Resistance through care
Being a feminist in Latin America is, more often than not, exactly that: an act of resistance and of personal and collective care.
Every year on March 8, women around the world organize to take to the streets, protest and show the world how gender-based violence impacts the way we live. This year, as always, women in Mexico organized and made the decision to march together, but this time, on Monday, March 9, by showing the country a day without them. As always, certain groups and individuals came out against the women on social media, in some cases minimizing the struggle, and others through the direct attack.
But this year, the response to demonstrations was also violent. In social networks, pamphlets and street signs, the protesters were met with threats from people who proposed to join them in order to attack them, prevent their demonstration and, in the most violent cases, throw acid on them in the streets.
The threats are not entirely surprising, but yet another face of a structure that attacks the dignity and life of women. It’s the same structure they protest. So, in the face of explicit and intentional intimidation, how should we respond? With resistance, but not the resistance of weapons and force, but the resistance of care.
Being a feminist in Latin America is, more often than not, exactly that: an act of resistance and of personal and collective care. Mexican women set the example by responding to the threats with group protection protocols, sharing tips to protect themselves during an attack and escape mechanisms in the event of violence against their lives. This –the most tangible example of the way in which violence against protestors is represented– is a direct reflection of what it means to resist from a position of care. Their strategy was not to find targets and train for violence but to respond inwards and towards the collective.
While this means, in millions of cases, feeling even more vulnerable, this is how we not only keep our integrity intact but also how we ensure that our struggle is coherent and that it grows. We have organized women's self-defense groups across the continent.
From martial arts, digital security, gas training, and social-emotional skills, we combat forms of violence against women through safety that spawns from coming together, telling our stories after years of silence, and giving each other tools, real or symbolic, to respond to the fear and paralysis of aggression.
That is, in the end, what the aggressions against feminism seek: to paralyze our revolution. That is why we resist while we keep moving, and are rebellious in caring. We do not learn techniques to attack and harm, but to know our bodies and protect ourselves when vulnerable. We don't learn to stand together to hurt our oppressors but to rebuild a social fabric that allows us to live instead of surviving.