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The Daughters of Violence Fight Back Against Street Harassment in Mexico with Art

In the banner: The harrasers: “Babe, I'd got you pregnant”. These are the healthy children of patriarchy”. Banner used during International Week Against Street Harassment in 2014. Photo on Flickr by OCAC Chile (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Street sexual harrasment is a reality that many women in different countries face on a daily basis, and it's a pest that Global Voices has written about in the past more than once. In Mexico, the feminist group Las hijas de Violencia (The daughters of Violence) has resolved to fight back against that verbal assault that women face daily through art:

Las hijas de Violencia […] Buscamos, a través del arte performático, el punk y el video, abordar la violencia machista legitimada socialmente.
[…]
Así nació la idea de realizar un proyecto artístico que además de buscar una propuesta estética, sea un grito público que invite a la reflexión de los temas que abordamos.
[…].
Nosotras somos las hijas de Violencia, cargamos años de transitar en un espacio público hostil que no da cabida al cuerpo femenino como un cuerpo transitante sino un cuerpo para el goce y disfrute externo.

The daughters of Violence […] We look, through art, punk and video, to address chauvinist violence socially legalized.
[…]
That's how the idea of carrying out this art project was born, that besides being an esthetic perspective, it might be a public outcry that invites to reflect upon the topics we address.
[…].
We are the daughters of Violence, we carry along years of walking through a hostile public space that has no place for woman's body as a circulating body but as something for external joy and pleasure.

They are “The Daughters of Violence”: Mexican girls who stand up for themselves from street harassment.

The members of the group are Ana Karen, Ana Beatriz, Elisa Gutiérrez, Verónica Bravo, Betzabeth Torres and Patricia Rodríguez, and together:

[…] han decidido responder al acoso callejero disparando simbólicamente a sus agresores con pistolas de confeti y cantándoles su tema Sexista Punk, en el que denuncian el acoso callejero como acto de agresión machista.

[…] have decided to respond street harassment by symbolically shooting their attackers with confetti guns and singing their song Sexista Punk (Sexist Punk), where they denounce street harassment as a chauvinist aggression action.

In their song Sexist punk, part of the lyrics says:

Eso que tú hiciste
hacia a mí se llama acoso.
Si tú me haces eso
de esta forma yo respondo.
No tienes derecho y lo que haces es de un cerdo
[…]
Imagino el día en que pueda ir a caminar
Sin cuidarme, sin tener mi cuerpo que ocultar
Sexista, machista ¿Qué es lo que quieres?
¿Mostrar tu hombría? ¡A la mierda de mi vista!

What you did
to me it's called harassment.
If you do that to me
like that I respond.
You don't have the right and what you do is typical of a slob
[…]
I imagine the day when I'd be able to walk
Without having to take care of myself, without having to hide my body
Sexist, chauvinist. What do you want?
Show off your manhood? Go fuck yourself!

The daughters of Violence have a strategy when they react:

Salen a la calle y esperan a que un tipo les grita ‘mamacita’ o lo que sea. Lo persiguen, le disparan con una pistola de confeti y le gritan una rola que dice, en resumen, ‘eso que tú hiciste hacia mí se llama acoso’. La idea no es mala ]…] sugieren que la víctima se defienda de manera lúdica.

They walk by the street and wait for a guy to call out ‘you, gorgeous’ or something like that. They chase the guy, shoot him with a confetti gun and sing a song that, summing up, says, ‘what you did to me is called harassment’. It's not a bad idea […] they suggest that the victim fights back in a playful way.

With the idea of spreading their witty and peaceful way of fighting back against street harassment, The daughters of Violence invite all women to join them:

[…] recomiendan que la respuesta ante estas situaciones tiene que ser divertida ‘para que no te quedes con la sensación de la violencia que acabas de sentir, para que tu te vayas tranquila y sepas que puedes seguir teniendo un día increíble’.

[…] they recommend that the answer to these situations has to be fun ‘so you may not keep the feeling of the violence you've just been through, so you may go on your way with calm and knowing that you can still have an awesome day’.

On her blog Pornucopia, Estefanía Vela Barba makes us reflect and shows us that women are neither alone nor helpless:

¿Por qué al discutir la violencia sexual, siempre nos imaginamos a un hombre que es más fuerte que una mujer —a quien siempre nos imaginamos desarmada, inútil, frágil—, en un callejón oscuro, vacío y sin salida? Sí. Este escenario es posible. Pero no es el único. No lo es. El performance de Las hijas de Violencia es extraordinario precisamente porque nos demuestra otra posibilidad: no nos presenta a una mujer, indefensa, aislada, presa del pánico que no puede más que sucumbir a la fuerza desmedida de un hombre.

Why is it that when discussing sexual violence, we always think of a man that is stronger than a woman — who we always imagine unarmed, helpless, fragile –, down a dark alley with no way out? Yes. That's a possible scenario. But it is not the only one. The performance by The daughters of Violence is extraordinary exactly because it shows a different possibility: it doesn't show a helpless, isolated woman, in a panic who can do nothing more than surrender when faced with a man.

  • I absolutely side with these women more so than other “femenist organizations” of this generation. I have just watched another news segment via AlJazeeraEnglish featuring these brave Mexican Women standing up to the sexual comments made by men in their area: with Song!! And a Megaphone! Sorry,but this group is nothing like ‘femen’ & are Fully Clothed and Respectful!

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