Lukashenko is one of the most pronounced sexists among world leaders – his statements regularly provoke anger among feminists. At the same time, the “Belarusian revolution” has an obvious female face, and this is not only about the gender of Tikhanovskaya or Kolesnikova. What is happening now in the republic will inevitably go down in the history of feminism, and feminism itself is able to determine the history of Belarus.
The end of the fifth week of the Belarusian protests did not bring any variety to the situation – the struggle between the opposition street and Alexander Lukashenko is going on according to schedule: Saturday – “women’s march”, Sunday – a large civil gathering, from Monday to Friday – local games with security officials in “Cossack-robbers” …
The protest can be reproduced in this or approximately this form for a long time – although the intensity of the crisis has subsided, opposition actions are still striking in their numbers.
True, in recent days, the law enforcement agencies seem to have run out of patience: if a couple of weeks ago there were isolated cases of detention, now they are again arrested by dozens and hundreds, including at the “women’s march”, which was almost inviolable in this sense.
There is a version that the patience of the Belarusian militia has nothing to do with it and the activation of the repressive apparatus is explained differently. On Monday, Lukashenko will make a working visit to Sochi, where he is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is fundamentally important in the context of realizing the interests of the Russian Federation in Belarus and the further fate of Lukashenko himself.
It cannot be ruled out that the President of Belarus, returning violence to a political crisis, is trying to demonstrate to Moscow that he is in control of the situation, that he has not weakened and is about to squeeze the protests – this will strengthen his position in the difficult negotiations on integration.
Be that as it may, Old Man clearly did not take into account the “female” factor in this crisis – due to the fact that he does not consider it necessary to take into account such factors. As a result, after Saturday’s arrests at the “women’s march”, the Network was filled with photographs and videos, exposing the Belarusian security forces in an extremely unattractive light. The sight of healthy men using violence against screaming and crying women activists, to put it mildly, provokes society’s notions of the norm, and if the photographer is successful, it evokes associations with the times of the Nazi occupation.
From the media point of view, this is a failure, but Lukashenka, by and large, does not care who or what will think of him now: he is solving the basic task for himself of maintaining power and fighting a collective internal enemy. Women are not just a part of this enemy – they are the defining force of the opposition and a kind of know-how of the “Belarusian revolution”. She owes women, perhaps, more than any other.
And it is difficult not to pay attention to the fact that this is happening in the era of the so-called third wave of feminism, when the women’s movement is becoming a serious political force and a self-sufficient international player.
Belarusian feminists do take part in protests, sometimes shaping their style (for example, with posters like “Sasha, no means no” and “You can’t be cute by force”). However, the fact that the anti-Lukashenka opposition has a predominantly female face is not so much a victory of feminism as a consequence of some personal characteristics of Lukashenka and his regime.
In general, from the point of view of feminists, Lukashenka himself is an odious monster, as they would say now – a misogyn and a sexist. He regularly allows himself comments on gender issues, which are now unacceptable not only for the European, but also for the Russian political class.
Not so long ago, Old Man personally hacked down a draft law on combating domestic violence prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the request of public figures, finding a tradition in this violence and even some benefit. And during the pre-election campaign, he repeatedly spoke in the spirit that Belarusians would not vote for a woman, and a woman would not cope with Belarus. Obviously to Lukashenka himself, such remarks seem to be something normal and natural – he sees it that way.
But the point is not that Lukashenko says things that are outrageous from the point of view of gender equality, but that he sincerely believes in them. His worldview predetermined the female component of the Belarusian revolution, the protagonists of which were Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Maria Kolesnikova and Svetlana Aleksievich. If it were not for sexism and not for the brutal macho methods of the Old Man, everything would have turned out quite differently.
The surname of Tikhanovskaya got into the ballot only because Lukashenka did not believe in the ability of “some housewife” to compete with him.
