María Llopis (Valencia, 1975) is a writer, artist and activist on sexuality and feminism. After writing in 2010 That was the postporn and Subversive maternity wards in 2015, now comes The care revolution (Txalaparta, 2021). The work brings together a series of in-depth interviews with gypsy activists, racialized and polyamorous families, sex workers, and experts in motherhood and parenting from different fields. The conversations tread all the puddles, they leave nothing unaddressed. Silvia Agüero, Marta Busquets, Desirée Bela-Lobedde, Gabriela Wiener or Erika Lust are some of the women who make up this polyphonic story and who break with the established patterns in everything related to parenting.
How, when and why did you decide to write The care revolution?
This book is the second part of Subversive maternity wards, which I wrote when my son Roc was six months old. With a baby you write from another place, you still don’t know almost anything about parenting. The care revolution It goes all the way that raising my son, who is now seven years old, has taken me. I started writing it before the pandemic but I had spent years thinking about it, gathering information and talking to the women who appear in it.
Let’s start at the beginning, the title of the book: Why is caring revolutionary today?
At first my editor and I called him Subversive maternity hospitals 2, but when we did the final reading we realized that the theme that is repeated and unites the book is care. Although they are not treated per se, is the deep theme that lies beneath everything else. And I am talking about the care revolution because I feel that all these years of caring for my son have been a great learning process on a vital and personal level for me. It has been like a little revolution. If we could all immerse ourselves in the essence of caring, which is love, if we could put our energy there, the world would be a better place. This is the true revolution that I feel we need.
On the cover there is a definition of yourself that is almost a declaration of intentions: writer, artist, witch, whore, crazy, feminancy, posh, hetera, paya and bastard. How have all of these elements traversed your maternal experience?
What I do there is a reappropriation of insults. I am very aware of the place from which I write and I think: I am white, straight, cis, I have university studies… But I have also suffered abuse in childhood, so I do not have the privilege of having been raised without abuse. But what I don’t like is entering a privilege competition, seeing who has more or who has less. We all have our wounds, and it is important to take care of each other but without victimizing ourselves. All the women I speak to for the book speak from their unique and different reality.
From the introduction he talks about the importance of taking care of oneself in order to take care of others. Why should we put women at the center?
This has been a very deep learning for me: while I take care of myself, I realize that I love my son and I want him to be well, but for that the first thing I have to do is take care of myself and be well myself. I am 46 years old and I am responsible for my own care, regardless of someone else taking care of me. A very good example to understand this is that of airplanes, when in the safety warnings they explain that, if something happens, adults have to put on the oxygen mask and then put it on children. Before becoming a mother, I had been flying for many years and did not understand why it was done that way. And then I realized that it is because if you don’t put it on first, it is difficult for you to put it on the child. The parallel is clear: if you lose yourself in caring for your child, you are both lost.
The book is a compilation of interviews with women of all kinds who approach motherhood from different perspectives. Was it important to you to collect different voices, rather than just yours?
I did it because I wanted to continue with the same scheme as in Subversive maternity wards. And it is because there are issues that I think are key in parenting, and what better than experts to talk about them. Most of the women are my friends, acquaintances, or people I know on a professional level. For example, how can I talk about orgasmic births if I haven’t had one? Well, it is better for someone who has lived it to tell it.
In the interview with the lawyer Marta Busquets they talk about the rights of pregnant women. One of the hottest topics right now is obstetric violence. What opinion do you deserve?
I don’t understand why women are always treated so badly. And I understand obstetric violence as a broader issue than everything that surrounds pregnancy and childbirth. It has to do with the problems that people with a uterus face: menopause, bleeding, menstrual pain, endometriosis, childbirth … For example, lately I have suffered very strong bleeding that are part of perimenopause, I have gone to gynecologists and have received continued condescension and questioning. And this is not an exception, it is a rule. It also goes beyond physical treatment, it also has a psychological component. Silvia Agüero tells it in her interview: when she went to give birth they commented sarcastically that how gypsies like to give birth young. And then if an older woman becomes pregnant, she is also questioned. It seems that because we have a uterus, everything is questioned.
With Silvia Agüero he talks about gypsy maternity wards, and with Desirée Bela-Lobedde about racialized maternity wards. Should we listen to stories like yours in order to understand how far racism goes in our society?
Sure, it is essential. Not just listening but integrating and incorporating, being open to other ideas. It happened to me with Silvia Agüero: when I spoke to her about tribe upbringing, she explained to me that it was racist. And I had gotten tired of talking about it without stopping to think about those connotations. She explained to me that gypsies have always raised in tribe, and that now we clowns continually talk about the subject referring to Africa or ancient civilizations, when we have always had it by our side. “Maybe what you should do is gypsy your world a bit,” he told me. And that hit me a reality slap. Or when Desirée tells me in her interview: “Feminist women are our machistas.” There I said: “Touché“; I can have many fractures of racism, machismo … and I have to continually review myself and check them to be a better person. Like everyone else. We have very close references, we only have to listen to them to question our own machismo and racism.
In her book there are no taboo topics: the performer Sadie Lune talks about her experience combining motherhood and sex work, Erika Lust talks about porn and adolescents, while Gabriela Wiener recounts her life as a polyamorous family. Do you think that we are increasingly open to new realities?
I am optimistic and I think yes, things are changing rapidly. There are certain taboo subjects that just because they are put on the table over and over again, that already means a change. For example, Sadie Lune is a sex worker co-parenting between three people, two parents and a mother. Paula Ezkerra also talks about sex work, who defends that sexuality is one more type of care work. She says that most of her clients are looking for affection, although she tends to think that sex work is just sex. In the case of Erika Lust, I really like our conversation about porn and adolescents because 20 years ago we were “enemies”, I worked from post-porn and she from feminist porn, but now we have come together. And I love that, because I don’t like fights within feminism at all. It seems absurd to me.
It has included an epilogue on the pandemic. How do you think the COVID-19 crisis has affected care?
I included it because I couldn’t leave out something as strong as what had happened. It is still a small note, a small final reflection, but for me it was important to put it in. What I did was talk to the interviewees to see how their relationship with care had changed, and I asked myself that too. For me it was a very strong change, since the first months of confinement I went to live with the father of my son. The idea of being away from my child or that his father could not see him terrified me. We have been separated for many years, he lives with more people and at that time there were more creatures in the house, so at that time my way of taking care of myself and taking care of each other was that.