INTERVIEW

“We are fit in case we have to run”

Lara Alcázar, the leader of Femen in Spain, explains how she joined the feminist movement

Lara Alcázar: "I cannot understand a woman who does not define herself as a feminist in a political sense."
Lara Alcázar: "I cannot understand a woman who does not define herself as a feminist in a political sense."SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ / EL PAÍS

Lara Alcázar, a 21-year-old from Gijón, poses for the photo op with bared breasts, her hands resting jauntily on her hips, in the guerrilla-like attitude recommended by Femen, the Ukrainian feminist movement that has made global headlines through its use of nudity to draw attention to its political protests in countries including Russia and Tunisia. Alcázar has memorized all the recommendations; after all, she is the leader of the Spanish chapter of the movement, which now has branches in nine countries. She speaks at breakneck speed, without so much as pausing for breath. She is studying art history in Oviedo, although she plans to move to Madrid soon.

Question. Why a feminist movement that bares its breasts?

Answer. Because when we show our body, we create a tension. It is going against what our patriarchal society wants.

Femen places the body in politics' sights, using it as an element of defense and attack, and that's why it attracts younger girls"

Q. But what is Femen's contribution?

A. Action. We feminists have sat at conferences and debates, but have gradually lost the street. Femen places the body in politics' sights, using it as an element of defense and attack, and that's why it attracts younger girls.

Q. What would you say to women who do not consider themselves to be feminists?

A. Feminism is not the opposite of male chauvinism; what it does is demand equal rights. I cannot understand a woman who does not define herself as a feminist in a political sense.

Q. And what do you say to men who reject feminists?

A. That it's just too fucking bad for them. We're going to act to ensure that those who treat women like trash disappear.

Q. What are the pending battles for women?

A. Economic empowerment, equal wages, the end of domestic violence, the free right to abortion... there is a lot.

Q. By exposing your bodies, aren't you proving right those who view women as objects?

A. Ah, yes, I get this question a lot. No. The difference lies in that we choose when to show our bodies to bother others. I have control over it and I use it like a sign.

Q. How did you come into contact with Femen?

A. When the family of the Tunisian activist Amina kidnapped her, Femen launched an international support group. Several friends and I made a fanzine and I asked them if they already had a group in Spain. They said no.

Q. You sent out an email looking for volunteers. Did you have any success?

A. Seven girls signed on. And others have written in offering to help: artists, lawyers and so on.

Q. Some people have been quite insulting to you.

A. The far-right, Nazi conservatives don't like us very much. They are precisely whom we are fighting against.

Q. You have a training manual.

A. We practice resistance exercises to wiggle free when they grab us, and also the posture and expression we need to adopt when we're protesting. We need to be fit in case we ever have to run from a beating.

Q. Three activists were convicted to four months in prison in Tunisia for protesting topless before that country's Court of Justice in support of Amina.

A. Tunisia has sold itself as an open, progressive country, but we have just seen that in reality it is extremely Muslim.

Q. A day earlier you had your first action in Spain with a protest outside the Tunisian Embassy. Were you embarrassed?

A. No. We knew what we were there for and how we were going to do it. It went perfectly.

Q. What do your parents say? That you should cover up?

A. They're proud. My mom tells me to take care and that if I get a cold, she will look after me.

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