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El feminismo como teoría de la solidaridad: una propuesta de Judith Butler

[Transcripción de una conferencia dictada para la Cátedra Alfonso Reyes del Tecnológico de Monterrey el 10 de marzo de 2021] [Disculpas por los errores de transcripción que pueda haber cometido: it’s a labour of love].

I though today I might talk to you briefly about feminism, about the feminist movement for our times. And perhaps I should start with the simple fact that I believe we are lucky to find ways to stay in communication with each other, and our worlds, through platforms such as this. That our current isolation is not our permanent state. It is rather a new point of departure for thinking about our relations with one another: the social form that we are building as we expand networks of care, the world we will be repairing and the world that we are now tasked with imagining or reimagining. I think indeed we know that care has always been associated with women, with women’s work, but now in recent months or perhaps the entirety of the last year we see that networks of care move us out of the household, move us out of the family into de neighborhood, into de city, into de region, that our action in one part of the world affects people’s lives in another part of the world. So perhaps what this pandemic has to offer us is a more expansive sense of our interdependency, an interdependency not just between nations between or between cities or between households, but an interdependency that belongs to us by virtue as our status as living beings, embodied and living beings: what air do we breathe?,we share the air; what surfaces do we share? all of the surfaces; how do we each depend on the Earth and the survival and persistence of the Earth. So much is now our common responsibility, perhaps our global responsibility, that we have to think again about how to imagine ourselves as belonging to the same world, to a common world, and how that world is related to the Earth upon which we depend and the stoping of climate change and the destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity. I know that you know about this in Mexico even more acutely and knowledgeably that I do.

At the same time that I think there is a chance to think about a new form of relationality, an interdependency that exceeds internationalism, that can not be properly described by internationalism alone, I am very aware that in the last years the attacks on feminism have become quite public and quite intense. On the one hand this is a continuation of the misogyny that has been with patriarchal cultures for the longest time; on the other hand, I think there is something very contemporary about the attacks on feminism, they are attacks as well to LGTBIQ+ and trans people in particular, and the attacks on feminism have I think been a response to our success to the various ways we have fought against sexual violence. We ha fought for equal wages, we have fought to give women reproductive freedom; we have also fought for trans rights and for the rights of all people no matter how gender conforming or gender non conforming to walk on the street, to breathe easily in their worlds without fear of violence, without fear of stigmatization, without fear of discrimination.

So when people ask me ‘Oh, why be a feminist these days?’ Hasn’t everything been accomplished, that what feminism wants to achieve?’. I always, of course, say no. It can not be denied that women are disproportionally expose to violence and hunger. Than women are much more likely to be illiterate than men and to suffer with the thread and reality of sexual violence agains them more than most men do, not all men but most men. Similarly some have criticize the ecological movement, the movement against ecological destruction, the movement against extractivism as anti-market or as exaggerated or perhaps as naive. And yet the various movements that seek to save our planet from environmental destruction, especially those driven by youth have become indisputably urgent. If we can not save the Earth from destruction, then we loose the conditions we required to live, to love, to struggle for justice, freedom and equality. So I bring up the environmental movement because I believe that all social movements, including feminism, depends upon the movement to combat climate change and the destruction of habitats an ecosystems throughout the world. If we can not be sustained by the planet, if we can not sustain the planet, we will not have our struggles for justice, for equality and for freedom. 

And of course feminism is a strong movement, it’s an incredible movement. But I think we also have to ask: Is it a movement that is just for women? Or is it a movement to change the landscape of our gendered world, that is, to battle all forms of gender discrimination, including the discrimination against women? And I say this because it’s very important to remember that feminism has always been involved in thinking about gender as a political category and as an historical category. In other words, what it meant to be a women in 1910 is very different from what it means to be a woman now and that depends on time and place, culture and language. But we track the shifts in the meaning of what it is to become or to be a woman. We are aware that women were not suitable for academic life at one point in time, and yet they are now exactly suitable and in fact in leadership positions everywhere. What has happened? The social category, the historical category of woman has change so did it permits different meanings than what it permitted in the past. 

