Pussies in Prison

by wjw on August 20, 2012

(No, this isn’t a post about Paul Ryan’s views on family planning.  Or a review of Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS.  This is about art, dammit!)

Last February, the Russian all-girl punk band Pussy Riot initiated a 30-second demonstration in a Moscow cathedral in which they called upon the Virgin to save Russia from Vladimir Putin.  As a result, they’ve been sentenced to two years in a labor camp.

This was a demo in which no one was hurt, no property was damaged, the perpetrators gave their names when asked, and were not charged at the time.

Just think of how harsh their sentences would have been if Russia wasn’t such a democracy now!

After the sentencing, Moscow cops attacked a pro-Pussy demonstration and beat up Gary Kasparov, among others.

Another protest came from Madonna, who wrote “Pussy Riot” on her naked back during a Moscow concert.  So far, she’s not been charged, beaten, or assassinated.

The band was convicted of “hooliganism,” which in the Soviet Union used to mean “walking while Jewish,” but may mean something else now.

The three vocalists released long, thoughtful closing statements at their trial, which not only demonstrated that they aren’t a group of raving anarchists, but thoughtful, committed, articulate dissidents.  (Statements which, incidentally, put modern American political discourse to shame.)  Here’s a sample:

…An artistic situation can and, in my opinion, must contain its own internal conflict. And what really irritates me is how the prosecution uses the words “so-called” in reference to contemporary art.

I would like to point out that very similar methods were used during the trial of the poet [Joseph] Brodsky. His poems were defined as “so-called” poems; the witnesses for the prosecution hadn’t actually read them—just as a number of the witnesses in our case didn’t see the performance itself and only watched the clip online. Our apologies, it seems, are also being defined by the collective prosecuting body as “so-called” apologies. Even though this is offensive. And I am overwhelmed with moral injury and psychological trauma. Because our apologies were sincere. I am sorry that so many words have been uttered and you all still haven’t understood this. Or it is calculated deviousness when you talk about our apologies as insincere. I don’t know what you still need to hear from us. But for me this trial is a “so-called” trial. And I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of falsehood and fictitiousness, of sloppily disguised deception, in the verdict of the so-called court.

Because all you can deprive me of is “so-called” freedom. This is the only kind that exists in Russia. But nobody can take away my inner freedom. It lives in the word, it will go on living thanks to openness [glasnost], when this will be read and heard by thousands of people. This freedom goes on living with every person who is not indifferent, who hears us in this country. With everyone who found shards of the trial in themselves, like in previous times they found them in Franz Kafka and Guy Debord. I believe that I have honesty and openness, I thirst for the truth; and these things will make all of us just a little bit more free. We will see this yet.

These little girls have shown Putin’s Russia for what it is, and Putin for what he is.  And that’s sort of astonishing.

Putin’s supposed to be this big judo master, with a black belt and everything.  He’s supposed to be brilliant at using his enemies’ force against them.  Yet these girls put on a demo for all of thirty seconds, and Putin and his whole security apparatus went absolutely apeshit!  They charge in with the full crushing power of the state, only to get tossed effortlessly over the shoulder and land with a huge hideous crash and the loss of maybe 5000 damage points.

Putin couldn’t even go to the Olympics without the British PM bringing up the Pussy Riot case.  How embarrassing was that?  How shameful?  Whose overpowering force got used against who?

Did Pussy Riot really know they could provoke this kind of behavior?  One hopes they did.

(A pathetic, hilarious sidelight of this epic is the way Western media are trying to report the story without ever using the band’s name.  The New York Times buried it far down the story, and the Washington Post did something similar.  What’s wrong with the word “pussy,” for heaven’s sake!

(You won’t find that sort of prudishness in this blog, by thunder!  I have absolutely no compunction about stating, in a forthright manner, that I like pussies!  That I like to play with pussies!  And that, as I write this, there’s a pussy in my house!

(Take that, Vladimir!)

Ralf The Dog. August 20, 2012 at 6:17 am

If Putin were smart, I don’t think he is, he would let them out of prison, invite them to dinner, give them a platform where they look silly, then, watch them fade away.

Repress a political activist, they become heroes. Kill them, they become martyrs. Give them a 30 second spot on a music video show and they become a joke.

Pat Mathews August 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Someone posted a question on the 4T forums – “Were they trying to provoke the authorities?” The minute that question came up, I realized what I was seeing – and it took me back 45 years. The entire Pussy Riot flap is very much like what was happening here in the 1960s, which makes me wonder if Russia is due for a youth revolt really soon.

BTW – may be know the name of the pussy in your house? Plus, of course, anything else you want to post.

Jim Janney August 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm

This shows the difference between the British and U.S. press. The Guardian was all over the story. I think they *liked* putting Pussy in their headlines, as often as possible.

wjw August 21, 2012 at 2:33 am

Russia is definitely overdue for the Moscow Spring. They know they’re illegitimate: that’s why they overreact to everything.

That plus Putin and his cronies being ex-KGB. Their automatic thought is that anyone who opposes them is a foreign agent, not someone with their own ideas.

Pat>> the pussy living in my house is named Topaz.

Mike R. August 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm

When I was leaving the Soviet Union in 1988, the running joke was that the next few years will bring: “Perestroika, Perestrelka, Pereklichka”
1. Reconstruction (Gorbachev), to be followed by:
2. A shootout (Yeltsin years), to be followed by:
3. A prison roll call (Putin’s years).

It is easy to be a prophet in Russia.

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