Updated June. 14, 2014 07:12
# Situation 1
Dozens of young village people raid the house of a person who committed adultery. They let out horrible shrieks and destroy objects in the house. They also pour salt into a well in front of the house and throw filth at the door, while making loud noises with various kinds of instruments. It is, after all, a festival of fenzy.
It is the scene of the "charivari" described in the book. Charivari refers to a European folk custom in which the community punished people who committed sexually deviance by giving a noisy, discordant mock serenade. It is a criminal act from today`s viewpoint. However, the author points out that the custom is a key to understanding the mass culture of European society.
Those who performed charivari put on animal masks and furs to disguise themselves as furry animals because they viewed the sexual deviant to be punished as an animal or a beast. Animals symbolize humans` sexual desire and further their nature toward potential sexual deviance.
Those who are subject to charivari include people who committed incest or adultery, infertile couples and remarried ones. Why were remarried or infertile people subject to the custom? Europeans in the Middle Age thought that sex is the basis for maintaining their community. Adultery and incest disrupt community disciplines and thus weaken the unity among the members. They also believed that remarriage and infertility also undermined their community by lowering the possibility of fecundity, which would reduce the labor force. After all, the author says that charivari was not a group act of hedonism but is related with the basic human nature for maintaining their communities.
# Situation 2
In August 2009, a group of women showed up at a large plaza in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, with their tops off to expose their breasts. "Ukraine is not a brothel" was written on their chest. The movement was organized by a feminist group called Femen. The conservative Ukraine society fell into a deep shock.
Another book "Femen" talks about liberation from oppressive sexual culture, describing in the form of a novel the process in which ordinary Ukraine women in their 20s became a symbol of global feminist movement. Anna Hutsol, Sasha Shevchenko and Oksana Shachko from a small Ukrainian city of Khmelnitsky opened up their eyes to the evil consequences of capitalism introduced to their country after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At that time, the sex industry prospered in Ukraine under the government`s acquiescence, victimizing numerous women. The trio thought that capital deprived women of their bodies and planned to launch a feminist movement by using their bodies. Every time they took to the streets, they took their tops off, put on splendid flower crowns on their heads and wrote symbolic slogans on their chests.
Their activities stirred up huge repercussions and spread to other parts of the world. Currently, the Femen has branches in France, Germany, Brazil and Egypt. The group holds protests not only for women`s status but also against anything that oppresses human liberty and dignity such as predatory economy and dictatorship.
"We are not ashamed. The moment we protest, we feel enormous excitement and pleasure. Our physical abilities are amplified. We feel complete freedom," they said, with their tops exposed.
Similarly, the young men who performed charivari occasionally felt such ecstatic excitement as if in festivals. Oppression and liberation might be the two sides of a coin. Perhaps it is because both are related with the human nature.