The viral gender performance

Text by: Shirlene Green Newball Photo: Rosamaria Bolom

“El patriarcado es un juez, que nos juzga por nacer, 

y nuestro castigo, es la violencia que no ves. 

El patriarcado es un juez, que nos juzga por nacer, 

y nuestro castigo, es la violencia que ya ves”.

 “The Patriarchy is a judge, who judges us for being born, 

and our punishment is the violence that you don’t see. 

The patriarchy is a judge, who judges us for being born,

and our punishment is the violence that you see”.

These words and choreography started on the streets of Chile on the 20th of November and spread across the Pacific Ocean to many countries in America and Europe such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia, United States of America, Uruguay, Nicaragua, France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden and many others in a week.  

I am sure that you had heard these words over and over on social media during the past week.  These are part of the performance A rapist in your way (Un violador en tu camino) composed by Las Tesis

But who are these women? Las Tesis is a Chilean feminist collective formed years ago by four women from Valparaíso. Sibila Sotomayor and Daffne Valdés are performing artists, Paula Cometa Stange is a designer and, and Lea Cáceres is a costume designer.  

The performances aim to act feminism theories to reach to different audiences colloquially. The first one was done in 2004 based on the book The caliban and the witch (El calibán y la bruja), of scholar Silvia Federicci.  The current performance, A rapist in your way took inspiration from the feminist Rita Segato’s thesis that develops the structure of sexual violence and rape against women as a form of fragile masculinity. 

In an interview given to El Tiempo newspaper,Sotomayor said: “Our interventions last only fifteen minutes, the idea is that it be so, precise, concise, and effective”.

In the second paragraph of the performance, you need to do four squats, which symbolize the squats women are obligated to do after being arrested and naked by the Chilean police. This violation of human rights has also been perpetrated in Nicaragua, which is under an authoritarianism government. A report given by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights describes this type of action (page 64). 

“Es femicidio

Inmunidad para mi asesino

Es la desaparición

Es la violación”.

“It is femicide

It is Impunity for my killer

It is the disappearance

It is rape”.

The last part of the performance refers to part of the Chilean police anthem, which is an irony between words and their actions. 

Over 50 women from several Latin American countries, Finland and other countries also did the viral performance. The cold weather, of course, did not stop us to shout and march once more to denounce rape, femicide, and impunity in cases of gender violence committed by the state or individuals.  This event was organized in two days, so a lot of us rehearsed at home. In my case, I did it on the buses and trams on my way to work. 

If you had not participated in the performance, I invite you to organize it with your friends, adapt it to your context, film, and share it. We need to be heard; no matter what language you speak because we are tired. 

“And it’s not my fault, nor where I was, or how I was dressed”.

“Y la culpa no era mía, ni donde estaba, ni cómo vestía”.

“Syyllinen en oo mä, Ei missä olin, ei mun vaatteet”.

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