A Montreal Femen who protested topless at the 2015 Grand Prix denounced the exploitation of women and the toxic masculinity that still reigns there despite her stunt.
“We made the headlines on this issue and for once, Quebec was concerned. But that doesn’t mean the reality has actually changed,” said feminist activist Neda Topaloski bitterly.
At the time, the shirtless young woman had shouted “Montréal is not a brothel” before getting into a race car amid the celebrations on Crescent Street.
Security officials had violently arrested her and accused her of exhibitionism and indecent behavior, among other things.
The activist still hasn’t digested the hypocrisy behind the treatment that was reserved for her, while traders exploited the commodification of women’s bodies a few feet away.
” Girl [sur Crescent] are sexually dressed by their employers. On the other hand, if we play the opposite game and strip naked for our ideas, we will be accused of a crime, ”believes Neda Topaloski, who was acquitted by the judiciary in 2017.
“My breasts, I wear them every day. They’re sexual when I want them and political when I want them,” she adds.
In that sense, the 30-year-old believes Femen’s tactics have the power to “expose a reality that everyone is purposely hiding under the table” – from the sexual exploitation of minors to the sexist culture surrounding Formula 1.
Femen, a feminist group founded in Ukraine in 2008, has become known worldwide for militant actions in which topless women denounce injustice.
“I could have written a blog post, but who would have read it, who would have reacted? That’s where I became the No. 1 enemy of the Grand Prix organizers,” enthuses the Serbian-born Montrealer, who is writing a book about the episode.
Despite a better awareness of the ravages of sex tourism and child prostitution on the fringes of the Grand Prix, Neda Topaloski believes much needs to be done to counter them.
It takes a long time to change
And this while the culture of motorsport, “kingdom of manhood”, is only slowly evolving, emphasizes sociologist Francine Descarries.
“Many people have an interest in nothing changing, from the hostess to the restaurant waitress, from the pimp to the hotelier,” emphasizes the UQAM professor, with a view to the millions that are at stake.
“The Grand Prix will inevitably remain the Grand Prix as long as we accept that women are objectified and men behave like predators,” adds the feminist expert.
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