It can also be assumed that Maria Kolesnikova would have been arrested much earlier – even before the elections, together with her boss Viktor Babariko, whose election headquarters she headed. But then she was considered safe, again because of her gender.
As for Aleksievich, she herself is the most famous Belarusian in the world. And now this is the only person who entered the leadership of the opposition coordinating council, but not abroad and not under arrest – the writer is still being saved by the Nobel status and the ambassadors of the EU countries who are on duty in her apartment.
In short, the Belarusian opposition has a woman’s face, due to the fact that Lukashenka has neutralized dangerous men in advance, and underestimated women. This is not feminism, but the kurtosis of the performer.
“Women’s marches”, which turned the tide of the Belarusian protests and became their main feature, also grew out of the personal characteristics of Batka.
Initially, he made his traditional bet on dispersal, violent suppression and destruction of the riot in the bud, but the bet played against him – the violence became widespread and angered the Belarusians who were not used to such a thing even more. The women’s movement appeared on the fourth day of the protests precisely as a reaction to the methods of the police – Belarusians began to gather in large numbers in city centers, and the security forces did not dare to carry out the order of suppression in the usual way, through “vintilovo” and batons.
Soon, a purely women’s rally became a weekly tradition of the opposition, but at the first stage, a general civil protest seemed to hide behind the back of a woman’s, which forced the regime to limit itself in violence. This is how the opposition won the streets for itself, although it did not come close to seizing power.
When modeling the possible success of one revolution or another (not Belarusian, but generally any), the female factor was taken into account by political strategists long before the third wave of feminism, even though the role of revolutionary muscles is played almost exclusively by men. It is believed that if the vanguard of the protest is made up of women from 40-45 years old, the regime is actually doomed, and forceful suppression of the actions is impracticable.
Firstly, this group of the population is not distinguished by protest activity, that is, the active participation of adult women speaks of really massive support for the revolution. Secondly, beating students with truncheons is one thing, but encroaching on the mother’s archetype is quite another – this is fraught with rebellion in the personnel and the transfer of a part of the security forces “to the side of the people.”
While the tone for the “women’s marches” in Belarus is set mainly by young girls, the same students. Perhaps this is also why the security forces decided to return to a limited manifestation of violence. But it still looks especially outrageous and provocative, which in the long term may involve world feminism in person in the fight against Lukashenka.
With the exception of Poland and the Baltic states, neighboring with Belarus, the West has so far reacted extremely sluggishly to Belarusian protests; the European Union has not even been able to approve a rather mild package of sanctions against Minsk the first time.
In this case, Western leaders are guided exclusively by political expediency – they are not sure about the imminent fall of Lukashenka, therefore they are afraid to “push him into the arms of Russia” too much (in the words of a columnist for one of the German newspapers). Such factors as pressure from public opinion and the request of voters are still absent in their behavior – voters in the United States and Europe, in general, do not care what is happening in Belarus.
Everything can change when the female face of protest and the violence applied to it is properly discerned in the transnational movement of feminism. It already possesses significant media and political resources that can include lobbying activities against Lukashenka and take the information war to a completely different level.
This can be compared to the campaign against Slobodan Milosevic by numerous Muslim organizations.
Women are now also recognized as an oppressed minority, and the fact that sexism in international politics has not yet been personified in Lukashenka is even somehow strange – he is almost ideal for this role.
The female factor, which has become the know-how of the anti-Lukashenka protests, is likely to determine more than one “color revolution” in the future. It was generated by the internal Belarusian specifics, but has an obvious political technological value – therefore, it will be reproduced in other countries.
As for Belarus itself, other factors – Russian and economic, as well as their interconnection now seem to be much more significant for its fate. They will be judged based on the results of negotiations between Lukashenka and Putin, but it is worth getting ready for the fact that what is happening now will cost the Belarusian budget dearly and that these holes in Lukashenka’s ship will have to be plugged by Russia in exchange for such a deep integration of Belarus that the revolution could not reverse. with any gender and political identity.
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