Feminist Graffiti for Safe and Free Abortion in Madrid

The political icons, slogans and messages that make up, in part, feminist graffiti interrupt the normative landscape of what Allyson Mitchell calls the “ideological city”:  “systems of belief, laws, and other norms of social interaction” (“The Writings on the Wall:  Feminist and Lesbian Graffiti as Cultural Production”, 2001: 223).  While it is, of course, a heterogeneous cultural production guided by different social theories and different understandings of feminism, what I am here referring to as feminist graffiti is, basically, a writing about power and citizenship.  Among the many relations of power on which this vast cultural production focuses, there is one that stands out on the streets of Madrid since the end of last year: the graffiti that reclaims and defends the right to free abortion: the right of women to decide over their own bodies and lives, and also to produce a more just society for everyone.

redesycalles IMG_7853Fuencarral, 10 Sept. 2014

In an article that is a must-read due to its conceptual clarity, philosopher Beatriz Preciado notes that of all the organs of the body, the uterus has been, without a doubt, the one that has been, historically, subject to the greatest political and economic expropriation (“Huelga de úteros“: 1/29/2014).  Preciado explains that, due to its reproductive potential, the uterus is not a private organ but a “biopolitical space”:  women carry within their bodies a public space for whose jurisdiction political and religious powers, as well as medical and pharmaceutical industries, fight intensely.  Following historian Joan Scott, Preciado calls attention to women’s paradoxical citizenship: as human bodies, they belong to the democratic community of free citizens, but as bodies with uteri, potentially able to reproduce, women are turned into objects of tutelage and political surveillance.  September 28 is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. In the Manifiesto “Aborto Libre.  Nosotras decidimos” (Free Abortion.  We Decide), the  Movimiento Feminista de Madrid, by denouncing the bill of the abortion law, reclaims once again women’s full citizenship and rejects “any attempt to impose on us a life project alien to us and not chosen by us.”  This is the demand presented to the Spanish state:  “Women decide, the state guarantees that decision, society respects it, and the church does not intervene.” Here are some images of the cultural production–graffiti, stencils, stickers– by a number of feminist collectives I have ran into on the streets of several districts in Madrid:

redesycalles IMG_7780Chueca, 8 Sept. 2014.

redesycalles IMG_7728Tetuán, 4 Sept. 2014

redesycalles IMG_6464Universidad Complutense, 7 June 2014.

redesycalles IMG_6472Universidad Complutense, 7 June 2014.

redesycalles 6691Stencil by Asamblea Feminista Panteras. El Rastro, 21 June 2014.

redesycalles IMG_6721Alcalá, 27 June 2014.

redesycalles IMG_6172Marqués de Valdeiglesia, 30 May 2014.

redesycalles IMG_5762Stencil by Yesca. Tetuán, 22 May 2014.

redesycalles img 5238 rtMadrid, 4 May 2014.

IMG_4481 copySanta Engracia, 3 April, 2014

redesycalles IMG_4470Santa Engracia, 3 April, 2014

IMG_4401Gran Vía, 24 March, 2014

IMG_4397Gran Vía, 24 March, 2014

IMG_4282Fuencarral, 21 March, 2014

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