20 de setembro de 2012

Femen Brazil has no proposals, says group’s ex #2

Since this interview concerns many people, we decided to translate it so other collectives around the world can have access to it.

In an exclusive
interview to Opera Mundi, Bruna Themis also said the group rejects the participation of fat girls

Bruna Themis and Sara Winter

Femen Brazil is a movement with no proposals and distant from (feminist ideals). That is how the paulistan and ex group’s right-hand defined it, in an exclusive interview with Opera Mundi, the Ukrainian feminist group’s (Brazilian) branch, whose members got worldwide recognition for using topless as a protest tool.Themis, who lives in São Paulo, accused the leader of the Brazilian group Sara Winter of acting under her own steam: "Sara always has the last word, there is never a previous discussion".

The former Femen Brazil also suggested that the group leader sympathizes with Nazism. "Sara told me she admires Hitler as a person, that he was a good husband and loved animals, but does not admire Hitler's public figure, she said.Besides that, Themis went into detail on the selection process for the girls interested in joining Femen Brazil and told us that the Ukrainian head office criticized the Brazilian one “because we put chubby girls in the protests”.

According to her, Femen “only wants girls that fit in their beauty standards” in the protests.

Opera Mundi: Femen is gaining new members each day in many countries, and despite the group’s increasing popularity, you decided to leave it. Why?

Bruna Themis: I used to believe in the movement, in the cause, but time passed by and I realized that we did not share the same ideology. I took part of my first protest on July 29th for the humanization of home childbirth, but in less than a month I was not happy with the direction the project has taken. The movement in Brazil has no proposals, no perspective, no theoretical basis. Femen Brazil is lost, adrift.

The question of political involvement also contributed to my departure. Femen presents itself as nonpartisan, but I did not know that
Andrey (Russo, Sara Winter’s PR/adviser) is a candidate for councilman. I asked Sara who Andrey was, what their relationship was, but I had no answer. They’re both fooling a lot of people and I can prove that. I don’t want to harm anyone, but I also want no one else to fall for the same story.

(Andrey Cuia or Andrey Russo is a candidate for councilman in Santo André by NMP, the National Mobilization Party, that supports the candidate Soninha Francine for Mayor of São Paulo. In his personal profile on twitter he used to present himself as “Femen Brazil’s voluntary adviser”, but he no longer includes the “job” in his profile description).

I had very little contact with Andrey. He only showed up when we were giving interviews. There is a lot of miscommunication in the group. Everything is first informed directly to Sara and she gives the team the information. I spent a week at Sara's in São Carlos and the talk we had made me even more sure that I wanted to leave the group. Many things displeased me, like the way she visualizes the project and its future. I also questioned the high number of magazines with pictures of Hitler she has at home.

Sara told me she admires Hitler as a person, that he was a good husband and loved the animals, but does not admire Hitler's public figure. I found it kind of weird.

Sara Winter has an Iron Cross tatooed on her chest

OM: But did you have any kind of theoretical formation, any course? What’s the relationship between Femen Brazil with the head office in Ukraine?

BT: I do not know what they want, why they created Femen. Femen UA only wrote to me now, after I left the group. They don’t know who the leader is, who Sara Winter is. And we don’t know anything about them. Sara went to Kiev (Ukraine’s capital) by herself.

We work almost in an independent way. I’m against many of the group’s actions. For example, I did not agree with the protest for the Russian band Pussy Riot in front of the embassy. I do not agree with the sentence on the girls, obviously, but I believe that we have a lot of problems in Brazil, a lot of subjects to talk about. Pussy Riot's issue is the least relevant for us. We need to talk about numbers, statistics and give the government propositions. I was also against the girls cutting down the cross in Ukraine. I found it unnecessary.

OM: Femen Ukraine is often seen as conservative for standing against prostitution even when the woman wants to do it. Sara declared in an interview that she thinks likewise. Was this Femen Brazil's stand on the matter?

BT: Femen Brazil does not take any stand on this matter. Femen Ukraine believes that women choose prostitution for lack of choice, but I don’t think it’s always the truth. The members of Femen Brazil never talked about it because each and every opinion comes from Sara.

I’m for women’s right to choose. I’ve spoken with girls who dedicate themselves to prostitution and in fact I have a girl friend who’s already worked with it but if she tells me that's what she really wanted to do then there is nothing I can say. It’s her decision. I heard some stories about girls that said they had no option and ended up in this life, but also about other ones that preferred to sell their bodies. It must be always the woman’s decision, it’s her body.

