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Madonna Defends Pussy Riot, Gets Called a Whore

by August 30, 2012
filed under Activism, Entertainment
Topics

On August 17th, three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.’ The all-female group became known internationally after performing a “punk prayer” in a Russian Orthodox cathedral in which they wore colourful balaclavas while calling on the Virgin Mary to become a feminist and chase Putin away. Their sentence was incredibly harsh for their crime, and as British Foreign Minister Alistair Burt said, it “calls into question Russia’s commitment to protect fundamental rights and freedoms.”

One of the most fascinating things about Pussy Riot is the amount of international attention it’s garnered. Politicians, celebrities, journalists, and citizens from various countries have publicly expressed their views on the subject. If you’re a spokesman for the White House, this means saying “we have serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated.”If you’re Madonna, it means wearing a balaclava and writing Pussy Riot on your back while performing “Like a Virgin” at a Moscow concert. And if you’re Russian politician Dmitry Rogozin, expressing your opinion means tweeting that “every former w. wants to give lectures on morality when she grows old…especially on foreign tours.”

Apparently “w.” means whore in the Russian Twitter world. The name-calling, while completely unoriginal and offensive, is hardly surprising. Because that’s what we call women when we don’t like their opinion: A whore. It’s a way of instantly invalidating everything they have to say. Madonna’s sexual history has nothing to do with her political views, and Rogozin probably realizes this. But why debate what she’s actually saying when you can play the whore card?

It’s way easier to call someone a whore, or a slut, or a bitch. Whore is a gendered term. It’s defined as “a woman who engages in sexual acts for money” or simply a “promiscuous woman.” We don’t have nearly as many derogatory terms for men, and the ones we do have, don’t get used to tear down men who voice their opinions. Various male celebrities (Paul McCartney, Sting, Danny DeVito, Bryan Adams, Elijah Wood, Adrian Grenier) have voiced support for Pussy Riot and to the best of my knowledge haven’t had their “morality” called into question.

Rogozin takes issue with the fact that Madonna is “[giving] lectures on morality” because as an immoral woman, she has no place telling other people what is right and wrong. Except that morality isn’t that black and white. Everyone has their own set of morals or principles. Rogozin thinks that being promiscuous is morally wrong. Madonna thinks that imprisoning a band for a protest is morally wrong. I think silencing women’s voices is morally wrong. Whether they’re being called whores for having opinions, or being thrown in prison for two years for criticizing their government, it all sends the message that women shouldn’t speak out about injustices for fear of punishment.

While Pussy Riot may be experiencing unjust punishment for speaking their minds, it appears they have no intention of backing down. The three women who have been imprisoned have been unapologetic and defiant in the courtroom. There are several more members of the band in Russia who still are free, despite the Moscow police’s search to find them. Two members have recently fled the country to avoid prosecution but according to their twitter they intend to “[recruit] foreign feminists to prepare new protest actions.”

If their new single “Putin Strokes the Fires of Revolution,” which was released and performed outside the courtroom the day of the verdict, is any indication, these gurls aren’t scared and have every intention of making more trouble. And I have every intention of cheering them on along with Madonna.


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