pussy riot hunger strike cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
This cartoon is available as a print. Click on this image!

Two of the members of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk rock band, are still in remote Russian prisons. One of those members, Maria Alyokhina, 24, began her hunger strike after being barred from attending her own parole hearing recently.

They have been in prison since August, 2012, charged with “hooliganism”. Putin says that they must be imprisoned to “protect the faithful”.

remember pussy riot cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Remember Pussy Riot” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

It’s been over a year since the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot appealed to the virgin Mary in protest against Putin before the congregation in a key Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow, Russia. Their protest lasted 42 seconds before they were arrested.

Two of the women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are still in remote Russian prisons notorious for their harsh conditions.

I was reading up on them today and felt the urgency of reminding ourselves of their plight. I admire the women for their courage and prophetic voice.

I’ve done other cartoons of them with commentary here, here, and here.

You can read more about them, with links to news articles, here.

pussy riot and revolutionary ready cartoon drawing by nakedpastor david hayward
Pussy Riot’s Revolutionary Reading

Purchase the original drawing or buy a print of this cartoon.

I hope you saw my earlier Tribute to Pussy Riot. I admire those women so much!

I was pleased when I read in The New Yorker that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the three members of the Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot serving time in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred“, spends her time in a small four woman cell reading. She tries to write, but her notes are confiscated. She knows she is being spied on, but does her best to keep up her spirits while she continues to fuel her mind with what I believe is revolutionary reading.

What is she reading? Foucault, Judith Butler, Slavoj Žižek, the Bible, and the late essays of Tolstoy. I’m thinking, “No wonder she is who she is and does what she does!

The Bible is revolutionary, depending how you read it. Remember how it inspired such people as Wilberforce, Lincoln, M.L. King Jr., Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero and others to revolutionary thinking.

Nadeshda’s husband Verzilov accepted the LennonOno Grant for Peace on her behalf in New York from Yoko Ono and Amnesty International the other day. Read more HERE.

(I know this isn’t my regular Prayer From the Cell, but this is a kind of prayer from a real cell, isn’t it?)

pussy riot cartoon drawing by nakedpastor david hayward
PUSSY RIOT

I was invited to contribute some of my art to the Free Pussy Riot cause by a group working to free the three women of Pussy Riot who are imprisoned. I am more than pleased to help.

I have a lot of respect for Pussy Riot, a punk band made up of several women who stormed a famous Russian Orthodox cathedral and sang a prayer to Mother Mary to please remove Putin from power. Their prayer song lasted around 30 seconds before they were arrested. They’ve now been charged with 2 years of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”. I love them for their courage to do it dead center in the belly of the beast!

A question: how much different are things here in the West?

They are true graffiti artists on the walls of religion. But more than that, they are graffiti artists especially were religion colludes with the State. You can read Nick Cohen’s assessment of their slimy symbiosis in The Guardian.

Purchase the original drawing, or buy a print of the cartoon.

So three members of the Russian feminist band Pussy Riot have been convicted to two years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”. They got up in the front of a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow and played one of their songs… a prayer to Mother Mary to get rid of Putin. Their stint on stage lasted about 41 seconds when they were taken away by security. They were protesting not only Putin but the Orthodox Church’s unquestioning and traditional support of him and whoever is in power. You can read about the verdict here.

I love and admire these women. They are courageous artists. They are graffiti artists on the walls of religion too. But their graffiti is more dangerous since it involves those in political power as well. For a very interesting analysis of the cultural implications of Pussy Riot in Russia, read this.

I’ve been asked by supporters of Pussy Riot if I can contribute some of my art to the movement. I immediately thought of my Sophia series. Don’t you think so?

young ladies can't do that cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Young Ladies Can’t Do That” by nakedpastor David Hayward

Lisa and I decided early… well… it wasn’t a decision, it’s just the way we are… that we wanted to provide an environment where our children could grow up independent, courageous and wise. Themselves.

We have three children. Our first two are boys. Men now. But I want to talk about our third. Our third child is a girl, now one of these young ladies in the cartoon. I clearly remember her early days when she began to verbally challenge us. Instead of responding with the traditional and easy “You will think and do as we say because we’re your parents” routine, we interpreted those embryonic expressions of defiance as opportunities for discussion, dialog and even debate. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, it’s messy. Exercising the mind and spirit is hard work. But the reward is we have a courageous and confident daughter who thinks for herself. She’s pulled up a chair to the big people’s table.

So I encourage people to defy the attitude expressed in this cartoon. If you are in an intellectually stifling place, get out! Don’t let anyone control you. There are places where you can think and express yourself in your own way… where you can explore and exercise your independence, freedom and intellect.

Have you seen the recent story of the FEMEN protesters drenching an Archbishop with water? FEMEN is a topless feminist group I’ve been following for a while. They arrive in the wake of Pussy Riot, two of whom are still in a remote Russian prison. This does not surprise me. We may not all agree with their tactics. But this is what happens when people, like women and members of the LGBTQ community, are stigmatized, marginalized and silenced. They won’t have it. And they shouldn’t!

Christianity, and it’s church, has a notorious tendency to do this. But I also perceive and encourage its better impulse to liberate all people to full equality.

I was interviewed yesterday by Revangelical. You might want to check it out. It’s short.

Think and speak out!

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