#Not one less
#Live and free we want to be
#We want to be alive and free
#Declaration of a national emergency on gender violence now!
I hear voices all the time about femicides. I also see images reproduced by the hegemonic media; this is an important topic to talk about on the 8th of March.
A bitter feeling of failure grips me all the time: the growth of femicides is on the rise in the world, in all the ambits of life where we act; and despite the efforts of millions of women to clarify the issue through research, theoretical studies, enactment of laws, debates and large mobilizations worldwide, nothing is happening.
The “mandate of masculinity” is exercised as power over our bodies both in the solitude of our homes, in the intimacy of our relationships, and publicly in different social ambits. This imprinting of the domination of our bodies, abusive possession and subjugation in the form of violence-rape is not yet understood. (1)
The world looks at femicides as an explanation for social phenomena, but there are other parameters from which these human processes can be analyzed. I feel that a new humane and non-violent civilization is being born and like all revolutionary change, it produces alterations in the fields of human life. I believe we have reached a limit where we need profound internal and external changes.
While working on this issue and researching many authors specialized in gender-based violence, I came across the Belem do Para Convention, signed in 1995, which defines violence against women as “any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women in the public or private ambit”. (2)
Patriarchal education tells us that gender violence “is naturalized, it is a cultural fact” and also that there are people who justify it, even though we women are involved in these looks on a daily basis.
We were taught that what contains us are: images of force, gestures, and words of authority that create everyday orders, gestures that we were taught as children, and that we learn in formal education.
At some points in our lives, we make efforts to break away of these forms, rebelling. But the voices of this system insist: these attributes are what provide the framework of security, protection, order and/or power. Even, at times, hierarchising that Style of Life. A patriarchal way of being and of making us feel contained in existence.
To make matters worse, in some cases, this way of being is called love and from that place we are violated, enslaved and killed.
Reading different conceptual referents of feminism, I choose to quote Diana Russell who defines femicide as: “the murder of women by men motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure or a sense of possession towards women”. This term appeared in the second half of the last century, being the feminist anthropologist who, in 1976, introduced the term in a presentation on this extreme form of violence against women before the First International Tribunal for Crimes against Women, held in Brussels. This historic event has allowed the concept to evolve.
Marcela Lagarde, a Mexican feminist, speaks of “feminicide” and she says: “These are crimes that enjoy social impunity, which are incubated in misogyny, in machismo, in contempt for women’s lives, in brutal inequality, in low salaries, in exclusion. All of this is a theory, the theory of feminicide. Feminicide is not just a word, it is a whole theory”. (3)
The proposals of the different feminist groups are very vast, but it seems to me that there are some behaviours and perspectives that we could begin to take into account when we are faced with these facts: (4)
- Women don’t die: they are killed or murdered. Use the right words.
- There is no justification for violence: no jealousy, no drugs, no alcohol, no poverty.
- Avoid lurid details about the victim.
- It is not a police event, it is gender violence, it is femicide.
- Do not reproduce any comments or videos from the press, photos, or details of her family.
- Avoid giving details of “how it happened”.
- Do not re-victimize the victim by giving details or explanations about her life.
- The murdered person is the tip of the iceberg, making visible and informing about other male violence.
- Always remember the emergency telephone number in your area.
We were born, grew up, and developed in this patriarchal civilization. The suffering produced by this model of life and its culture does not allow us to move forward. The fear and fear produced by so much violence do not leave us calm or at peace. I reveal myself and affirm that we are not going to die in this system, we have to exercise our human dignity and act all the time in a direction of clarification about violence and the suffering it provokes.
1 I took the term “masculinity mandate” from the Argentinean writer, anthropologist, and feminist activist Rita Segato, who is especially known for her research on gender in indigenous and Latin American communities. In her book “Counter-pedagogies of Cruelty” (2018), Segato develops male history as a history of violence and unpacks the practices and acts that have been learned from it.
2 Observatorio de Femicidios de la Multisectorial de la Mujer Mar del Plata (Observatory of Femicides of the Multisectorial de la Mujer Mar del Plata).
3 Marcela Lagarde is a Mexican politician, academic, anthropologist, and researcher, specializing in ethnology and representing Latin American feminism. According to Lagarde, feminism is an intellectual, theoretical and legal affirmation of conceptions of the world, and modifications of facts, relations, and institutions.
4 ICI Canary Islands Institute for Equality.