A revolution with the name of a woman

In the entire world, and particularly in the Southern Cone, a cultural and social revolution is rising. It implies a change of paradigm with respect to the rights of men and women. Español

Camila Ponce
27 March 2018
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By Analia Sclavo published in

Latin America is one of the regions that demonstrates more violence against women. UN Women indicates that 14 out of the 25 countries in the world with the highest amount of femicides are in Latin America and the Caribbean and estimates that 1 out of every 3 women older than 15 has been the victim of sexual violence.

In the case of the Southern Cone, more specifically in Argentina, a femicide happened every 18 hours during the year 2017, a  figure well below the Central American figures where, for example, in Honduras – the country with the highest number of femicides – there are approximately 13.3 femicides per 100,000 women.

This is how, when important demonstrations were held in 2015 the Southern Cone to protest against violence against women, repeated femicides crystallized.

The wave of protests began for the first time on June 3, 2015, in eighty cities in Argentina, and these demonstrations were repeated on June 3 and October 19, 2016. The 2016 mobilizations were quite massive after the murder of Lucía Pérez came to light, a young 16-year-old girl who was brutally raped and drugged in Mar del Plata.

On the other side of the Cordillera mountain range, the body of Florence, 10 years old, was found, after being drowned, burned, and buried in the backyard of her house in Coyhaique by her own father. After these key moments for the feminist movement, other countries on the continent joined the demonstrations and took up the problem of #NiUnaMenos, as was the case in Chile, Peru, and Uruguay.

With this statement events, texts, images, and photographs have been shared on online platforms, further viralizing this problem that afflicts women.

UN Women indicates that 14 out of the 25 countries in the world with the highest amount of femicides are in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As a result of this, a silent and profound revolution emerged in Latin American societies, and particularly in the Southern Cone, which refers to an awakening of many women, mainly young people. They seek, in the first dimension, the ability to live their lives in peace and to not be killed on a daily basis, and second, to reappropriate their sexual, labor, and citizenship rights.

Lastly, in a third dimension, they seek to deconstruct and construct themselves as subjects, questioning in this manner their sexual practices, their relationships with their partners and the environment. In addition, it is possible to observe that this third dimension mainly affects the subjectivities of younger Latin American activists. This not only refers to more subjects coming out to protest in the streets, but also to other types of activism that discuss private practices and policies that affect women on a daily basis.

Bloggers, vloggers (who share information through videos), Instagrammers, humorists, and opinion leaders are now openly discussing sexuality and questions like self-abuse or female masturbation that lately had been considered taboo in these societies.

As the Chilean writer, blogger, and humorist, Paolo Molina, posted on her Facebook account: “The personal is political. The way we care and relate to our bodies and our desires is in being taught to satisfy others, and with the desire of others we love and validate ourselves.”

Stories like this express the need for a change in understanding the relationship with the female body, in questioning relationships with partners, sexual relationships, and with women's own desires.

This is how the internet constitutes not only a space for diffusion of certain actions like the Day of the Woman, the marches for Ni Una Menos or for the diffusion of the hashtag #MeToo, but also a space for sharing information and of learning for many young and not-so-young feminists in the region and in the entire world.

More and more, there are initiatives that seek to question patriarchy and to generate a feminist re-education, not only for the new generations but for the general population as well.

Other countries speak with much more visible and recognized voices, such is the case of Malena Pichot who left being a vlogger, who defends her feminist stance with humor and her Twitter account. From these platforms, Pichot illustrates how women are invisible in the spaces of power in different fields.

Other platforms with an Iberoamerican or Latin American character, such as is the case with “Proyecto Kalho” or “Las Simones,” seek to educate young women with respect to their sexuality, their personal relationships, and the relationship with the State. More and more, there are initiatives that seek to question patriarchy and to generate a feminist re-education, not only for the new generations but for the general population as well.

Looking at the young activists, before the #NiunaMenos movement, the women’s collectives were much more centered on the rights of women, which they understood as the right to decide, the right to abort, and access to the morning after pill, among others.

While now, the focus is on violence against women and on the body itself, with everything that implies, evidencing, thus, the introduction of concepts that come from the social sciences, such as those of Rita Segato and the grammar of these same militants. Segato talks about the body as a territory and how sexuality is an act of domestication and appropriation of the territory-body of women.

This is why, in the latest marches of March 8th, many banners were observed demanding the expulsion of the State and the Church from the wombs of women, the exit of that territory, or of that space that they consider to be private.

From 8M in 2018, it is clear that the demands and the feminist movement are the most active thus far out of the 21st century, not only in some specific countries, but in all of Latin America and throughout the globe.

In the particular case of Chile, that has just won an Oscar – in the category of Best Foreign Film –with “A Fantastic Woman” by Sebastián Lelio, the win generated a debate about how we inhabit different bodies, which bodies are permitted to be loved, about appropriating different spaces, and what the identities are that will finally be permitted to exist by the State.

In today's Chile, there is a debate about the Gender Identity Law a few days after the inauguration of Sebastián Piñera –the elected candidate from the right—as president. Chile is a country where transgender people are marginalized and their rights are not a matter for discussion.

In the recent demonstrations on March 8th, hundreds of women of all ages marched through the main avenues of Latin American cities. Many of them walked bare-breasted and painted, others raised banners and signs with their demands, exhorting free abortion or justice for missing women, others sang songs like “feminist alert” or danced to the rhythm of the batucada drummers.

In Chile, convened by the coordinators of the March 8th demonstrations, they sought to articulate different sectors of women: workers, students, migrants, sex workers, poor women, and Mapuche women, among others. The objective was not solely the feminist fight but also opposition to the new government of the right, "whose neoconservative policies make women invisible and prevent the questioning of the exploitation and precariousness in which many women live,"  in the words of one of the spokeswomen of this coordination.

In Argentina, the demands related to reproductive rights, but also to wage gaps and the policies of Macrismo.

While in Uruguay, the day was marked by a femicide, which mobilized a number of important women who paraded through the main arteries of Montevideo. The Uruguayans demanded a specific law to combat violence against women and to improve working conditions.

From 8M in 2018, it is clear that the demands and the feminist movement are the most active thus far out of the 21st century, not only in some specific countries, but in all of Latin America and throughout the globe.

The movement is not uniform, and in it, actors from distinct organizations and parties participate, but it is also possible to encounter activists that are not part of any organization but are inspired by and sympathetic to the movement.

It is a movement that is constantly mutating, and that acquires, every time, new performative elements and also new grammars. It is a movement that also enters into dialogue with other current movements such as the migrants, anti-extractivism, the black movement, and the labor rights movement.

The author thanks Leesa Rasp for the translation to English.

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