Wednesday, 26 February 2014

"Without Feminism There Is No Revolution" - Feminism in Chile

Mujeres” is a beautiful word for “women”, especially because it doesn’t include the word "men". Why is Spanish important in this article? Well, because it is the language spoken in my country, Chile.
The feminist fight is something known worldwide, because women struggle in all the corners of the world. I am a feminist, born in the 90´s, living in a conservative country in South America. We’re mostly known for our wine, the accident of the 33 miners and the moai statues. But I believe Chile is a lot more than that.

Whenever I say “I´m a feminist”, the usual response I get is: “but you shave your legs”, “but you like men”, “but you’re not a communist”. I’m certain I would get the same ignorant answers in many other countries. In Chile, being a feminist is not something you can be proud of (but that doesn’t stop me). The misconception of this word is absolutely absurd and the bigger problem is that people avoid talking about it, just as they avoid talking about other subjects because they can be classified as “taboo”.

Protestors surround the Chilean flag on Women's Day. Image: Kena Lorenzini

The last election was held between two women: Michelle Bachelet and Evelyn Matthei. Bachelet won for the second time. In 2006 she was the first woman to be elected as president and in 2014 she was the first woman in Chile to be reelected. Even though Chile had the first female president in Latin America, representation of women in other areas are really poor. In Congress, women make up 14.2% of deputies and 13.2% of senators. In addition, only 12% of mayors are women. But we are making progress by creating programs to promote equality in politics.

Since 1991 Chile has had something called the National Service for Women, which has different functions, but one of the main ones is to lower the cases of femicides and violence against women. The numbers are decreasing, but they remain worrisome. 1 out of 3 women declare that they have suffered from violent acts. Chile ranks #4 among countries in Latin America with the most femicides (only include couples living together).

Cat-calling is very common on the streets of Chile. This means that every time I leave my house and it´s late, I´m afraid someone is going to rape me. Every time I go out of my house wearing a skirt my mother is going to ask me to wear something else or a man will probably grab my ass in the subway. Chilean men confuse harassment with compliments. I´m not flattered when I walk down the street and someone yells at me; “delicious”, “stop being so gorgeous”, “let me lick every part of your body”, “my queen, you are stunning”. Stop, it´s creepy and it makes me feel insecure.

Another issue that makes me believe Chile needs more feminists, is the disgusting sexism in the media. Do you really need to put a half-naked woman next to a beer? I don´t think so. It´s a shame that professionals use over-sexualized images of women to sell an item that has nothing to do with sex. Women keep being objectified and no one is doing something about this. Sexism in publicity is gender violence disguised with pretty colors and pretty people.

There is another form of violence that can´t be put in numbers and this comes from the Government. Chile is one of the five countries that punishes abortion in all its forms, not even to save the mother’s life, not even when it was in case of a rape, not even when the fetus is non-viable. Last year some very controversial news appeared: “an 11 year old girl, was raped by her stepfather and the pregnancy put her life in danger”, but there was NOTHING she could do. Chile needs to be more flexible in some aspects, there are approximately 160,000 abortions each year (this number is not precise due to the fact that this is an illegal act) and 15% of these end with complications which in some case lead to the woman´s death.

Postcard from radical feminist organisation "we are tired
 that the poor girls die, while the rich ones secretly abort." 

"Take your rosaries off my ovaries" Image: Kena Lorenzini

Sometimes I get criticized for being a feminist, they say I´m a hypocrite. Yes, I´m a latin young woman living in the most expensive side of the city, my family paid for a private education for me and if I ever got pregnant I would probably pay a high amount of money to get a clandestine abortion in a clinic or I would go to Uruguay and have it there. But what happens with the girls that can´t afford that? I´m not a feminist for myself, I´m a feminist for all the other women that don´t have the same opportunities that I do. I love my country and that is why I will never stop fighting until I see the day where women and men have the same social, political and economic rights.


"Without feminism, there is no revolution"

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