Sexual harassment has always existed. But harassment, conceptualized as a crime, as something reprehensible, is a recent invention. In the first penal codes, sexual crimes were punished as crimes of honor, in which the protected legal interest was the honor of the father or husband, damaged through the its woman or its daughter, and not the sexual freedom of the victim. To locate sexual harassment as a reprehensible conduct for the majority, feminism was necessary, as well as for women to position themselves as subjects, to think from the me and not as guests, through the gaze of the other. “Harassment, the use of men in positions of power over women they dominated, has existed all their lives. They have never seen it ugly, horrible, disgusting. We women have made that change. that we contaminate common sense “, explains the philosopher and writer Maite Larrauri (Valencia, 1950).
A dialogue to reflect on philosophy, feminism and “unexpected subjects”
The movement Me Too, the “I do believe you” that flooded the streets in support of the victim of “La Manada” until it became a feminist insignia, has been “a very powerful movement.” “There can no longer be a reversal. There may be setbacks in some countries, but it is immovable. We have made the invisible visible, the unspeakable speakable. It has been a revolution,” says the author in conversation with elDiario.es. Larrauri shares reflections with Professor Francisco Caballero, both professors of philosophy in secondary education, in An unexpected subject: dialogue on philosophy and feminism, a meeting of the looks of the bodies man-woman on the thought.
She confesses that at age 20 she was reading philosophy as a guest, often an impostor. To make the leap, feminism was essential. “Written culture has been fundamentally male. You enter as an imitator, as other young men enter, but they are given the witness. Women enter culture as impostors,” he says. Throughout history, many women have experienced this awareness individually, often sharing their discomfort with others, but in recent decades it is when the jump occurs, the waves. “It was enough that their experience did not square with common sense for them to see it, but their outings could only be personal. Then there were the margins: madness, witchcraft … There is an ‘realization’ that I think they have lived. all women, a moment in which you see how the world is addressing you, “he exposes.
For the jump to take place collectively, there must be a shock, a shock that produces a conscience, but also a network that knows how to conceptualize it, to name the discomfort. “You can share the experience, but if you do not have words … There is a moment when not being comfortable with yourself goes through the moment when you do not know how to tell yourself what is wrong with you. You do not simply make up for that absence of words. By telling another what happens to you, a condition of a different meaning has to be produced; a language, a community but a more reflective community has to be created. Sewing together or washing together there has been solidarity, which is essential for survival, thus the Women have helped each other and they have not died of disgust. But the community of meaning is something else, it is not a tap on the back, it is creating a common language, “says Larrauri.
“In my mother’s time there was only a tragedy, that of conforming or being a weird one”, an imperative that began to change in Spain in the seventies, a time when the philosopher began to be more politically active with thousands of women. “It is the moment in which you notice that what you say finds an echo, a recognition, a force that it did not have at the beginning.” He remembers a quote from a documentary on the history of American feminism: “We all wanted to leave home and in the seventies we all left at the same time.” “We wanted to flee from the one you have been, from the destiny that falls on your head.”
Body-mind duality and their separation are a constant in philosophy; an idea that is valid to defend that reason does not have sex –and eliminates intellectual discrimination between men and women–, but also that the mind is asexual, that there is no difference, a discourse that is not as neutral as it seems when it passes through the eddy filter. “Foucault is fundamental. He has taught me to think. One must always ask the position of the subject. From where he says it is the first question. But the second is against what he says it; who wants to disavow what he says. you have it in your head, it is good for everything “. Larrauri defends that “women have historically had to be more body”, but not from an essentialist perspective, but as a fact for the development of a different sensibility. “We have had to take care of menstruation, pregnancy … and from there we have managed to get a virtue, but sensitivity is attached to that,” he says.
Thus, for Larrauri, the body-mind, body-reason distinction, “is not separable, everything goes together.” “We are talking about sensitivity. Of a foundation that has been put aside by a certain philosophy that has pointed it out as something that had to be overcome, with the primacy of reason, relegating it to the background. Reason is based on sensitivity, it is nourished. Sensitivity is the senses and also common sense “, he emphasizes. As an example, the teacher illustrates it with the pandemic, with what the disease implies or with old age, a stage in which the body weighs.
The body is proposed as a territory in which to exercise power when violence is used as an element of discipline, control and punishment, as Nerea Barjola recalls, following Foucault, in Sexist microphysics of power. “Being more body is something historical: the world conspires to give you a place, to set expectations for you, it places you”, adds the philosopher.
Virginia Woolf and her theory on economic independence, formulated among other works in the conference collected in A room of my own It is another beacon for the author, who links with that idea of sensitivity. “Woolf teaches us that salary is more important than the right to vote; it is a discourse of difference feminism. The foundation of women’s freedom is to earn a living. Our grandmothers said ‘study, that it is fundamental that you earn your living so you don’t have to depend on any man. ‘That her parents couldn’t tell her, no matter how sensitive, no matter how good men they were. ”
Where is the truth?
The last five years has been accompanied by the proliferation of fakes, hoaxes, lies, manipulations, of a rise of the conspiracy and the reactionary. With the pandemic, it has been shown that the experts and the official arouse more suspicion than comfort, more doubts than certainties. The truth, which has been a fundamental pillar for philosophy, has been blurred and has passed into the field of the abstract. As a diagnosis, Larrauri goes to Hannah Arendt: “There has been a moment in which the truth has been spoken as a correlate of the story, as the fact that it corresponds to a story. That has led to think that anything that can be said can enter in the field of truth as long as it is sustained. Hannah Arendt said that humans from the moment we speak are capable of lying. In language there is that capacity for lies. That is why we must confront what are facts, that They are not either truth or a lie, they are facts. And the truth and the lie that they build through them. ” Journalism, laments the author, seems to have become an untouchable power and a fundamental actor in this deformation, an accomplice. In response, he goes to Foucault: “Before the discourse of what fakeWe still have what Foucault said: if you make a statement to me, now I will ask you who makes it, from where and who you want to discredit. That would put us on the path to know what kind of truth it is. ”