Lavapiés, Madrid: Anarchofeminist Slogans

Streets of Lavapiés.  End of December and the very first day of the year.  But it could be any other month.  Anarchofeminist slogans sprayed in freehand on the walls of the centric district of Madrid, the global city:

redesycalles 7853 rtMujeres Libres: “Neither ladies nor slaves.”  31 Dec. 2015.

redesycalles 7852 rtMujeres Libres:  “Whips against patriarchy.”  31 Dec. 2015.

If writings on the wall may be read as gifts, what would be the gifts bestowed by the Mujeres Libres (Free Women) activists upon the inhabitants of the global city in the midst of the social and cultural crisis unleashed by neoliberal policies in the Spanish state? On the one hand, an exercise in historical memory:  the name itself, Mujeres Libres, refers to the anarchofeminist organization that articulated from Madrid in the late 1930s a double struggle: against the capitalist state and system, and against patriarchy.  An unfinished business.

redesycalles 288 rtMujeres Libres:  “Anarchofeminism or barbarism”.  Unsigned:  “Non violence is patriarchal.”  1 Jan. 2016.

On the other hand, the writing on the wall by  Mujeres Libres and other unsigned writings shown in this post also make present the philosphy and practice of anarchism, its common core despite its many variants: the subversion of the authority of one being over another, and the search for the emancipation of all beings.  Partly, what makes contemporary anarchofeminism attractive–in its struggle against systemic patriarchy at the root of the authority of the capitalist state, class divisions, and culture–is that it constitutes (adapting Saul Newman’s vision of anarchism) an ethical critique of authority and domination in all its forms (in Leonard Williams, 2011: 630).  In that sense, it may be understood as a philosophy and practice of an “infinite responsibility” of  citizens as political subjects to end injustice (Simon Critchley 2007 in Williams, 630);  the responsibility to create networks of harmonic coexistence among all live beings on the planet and forms of organization built on dialogue. Hence the urgent demand to leave behind heteronormative patriarchy.  These might be the gifts on the walls.

redesycalles 7848rtUnsigned: “My girlfriend turned me into an anarchist.” Above:  Curruncho. On the left:  “They leave us without a future.”  31 Dec. 2015

redesycalles 129 rtUnsigned:  “We want no owners but to live in liberty.”  27 Dec. 2015

redesycalles 109 rtUnsigned:  Symbol of transgender equality.  25 Dec. 2015

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Walls of Lavapiés: Graffiti Against Gender Violence

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.

redesycalles IMG_0106“María del Carmen M.C. Murdered by gender violence.  August 2, 2014. Almería.”

redesycalles IMG_0094“Yolanda A.C. Murdered by gender violence.  August 2, 2014. Alicante.” Embajadores, 9 Dic. 2014.

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redesycalles IMG_0088Embajadores, 9 Dic. 2014.

redesycalles IMG_0114“On February 26, 2014, a woman was murdered in Barcelona by gender violence.” Calle Valencia, 9 Dic. 2014.

redesycalles IMG_0051Travesía de San Mateo, 1 Dic. 2014.

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:

redesycalles IMG 108 2014-12-10_0848 rtMiguel Servet, 9 Dic. 2014.

redesycalles IMG 0118 rt“The witches are watching.  Machos to the stake.” Calle Valencia, 9 Dic. 2014.

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).

Going For Everything / A Por Todas: Visibilizing Patriarchal Violences on the Streets of Madrid

This past March, walking down Fuencarral and Gran Vía, I stumbled across a number of feminist and transfeminist slogans written on the walls of fashion stores and fashion ads. The slogans made visible in eloquent ways several patriarchal violences against women bodies:

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“My body is mine” and “Complexes sold here ,% sales,” written on the walls of Spanish clothing store Desigual (“Unequal”, “Uneven”) in Fuencarral, called attention to the material and symbolic violence that informs beauty standards.

Other slogans like “Unequal(ity),” “size 38 squeezes my pussy,” and particularly the concept “gender is violence,” and the question “what is your gender?” written on the walls of the store and on an ad of the same brand interpellated people passing by, called attention to the systemic violence that underlies the (hetero)normativity of gender and its limited identities.  The clash produced by the slogans and the fashion ads worked toward the denaturalization of these assumptions interpellating the passersby :

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This collective action on one of Madrid’s main commercial avenues was organized by A Por Todas, (loosely, “Going for Everything”): “We’re dykes, trans, migrants, precarious … Different faces and corporalities who meet this year to fight capitalist heteropatriarchy, the church hierarchy and the budget cuts that threaten our bodies, our lives, our rights and our freedoms.”  To read their own narrative and see their own visual documentation of  this necessary and urgent action against sexist violences in the streets of Madrid, visit their photogallery:  you will find the album “Recorrido y denuncia ..” down below (the direct link won’t work).

You can also find A Por Todas on Twitter.

Fuencarral and Gran Vía, Madrid, 20 March 2014.

A Por Todas: Visibilizando violencias patriarcales en las calles de Madrid

Este marzo pasado, caminando por Fuencarral y Gran Vía, me encontré con diferentes lemas feministas y transfeministas escritos sobre los muros de  tiendas y anuncios de moda:

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Los lemas visibilizaban elocuentemente varias violencias patriarcales ejercidas contra los cuerpos mujeres.  “Mi cuerpo es mío” y “Se venden complejos, % sales”, escritos en las paredes de Desigual en Fuencarral, llamaban la atención sobre la violencia física y simbólica que informa los cánones de belleza.

Otros lemas como “Desigual(dad)”, “la talla 38 me aprieta el chocho”, y sobre todo el concepto “el género es violencia”  y la pregunta “¿cuál es tu género?” escritos sobre el muro de la tienda y sobre un anuncio de la misma compañía, llamaban la atención sobre la violencia sistémica que subyace la (hetero)normatividad del género y sus identidades limitantes.  El choque producido por los lemas y la publicidad desnaturalizaban esos presupuestos e interpelaban a lxs paseantes:

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Esta acción colectiva en una de las arterias comerciales de Madrid  fue organizada por A Por Todas, quienes se auto-representan así: “somos bolleras, trans, migrantxs, precarias… Distintos rostros y distintas corporalidades que este año convergen para luchar contra el heteropatriarcado capitalista, la jerarquía eclesiástica y los recortes que atentan contra nuestros cuerpos, nuestras vidas, nuestros derechos y nuestras libertades”. Para leer su propia narrativa y documentación visual sobre esta necesaria y urgente acción contra las violencias machistas en las calles del centro de Madrid,  entra a su fotogalería (o al enlace de arriba) y busca, abajo, el album “Recorrido y denuncia …” (el enlace directo no funciona).  También tienen presencia en Twitter.

Fuencarral y Gran Vía, Madrid, 20 de marzo de 2014.

Stencils: autodefensa feminista / Stencils: Feminist Self-Defense in Lavapiés

Lavapiés, abril de 2014.