So we have depended on gender being an open category, subject to redefinition, which is why trans women are also women, they belong to the category of women, they must belong. And those who have assumed that women are only those assigned female at birth, who live out their social and historical life as women, that they are the only women I thing they close the category instead of opening it into something that might be hospitable, generous, capacious, open to the future meanings of what gender can be

I want also to say this, that, perhaps as we think about interdependency, we think about the open and historical shifting character of the category of women, that we also ask ourselves what kind of idea of solidarity is implied by the concept of feminism. For instance, we say and we are right to say that feminism is a social movement and feminist theory is an academic inquiry: the two are linked but not exactly the same. But when we talk about feminism that of course includes the insistence that the women’s lives have dignity and that trans lives bear dignity. That violence on the streets or in the home, from internet men o strangers or even from women or the police is a radical injustice and must be opposed. 

Feminism is, in my view, not just a movement for women but for all those who wants to live in a world of radical equality, where we saver the interdependent character of our lives. And that means changing life in the family, the workplace, the street, the factory, the field and the square. Although we are told by some that the feminist movement will destroy civilization or the family or culture as we know it, we know that is not a fair conclusion. To demand the transformation of all these sites of living, the house, the street, the place of employment, to demand that change so that all of these sites, these institutions, embodied principles of radical equality, to do that we need to seek to support a wide number of social movement and to show them that it is in their interest to accept the equality of women, the openness of gender and the interdependency of our lives.

So here I would just want to say that academic work is also important, as we think about these concepts. When we say we are against violence, we also need to be able to say what is violence, where do we find it, what form does it takes, is it always physical, can it be symbolic, can it be linguistic. When we say we are for gender justice, do we have a concept of justice from what texts from what social movements from what histories do we derive our idea of justice. And when we think about equality, are we thinking about the equality of every individual to one another or are we perhaps saying that we are equally dependent upon each other, that we are equally interdependent. That we are in fact characterized by our dependency of a wide range of life systems, environments and ecologies without which our live would not be possible. Perhaps now is the time of rethink equality in terms of these fundamental relations. What does it means not to have access to food or air, good air, or health conditions that are livable and that support people specially in times of pandemic. We’ve seen how social inequality works to distribute the fundamentals of live unequally. But what that tells us is that we are all equally dependen on those requirements for life and that we need to think about ourselves not as abstract individuals but as embodied creatures who require each other and to flourish most clearly under a conditions of equality.

So to my critics or my skeptics who say why still feminism, why feminism now. Well, as we know, the struggle is not over. Literacy, I mentioned; violence, discrimination, poverty, right to health care, political rights including reproductive freedom… In order for us to struggle we must ask ourselves what kind of power do we wield, what kind of power do we want. Well, I would suggest perhaps reflecting briefly on the work of Ni una menos, the work of Veronica Gago in particular, on the concept of feminist potenciaPotencia in Spanish is not the same as potential in English. It is a difficult word to translate. It is movement, it is force, it is collectivity, and when we speak about potential we are dealing with a form of power, or perhaps a form of counter-power, that is a process, one that does not come to and end, through a specific realization of its aims in a time o place; it is an open ending process and as an open ended process it is also, potencia, of form of desire. A form of desire, yes, but also a form of thought that is linked to the body, to desire, to bodies in the colectivity. One could say, ‘oh, it is a life force’. But maybe it is a force that emerges between bodies or in the middle of collectivities, as we act together. We might think ‘oh, we need to have a force in order to act. We need to have power in order to act’. But sometimes in the very a process of collective action we fin our force or we produce it for one another. It is created by bodies as they act together. This is why Gago writes that desire is a force and already a form of power, one that is generally not included in the typologies of power that we learn in political science classes, but that can change. That can change.

I want also to suggest that what many Latin American feminist movement have taught the north, and taught Europe and other countries as we watch you, and your powerful, powerful movements, is that a feminist movement needs to be linked to the struggle against colonialism and continuing colonial power. It needs to be linked to the struggle against old and new forms of dispossession including colonial extractivism, the displacement of indigenous people and the extraction of minerals for the marketplace at the expense of the Earth. So I would suggest that we also, as a feminist movement, must be concerned about labour unions or to have our place in those unions or to produce forms of solidarity and collectivity that can struggle to make sure women are protected on the jobs that they have rights and entitlements including the pension and that their health is protected and that they themselves are paid equally to men. And of course that both men and women make a livable wage. It won’t do to be paid equally to men if nobody is making a good wage. It must be a livable wage.

