Topless feminists have stormed a political meeting in Spain to protest against the increasingly controversial issue of surrogate pregnancy.
Two woman blocked Albert Rivera, the leader of the centre-right party Ciudadanos, as he attended a meeting of the party’s Executive Committee in Malaga, in southern Spain. Both had the slogans “My womb is not for sale” daubed on their naked breasts, as they shouted “My body is not for sale.”
They were drowned out by Ciudadanos supporters shouting “President! President!” in support of Albert Rivera.
The two women were members of the group FEMEN Spain which has a history of topless protests. In 2016 the leader of the group said: ” if you want to see my tits, then you’ll have to read my slogans.”
FEMEN began in the Ukraine in 2008 and was founded by an economist, Anna Hutsol, with the aim of using nudity and slogans to create high-profile protests on feminist issues.
The pro-commerce centre-right Ciudadanos which has ambitions to replace the conservative PP (Popular Party) has declared itself in favour of a law enabling Surrogate Pregnancy.
The issue is highly controversial in Spain. Recently 37 Spanish families who had contracted surrogate mothers in the Ukraine found themselves stranded in Kiev after the Spanish Consulate refused to register their new-born children.
The new centre-left PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers Party) government has expressed its hostility to Surrogate Pregnancy on the grounds that it exploits women’s bodies.
Commentators were divided but many women rejected the FEMEN protest. One woman complained of “feminist tyranny.” She wrote: “These topless women only represent themselves.” She added: “Let’s see if they finally realise that every woman is free, mature, and conscious to do with their minds and bodies whatever they damned well choose.”
Another said: “These women believe that to be heard we need to be naked. They don’t represent me. They make me ashamed.”
Yet another said “They are against the mercantilisation of women and so they undress to hit the headlines.”
However, others defended them. One man argued: “Democracies are made by protests. Why so much fear over a few tits?”
The reactions pointed to a division between many women. One complained of “the society of prohibition. It used to be about my body is mine to do with whatever I want to. Now they have become the worst puritans of all, no matter how many breasts they show.”
Another pointed to a possible schism in the LGBT movement over the issue with lesbians against, and gays and trans in favour.
With the main political parties in Spain divided on the issue, the struggle between those who believe in women’s right to choose, and those who reject what they see as the exploitation of women’s bodies is set to continue.