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.
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:
Stencil by Asamblea Feminista Panteras. El Rastro, 21 June 2014.
Stencil by Yesca. Tetuán, 22 May 2014.