They Take Everything From Us, Except Our Rage
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The patriarchy courses through the veins of governments and the powerful, the media, the police. It traverses different socioeconomic sectors. It infiltrates tribunals of justice. It travels underground— sometimes, so clearly— and makes its way to the state. It becomes the expression of fury of the narcos and the Central American gangs that use women as shields and spoils of revenge, a disastrous tradition that persists today. Everything the patriarchy touches goes mad.
We are mad. Mad in the face of the constant invisibility of our abuses. Why is it that all the women you know have been abused, but men don’t know a single abuser? Because they don’t see it. Because, in their privilege, our blood is invisible. When we were little, they often touched us on the street. We experienced assault with impunity in flesh and blood. They have grabbed our asses, they have stroked their penises on the bus. They have kissed us by force. They have humiliated us. They abused us as kids, young adults, and grown-ups— drunk and sober. Once, one of us was walking around Valparaíso and a guy came out from behind some bushes and yelled: “You like it when they put it in your hole! Run bitch!” And there was no choice but to run. Assault like that, invisible to many, is what we live with every day.
Our testimony is always in question, always doubted, never enough. Presumption of innocence wipes out our truth. The impunity of abuse and rape is normalized and the constant revictimization is unbearable. Even so, they hate when we go out, en masse, to tell them that we will no longer tolerate their mistreatment, violence, and torture. When we created “A Rapist in Your Path,” we received countless threats on social media. It makes people uncomfortable. The first reaction of many is to defend themselves with “We’re not all like that.” Some even ask: “Why do you call us all rapists if I’m not one?” But our performance clearly points to the life sentences we serve in fear. It is an artistic way of saying that we are not safe. It is hard for them to see it, to see themselves, to unpack it all. They know no one is exempt, or almost no one. Not your father or your grandfather or your brother. Not the boyfriend who claims to be “in solidarity” and promises eternal love. Not even the protest buddy who, if he rummaged through his own past, would find more than one story of mistreatment of which he is author or accomplice.
Because many have abused a woman or sexual dissident, in one way or another. They have hurt us, they have punished us emotionally, they have minimized us, they have tried to explain labor and academic issues to us as if we were inferior. They have perpetuated the wage gap. They have mocked and denied the subjectivities and identities that do not correspond to patriarchal binaries; as if gender were only limited to men and women. They have abused their privileges. They have raped us.
The patriarchy is a judge who judges us for being born. With or without a vulva, to be born a dissident fatally links us to brutality. Everything the patriarchy touches turns into brutality. And we know it will continue inventing even crueler ways to kill us. All the women of the world know it because we don’t walk the streets in peace. Because if they rape us, we are told that we are to blame. Because the justice system doesn’t work and the precarious protection measures on offer are never enough. Because the candidates who are elected to run our governments fill their mouths with slogans of equality, but don’t propose state solutions to stop the femicides. Because it’s a lie that they protect us. Because it’s a lie that they want us alive.
We see it when they reject comprehensive sexual education. We see it when they reject the sociocultural and political change needed to abolish oppression and gendered violence. They take everything from us, except our rage.
And our rage unsettles them. They want us to stay home as if nothing were happening. It bothers them that we go out blindfolded at night, dressed in light, suggestive clothing, to sing “The Rapist Is You” at them. But we are not tired of screaming. Not until that rage turns into revolution. It infuriates them to see that we are fed up with waiting for change to come from their policies and that we are organizing ourselves independently and autonomously. It infuriates them to see that we put our trust in feminist organizations and collectives instead of their patriarchal and colonial institutions. It infuriates them to see us go to each other when we are victims of violence, or to have abortions together— illegal, clandestine. It infuriates them to see us disdain their state politics, because the cops don’t keep us safe, we do.
— an excerpt from Set Fear on Fire: The Feminist Call That Set the Americas Ablaze by LASTESIS.