Who are Las Tesis? Chile and the world’s most empowering feminists of 2020
The group’s song “Un Violador en Tu Camino,” went worldwide for its calling out of the global patriarchy.
TIME Magazine has named several Latinx trailblazers as some of their 100 most influential people of 2020, including artist J Balvin, Indigenous activist Nemonte Nenquimo and Chef Gabriella Camara.
But perhaps the most influential names listed were those of the Chilean feminist collective known as Las Tesis. Las Tesis, formed by Daffne Valdés, Sibila Sotomayor, Paula Cometa, and Lea Cáceres, created an international hit song and viral dance, called “Un Violador en Tu Camino.”
The song calls out the evils of the patriarchy, like rape, slut shaming, victim blaming and Las Tesis wrote the activist anthem to fight against the lack of justice for survivors in their country.
“Y la culpa no era mía, ni dónde estaba ni cómo vestía, el violador eras tú, el violador eres tú. son los pacos, los jueces, el estado, el presidente, el estado opresor es un macho violador,” reads some of the lyrics.
(And it wasn't my fault, nor where I was, nor how I was dressed, the rapist was you, the rapist is you. It's the cops, the judges, the state, the president, the oppressive state is a macho rapist.)
According to the Chilean Network Against Violence Against Women, only 8% of resolved sexual assault cases result in some sort of conviction against the perpetrator.
Las Tesis first performed their song in Nov. 2019 outside the country’s Supreme Court in Santiago to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Since then, it has been re-created 367 times in 52 countries, and on every continent except for Antarctica.
“A Rapist in Your Way” gained significant popularity in the U.S in January, when a large group of women performed it outside Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial in New York City.
In July, “Un Violador en Tu Camino” was chanted and performed in Chile, while thousands of women took to the streets, demanding justice for Antonia Barra, a survivor of sexual assault.
In TIME’s article about the feminist collective, Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of the Russian feminist group, Pussy Riot, describes Las Tesis’ performances in public spaces as the epitome of how today’s art can be more about changing the world than just pure entertainment.
“Victim blaming and slut-shaming are the deeply ideological assumptions that are built into our brains, education and legal systems globally. It has to be changed. The 21st century is the century of sisterhood,” Tolokonnikova wrote.
In an Instagram post, Las Tesis expressed their gratitude for the recognition, but emphasized that they hope feminism will continue to be influential for many more years as we advance towards a more “just, diverse and femnist society that we dream of.”
In Chile, Las Tesis has been denounced by the police for “inciting violence through their performance,” but it seems that nothing will be able to stop the ripple effect that the group has already made across the world.