Thursday, January 27

Anti-feminist resistance, neo-machismo, usurpation and paternalism

The most visible, direct and violent resistances can be found in the form of attacks on female colleagues by the most reactionary, sexist and fascist sectors that flood social networks. The profiles of male youtubers or instagramers with anti-feminist messages are increasing (sometimes in a tone of derision or grace) that, unfortunately, have more and more followers. Harassment in networks has forced many women to close their profiles or make them private. We have also encountered threats and complaints, such as the recent complaint admitted for processing against Pamela Palenciano for a “crime of hate towards men.” This ultra-macho resistance not only responds to a few angry men who do not want to lose their privileges, it is accompanied by a system that gives them a voice and credibility. The “patriarchal injustice” that, among other things, victims of sexist violence or mothers in legal proceedings have to face, acts as a support for patriarchal resistance.

We also find a daily and common resistance, less violent but very damaging, with speeches that pretend to be impartial. Inequality is made invisible and sexist violence is only recognized in extreme cases. There are the people who call themselves “neither machistas nor feminists”, “egalists” or even “feminists, but not of that feminism that exists now” who use the “not all …” or “women too …” on a daily basis. They are convinced that equality already exists in their lives and in the lives of those around them. They recognize machismo but think that contemporary women have already acquired rights and that we have no reason “to complain” unless we have been physically abused or raped. In this neomachist universe, with its politically correct discourse, feminists tend to be exaggerated and extremist and the term feminist or radical arises (not as a feminist current, but as a synonym for “extremism”), because the term feminazi is too vulgar for someone that defends “equality”.

But we can also find egalitarian men, who consider themselves feminist allies, co-responsible, use inclusive language, defend new masculinities and who, perhaps, even give talks about it. The problem is when this whole process is part of a disguise and there is no real, honest and humble review of the privileges. We also find sexist violence masked in the aura of a progressive couple, from which many women do not know how to get out despite having tools, even doubting themselves in the face of the socially deified image of an “ally” activist. There are very conscientious men who have made their conscience a career and who, perhaps, are more recognized in the field of equality than women themselves and they profit from it. Because in this patriarchal society it is not incompatible (or, apparently, contradictory) to continue to use privileges while questioning themselves. We even find women who continue to admire the man’s speech (especially if he is “deconstructing his masculinity”) and give more credibility and value to his words. And professional women who must acquire roles of hegemonic masculinity to make themselves heard. The more social base feminism has, the more care must be taken with the appropriation of spaces and discourses. In maternity wards this usurpation can be observed very well. Stewardship fathers must respect the needs of mothers and babies. However, progressive usurpation disguised as stewardship can cause mothers serious problems: men who have read a lot about pregnancy and parenting and, instead of using that information to understand and support the mother, give her guidelines and guidelines, as if she outside the container of “your baby.” Men who claim to give bottles to participate equally in feeding, showing that the mother’s ability and desire to breastfeed is a whim. Who claim equal paternity leave despite not having gone through a pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding and the puerperium. Who claim shared custody imposed as an individual and adult right without taking into account the needs of mothers and their children, distributing the baby as one more possession, etc.

But not all resistance comes from outside. Paternalism can be external to the movement, but it also occurs among feminist colleagues and mainly affects those women who go outside the hegemonic logic and a single path of liberation. We find relationships of this type with racialized migrant companions (such as Roma women), poor women (because hegemonic feminism continues to be of the middle classes), mothers (because motherhood is still considered patriarchal), childhood and adolescents (because the ways , methods and discourses of liberation that are proposed are generally adult-centered), and so on. Feminism is not “one, great and free” because women are diverse and, although we are oppressed for being women, the ways to free ourselves from that oppression are multiple. If the consideration of a unique feminism is carried out from the white West, middle class, heterosexual, etc. (and I could add: with a certain educational level and a certain age group), we will be exporting to the whole world a single point of view on the strategies of struggle and forms of liberation, which are not normally applicable to other contexts. We also put aside the multiple oppressions that, in each case, intersect. But recognizing differences does not imply separation. In fact, we should try to abandon those predesigned speeches that we repeat incessantly and start listening to colleagues who have different experiences, which we had never taken into account before. Without a doubt, we could learn other forms of struggle because, as Pastora Filigrana says, her strategies of resistance to different oppressions can be the key to defining a truly transformative activism.

It is easy to say that we are immersed in power dynamics, but it is not always easy to recognize that we are closer to the top, that being women and even activists, feminists and revolutionaries, we have many things in common with the oppressive side and, times, less with the oppressed. Really recognize it, not because it is very cool intersectionality. We do not stop criticizing the amount of #NotAllMen and we justify ourselves every time a group makes us see our privileges, especially when they show them to us in an uncomfortable way. We must make a great self-criticism, for example, in the use of science: gender studies should get closer to the diverse reality of women and their contexts (not making universal theories of a single model of salvation) and fight so that the feminist theory becomes practical also in university and political spaces (instead of adapting to their patriarchal dynamics).

We also run the risk of facing a new institutionalization, which is why it is necessary to review our history. The co-optation of feminist groups by political parties generated an institutional feminism, in such a way that, although they achieved important advances in the legislative field, they ceased to be autonomous pressure groups, of a transformative and anti-system nature. Therefore, they ceased to be an activist reference in the street, beyond 8M and 25N, where this institutionalization could also be seen in the acts. The creation of women’s centers (with different names depending on the territory) has meant a great achievement for the advice, support and help of women, especially victims of sexist violence, but they cannot be considered as a substitute for struggle, because it would mean the professionalization of a social movement. Like the constitution of feminist collectives as women’s associations. Always grateful for the enormous and valuable struggle of these women for the acquired rights that we all now enjoy, but many activists were trapped within the system they wanted to change. Feminism cannot be translated into votes, but rather into social transformations. We must give a boost to autonomous feminism, which since the pandemic seems to be sleeping and wakes up only at the blow of a post or a like: the illusory image of a phantom activism, institutionalization 2.0.

Many are the risks to which feminists are exposed today, beginning with a harsh anti-feminist resistance and patriarchal offensive. However, sometimes we are faced with more subtle forms with which we coexist in our own spaces and that we must unmask, even through self-criticism. Recognizing ourselves as feminists, in our diversity and contexts, will make us build bridges between ourselves and repair the holes that have been produced in the walls that our ancestors began to build.