I came to Buenos Aires to caminar las calles. I came to march, to yell, sing with crowds, and dance to the beat of drums. I came to experience a feminism outside of theory books and classrooms. Loud, defiant, and in mass.
I craved and needed these three. I spent many of my college years silencing my feminism, constantly apologizing for it, and attempting to explain it too often. Accommodating to men, as expected. Patient with their sexism and aggression, and worse, forgiving. Through erroneous decisions and a thesis on masculinity I ended up surrounded by mostly men, doing the accommodating and the understanding constantly. And while men did the taking, I received nothing worthwhile and through it all, I felt extremely lonely. A single voice at war with men’s dumb excuses.
So I created a project that has surrounded me with women. In Buenos Aires, it has surrounded me with mujeres militantes, women who organize themselves and collectively take up space in the streets, on the web, stenciled on walls, inside cultural centers, in the thousands of pizzerias across the city — anywhere, and everywhere these women are unapologetic about their message and their strategies for expressing them.
In these past eight weeks I’ve had the privilege to…
Participate in a formación, a training of sorts with Las Socorristas. These are a group of women who help other women have abortions inside their home with pills. Las Socorristas’s work empowers cis women and trans men to exert control over their own bodies in the safety and comfort of their homes.
They argue that having an abortion is just as natural of a process as giving birth, and advocate their method (pills + support of Socorristas from first consultation until the success of the abortion) is not only a less invasive procedure on the body as opposed to in-hospital methods but ensures that women will have a positive experience. So, if you need and abortion, I can help!
Spend some time at the “Segundo Acampamento por la Vida”, a camp set-up outside the supreme court building by the aboriginal community of Andalgalá.
For six years they’ve petitioned to have a mining company evicted from their town. Theirs is an environmental justice campaign trying to protect the health of their community and the integrity of their land and water. As is common in most environmental justice movements, women are at the forefront of this lively camp, who from day to day is full of music, stenciling, weaving, painting, and so much life.
Join the women of MuMaLa at their weekly meetings.
I’ve worked very closely with this group of women because they let me become one of them from day one. I helped paint their new banner and sew butterflies, I passed out fliers and recruited signatures with them at the park, and I helped them plan a “Paro Nacional de Mujeres” on March 7th. This festival was a symbolic strike that called women to stop working and come and dance at Plaza de Congreso.
Argentina’s new president has made lots of cuts and taken away hundreds of jobs since his election into office in December. MuMaLa’s festival was about bringing attention to women’s economic vulnerability, since not only do women make less than men, but they are generally poorer, own only 1% of land worldwide, and are burdened with unpaid housework and childcare.
The festival was a hit. There were various performers, from bands, to dancers, and even a mariachi impersonator!
Participate in multiple protests. As I already mentioned, Argentinos are angry with the new president Macri, which in Buenos Aires manifests itself on the streets.
The most important march, and the climax of my trip was the one held on March 8th, International Women’s Day. I marched with MuMaLa under humongous purple flags, banners, and the sound of drums. Other MuMaLa compañeras from different provinces joined us and few of us marched painted together!
Now, I don’t even wear crop tops, so I was really nervous about going topless but I knew it was now or never. I was so focused on the painting process that I was caught off guard by the amount of cameras that bombarded us as soon as we left our small tent. And despite all that attention and the cold evening, I don’t regret it all. There was something incredibly special about having my body painted by other women, and fearlessly chanting songs across the city for over 2 hours with them.
During my Watson interview I expressed my desire to experience using my voice and my body alongside other women to practice and understand my feminism. I totally accomplished that and it felt amazing. The following day, I appeared in the newspaper next to other compañeras. Every time I glance at the photo, I can’t help but a giggle a little in amusement.
It’s definitely the best souvenir from my trip so far!