Exposing Femen: Former Topless Activist Slams Radical Feminism

A recent Femen protest in Madrid
A recent Femen protest in Madrid
Chico Felitti

SAO CARLOS â€" At 23, Sara Winter is in a mothering phase. Three months ago, she gave birth at home to her first son, Hector Valentim, and in December she published her first e-book, “Vadia, Não! Sete Vezes que Fui Traída pelo Feminismo” (I’m No Bitch! Seven Times I was Betrayed by Feminism.)

As the title suggests, her 50-page essay in Portuguese tells the story of how a former Brazilian member of Femen, the topless female activist group, became disillusioned. Among the episodes she remembers was a night she spent freezing outside in the cold, alone, after one of her sisters-in-arm left her to be with a man. Another time, she recounts how a group of fellow members forced her to take cocaine against her will.

"I left out a lot of other stories like that," Winter says.

She became famous at 19, when she became the first Brazilian to join the bare-breasted protest group created in Ukraine. Winter's name is still mentioned in 13 court cases, most of them related to public obscenity. "I don't know whether I'll have enough money to buy the basic necessities," she says.

She broke off with Femen less than two years after joining, having been accused of fascism and stealing money. She denies both accusations. "I had been wanting to show what had happened to me for over a year, but I thought it would be like heresy for me to talk against feminism," she says.

Eventually, hatred of her former colleagues, who she says harassed her on the Internet, convinced her to start writing about her experience. "They started to say things about my son," she says. "That’s when I told myself, "Enough! If it's war they want, it's war they'll get. I'll write about what I had to endure at their hands.""

A new identity

Two months ago, she began defining herself as "pro women." Since then, she says she's received more than 600 messages from women who had wanted to be feminists and "have been humiliated because they were apolitical or religious." But her beliefs haven't changed dramatically. "I'm just practicing a different sort of feminism," Winter says. "The problem is that the word "feminism" scares a lot of people, so I stopped using it."

Winter says the feminism movement became mainstream. "This creates many illusions in the eyes of young girls," Winter says. "This movement isn't the beautiful thing they think it is."

Her revised beliefs aren't in opposition to feminism, though. "Is it a movement that that does good things for women? Yes, it is, but most of these women it helps are middle-class women, academics, who have access to the Internet. It doesn't reach those on the fringes."

Winter with her newborn baby. Photo: Blogreaca

Winter says she never got any help from her Femen sisters. During her pregnancy â€" a prospect she considered "absurd" until it became reality â€" she looked for doctors who gave free consultations as part of university programs. At one of them, she discovered an organization that takes care of women who want to have their babies even though they have no resources, by helping them with health care and finding somewhere to stay. "I found that this was actually very feminist," Winter says.

She liked the initiative so much that she promised to give one Brazilian real ($0.25) to pro-life organizations for every e-book she sold. "I'm opposed to the act of abortion, but I'm in favor of it being legalized, until 12 weeks only," Winter says. "I'm in favor because I think that legalization actually leads to a decrease of abortions and of the deaths that sometimes follow for those who do it in poor conditions." Abortion in Brazil is only allowed in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger.

When she became pregnant, Winter moved closer to her mother. Until then, Winter had been living in Rio de Janeiro, 600 kilometers away, where she had met a soldier, with whom she was married for eight months before separating.

The new mother now wants to settle down in her hometown of São Carlos. She's left naked activism behind. "I want to go into politics," Winter says. "I'm looking for a party that I could join and seeing where I'd be best as a candidate. Through politics, I want to make in difference in women's lives."

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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