I want to suggest maybe that as feminism becomes involved in the critique of neoliberalism, the long and violent history of colonial dispossession, patriarchy forms of state terrorism, the present industrial complex, as feminism seeks to care for precarious workers and the indigenous, that all of these means that feminism is a way of linking with other groups or showing that those links and those relationships are essential to what it is. It’s not that feminism is over here and then there is labour rights, and then there is the critique and opposition of continuing colonial violence, it is rather that the links between among all of those movements is feminism. FEMINISM IS A THEORY OF SOLIDARITY AND I WOULD SUGGEST ALONG WITH NI UNA MENOS A PRACTICE OF SOLIDARITY.

Now of course we don’t say the entire left is feminism, and yet feminism must be part of the left for the left to be legitimate. The left that rejects feminism is not legitimate. Feminism must be there. How must if be there? Just represented as a single identity category or group among groups or is it a movement that has the power to illuminate our interdependency and formulate a practice of solidarity among groups? So this is where I believe that the concept of interdependency can lead to an understanding of feminism as a theory and practice of solidarity and can also brings us to understand how feminism works throughout the left.

Finally, I would just say that, you know, it has always been the task of women to mourn. After war, women mourn; after the horrible dictatorships and the terrible killing, women mourn; as far back as Greek tragedy it is women who are mourning. But I don’t believe that it is the natural task of women to mourn. I think that we all, all of us, regardless of gender, must learn to practice a certain kind of mourning. In the United States when the Black Lives Matter movement became so visible and so powerful, over the summer months, we saw that everyone on the street was mourning, because black lives should not be destroyed so quickly and so brutally by the police. We also saw that all of those who were mourning were also demanding justice. So then the question for us, for feminist, for feminist theory, is what is the relation between mourning and justice. How is it that when we know what we have lost, and we know that we are not to have lost it, that is was unjust that it was lost, that our ideas of justice can move from there, can emerge from there, because, why, because a just world would be a world in which all lives will be considered equally valuable, the lost of any life through police violence would be absolutely unacceptable and that that radical equality of the living will be expressed both in our mourning and in our calls to justice.

Por qué las víctimas de violencia machista, de Ana Orantes a Rocío Carrasco, van a la televisión

Son dos casos que van a ejercer de hitos en la historia del tratamiento judicial y mediático de la violencia machista. En 1997, Ana Orantes acudió a la televisión a contar que, durante cuatro décadas de matrimonio, había sido maltratada por su marido con puntual regularidad: la agarraba del pelo para estrellarla contra una pared, le propinaba patadas en el estómago, puñetazos, puntapiés, bofetones, trataba de estrangularla y hasta llegaba a sentarla en una silla para sacudirle con un palo. Sus ocho hijos sobrevivientes, tres mujeres y cinco varones, crecieron entre hostigamientos, desprecios, palizas, tocamientos e intentos de agresión sexual. El menor de todos los hermanos intentó tirarse por la ventana cuando tenía 7 años.

Cuando su marido estallaba en cólera, Ana Orantes cogía a sus hijos y salía corriendo de casa sin destino conocido: nadie quería acogerlos pese a la violencia de aquel (o quizá debido precisamente a ella). Ni siquiera sus propios parientes les daban cobijo, optando también por no interferir en el problema. Alrededor de 1972, Orantes decidió querellarse contra su marido: quince veces se presentó en el cuartelillo. «Esas son peleas normales en la familia», le decían los agentes de la Guardia Civil que la atendían. Tras la aprobación de la ley del divorcio, trató de separarse en varias ocasiones, hasta que en 1996, lo logró.


¿Por qué fue a televisión a contar la mala vida que seguía sufriendo, ya que su ex marido vivía en la misma casa que ella y la persecución y los insultos continuaban? Años después de su asesinato, su hija Raquel contó que vio la oportunidad de desahogarse, de tener un altavoz en el que contar el sufrimiento que en ese momento solo conocían ella misma y sus hijos. En realidad lo conocían todos, todo su pueblo, toda su familia, las fuerzas del orden y el juez de paz, pero no lo reconocían. El 17 de diciembre, pocos días después de que el mundo se enterara del martirio al que había sido sometida, su ex marido acuchilló, la roció de gasolina y la quemó viva. Según dijeron algunos testigos, le indignó que Ana contara que había mantenido económicamente a la familia gracias a su tienda de comestibles.

