When I started college, I went through what can only be called a very intense punk period. I started listening to Leftover Crack, Black Flag, Bikini Kill, and Against Me!. I dyed my hair bright purple and sewed patches onto the only suit jacket I have ever owned (my favorite was a large one that said “ANTI-TAMPON, ASK ME WHY”). I would tell anyone who would listen about anarcha-feminism and how patriarchy was just a giant continuation of pointless, fascist government control of the people. I even spent one evening smashing old televisions with an axe, screaming “SMASH THE STATE.”
Obviously, I have calmed down since then.
But when news started pouring in about Pussy Riot’s conviction this morning, it reminded me why I felt so justified in my anger at totalitarian governments. Why I felt such an urgent need to take down the state in any way I could.
For anyone that doesn’t pay attention to Russian news (so, a lot of people), Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist performance art/punk collective. They are known for their flashmob-style performances in high profile, public places. One such performance is what landed them in trouble. In February 2012, Pussy Riot gave an impromptu performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They performed a “punk prayer,” that included lines imploring “Virgin Mary drive Putin away,” “Virgin Mary become a feminist” and the appropriately thrown-in, “holy shit.”
The performance was given in protest of the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of Putin’s presidential campaign. Putin has long been criticized by liberal Russians for his human rights violations, treatment of journalists, and in general, his silencing (aka killing) of anyone who opposes him in the public arena.