MANIFESTO FOR A NEW FEMINIST PRESENCE
³One more step towards equality² and a hundred towards hyper(in)visibilization
Gender policies against violence, discrimination, in favor of the reconciliation of work and family, in favor of womenıs participation, etc. have finally pulled us out of the caves. They are indeed ³one more step² in an upward race towards progress, liberation, emancipation its just that the race is no longer so linear nor so upwards, and the emancipated suffer from stress, vulnerability and skepticism. These policies, almost always legislative and lacking in any social resources, have not altered the foundations of inequality: the uninterrupted principles of social reproduction. They have, however, helped to conceal or assuage some of the most scandalous effects. What the so-called ³gender perspective² today hides is apparent: a total lack of perspective.
Reconciliation, or how to make the overburdening of women easier to bear,ı does not seek to alter how gender works in the family. Its goal is rather to dampen the growing tension in the daily lives of those women who have stable jobs and rights. The global burden of work is not being distributed, and the crisis of care is ever more acute and ever more private. Real reconciliation in todayıs world relies upon the unprotected and invisible work of thousands of immigrant women and upon the anguish of those who just barely manage to stifle insecurity, risk and uncertainty, having to renounce time for themselves and for their communities, for cooperation and citizenship. Women are at the end of this ever more demanding global chain. All that we have revolutionized: the family, affective assymetries, sexual and domestic hierarchies, labor discrimination, the imperative of a normalized life, all of this takes on a new meaning today. Employment doesnıt set us free, it makes us more precarious; the household doesnıt open to the social, it becomes part of the market; intimacy is not interrogated, it is intervened in.
The management of the feminine is, nonetheless, a great location for institutional consensus and legitimacy. What better decoration for an election campaign, for Christmas, for advertizing? The plan does not include the opening of schools or nurseries, public places for care, community or participatory spaces, paid leave, decent employment, incentives for the gentlemen to do care work, proximity services for everyone, recognition and resources for networks which already exist, affordable rental housing, recreational parks, etc. The plan isnıt about all that, but it is integral, transversal and tridimensional. It includes a resource map without resources and a whole array of impracticable good practices. In fact, the logic which directs it is not based in cooperation, participation, interdependence or the cohabitation of diversity. Should we be surprised, then, when the option is ³returning home² once one has gotten a good look at what employment is all about, with subaltern half-days, badly paid long-distance work, the renunciation of oneıs own life, the impossibility of independence? We flee this alternative, our choices go the other way
The dominant perspective on sexist violence, which at present is an almost entirely judicial problem, leaves little margin for thinking about what other women surely have thought before us How to construct a feminist community? An imaginary of counter-power and solidarity between women, not of isolation and mere assistance. Interventions, both in institutions and in the media, go the other way: individualization (which points out the victims one by one: a particular profile), victimization (the battered woman who can barely sustain herself, uprooted, always alone), and finally, assistance (which is attention and listening but never care). Once more, confinement and uprooting as the only option. Only within this route, crowded with insecurity, alarm and fear, does the interest this theme arouses in many make sense. Respect and recognition of womenıs organizations, of the networks of care and support as a point from which to depart, of collective feeling from a perspective which empowers autonomy, the reinvention of community all of this is marginal when those in power speak, as is the reflection upon the roles which violence against women plays in womenıs escape to more inhabitable terrain.
We are hyper[in]visible. We occupy the totality of public space; an immense shopwindow of bodies and desires, never fulfilled. We are on the screen; we are competent velintroquists. Women yes, but as victims, assisted, subventioned. Abused women from here or from the Third World. As subjects? Collective subjects, in feminism? Then no. Autonomous no, leaping into the public sphere, no. As interlocutors definitely no. When we speak and make movements the public powers respond: invisibilization, instrumentalization, captation, cutting of subventions or eviction. When we say: domination does not disappear, it changes adopting new forms: the precarization of existance, poverty and overburdening of women, legal racism for domestic and sexual service without dignity or rights, violence as a mass spectacle, normalization of sexuality in consumption, daily global wars to this, NO.
But feminism is not a mere institutional instrument. It circulates, more or less furious or depressed, in the veins of all of us. It joins, considers, points to partial objectives, pauses, takes spaces and imagines. Its action is disseminated in multiple networks, organizations and projects which now, paradoxically, find their field of operation reduced in resources, support, space, recognition and demands be that on account of its insubordinate and anti-victimistic orientation, or because it crosses some limit of morality, sexuality or profitability.
The Eskalera Karakola, a squatted feminist social center in the neighborhood of Lavapies is one of these groups. After 8 years of self-management in precarious conditions and struggle for a space threatened by real-estate speculation, it is facing an eviction on the one hand and on the other the lack of political will on the part of the city government, which refuses to bridge the gap between gender policiesı and the reality of organized women: ³Everything for the women but without the women.² This December 11th we want to come together for a moment, take this absurd policy which hyper[in]visibilizes and punishes out into the streets. We want to take to the streets with the plurality of our claims, we want it to be a moment ripe with a wealth of reflection and with strength in our demands. Because the eviction of the Karakola is more than just the Karakola, it is the contradiction which we encounter every day in our efforts for a new feminist protagonism.
DEMONSTRATION: 11 December 2004, 6h Anton Martín (Madrid)
A feminist body in motion remains in motion unles acted upon by a brute force which counteracts or domesticates it.
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