«Nos preocupa que los estereotipos y prejuicios de género así como la ausencia de una perspectiva de género y de un análisis interseccional de la discriminación contra la mujer obstaculicen el acceso a la justicia por parte de las mujeres y niñas víctimas de delitos sexuales, impidiéndoles obtener un recurso efectivo». Dubravka Šimonovic, relatora especial sobre la violencia contra la mujer de Naciones Unidas, y Elizabeth Broderick, presidenta-relatora del grupo de trabajo sobre la discriminación contra las mujeres y las niñas de la misma institución, en carta al Gobierno de España,

¿Por qué ha acudido Rocío Carrasco a la televisión para contar, también, su caso de violencia machista? Lo ha confesado ella misma: por una necesidad de reconocimiento a su maltrato. Ni la sociedad ni las instancias judiciales ni gran parte de su propia familia han dado credibilidad a su relato de violencia. La denegación de reconocimiento por parte de los jueces no significa que no sea víctima de malos tratos, sino que estos no han sido probados. A los efectos de la calle, sin embargo, la conclusión que se sigue de una sentencia así es que ha acusado indebidamente un hombre inocente. Por tanto, miente. Se constata el relato de la parte contraria: que es mala, mala madre, mala mujer.

La declaración de Rocío Carrasco ante el juez ha sido central, como lo suele ser la de las víctimas de violencia machista, una violencia que se producen en la intimidad del hogar. De hecho, muchas veces su testimonio es la única prueba de cargo, de forma que las mujeres sobrellevan el doble papel de testigos y víctimas. Precisamente por esta doble condición, varios jueces se han pedido un estatuto jurídico específico, con distinciones respecto al testigo en sentido estricto en cuanto al deber y dispensa de declarar, entre otras cuestiones. Se trata de reclamar, un sistema probatorio que se adapte a las particularidades de los delitos relacionados con la violencia de género. De momento, solo se ha conseguido un plus de consideración para la víctima-testigo que se traduce en el que pueda declarar acompañada, pero sin ningún reflejo en sus derecho procesales.


Hasta marzo de 2019, las declaraciones de las víctimas que se presentaban como única prueba de cargo en un proceso penal de violencia de género eran examinadas en función de tres parámetros: falta de credibilidad intersubjetiva (por características físicas o psíquicas, dependencias de alcohol o estupefacientes, móviles espurios…); verosimilitud del testimonio (que sea lógico y coherente) y persistencia en la incriminación (que el testimonio sea detallado, consistente y no se contradiga, dentro de los límites de la afectación psicológica que sufren las víctimas). Sin embargo, la sentencia 119/2019 del 6 de marzo del Tribunal Supremo sienta una nueva jurisprudencia que cambia las reglas de consideración judicial de estos testimonios. Desde entonces, el juez ha de considerar los siguientes factores:

  • Seguridad en la declaración ante el Tribunal
  • Concreción en el relato de los hechos ocurridos objeto de la causa
  • Claridad expositiva ante el Tribunal
  • Lenguaje gestual de convicción. Este elemento es de gran importancia y se caracteriza por la forma en que la víctima se expresa desde el punto de vista de los “gestos” con los que se acompaña en su declaración ante el Tribunal
  • Seriedad expositiva que aleja la creencia del Tribunal de unrelato figurado, con fabulaciones, o poco creíble
  • Expresividad descriptiva en el relato de los hechos ocurridos
  • Ausencia de contradicciones y concordancia del iter relatado de los hechos
  • Ausencia de lagunas en el relato de exposición que pueda llevar a dudas de su credibilidad
  • La declaración no debe ser fragmentada
  • Debe desprenderse un relato íntegro de los hechos y no fraccionado acerca de lo que le interese declarar y ocultar lo que le beneficie acerca de lo ocurrido
  • Debe contar tanto lo que a ella y su posición beneficia como lo que le perjudica

Alicia González Monje, profesora Ayudante de Derecho Procesal en la Universidad de Salamanca, ha investigado cómo ha impactado en las víctimas la nueva jurisprudencia que el Tribunal Supremo dispone en su sentencia 119/2019 de 6 de marzo. Para no extendernos, esto es lo que escribe en las conclusiones de su artículo «La declaración de la víctima de violencia de género como única prueba de cargo: últimas tendencias jurisprudenciales en España», publicado en la Revista Brasileña de Derecho Procesal Penal, en diciembre de 2020.

