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

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.  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_7853Fuencarral, 10 Sept. 2014

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

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.