A graffiti series walks with you in Lavapiés this afternoon: graffiti written in purple on the walls on calle Embajadores. You have to stop and read: the first name of a woman and the initials of her last names, gender violence as the motive for her murder, the date and place of the murder. You move on, stop again, read again. You retrace your steps and read again. There is a pattern in this series: two women were murdered in a single day in different locations: María del Carmen and Yolanda on August 2, 2014, Sara and Verónica on July 29, 2014, Mercedes on February 26, 2014. The anonymous graffiti remember and honor five of forty-for women murdered by their male partners in the Spanish state this year, up to November 18.
The graffiti series makes explicit a repeated pattern and calls attention to the normalization of violences against women in patriarchal societies of the capitalist world-system. These graffiti seek to fracture that normalization by circulating on the streets the names of those women who were forced to leave. In a clear dialogue with decades of work done by feminist organizations to raise public awareness on violence against women as a systemic problem, and with the turning point that came in the Spanish state with the murder of Ana Orantes, these graffiti take the histories of these women out of the sphere of private, “domestic,” relations, and place them right into the public space, where they belong. In this way, these inscriptions invite passersby to reflect on gender as systemic violence: norms, values, patterns, expectations, desires that inform a “common sense” taught in the majority of schools and through the media, a “common sense” that is internalized and naturalized on a day to day basis and enforce men and women to fashion themselves in inequality. If public policies for the protection of women in situations of vulnerability are as urgent as ever, so should be the work of undoing gender.
Faced with a systemic violence of gender and patriarchy that claims women’s lives, other anonymous writers from Lavapiés leave us with two more pieces, placed on those same streets: a clear statement and a warning:
More about the witches on the streets of Madrid in a future post.
For an account of the origins of the term gender violence in the Spanish state, see this interview (in Spanish) with Lucas Platero.
For photos of a similar inscription of names of women murdered by gender violence, see this post by Nacho Goytre en Demotix (April 2014).