«Por lo que respecta específicamente a la víctima de un delito de violencia de género, a nuestro juicio, estos criterios colocan a la misma en una posición aún más difícil de la que ya de por sí tiene en el proceso penal. Pensamos en aquella mujer que ha sufrido malos tratos a manos de su pareja o ex pareja, y a la que ahora no le bastará con relatar lo ocurrido ante la autoridad judicial, sino que además, por mor de la mencionada sentencia, deberá hacerlo de una determinada manera para resultar creíble.

En definitiva, consideramos que el Tribunal Supremo español ha caído en el propio estereotipo que pretende evitar. Entendemos que los factores señalados no responden más que a lo que se espera de una mujer víctima de violencia de género, conformando así un estereotipo en sí mismo, obviando las peculiares características que concurren en este tipo de delitos, y que llevan a que las respuestas que dan las víctimas de los mismos no sean las que pudieran esperarse en la víctima de cualquier otro delito. Lo normal es que la víctima de violencia de género se sienta insegura y nerviosa al narrar los hechos; no sólo por la presencia, en la mayoría de los casos, del maltratador en la misma sala, sino por otros factores de sentido común, como la incertidumbre de ser creída, el hecho de llevar hasta la justicia al padre de sus hijos, o al hombre que ha amado y con el que ha compartido su vida, el tener que contar ante unos extraños detalles íntimos de su relación, etc.

Los operadores jurídicos que trabajan y han trabajado en el campo de la violencia de género saben lo complicado que es conseguir que la víctima reviva lo sucedido en el acto del juicio, que se mantenga firme en su decisión de declarar, como para ahora tener que “instruirla” sobre una forma de contarlo o sobre los gestos que debe o no debe hacer para resultar creíble.

Sin duda, los parámetros introducidos por la sentencia del Tribunal Supremo 119/2019, de 6 de marzo, facilitan la labor del juzgador en la valoración de la declaración de las víctimas, pero también es cierto que colocan a estas en una incómoda posición al percibir que su declaración ha de alcanzar determinados estándares para resultar creíble, un temor, por otro lado, muy generalizado en la práctica entre las víctimas de violencia de género.

Tenemos que tener en cuenta que, si elevamos la presión sobre la víctima de violencia de género o, más concretamente, si la víctima percibe una mayor dificultad en la posición que ocupa en el proceso penal, habremos emprendido el camino contrario a su necesario empoderamiento, el cual se evidencia como imprescindible para conseguir que se mantenga en el proceso y que el mismo concluya con una sentencia condenatoria».

Las víctimas deben, hoy más que nunca, performar a una víctima-tipo. Si esto no se consigue, si el testimonio no se hace valer, se desvanece el reconocimiento y la legitimidad, un aspecto que forma parte de la reparación que merecen todas las víctimas. En el documento «Principios y directrices básicos sobre el derecho de las víctimas de violaciones manifiestas de las normas internacionales de derechos humanos y de violaciones graves del derecho internacional humanitario a interponer recursos y obtener reparaciones», la Oficina del Alto Comisionado en Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas cita la necesidad de «una disculpa pública que incluya el reconocimiento de los hechos y la aceptación de responsabilidades» en los procesos de reparación de las víctimas. En la guía «Actuaciones locales para la reparación para las víctimas de violencia machista» de Emakunde-Instituto Vasco de la Mujer y EUDEL-Asociación de Municipios Vascos, se explica que el derecho que tienen las víctimas-supervivientes de la violencia machista a contar con el apoyo y la atención integral de la administración pública incluye, al menos:

  • Una indemnización proporcionada en un plazo razonable por los daños y perjuicios económicamente evaluables.
  • El reconocimiento de la verdad o satisfacción, mediante acciones públicas de rechazo a la violencia y dando reconocimiento y voz a las supervivientes.
  • La garantía de no repetición, poniendo la atención en quien ha causado el daño.

Y eso es lo que buscan las mujeres que van a la televisión a contar sus casos de violencia machista.