The arrest and subsequent incarceration of three of the 12 members of the Russian female avant-garde punk rock band Pussy Riot is hardly recent news to anyone who follows international events. Three young women, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested and charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” following an impromptu radical art performance and political protest in Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on February 21, 2012.
All three young women were subsequently convicted and each given a two year prison sentence on August 21, 2012 – because, according to the judge, Marina Syrova they had “crudely undermined the social order” with their protest and performance.1
Hello! Someone please call Ms. Syrova on her clue phone. Sometimes the social order needs to be undermined, particularly when it comes to – ummm – the pussy.
Given I live in a country in which there is a distinct separation of church and state (in theory), I find it somewhat disturbing to see three young women being subjected to what is essentially a re-boot of Salem Witch Trials for the new millennium. However, what I find far more disturbing is the underlying tone of misogyny and the overt need to subjugate women—by a woman no less. One has to seriously consider if these young women had instead been young men and were in a band named, say, Cock Fight – would they have been arrested? And in turn, would they have been convicted and given such harsh sentences for what was essentially a flash mob (albeit politically motivated and in a church)?
And dear reader, if you think such assaults on the freedom(s) of the pussy are limited to the land of plentiful vodka, ossetra caviar, and white nights think again.
Currently, here in the good ol’ U S of A, there are any number of attempts by policy-makers and conservative special interest groups to limit a woman’s choice in regard to her own body. These restrictions include everything from limiting the availability of contraception and the re-definition of rape, to the prerequisite of essentially sexual assault to receive an abortion. And the gender of the vast majority of these policymakers? You guessed it boys and girls—men.
Why are these men so afraid of the pussy?
Okay, maybe it’s because I’m a gay man and I have little understanding of (and zero practical experience with) a woman’s lady parts which has contributed to my current state of being baffled by this conundrum. And perhaps my lack of empirical understanding of the vah-jay-jay has also led to my being nearly incapable of understanding the inherent paradox associated with current political assault upon the pussy. So let me see if I might break it down a wee bit here.
This fear of the pussy isn’t logical.
Is the intoxicating delight of the pussy really that powerful? So overwhelming that it can make grown men act in an irrational and illogical manner?
If so, where can I acquire one?
Again, perhaps my view is a tad bit skewed because I’m a gay man. However, given that logic typically follows reason, it would seem only reasonable (and logical) if something contained such power and potential of mythic proportion it would be held in high regard and cherished. But rather, it appears that in our current socio-sexual circumstance, which is fueled in no small part by political paranoia, the pussy instead is to be looked upon as something to be disdained and treated with contempt.
I think the answer lies in a line of the song Pussy Power by the demigod of punk, Mr. Iggy Pop. “When it’s there and I can’t have it/I get real real rabid.”
Fundamentally, I think it’s about resentment.
From this outsider’s viewpoint it truly appears to be a classic case of pussy envy—if you will. Yet another objectification of women. Yet another situation in which women are reduced to being a commodity like any other. It’s supply and demand, and when demands aren’t met, well, we all know that means, don’t we? It means this is war—damn the torpedo bras and establish a blockade.
Think you should have the right to make a choice as to whether you wish to conceive a child. Guess again, my sweet – we’re cutting off your supply. Too emotionally painful to endure nine months of torture as a child of incest or rape gestates in your womb? Sorry! Every life is precious, my dear, and you should consider yourself grateful for such an opportunity young lady. See, it says so right here in this ultrasound which we now require to be kept permanently in your medical record should you scrape together the funds to terminate the ill-conceived pregnancy.
Will this war ever end?
Free your pussy and the rest will follow?
As a male, who was raised by a strong, independent, hard-working single mother, I find it troubling and quite frankly insulting to witness the attitudes and behavior of many of the current politicians and policymakers. Many of whom are of (or very close to) my generation. My mother worked for many years as a civil servant in the United States Postal Service at a time when few women worked for the organization. She toiled alongside men and worked just as hard (if not harder) than they to prove herself – all the while being subjected to the harassment and intimidation by her male co-workers who felt the need to constantly remind her that her job rightfully belonged to a man.
My mother, along with any number of other women of her generation, endured any number of hardships (and outright abuse) in order to create a better world for their sons and more importantly their daughters. What will be the final legacy of the strides they made toward the equality of women? To see all they accomplished be whittled away by closeted misogynists and political/religious extremists? That’s a reality to which I’ll not be able to bear witness.
Looks like it’s time for someone to instigate yet another pussy riot.
Photo provided by freedigitalphotos.net