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If you thought that Harry’s highly praised piece on last year’s FEMEN protest was the final and definitive word on the subject, then think again…
It is now twelve months since FEMEN’s spanking protest in Kiev against sexual harassment in education. When I wrote about it at length last year, there were many things I didn’t know and a few things I misunderstood. Now I can set the record straight…
A-Ta-Ta, the title of the performance, actually means spanking in Russian baby-talk.
I now know the names of two more girls in the performance. They were the fourth and fifth in the queue for spanking and I nicknamed them the Lady and Lips, after the pictures on their panties. The Lady’s real name is Oksana Shachko. Here she is in a recent bare-bottomed protest against the scarcity of public toilets in Kiev.
Lips is actually Nastia Magonova, who was later ostracized by her family after she was publicly ‘crucified’ in an Easter protest against church patriarchy.
It has been reported in the Ukrainian press that some of the FEMEN girls were actresses, not activists. The majority of the girls have been spotted in other FEMEN actions before or since, but four of them seem to have been only in this one performance, so they are the likeliest candidates: Yellow, Red, Mouse and Big Boots.
Alexandra Shevchenko braided her hair especially for the performance, to make herself look more student-like.
Olesja’s outfit is not a maid’s costume: it’s a Russian school uniform.
Big Boots turned up wearing jeans and had to change into her skirt and costume panties in public. (Skirt on, jeans off, panties on…)
The color of the FEMEN movement is pink, so most of the girls are wearing something pink: a necktie (Alexandra), a dress (Kristina), a watch and nail varnish (Olesja), a wristband (Big Boots), shoes (Nastia), pantyhose (Nastia) and panties (Kristina, Oksana, Nastia; and Stockings’ white panties have a pink waistband). Yellow has decorated one of her trainers with an anarchy symbol using the same pink paint as the protest banners. Three girls are ‘out of uniform’: Red, Smiley and Mouse, though Smiley’s bag (unlike herself) has bright pink cheeks.
Alexandra is the only one wearing what I’d call proper girls’ panties, with the lace edging that differentiates them from shorts or bikini bottoms. Top marks to her also for the pattern, and the absence of a slogan – they are a private garment, unlike six of the other girls, whose panties are evidently designed for people to read.
Bottom marks to Alexandra for wearing a second pair underneath, but (contrary to suggestions elsewhere) they don’t give her any extra protection, because on very close inspection it turns out that the pair you can’t see turn out to be a thong. (Bottom marks again..)
(Sorry this thumbnail isn’t clickable at the moment)
I mistakenly said that Oksana is wearing two pairs of white panties, one on top of the other. In fact she is only wearing one pair, and they are pale pink with a white waistband. Far from going for extra coverage, she doesn’t have quite enough: the top of her bottom cleft is visible while she is being spanked. (Stockings has the same problem.)
Big Boots’ panties read, in English, ‘It’s Fun to be Girl Shape’. It’s far from certain that the girl shaped part underneath is having fun during the spanking, but maybe she doesn’t speak English that well. (Remember that she’s wearing her ‘Friday’ panties on a Monday…)
Red is wearing a blue bra and black panties. It remains a disappointment that we don’t get to see the latter exposed and upended. Mouse is wearing her own white panties underneath the red ones which are part of her costume.
Alexandra is already across the Dean’s knee and about to be spanked when she realizes she has forgotten her books. That’s why her skirt is already raised when she goes to retrieve the books. One of them is about the theory of statistics, but the other is a cookery book about peppers, so she must be doing a strange combination of majors! She then forgets the books again before her second spanking – what a naughty girl!
During her spanking, Olesja turns her book over so that it’s upside down – and then turns it right side up again. So she hasn’t been assessed on her reading skills…
Alexandra did not raise her own skirt before going over the Professor’s knee, as I previously speculated; it was the Professor himself who did it.
However, another speculation was right: Nastia does indeed get her second spanking directly on her pink panties. The motto on them translates as ‘The Higher the Love, the Lower the Kisses’.
While the Dean is spanking Yellow, Stockings (in the queue) says something cheeky to him, and he wags an admonitory finger. Evidently he’s saying something like ‘Just you wait. In a few minutes it’ll be you here across my knee!’
You’ll remember that Big Boots really, really doesn’t want to be spanked. She tries it on by sitting on the Dean’s lap, but he’s not having any of it and orders her across his knee.
When Nastia moves on from the Rector to the Professor, she presents herself to his left as if to be put across his knee, so clearly she is expecting a third spanking. In the end, of course, she does her third test perched on his knee, just like Big Boots was hoping for, but there’s still no photographic evidence to show how she escapes the spanking or how Red gets in on the examination.
Smiley does her examination (in Physics) sitting on the Rector’s knee rather than across it. As she gets up at the end, he pulls up her skirt, sees that her bottom is effectively bare, and gives her a smack on it. She leans across him, but apparently he opts not to pull her down across his lap, for reasons unknown. Five seconds later she’s retrieving her smiley bag, and probably very relieved to have escaped the bare bottom spanking she was about to receive.
In the final bundle, the Dean tries to spank Yellow as well as Olesja, and raises her skirt to do so.
The uproarious laughter heard on the video soundtrack doesn’t come from someone in the crowd, as I said. It’s actually the Professor laughing.
Alexandra isn’t ‘carrying on’ like a spanked girl as I suggested: she’s leading the girls in a collective chant of ‘No to the Institute of Prostitution’.
Before going to see the Minister with her bottom exposed, Alexandra thought to check her panties and was perturbed to find that her own underwear was showing over the waistband of the heart pattern pair which was part of her costume. Oksana helped her to straighten out her rear view before the all important interview.
Reporting the protest gave journalists worldwide plenty opportunity for puns, but this example from a Hong Kong paper takes the prize:
A Ukrainian women’s group says the lesson being delivered in front of the education ministry in Kiev is a slap for authorities, who are failed for turning the other cheek when hit by harassment claims from female students rather than getting to the bottom of them. Main targets of the spanking team are male professors at colleges, said to be in a class of their own for leaving no marks when some girls face exams.
A few weeks after the performance, FEMEN had a shoot commemorating their various protest actions of 2009. Kristina dressed up in a version of her ‘A-Ta-Ta’ outfit and showed her bottom to the camera again. This time she wore heels rather than boots and a different, slightly briefer pair of panties. But the crucial difference was that there was no Rector to spank her…
FEMEN have continued to protest a range of issues in the streets of Kiev. The possibility that the Euro 2012 championship might be used as an opportunity for sex tourism and prostitution was highlighted in a mock football match in subzero temperatures. The players included five girls from the spanking protest.
During the Ukrainian presidential election campaign, they handled corruption by stopping motorists and offering to buy their votes in what they called a ‘Sexit Poll’.
There was even a memorable moment when one driver misunderstood and drove off with Alexandra’s bottom half stuck in his car window!
A more frivolous cause for protest was the Ukrainian Olympic team’s failure to win even a single medal, which was commemorated with ‘Cows on Ice’, a farcical display of winter sports on an ice rink.
Since the elections in February returned a more oppressive, less Western government, FEMEN’s activities have been more centered on feminist issues in domestic politics, and they have been arrested more often – usually under statutes prohibiting public nudity.
Worldwide, however, A-Ta-Ta remains their most distinctive and best known protest action.
Let’s hope for a repeat performance!