KRISTA PAPISTA is a London-based, Cypriot-born musician who’s special blend of warped electronica and feminist politics has won her plenty of plaudits over the last year. About a month ago NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION featured the video for her track Modern Girlhood, a call-to-arms where Krista takes her struggle for body equality into the streets by sprinting topless around East London. The article proved extremely popular, but Facebook and Instagram’s censorship regime, which operates with all the nuance and sensitivity of an atom bomb, meant that all posts about it were quickly wiped off the websites. We therefore thought it would be a good idea to give Krista a call and get her to write a guest blog outlining her approach, influences and mission objectives.
Growing up in Cyprus, I naturally spent a great amount of time on the beach. I think I was about five when I realised my mum was one of the only females on the beach without her bikini top on; I couldn’t understand why men were organically topless and the few women that dared to take their tops off only took them off once they were laid on the sand. It should be pointed out that this approach was only taken by tourists and foreigners – rarely by Cypriot women. But somehow I did understand it because I was always aware of the difference between men and women; men were by far more privileged, wilder, more free. The fact that women have to cover their nipples connotes the idea that women should feel ashamed of their nipples and breasts, and they are; rarely do you meet a girl that walks up to the beach bar and proudly orders her beer without her bikini top on, and if you do it’s probably on some modern hippie beach in Spain. This phenomenon is fundamentally sexist ; a simple activity like going to the beach is handled differently by the two sexes because we simply view the male and female body differently. Of course they have physical differences, but why is the male body more privileged to move around topless than the female?
Because a long time ago a bunch of men decided that if the females walk around topless the summer they will be too provocative for men, as if the purpose of women is just to turn men on and not much else.
It’s 2015 now and I live in London. You hardly see any topless girls in the park in the summertime and my topless photos on Instagram and Facebook always get deleted for ‘violating the guidelines’-the same policy does not apply to men. I know in New York women can get arrested for walking the street topless-the same law does not apply to men. So I decided to comment on this in my music video for Modern Girlhood .
In the video I am running topless in the streets, and I also filmed my friends topless in the studio. I did this to comment on this topic and to encourage women to present themselves topless whenever they want. The video kept getting deleted from Facebook as a lot of people were reporting it.
As a feminist myself I feel like we have a long way to go, but this doesn’t make me feel sad or angry as I understand women have been oppressed all these years and that’s why progress is slow. It is my responsibility, though, to stand up for myself and whoever is being mistreated. I think we need stronger representations of women in cinema, art and music. One of the only heroic characters in film I remember when I was growing up was Joan of Arc, played by Milla Jovovich. I honestly don’t remember anyone else, because 99% of all strong heroic characters in the history of cinema have been men. Cinema and advertisements are representations of life which, as human beings, we are influenced by; if the representation of women has always been as these delicate, attractive creatures, which we just feel like kissing or touching in a sexual way, then how can women be seen in a different light? How can a woman be accepted as the dominant one in an office by her colleagues if her colleagues have been bombarded with these degrading representations of women throughout their entire lives? Once you pay attention this is what you realise. It’s frustrating but in our modern times we have the chance to change these representations and this is what I am trying to do through my work, consciously. Through the music I produce and the videos I direct I feel it’s my responsibility to illustrate my vision and create new dominant representations of women.
I think it’s important to confront those who are being sexist.
Being passive will just allow sexist assholes to carry on treating women the way they do. For example, if a gross guy is whistling at you while you walk the street and you are not in the mood, simply tell him to fuck off. You should do the same for another woman if she can’t stick up for herself.
As long as sexism exists so must feminism.