Since January of this year, I’ve been following with interest the evolving story of a group of young women on the other side of the world. The punk feminist group Pussy Riot immediately captured my attention and my heart with their bold “flash concerts” in public spaces, their unapologetically pro-feminist and anti-fascist politics and their brightly colored dresses and balaclavas. I’ve had some experience with performing anonymously and I loved the concept that these women embodied: Pussy Riot is, above all else, an idea. If one member is captured, another woman will don the balaclava and take her fallen comrade’s place in line.
That idea is now being put to the test. Pussy Riot dared to publicly challenge not only the established symbol of patriarchal power in Russia (the Russian Orthodox Church) but the seat of military and political power itself: the Putin government. And they did it in an audacious, thrilling, punk rock way. In doing so, they risked everything - perhaps more than they could have imagined at the time. Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 stand accused of participating in that performance and all three are now paying a huge price. They have been held in prison since March and are awaiting trial on charges which could result in sentences of up to seven more years behind bars.
I’ve signed the Amnesty International petition to protest the detention of these ladies. I’ve raised a few dollars to help support their legal defense team. I’ve performed a song I wrote for them and talked about their plight in various cities in the US and Canada where I’ve been on tour. I’ve Tweeted, Facebooked and Tumbled endlessly about Pussy Riot and yet part of me knows that the fate of these brave women is beyond my control. They are being made an example of what happens to anyone who dares to challenge authority in a repressive, authoritarian society. This is the real reason why Pussy Riot matters. If we truly support Pussy Riot, then we need to show the world that we absolutely refuse to learn from this particular example. Instead, we will pick up the colorful balaclava, put it on and take our place in line. We will not learn to give up and accept defeat!
Certain truths in life need to be screamed out loud. Not all superheroes wear masks and capes, some wear brightly colored balaclavas. The women are currently on a hunger strike and for that reason I urgently ask you to please help. Spread the word, sign the Amnesty International petition and show your support in any way you can.