I recently arrived from Mexico City glowing with energy, inspiration, joy—I was high on a city for 2 weeks. High on 24 hour feminine energy. Feminist fuerza, ya que era el XI Encuentro Feminista de Latino America y El Caribe.
Imagine hundreds of women in bright colors with varying smiles, some short, some tall, some indigenous, some young, all excited and beautiful in their own way. The conference was held in a peach colored, Spanish-style courtyard accented with large, bright flower arrangements on the columns and in the central fountain. We could feel and hear everyone’s eagerness the first morning. Finally, a space to be real about how fucked up patriararchy is to Latin American and Caribbean women’s lives, bodies, voices and spirits.
I met up with my friend Ana from L.A, whose parents are Guatemalan like mine. We didn’t meet any other young Latinas from the States at the conference, despite it being an opportunity to bridge identities in the name of Women’s rights. I went to the conference because I am a Latina that was raised with Guatemalan lingo, assumptions, machismo and customs that are often patriarchal. The realities of the region continue on, as I store my parents emotionally defined memories of civil war, femicide, catholic purity, el Mercado, government corruption and Marimba. Somos y no somos. We are in between, on the border, and that is where definition is difficult and transformation fluid and surprising.
Our mission was simple. We came to listen. To compare. To brainstorm. To reinforce. To argue. To laugh. To dance. To celebrate all the tireless work we do for women. Luchamos para el pinche derecho de tener control sobre nuestros cuerpos y nuestras vidas, y no ser criminalizadas por eso. If you only knew how often and normalized rape is against women, how many women are discriminated against, how many women are abused, how many women just can’t be themselves.
Feminism is very simple. The vision doesn’t call for destruction, but transformation. Throughout the conference, in conversations over lunch or group discussions on the grass in the sun, someone would arrive at that point, freeing feminism from a stagnant box defined as man-hating and angry. Feminism is visionary as it is a tool for social transformation. A declaration of self-determination and collective lucha against fundamentalisms like patriarchy, neo-liberalism, religious doctrine and bureaucracy. All we want is to carve a space that is respected. A space to express ourselves, own shit, be sexy, walk without fear, speak and be heard, fuck who we want, vivir por nosotras. Everyone wants this, but it is women who are and have been controlled the most to prevent this. The world doesn’t function from a feminist platform, and that is why feminism is revolutionary.