Now Reading
Recent Flashmob Tells True Life Stories

Recent Flashmob Tells True Life Stories

Do you know what used to happen when a Ukrainian girl refused a proposal of marriage? She gave the unlucky guy a pumpkin. This age-old Ukrainian tradition made things easy for her – she could refuse without saying a word, and for him – carrying a pumpkin left him with no doubts.

Fortunately for guys, this custom is no longer popular in Ukraine, at least not in the bigger cities. Though, Ukrainian women, not unlike hundreds of years ago, are still determined to say “no” to anything they think worth saying it to. As proof, Olena Pinchuk’s AntiAIDS foundation in cooperation with Ukrainska Pravda.Zhyttya have launched the flash-mob #HavetheRighttoSayNo (#маюправосказатині).

Anyone, male or female, can support this initiative by taking a picture of themselves wearing a specially designed (by artist Olesya Drashkaba) T-shirt depicting a girl with a pumpkin. You take a pic of yourself in the T and tell the story of a significant “no” in your life.

Since its start in the middle of this summer, the flash-mob has been picked up by hundreds of Ukrainian women and men sharing their ideas and examples of why it is so important to have the right to say “no”. Some FB-posts had only a couple of words, like the one by Jaanika Merilo, former adviser to Economic Development and Trade Minister of Ukraine Ajvaras Abramavicius, and current adviser to Dnipro mayor Borys Filatov: “Have the right to say “no” to high heels at work. In summer sneakers = high heels,” she wrote underneath a picture of herself wearing white sneakers.

“Yes and no are equally important – this is a rule I sometimes want to tattoo,” writes Iryna Kovalchuk, a partner at an event agency, telling the story of her “no” to Damien Hurst, one of world’s most expensive artists. “We were preparing an after-party for Hurst’s first personal exhibition in Ukraine. Presuming the artist would like to bring some items for decoration, we asked his office and they rejected any montage service from us. On the day of the event, in comes Mr Hurst, asking: “Where are my skeletons?” There must have been 50 skeletons, at least 60 kilos each, with the production manager already pointing to the places on the walls and ceiling where they were to be hung. I said “no” the loudest of all – my priority was and is the safety and security of our museum-goers. Mr Hurst was so upset he didn’t even show up to his press-conference.”

“I was 13 and I wanted others to like me,” wrote Svitlana Panaiotidi, the State Commissioner of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine. She tells the story of when she went to a party, where older guys from her school were doing heavy drugs. “They wanted me to try, saying that if I refused, everyone at school would bully me; and if I agreed, I would be as cool as them. I said “no” and left. And never went back. They are all dead now. Everyone who was there.”

“I came back from the States with a masters’ degree and dared to apply for the position of adviser at the UNDP (The United Nations Development Program). I was 22,” shared Anastasiya Leyukhina from the NGO Osvitniy Eksperyment (Educational Experiment). “As I waitied for my interview, women continued to come out in tears. When it was my turn, I walked in and saw one of the interviewers sitting on the windowsill smoking. Immediately, he asked how old I was. You have no right to ask me about my age – I answered, only to consider my qualifications and experience. I was sure I would be rejected – who would want to hire such a bold girl? In fact the job was mine – I got my first serious job for saying “no” to discrimination and sexism.”

To make this story slightly less discriminatory in terms of sex, and for the record – males have also joined the flash-mob. One participant reacted in July to breaking news in Ukraine: “Inspired by the flash-mob #Havetherighttosayno, the President deprived Saakashvili of Ukrainian citizenship.”

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

© 2022 WHAT'S ON. All rights reserved. The material on this site may not be reproduced, except with the prior written permission of What’s On.

Scroll To Top