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(en) Black Flag #222 - Anarcha-Feminism in Bolivia

From anarcho@geocities.com
Date Sun, 15 Dec 2002 02:13:31 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> Interview with Julieta Paredes of Mujeres Creando, an anarcha-feminist
> group in La Paz, Bolivia.

How did Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) come about? What is its goal?
JP: Mujeres Creando is a "craziness" started by three women (Julieta
Paredes, Maria Galindo and Monica Mendoza) in reaction to the arrogant,
homophobic and totalitarian Left of Bolivia during the '80s, where
heterosexuality was still the model and feminism was seen to be
divisive. This was nothing new in a society such as ours, so we had
already been developing this kind of criticism.
    The other aspect of our criticism of the Left is toward a
constructed social practice which was unethical, dishonest and had a
double morality. Revolutionary in the streets, revolutionary in their
words, revolutionary in their talking, yet, at home, they were the
dictators of their own families, with their own loved ones.
    We have recently been picking over all our experiences with the
Left, as well as learning through taking part, for the first time, in
the San Bernard Conference in Argentina, which was an experience for
all Latin American feminists.
    For Mujeres Creando, one way to move toward our goal is to embrace
the concept of diversity (the other is creativity). Diversity is
fundamental for us, because if you look at how other groups are made
up, they're usually of the same kind of people (barrio [neighbourhood],
young people, workers, lesbians, etc.). Diversity is a way to criticise
these "enclosed cubicles" in society. Mujeres Creando is made up of
lesbians and heterosexuals, whites and indigenous women, young and old
women, divorced and married women, women from the country and from the
city, etc. The system tries to keep us in the "enclosed cubicles" and
to divide us so that it can control us more effectively.
    What's important is that we, through our connections with other
women, are starting to look at the diversity in which Latin American
feminism developed; that is, there were farmers, students, soldiers,
lesbians, etc. It was beautiful and it captivated us.
    Afterwards we realised that it wasn't enough just to be a woman...
there were deep political differences. We follow the feminist movement
and become feminists, and yet we see something that seems to us like
empty space: it's all good and diverse, but what was our position as to
(government) power?
    The difference between us and those who talk about the overthrow of
capitalism is that their proposals for a new society come from the
patriarchal left. As feminists in Mujeres Creando we want revolution, a
real change of the system; we do not want just to change capitalism,
nor just to change attitudes toward women, but also a change in
attitude toward young people and the environment. We want to change
patriarchy, in a historical and long-lasting transformation created by
the feminism we dream of.
    In the process of building our organisation - no bosses, no
hierarchy - I speak for myself and don't represent anybody... I've said
it before and I'll say it again that we're not anarchists by Bakunin or
the CNT, but rather by our grandmothers, and that's a beautiful school
of anarchism.
What is it to be a feminist in Latin America?
JP: To be a feminist in our society means to fight against
neoliberalism and its ideology; for us, being a feminist means
denouncing racism, machismo/sexism (within the Left and within
anarchism as well), homophobia, domestic violence, etc. It means
denouncing the sexist, bureaucratised, technocratic women of this
generation (those women that have fallen into neoliberalism and are
administrators of the murderous politics of the World Bank, IMF, etc.)
Here's the difference between us and them: they use power and are
within the system, and therefore they always control the (military,
economic, social, political) forces against those who oppose what they
    So, we're not interested in power, women's offices, or ministries.
We are interested in the daily building of practice and theory in the
streets and in nurturing our creativity.
    Our generation denounces the unjust relationship between men and
women, just as the unjust relationship between the bourgeois and the
proletariat has been denounced in the past. These struggles should have
led to a revolution, but the system has co-opted the sentiments and
concepts behind these struggles, rendering them meaningless. Society is
only interested in describing what it is to be a man or woman today,
not denouncing the injustice inherent in the relationship between the
two. Feminism looks for ways to reclaim this territory, both the
descriptive aspect, but more importantly its denouncing character. We
try to ensure that fighting the injustice between men and women is at
the forefront in our fight to create an anti-patriarchal theory.
What do you think of the "lack of women" in social movements? Is it a
myth or an historical reality?
JP: It seems to me like people are blindfolded when they ask "where are
the women?" We have been around since the beginning of revolutionary
movements, always. On the other hand, in today's era, social movements
(Sem-Terra, de los Deudores, Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo) are all
women-led fights resisting and confronting dictatorships. What we see
is a division between public and private life, a blindfold, an
invisibility of women in the struggles.
How do men and women, indoctrinated into a patriarchal society, react
to the goals of Mujeres Creando?
JP: Women have sympathy as well as fear. The sexist women are much more
stubborn and violent than macho men. The men are careful about having
sex with us; they're afraid, it's some kind of complex... but they have
a certain kind of respect toward us because we have been fighting for
ten or eleven years.
    At first, most women have sympathy, and later they're afraid
because ours is a demanding and radical programme, but that's the only
way to work in a place where everything is superficial and diluted. And
the men that sympathise with us follow us as if they're interested in
everything, but they want us to be like mothers, feeding them; they're
a little lazy because they don't want to accept the challenge of
creating their own group.
What is your vision of social change as relates to the books you
[Mujeres Creando] write and the videos and graffiti you make?
JP: You can want a microphone or camera like you'd want a rifle... We
have given communication a high place, on the same level as creativity
- that is, creativity in communication. So we have preferred to take
from our roots and, by leaving them, we begin a creative communication
process. In '92 we started to do graffiti. We did it in Cochabamba,
Santa Cruz, and other places.
    And so, out of all our work that we do, the graffiti (signed
Mujeres Creando) is not anonymous - we write what we want, and
everybody knows that MC is in this area, and if someone wants to put us
in jail, he or she comes here and does it. Whenever we've gone out to
do graffiti, we have been afraid. But we've thought about our right to
do it... Coca-Cola pays and paints, Repsol pays and paints, so why
can't we paint without paying? The problem isn't that the walls are
painted, the problem is that it's not paid for. If we must pay for
public space, then it's a big contradiction in democracy. What's public
and what's private? Streets are public space, the whole city's
courtyard, not a jail hallway, where you go from the jail of your house
to the jail of your office job... if it's public, then everybody can
use it. But if you pay for public space it becomes private. Public
space doesn't exist. Let's start this discussion. What's dirty? What's
clean? "You're making my walls dirty!" Oh, so when Coca-Cola contracts
a painter, it doesn't make the wall dirty? That's an aesthetic concept.
It seems to me that it has made the wall dirty in a disgusting way. And
what we have done, our graffiti, that's beautiful.
What are some of the next projects for Mujeres Creando? Is it possible
that you will participate in IMC Bolivia?
J.P.: If we want Mujeres Creando to go on, it needs to question itself,
and not embody a myth like "a cute group of feminists" because you have
to have roots in society. For this, I propose to build a space (Creando
Femenismo Autonomo [Creating Autonomous Feminism]) for other women and
other social groups where we can build feminism in Mujeres Creando's
terms... and I think it's important to let people know about these
experiences through Indymedia.
    My privileged space will be for women; I want to start with them. I
want to start from there, to feed others and myself through the
Indymedia space. I don't consider this women's space to be apart from
others - I think that we can get into deeper discussion if we start
with women. But I don't want it to start in Indymedia and finish with
the women. It's a social proposal by women and for both women AND men.
from Indymedia

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