Men die in EuroMaidan in Ukraine. Hooray feminism?!

This article is also available in Swedish and Portuguese.
It happened again. The Swedish media did its best to find something feminist (or at least perceivably feminist) in the fact that over 100 men died and over 600 people (mostly men) were wounded during the violent clash between the EuroMaidan protesters and the governmental forces of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government lead with an iron fist by Viktor Yanukovych.
The editor of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Peter Wolodarski, writes in his latest piece1 that the violent acts that occurred in Kyiv were “in fact” the worst in Europe since the Balkan Wars. Wolodarski then tries to provide a timeline of the events that occurred in the last 4 months in Ukraine in such manner so as not to upset the very thin sensibilities that govern the Swedish media.
He chooses to insert a carefully selected quote from an article published in NY Books2 by Timothy Snyder which says:

The diversity of the Maidan is impressive: the group that monitors hospitals so that the regime cannot kidnap the wounded is run by young feminists. An important hotline that protesters call when they need help is staffed by LGBT activists.

There are at least two problems with this quote. The first problem is that it’s simply not true.
There are no feminists who run anything right now on EuroMaidan and haven’t for quite some time – long before the violence escalated. The feminists, by their own admission (through various propaganda mouthpieces such as OtherNews, The Nation, Anarcho-Communist/Syndicalist websites, etc.) left the scene at the end of last year. They realized that the EuroMaidan, as a whole, thinks it’s inappropriate to spout messages like “Freedom, Equality, Sisterhood” or “Europe is sex education” while facing bigger problems like the State sending Orwellian text messages to any citizens who dare to walk the streets and voice disagreement with the State.3
The fact that an American intellectual got things partially wrong when it comes to things happening in Eastern Europe is not news for anyone who engages in sensible thinking. Timothy Snyder’s report tried to counteract the demonization against EuroMaidan protesters that has been going on in English-language media for the last month with an otherwise sensible article. But, intended or not, the consequence was to give fodder to the Swedish feminist establishment and allow Dagens Nyheter to pull yet another stunt.
This brings us to the second problem with the quote: The fact that Peter Wolodarski should have known better.
Peter Wolodarski was born in Sweden but he is the son of the relatively well-known architect Aleksander Wolodarski, who fled Communist Poland in the late 1960s. Given this connection, his father could have told him what it’s like to live in an authoritarian regime, and how feminism is viewed in Eastern Europe. It should have made him think twice and check the veracity of the statement made by Mr. Snyder. It should have provided him with a more honest view.
The fact of the matter is that, besides FEMEN and a few anarcho-communist-oriented individuals, there is no feminism in Ukraine. And both these factions are frowned upon by pretty much everyone in Ukraine.
The anarcho-communists (or anarcho-syndicalists as they sometimes like to refer to themselves) have whined on various forums that they were shown the door when they tried to subvert Euromajdan claiming that the “far-right” (whatever that is) is oppressing them.
Outlets like The Nation rushed to paint everyone on the Majdan as a bunch of violent extremists.
Yet who is the extremist? A bunch of unarmed men being cut down by sniper shots for daring to disagree with the State?4 Or maybe the music teachers, the violinists, the attorneys or the former sportsmen who also dare to disagree with the State?5
The reality is that one can better understand what EuroMaidan is really about by watching the various raw unedited streams that were (and some still are at the moment of this writing) broadcast over the Internet straight from the site of the conflict. This possibility gives us the chance to see beyond what the ideologues of any flavor want us to see or hear. And I, for one, after over a month of watching and listening closely to hours of daily live and recorded broadcasts from Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, I’ve never found evidence for most of the claims that the media tells me are happening in the EuroMaidan.
Feminists and women are words to be used interchangeably in the minds of most mainstream Swedish journalists. But if Peter Wolodarski really wanted to talk about the involvement of women on EuroMaidan, then he probably should have mentioned that women were explicitly asked to leave the scene before the violence escalated, both by the leaders of the protests6 and by the governmental forces.7 And a significant proportion of them chose to ignore the warning and stayed there to offer food, warm tea8 and prepare Molotov cocktails.9 Interestingly enough, this fact remained unexploited by the feminist media and it’s quite tempting to engage in speculation as to why this happened.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen this narrative, nor will it be the last.
During the Arab Spring, the Western European media (especially the Swedish media) pulled similar stunts, claiming that women were at the forefront of the fight for liberty – while men were the only ones doing the fighting and suffering the consequences (death and injuries). In one of the few protests dominated by women in Egypt, the favorite chant was:10

