“For us, serious political action and serious fun can – and should co-exist. And with this party we’d love to try to raise awareness of the things happening in contemporary Russia” – says the band. The first event was a benefit for “The Sisters Center” – a Russian non-governmental non-profit organization that helps survivors of sexual violence, was founded by a group of women in Moscow in 1994. Followed by a benefit for“O-zine”– an independent queer magazine for Russia’s LGBTQ+ youth. And now the upcoming Taxi on the 22nd of June will be a workshop and a party with Nika Vodvud.”
Nika Vodvud is a Russian intersectional feminist activist, illustrator and Youtuber with half a million subscribers across all her social media. She draws comics and makes zines about cute animals exploring topics like sexism, racism, transphobia, body positivity etc.
Her YouTube channel has lots of recipes, travel vlogs and cat videos, but also essays on intersectional feminism, sex education, menstrual hygiene and activism in general.
Apart from creating inclusive and informative feminist content online and using her platform to promote other activists and organizations, Nika frequently gives lectures on activism and social justice on various offline events and raises money for charity.
The workshop at Ficken3000 will be about different ways of being engaged in activism. For those who understand that something is wrong, but need help in order to start doing something about it. As well as for those who have already begun to do something but have encountered difficulties.
To throw a bit more light on the topic and the situation in Russia, we’ve asked two more activists from Russia to share their thoughts and experiences.
Lolja Nordic – an independent artist, DJ and intersectional feminist activist. “As an activist, I co-organise different charity and educational events such as festivals, lectures, concerts, actions to support women and lgbt+ people in Russian regions. As an artist, I work with different mediums: photography, film, installation, performance where I explore gender, ecology, horizontal relationships and political situation in Russia.
Through my DJ activity, I also try to promote feminist views and pay attention to my audience to social justice movements. I also run my blog on Instagram where I share my political views, educational posts and my work. Russia is not at all a safe space for a local queer people, women and other minorities. We have laws which do not protect but raise hate against minorities such as the law about so-called LGBT+ propaganda.
The decriminalization of domestic violence provoked the rise of crimes against women. But the more our government turns into a conservative direction – the more the local communities protest against it and mobilise with projects, ideas, strategies, charity actions. It is an everyday challenge and struggles but I can see the community grow fast and it is very inspiring.”
Bella Rapoport– “I was writing about feminism since2012 on various platforms: on social media, as well as for the federal media. I regularly take part in the street actions and launched several flashmobs myself. I also do lectures and workshops.
My agenda has changed during the process of my activism and my development as a feminist, a person, a researcher. I started by highlighting the basic problems of conditional “all women”– abortion rights, physical and sexual abuse. Now (even though I am keeping the position on the importance of those problems) I want to engage in more specific groups and their specific problems. That may be roughly described as a shift from somewhat liberal feminism to radical queer-feminism.
Now the most urgent agenda for me is lesbians and the visibility of lesbians. As well as violence and abuse in lesbian relationships, and their various manifestations that I consider specific to such. In addition to many other social problems in Russia, we have a monstrous law on homo-propaganda that makes queer people invisible, depriving them of the language to describe themselves and what is happening to them, and, of course, depriving them of the opportunity not only to talk about what is happening to them but also to even recognize it.
However, following Michel Foucault, I believe that wherever there is power – there would always be a resistance to it. It is embedded in the power structures themselves. So I can say that in the given conditions we, the activists, develop many strategies that are successful and effective. In the context of the postcolonial perspective, it is very important for me to convey this information to Western colleagues because there is also a problem of extremely hierarchical interaction, a top-down look, which many of us also adopt and begin to look at themselves in the same way. We do not deserve it. As for my goals: I want to finish the magistracy and to finish my research on lesbian couples, write and publish my books. And also to become a famous DJ and to play at lots of cool parties.”