Inna Shevchenko, left, with Ukraine Is Not a Brothel director, Kitty Green, second left, and two Femen activists at the 70th Venice film festival. Photograph: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images
This week I have been told that I'm not a feminist, that my fight is not real. I have been told that people don't believe my slogans any more, that my ideas are fake. I have been condemned for fighting male domination in my life, for fighting the patriarchy.
The Australian director Kitty Green spent one year with Femen activists in Ukraine shooting a documentary that is showing at the 70th Venice film festival. The film, Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, is a history of Femen. It shows a crucial paradox of the movement, one that has now become a scandal. It concerns one of the men interviewed in the film, Victor Svyatski, who proclaimed himself the leader of our feminist movement. It has become an unwelcome surprise for our supporters, and, of course, more fodder for those who criticise Femen.
So, after having read many articles written by journalists who have not yet seen the film, I am now making Femen's response, leaving no space for the fantasies of Femen's enemies.
Yes, Svyatski was part of the Femen movement. He is not a founder of Femen, nor a creator of our topless strategy and ideology. But he did lead the movement some time ago. This story is not so much about how the movement was born. It is rather the story of how the struggle began.
Femen was founded by group of young female students in a culture in which men talk and women listen. In which men decide and women accept their decisions. In which men dominate and women accept that domination. And this explains why Svyatski could become Femen's leader. After Femen became a known movement in Ukraine, Svyatski, a supporter, took control of Femen's team. Why and how could he do this? Because he was a man. The story described in the film – by Svyatski himself – amounts to nothing other than patriarchy. He is sexism, male domination, and oppression against women personified.
When he presented himself as the father of our new feminism, I was taken aback by such a brave declaration – one that only a man could make in my country. I was surprised: why have we suddenly acquired a father? Where is the mother? Having been born in a country in which feminism was unknown, in the best traditions of patriarchal society we just accepted the fact of a man taking control of us. We accepted this because we did not know how to resist and fight it. From that moment on, I realised that the patriarchy was not somewhere outside. It was right in front of us, in Femen's office. And our global fight with patriarchy started with the fight in our own private life.
This is when I decided to leave Ukraine for France to build a new Femen. A Femen in which women decide and follow their own ideas, not someone else's demands. One year ago I started from the beginning again with new colleagues from France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands and Tunisia. The Femen fight still involves men – those who support us but do not dominate. Unlike Svyatski, from whom we broke free.
The original ideology of Femen remains as we created it, but now we are applying it the way it was originally intended. This change has already paid off: Femen has inspired women all over the world.
We have come to the Venice film festival to tell our story because this is the patriarchal reality that we all live in. Criticising us for our fight against men's domination in our own lives is like criticising the fight against all patriarchy in the world. Today we tell our story hoping that we can inspire women suffering the same oppression in their fight against it tomorrow.