Pussy Riot Rockers Challenged Putin and Changed the World
Last week, Russia sentenced three of the young women in the band Pussy Riot to two years in prison camp for “hooliganism.” The punk collective’s crime was a performance in an orthodox cathedral: 40 seconds of balaclava covered heads, fist pumps, high kicks, and shouted lyrics, “Virgin, drive away Putin! … Become a feminist!” Pussy Riot called upon the legacy of riot grrrl, an American feminist punk protest movement, to challenge the Russian government, and in doing so, they appealed to a much broader audience than just Russians. Pussy Riot’s actions were well-planned and well-executed, making them a true threat to Putin.
The trial Pussy Riot received was farcical at best. The judge dismissed any question involving art or freedom of expression in the court, and the women were convicted of charges of religious hatred, despite their obvious political intentions. While many in Russia are offended by Pussy Riot’s sacrilegious choice of venue, much of the world has responded to Russia’s complete disregard of free expression with outrage and mocking cries of “Putin is afraid of girls!”
But with all the condemnation Putin is facing, maybe he has reason to fear Pussy Riot. The perpetrators themselves seem to think so, because throughout their harsh sentencing and mock trial, the so-called “girls” of Pussy Riot were smiling.