[eng] Sofía Esther Brito – “Other pasts for this present”: A constituent feminism – from “Adicta Imagen" [Addicted Image] by Alejandra Castillo (La Cebra, 2020)

According to the earliest, original formulations of the 1980 Constitution, especially regarding its 8th Article, diffusion and propaganda of doctrines and thoughts that could be disclosed as being against the family or promoting the class struggle, are strictly forbidden. Within the realm of constitutional reforms, that later on, were agreed under the government of Patricio Aylwin, that is, the thereby inaugurated era of political transition –this article was derogated. Notwithstanding, it should be noticed, that the Constitutional Court, in a decision based upon this very article, had already imprisoned the socialist leader Clodomiro Almeyda, by declaring him “unconstitutional”. The word derogated remained and went along with this article in every further publication of the Constitutional Text until 2005, when the so-called “New Fundamental Charter, or Magna Carta” signed by president [Ricardo] Lagos, replaced it, with what we now know as the Principle of Transparency related to the organs of the State. 

Over the last decades, the notion of transparent State organs has gained strength as a palliative mechanism in order to face the growing political distrust among the wide range of the population. Big and significant cases of corruption are shaking Latin America, making visible the fundamental break, the huge distance between political class and society. Of course, this distance is not with “the citizenry” in the abstract. The ruling classes of businessmen, that is the intermediate social groups, which is highly protected by the Constitution, has, in turn, surely and systematically been made up as the very group in society, which the State is bound to protect, almost exclusively. State Transparency has reached so far that now, in contrast to what occurred under the governments of the Concertación [Coalition of Parties for Democracy], there is no [Michelle] Bachelet that could cover up the economic interests of a Luksic [Chilean billionaire], for instance. Behind the cellophane paper implemented by the State, [Sebastián] Piñera is to be found: he has taken the fourth place among the biggest fortunes in Chile -as it is informed by Forbes Magazine in April 2021, and he is Chile’s President of the Republic. As for the Concertación, despites gestures like changing the name of the political coalition from Coalition for Democracy to Nueva Mayoría [New Majority] in the context of the politic campaign organized in order to get through  the second election of Bachelet, and its recently inscription as the “I-do-Approve-list”; and, on the other hand, the emergence of the Frente Amplio [Wide Front], which principal promise or slogan has been  “a politics with clean hands”, things have not changed in a significant way. Their appropriation of the signifiers I-do-approve and Dignity in their present campaign linked to the Plebiscite, it may, however, be observed, that the distrust among people regarding these issues, as well as for all political parties, far from being diminished is growing still and still. On the contrary, political independence and autonomy seems to be the hallmark of novelty, which is expected regarding the present candidatures, even though the evident differences in public visibility directed to public opinion, makes us hesitate on the crucial question on whether or not these very changes in the political forces at the institutional level -which this constituent process preannounce –, will be effective enough.

In the realm of the continuous riots of 2019, feminism materialized a common signifier, which the male republic could not see, not even visualize, exactly because the female signifiers were far-off beyond the scope of the male republic. As for the official history, the feminist movement is not incorporated in the memory policies. The ghosts hidden in the legacy of the dictatorship were presented in the school texts disguised under the notion of a Gobierno Militar [Military Government], and Pinochet as President of the Republic. A huge sea of black and white pictures, leaves a lot of open questions about the names and the biographies of the dead. The Moneda Palace [seat of the President of the Republic of Chile] burning that September the 11th was, perhaps, the only image one could become addicted to in those years previous to YouTube. The horror sensation at the unspeakable, that for which we had not been taught words. Probably, the alteration of this imaginary in the transfer and development of the feminist May-2018, was the kernel to my own experience of understanding, due to the massification of Internet and the new technologies, which alliterate the modalities to live-in in politics. Wherein, that is, in the middle of the growing bombardments of images, most of them visual images, something remains, some effect of the riot (mochilazo) of 2001, the so-called pinguin revolution in 2011, and the multiple actions where schools’ buildings were taken, occupied by students, fighting for local demands, provoked a glimmer of hope, which by its very nature, made evident a bad feeling of not well-being. In the educational spaces, some female comrades began to accuse this masculinization of politics, which women and sexual dissidences, indeed had experienced, because they dared to take the word on their own power, and spoke out their points of view in the assemblies and in the class rooms as well. The eternal relegation of female bodies and feminized beings, in the domestic dimension of the protests, did generate the need to create exclusive spaces in order to speak out the issues linked to the condition of being women, the gender question, and of feminisms. As a matter of fact, this raised transgressions to accepted norms, those norms that were imposed upon our consciousness, such as the tabu of sexual violence and violences bearing the “gender stigma”. Emerging technological supports and tools as Facebook and others of this kind, conveyed the propagation of this dissident word, the not-spoken word. For instance, until that time, sanctions against the gender determined violence, a sort of mediation of conflicts in the educational establishments was not a possibility, even considered as a far-off possibility; it just did not exist. Thereby, the relationships with institutions/organs, became more and more remote, more and more alien to us.  