OM: But what is Femen’s proposition?

BT: Femen has none, that I can assure. They don’t even like to read the critics of the movement in the newspapers. I always read it and wanted to know why someone said this or that.The Ukranian society is different from ours and Femen’s speech should be adapted to our context. The Ukranian girls don’t know what goes on in Brazil. In Ukraine, they’re the first feminist movement in the country. In Brazil they’re not. How can we be a feminist group in Brazil if we don’t dialogue with other groups that share the same struggle?

Many people tried to help, to give us some background, to explain to us a few things about the feminist movement history in the country, but Sara refused it. Femen is a feminist movement that doesn’t work with feminists. And Femen is not even a social movement because it does not develop and has no plans to perform any social work. None.

OM: And how is the selection process? Who can join the group?

BT: The selective process has three stages. First we have an interview, then we ask the applicant to post a photo of herself doing topless on Facebook so she can receive family and friends’ reaction, then, at last, to go topless in public so she can feel her body. But many people joined Femen without an interview. We didn't know what the person was searching in the movement. Sara was more worried about quantity than quality.

OM: Many people criticize the girls saying they only want to get famous. They say it’s a product to be consumed by mass media, but without depth.

BT: When I was detained, one of the girls pushed me because she wanted to appear on TV. It’s funny and sad. Femen is not a feminist group. No one there knows what feminism is. I suggested we could search links with other collectives or feminist groups but Sara refused it.

OM: But is the Ukranian group also like that? Do they just want to be on television as well or is this criticism just of the Brazilian group?

BT: We know very little about Ukraine. But according to Sara, we got criticized for putting fat girls in the protests. They want just girls that fit into their beauty standards. I don’t even know if I should be talking about this, but whatever... Girls from Femen UA complained about it, saying it wouldn’t be good for the movement to put overweight girls in the group.

OM: And who manages the financial part?

BT: I never involved myself with the money issues, but there are no accountabilities. The money goes to Sara’s account and, as far as we know now, to Andrey’s PayPal account. I don’t know how she spends the money. I told Sara the money from T-Shirts could cover our expenses, but the donated money could go to NGOs and organizations that work, for example, with women who have been victims of domestic violence. Sara didn’t take a position. I don’t know if she’ll consider the idea.

OM: You were the movement’s right-hand.
Why did you leave the group without a previous explanation?

BT: I knew already that I wouldn't go to protest in Brasilia. I didn’t talk to Sara. I made the check-in at the airport, we went to the food court.I decided to take a walk while Sara would take a nap. It took a few minutes for me to get the courage, I canceled my flight and told her nothing. I kept waiting in the arrivals hall and turned off my cellphone. I called Andrey and warned him I was getting out of the group.

He said Sara was looking for me, but we could talk when she returned from Brasilia. I went home, I slept and didn’t turn the computer on or check any social media. At 22h, my mother called me asking what happened, what was that kidnapping story all about. I didn’t know anything, I was at home. Sara made it all up to the press and got everybody worried. I have never been threatened.

OM: And have you been threatened by Sara or Andrey after you left the group?

BT: Not yet. Maybe after this interview (laughs). I don’t want to harm anyone. They’ll destroy themselves on their own. One trying to bite another. Femen does not even talk about what the leader or the members shall say in public. Showing off is the only thing that matters. The final word is always Sara’s, without any previous discussion. We were not a team. We have a leader that does not know where to go. Sara said I’m getting money from someone to damage her image, but I actually want to alert people who believe in the Femen's history.

OM: Are you a feminist or a neofeminist?

BT: This week I asked my psychoanalyst something like that, but my doubt is whether I’m a feminist or a humanist. I want to keep on going with the social work, but I want to see that I’m changing something. I didn’t join Femen looking for fame and I have no intention of being part of any TV show even if invited.

Bruna Themis and Sara Winter interview at brazilian tv show Superpop

OM: What about posing nude?

BT: When I was a part of Femen it did not make any sense. Now I don’t know if I’d have the courage to do that.

OM: Do you regret having been a part of the movement?
BT: I am not frustrated. I am hurt. I met the wrong people.
*tradução por Anna Rocha, Ana Cecília e Camila Cardoso

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