February 16, 2015

Beyond FEMEN: That Arresting Photo Outside the Strauss-Kahn Trial

As you can tell from this Google search, the Femen protest outside the Strauss-Kahn pimping and prostitution trial in France was more recognizable in the wider photo coverage for the group’s trademark nudity, body-born protest phrases and intent to derail. An associate of the woman in the picture even launched herself on the hood of DSK’s car. Given their M.O., I doubt the group expected a photo this effective though, even if Femen protesters, expecting to be apprehended, are consistently “manhandled” by police. Why did this shot circulate widely? Because, with the protester covered and the text on her chest covered, the photo doesn’t read FEMEN as much as “everywoman.” In that context, it’s chilling for its primal scream, but more so, for the woman activist in what reads like a straight jacket, the close-up on the cuff/s suggesting she’s bound like an animal.  …And if some might read this as connoting “hysteria,” bondage can do that to you.

— Michael Shaw

(photo: Michel Spingler/AP. caption: Feb. 10, 2015. A Femen activist is taken away by police officers as she protests in front of the Lille courthouse in Lille, northern France, where Dominique Strauss-Kahn goes on trial for sex charges in France. The former head of the International Monetary Fund, whose career went down amid accusations of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York, is facing similarly charges in France for aggravated pimping and involvement in a prostitution ring operating out of luxury hotels.)

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Michael Shaw
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