Drag me, strip me, my brothers’ blood will cover me!

The NY Times article where the quote is coming from even has the audacity to claim that women “stood at the forefront of the initial revolt.” Is this how women stand at the forefront of a revolt? By demanding more blood be shed by men?
Going back even more, during the Kosovo war, the Western media literally effaced11 the men from any reporting – even when men were being killed solely because they were men and women were being carried out from harm’s way solely because they were women.
To add insult to injury, organizations such as Women for Women UK seize the opportunity, even today, to commemorate the Srebrenica massacre (in which men were killed en-masse because they were men) to talk about… the sufferings of women.12
Let me be clear: I have an enormous amount of respect for the women of Ukraine who didn’t submit to the feminist narrative and didn’t pull the gender card when shit hit the fan. They’ve earned my respect and the respect of tens of millions of Eastern Europeans who have been at the point where the people of Ukraine are right now.
But there’s also a fundamental truth that can not and should not be either brushed off or sugar-coated. The truth is that men, and mostly men, are the ones driving the revolts against tyrannical regimes and it is men, and virtually only men, who water the tree of liberty with their blood!
If you’re a journalist and this truth offends you or, worse, you explicitly refuse to acknowledge it, as is the case with Peter Wolodarski, then you are part of the problem.
AVFM Sverige editor, Gustav Evensen, writes:13

The day I’ll read in the mainstream media that “there were men at the forefront of the fight for freedom,” in any context, that’s the day I will begin to believe that there is hope for equality in Sweden.

Gustav is being kind. The bigger problem than the lack of equality in the media reporting is the huge propensity to outright lying. It would not (necessarily) be evidence of equality if the mainstream media would write about men being at the forefront of the fight for freedom – but it would definitely be evidence of the media becoming more truthful. Unfortunately, we not only lost the balance in the media (if we ever had it) but we’ve lost sight of even the most basic commonsensical truths. And for that, Peter Wolodarski is partly to blame!
[1] – Peter Wolodarski: Moskvas män ­skjuter medan Putin ser på OS, published in Dagens Nyheter, 24.02.2014 (in Swedish)
[2] – Timothy Snyder – Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine, published in NY Books, 19.02.2014
[3] – Brian Merchant – Maybe the Most Orwellian Text Message a Government’s Ever Sent, published in Vice, 21.01.2014.
[4] – Ted Thonrhill – Harrowing footage emerges of UNARMED protesters being cut down by sniper fire on a day of violence in Kiev that has brought today’s death toll to at least 70, published in Daily Mail, 20.02.2014
[5] – Andrew E. Kramer – Growing Support, and Tea From Young Women, Embolden Kiev Street Fighters, published in The New York Times, 21.02.2014
[6] – “We ask women and children to quit Maidan as we cannot rule out the possibility that they will storm (the camp),” – Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko.
[8] ibidem 5
[11] Jones, Ph.D.Effacing the Male: Gender, Misrepresentation, and Exclusion in the Kosovo War, Published in: Transitions: The Journal of Men’s Perspectives, 21: 1-3 (2001)
[13] – Gustav Evensen – Feminister och HBT-aktivister i Ukraina lyfts fram, Published in: AVFM Sverige, 24.02.2014 (in Swedish)
Editor’s note: “Euromaidan” is also spelled “Euromajdan” in multiple sources; the latter appears closer to the native spelling used by the protestors. –DE

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