The debt of Latin American feminism with Cristina and Dilma

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Translated by Marvin Najarro

I have sought even under the stones, for some explicitly feminist and bourgeois statement, where the rejection of the coup against Dilma and the political persecution suffered by Cristina (and with her the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and Milagro Sala, among others) is stated, but either I haven’t looked enough for it, or it doesn’t exist at all. I’ve seen feminists manifesting themselves individually, but that’s another matter. I do speak about the conglomerate which for other formalities signs its name immediately.

By contrast, women’s organizations have openly spoken from the shanty towns, and have been thousands of them who have taken to the streets in Argentina and Brazil to show their support for both presidents. We have also seen that in Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. These women from the periphery, the bourgeois feminists call them fanatical and idealistic. Ignorant, because they don’t have a university degree that allows them the nickname of intellectuals. Because they make visible in practice what others seek to do with theory alone.
The great void at this moment in history is the one of the Latin American feminism. And it is led by bourgeois feminism, of course. The showroom feminism, which is an excellent platform for pronouncements from the intelligentsia and class comfort, which exalt and flatter those who know theory by memory but are unable –by being hypocrites and opportunists- to put it to work in practice.
By this I mean, those who come and go reciting, A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf, but who never would come down to the public fountain to tell the working woman how to get free from the patriarchal system which abuse and ignore her. To speak of inclusion policies, and about her rights. To share a book with her. I’m talking about those going around attracting attention with their “I a feminist”, and are adept to Simone de Beauvoir but dread Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Campoamor or Dolores Ibarruri “La Pasionaria”. But every year they commemorate The 13 Roses, so you can see… And who degrade women as Evita and Bartolina Sisa, one by indigenous and the other by pariah and illiterate. But they go around the world in lecturing tours wearing their regional shawl, just for the sake…. But in their homes the same indigenous and outcasts whom they speak about, work from Monday to Sunday without labor rights. That’s the feminism am talking about, that which abounds everywhere.
I’m talking about that feminism where they flatter each other with airs of intellectuality. The feminism which allow to enter universities, embassies and cultural centers to recite texts and obtain certificates of participation, photographs and contacts, but which won’t come to talk about human rights, labor rights, gender violence and gender equality to the market seller, the baker, the maker of maize pancakes, the woman who cleans houses, because there is nothing to gain there.
To the textile factory worker who rots in 18 hours shifts. Simple, the reason is simple: because to move from theory to action you need lots of courage and this is not easily available to anybody. The same applies to intellectuals and the ultra-left.
There’s where come into play Dilma and Cristina who are both abhorred by this kind of feminism, because they demonstrate every day with action that theory can very well go to the crop fields, to the open fields, the factories and the peripheries. Not only that, they also show that social inclusion and gender equality policies are indeed possible and can go hand in hand. Not for nothing one is a politically persecuted person and the other has just been the victim of a traitorous Coup. How many girls, adolescents and women were able to go to school in their governments?
How many children and adolescents were freed from forced labor, child exploitation, and from trafficking for sexual exploitation? How many were given labor rights? How many of them Dilma and Cristina made possible freedom of expression and livelihood to? How many have had free education and succeeded in graduating from college? How many have had access to the health system? How many in exchange for a bag of glue were given a computer, a brush, a sports uniform?
And it is not theory because the changes are tangible and visible to all of us, though some pretend not to know about them because we are doing better personally and for our own particular projects.
To the Latin American bourgeois feminism, the one of flattery, of fine lotions and behind doors microphones, which has never been political, because to be political you need integrity, to that sort of feminism Dilma and Cristina are way too much. That feminism does not deserve fellows like them. It hasn’t earned it. It has not fought for it. And their silence at this moment in history makes it clear.
That kind of feminism is indeed becoming a copy of the Latin America ultra-left which also abhors and has stabbed both women in the back. Because silence gives consent, who remain silent conceals. It is in these moments that feminism should speak out, and not by passion, idealism, fanaticism. It should do that because it is their moral and humane obligation for two women who have changed the history of Latin America, like it or not.
And they must act by gratitude, loyalty and political coherence, because there were millions of women in the lower strata of society who benefited from the inclusion policies implemented for both of them. These thousands women, who have never seen a bourgeois feminist come to their workplaces, say hello on the street, inviting them to coffee and have a talk with them, as they do with intellectuals and people of higher social class where personal benefits, most certainly, can be obtained.
Probably many feminists will call me ignorant, idealistic and fanatical. They will send me countless messages with insults, as regularly happen when I question feminism, and they will call me female with macho mentality. And will hammer the theory down on me. Or they will just call me crazy, as often happens.
Many perhaps will bring out the issue of abortion and corruption of which they are accused (without any proof) to vindicate their refusal to support them and thus washing their hands. They will never mention that these two women have been insulted, belittled and have suffered gender violence from the media up to the husband of the bourgeois feminist who has never raised his voice while in her comfort zone; and they have suffered it for being women of action which is the only thing that changes patterns and liberate societies.
There is no point of comparison with bourgeois feminism and with all who are born there, with their “I a feminist” but who are silent in the face of this level of violence to which Dilma and Cristina are being subjected, it only remain to be grateful to those humble women for their support; grateful and politically consistent, and above all have stood in defense of such Latin American women.
Of course, I’m not a feminist, I do not belong to any ghetto or pack; and if someone wants to put a label on me, call me for what I am: a pariah, and I’m with Cristina and Dilma, for love and gratitude, from there on…
And if I sound populist it is because I am.

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Ilka Oliva Corado. @ilkaolivacorado

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