Just as I contemplated my atheist childhood in the previous post, busy representatives of governmental and religious institutions interrupted the flow of my memories. First, the head of Russian Orthodox church declared feminism to be a very dangerous “phenomenon.” He was speaking to a group identified as “Ukrainian Orthodox Women’s Union,” and his comments about feminism, arguably, responded to the actions of Ukrainian feminist performance group Femen (see my previous post about their latest action). Patriarch Kirill said that “I consider the phenomenon called feminism to be very dangerous, because feminist organizations proclaim a woman’s pseudo freedom, which is to be primarily realized outside of the marriage and family. At the center of feminist ideology is not the family and education of children, but the other function, which is often opposed to family values. It’s not by coincidence, arguably, that the majority of leaders of feminism are unmarried women.” His comments in English are interpreted here:
One of the most famous statements during the Pussy Riot trial was “feminism is a sin.” The prosecution lawyer declared that “(F)eminism is a mortal sin because it is an unnatural phenomenon in relation to life,” and “the word feminist is offensive and indecent for an orthodox believer.”
The dangers to Russian homeland, however, are not coming exclusively from feminism. One just needs to start looking. This week the purification of Russian society from dangers of free expression continued with another law (very Soviet in nature), that would outlaw cursing in media. Thus, when Femen wrote “Putin, go f”’ yourself” on their backs, they could also be charged for public cursing. Gone are the days when post-Soviet leaders could be overheard swearing, seen as an expression of their manliness and passion for the country.
But make no mistake: Russian women find ways to say the same thing, being resourceful as they are. Thus, two Russian retirees wanted to express how they feel about their recent raise in monthly pension. The raise was about 10 dollars. They promptly decided to share this good news with Putin. They sent the money back to him, as a postal check, thanking him for his generosity, and saying that they could not possibly accept it, suggesting that he should keep it instead. Go, so to speak, use it yourself.
Their letters were not accepted, and returned back. Then they refused to take it back, with the money left uncollected at the post office. Slowly, their actions were classified as a form of protest, a civil disobedience, by town administrators. A 64-year old woman was called by the vice-mayor. They both knew each other well, and used to teach at the same school during Soviet times. Now, the vice-mayor threatened Kosolapova, this newly minted post-Soveit rebel, with offending a civil servant. There is another law (yes, so many laws about being offended!) that prohibits offending a “representative of power,” and, Kosolapova was informed, carries a fine of over a thousand dollars, and / or one year in prison. Kosolapova asked if the charges have been filed already. Her 62-year old friend was also called in for a discussion by another representative of power, but she did not go. The two women are getting ready to start raising awareness about ecological and health problems in their region through lobbying elected officials.
Maria Alekhina (Alyokhina), who is still in prison for her Pussy Riot action, had been a Greenpeace activist before her arrest. She also writes poetry. All these women engage in what Patriarch Kirill called “the other function,” – being citizens, poets, community organizers and activists.