avoid the mad drunken dancers.

So this guy has all his paper work right:

  • 32nd out of 142 in economic participation, placed behind Latvia and Moldova (better than R and U)
  • Gives women equal opportunity alongside men to obtain academic and professional education.
  • Has filled nearly every work sphere with a woman or two, even in decision making (32% of deputies are women)
  • Damn, women have even exceeded men in the labour market by 8%

 

BUT despite all his pretty papers, reality is kind of like the paper cups of beer that WILL drench his ‘proper’ suit and ‘proper’ ensemble.

  • Puts women to work but couldn’t care less about the ‘talk’/’walk’ their fellow employees put them through ie DISCRIMINATION
  • Doesn’t bat an eye when these women are issued a salary less than their fellow man (so much for papers)
  • Thinks domestic violence is a ‘family problem’ and not a state issue

 

I could go on but then I think the nutshell is bad on its own. I don’t want to scare the guy from the party. I know he looks at me and thinks ‘женщина’ as far as ‘жена’ is concerned. I’m an issue for him as long as I raise myself to his minimum: wife.And that is a state issue apparently.

  • I’m a future wife, so I should be cared for (enter billboards, consumer culture but forget about meagre salary)
  • I’m a future mother so I should be cared for (‘woman’s health care’=healthy enough to become a mother)

 

He just won’t understand me if I introduce myself to him as a feminist. He will spit the word right out like any other person on Проспект Независимости. Because they will think I am you, that I will dance in Churches or ‘tit’ them and shout some slogan again and again and again and again of

Kill the Sexist

‘Putin Has Pissed Himself’

Bare Breasts are Our Weapons

Pope No More

And they will roll their eyes, not because what you scream is not important, or vital or so very needed but because they are not ready for you.

They do not understand you.

They will not understand you.

 

And I’m afraid to say you have scared them off ‘feminism’ altogether. They were just getting a feel of Betty Friedan but you’ve brought them back to the 1960s American Feminism (and look how that turned out). Who are you trying to change? And how? Through an audience that laughs, rolls their eyes or glances away. Through the fixed gazes of perverts staring at your breasts morning till night on YouTube, video on repeat as you bounce up and down screaming you are more than your body and ‘pussy’ but really that is all that is coming up in his mind. Or maybe you are whipping the girls into becoming aggressive because loving just isn’t war-like enough? You tell them to stop selling their bodies but you beat their bodies to be hard, to lose itself into being part of merely an attack, a weapon. An object. What is the difference between running on the treadmill for a Glam Body or doing burpees while screaming man hate slogans. I would lose my body in both cases. Where is the individuality there?

 

And then how can this world, the world that has so low of an opinion of us already, realise we have grown up. That we are no longer the children they need to keep dictating rules to over and over again, passing from father to husband and on and on, but that we can walk out of that door ourselves. But yet my feminism will just grow their index finger for pointing at my exploits of moshing to punk rock on Red Square and dancing oh so out of tune in the Cathedral instead of saying, doing and being what I have protested to them about for most of my life:

 

I am a Woman.

I am a Person.

I have a Problem.

 

That problem is that nobody there in Belarus seems to realise there is a problem. Nor the women, nor the men, nor the big guys who make up the power of the state. It is because they just don’t know, they don’t realise that with their own hands they have made women someone to beat, someone to sell, someone to command.  They just don’t realise how much they hurt, I hurt.

Maybe Belarus doesn’t need their own Riot group? Maybe Belarus can be the first ex-Soviet state to start from learning slowly, as if just beginning to read. With encouragement, praise.

Pussy Riot, Femen, please don’t hate me. Thank you for what you have achieved till now for women, men and all those suffering under patriarchy. But I ask, please don’t come to Belarus.

We just aren’t ready for you.

 

With love,

A.

 

Featured Image Credit to Seabamirum

 

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