Adicta imagen [Addicted image] by Alejandra Castillo, shows inside its multiple knots, the possibility to rethink that thread, that is, the taking of the word by and inside the different forms of feminisms. As for the perception of time of the revolt, characterized as estallido [burst] –social burst, feminist burst-, the feminist philosophy allows us to rethink the temporalities through which we talk about and tell this absolute present time, that has been imposed to us from the estranged standpoints bound up with the impossibility of thinking about a different future. The image’s immediacy shows us thousands of candidates, both females and males, running to be members of the Constituent Assembly from the given preferences of algorithms in the social media. Candidates appear smiling, and their pictures talk about voting for female candidates, voting feminist, voting for dignity. Educational activities are realized through zoom, and the student’s organizations, therefore, do not exist beyond the different forums and live videos. Numbers, ciphers, tweets, selfies, profile in tinder, move along rapidly through the verticality of screens, along with the timeline in which every social media registers a different version of our own biographies. The ambulatory limitations caused by the pandemic have had the effect that this visual information came to be our only network of contacts with the collective. Human beings become visual images transported by a very complex technological apparatus, and therefore, human communication becomes fragmented. Politics begin to be articulated from the hashtag and from a design of a network of followers, which task is to virilize the propaganda and publicity of candidates, both males and females. The triumph, the desire of winning, has its roots in the fact that, what has been published in one of these webs in the internet, can become massified until such a degree, so they can transcend to others, and thereby activate the call to journalists of mass communication such as the television, radio, newspapers and magazines.

The immediacy of politics projects onto people’s consciousness a new realm for transparency. Due to the simple fact, that we enter in their networks; we can learn what their interests are, how they dress, which political conjunctures they are interested in, which identity they take as background for the building up of subjectivity, and, moreover, which aspects of their lives, belonging to their privacy or intimacy, they are willing to reveal and show us. With parity, understood as a politics of presence, the campaigns disclose this need -as Castillo points out- consisting on the necessity felt by women, in order to present their selves as transversal and transparent enough, in order to be useful in the political game. Even though the construction of a feminist politics began to be a task for the political parties after May 2018, the multiplicity of its signifiers come back again to be framed under the point of view of gender. The women question (and the quest for women) become visible again when a kind of violet filter intervenes upon the image. Its hallmark lies in mentioning gender violence, the sexual and reproductive rights, and the need to be named in the New Constitution, the new Magna Carta. Nevertheless, this standpoint makes invisible the tension which actually are shaking the past backgrounds for this present. All is just passed away, conveying a kind of void of past time. Thus, other pasts for this present take the form of a defiance.  
This book invites us to weave once more the emancipatory strength of the revolt, the invention from the “in common”, that is, what we do really have “in common”. Therefore, it is indispensable to think the warp from other pasts, which should alter the official History of the neutral-masculine, and on the roles that we, women and dissidents, have played in it, as exceptions, as mothers, victims, and so on. However, reading the Cyborg Manifesto of Donna Haraway, Castillo reminds us that it is not only a question of dealing with what has (and who have) been excluded, but, more crucial, the issue also is dealing with the transformation of the socially (and politically) corresponding coordinates that made those exclusions possible. How are we telling the History of feminism? What our feminist memory consists of? How does a constituent moment rise up, which, in turn, habilitates the breakthrough of other bodies, males and females, in the protest? These are some questions which her reading proposes us. If parity makes visible those issues, and allows us to focus on the development of other female-bodies, then the fundamental questions are: Which experiences, which histories, do make it possible to think upon another-politics? The one, where feminist do not become members of the political class. Secondly, where -despite of the fact that many of us would not occupy institutional spaces-, we would not feel the vacuum, the gap, between political power and our lives. Thirdly:  where the distance would not only be a problem considered with disdain through the ciphers and numbers reflected in statistical survey. Fourth, policies that can make visible the possibility of rethinking why, what for, and how, we wish to be named by the State. Fifth: where the infatuation of Transparency will not dazzle us -and neither blind us-, and therefore will not prevent us from projecting other futures, beyond the colonial order of family and the splitting in different classes.                                     

* Sofía Esther Brito (1994). Writer and feminist activist. Compiler of “Por una Constitución feminist” [For a feminist Constitution], “Desafíos para nuestro momento constituyente” [Challenges for our constituent moment], among other texts.

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