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Siri Hustvedt ha been honored with the prestigious Princesa de Asturias Prize in Spain. Photo: Spencer Ostramder.
Siri Hustvedt ha been honored with the prestigious Princesa de Asturias Prize in Spain. Photo: Spencer Ostramder.

Siri Hustvedt: “Racism, misogyny and xenophobia are the three-headed monster in the new U.S.”

The Minnesota writer claims that sexual harassment and violence against women and minorities are still accepted in our society and “Trump is far from being a…

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That man entered her apartment and tried to sexually force her. He had pushed her against the shelf and she barely knew what to do… Suddenly, Lucy, her mysterious neighbor, arrived and prevented S.H was raped. Why did she shut up then? She was embarrassed and scared, she did deny she had been a harassment victim. But now, four decades after the horrifying event, she can not stay silent at all. 

It is not the seventies anymore, Trump has become the new and infamous U.S. president, and the #Metoo movement is speaking out about the systematized sexual violence in the country and around the globe. It's time to call everything by its name. 

The writer and feminist Siri Hustvedt, The Summer without men’s author whose books reflect the holes of patriarchy and the women’s roles in art, has visited Spain to collect the Princesa de Asturias Prize and presents her last novel published in the country, ‘Memories of the future’.

Neither a memoir nor a self-fiction novel, but a conversation between past and present, ‘Memories of the future’, draws S.H life as a young writer in the New York of the last 1970’ and her fear to be forced into a misogynistic society where women were nothing but sexual objects. That’s why she called her pocket knife “Baronesse." 

“It still exists the almost morbid belief that women aren’t imaginative”, she says. 

For the writer, who is a democrat worried about the three-headed monster that the new U.S is facing - ”racism is the bigger wound in my country, but misogyny and xenophobia are too”, states- the #Metoo movement can change things and face male supremacy such as Donald Trump’s speeches, of whom she says:

“Trump is far from being a puritan."

“I can’t count how many times I felt harassed at a disco when I was young”, she tells us. “Rape has always been a crime, but touching a woman at the subway was pure routine. If a woman would squeeze a man’s balls, it was equality”.

She also claims that anyone is well disposed towards non-consensual sex, but even in a sadomasochistic relationship there's a “contract”. And it's difficult for citizens to reverse roles. 

“There may be mistakes, but they are solved with one word: ‘No, I don’t want to,'" Hustvedt resumes.

The white privilege

As a white woman who was born in a middle-class family and writes for women like her, for Siri Hustvedt we should take into account the close relationship between genre, race, and class. 

Reading, she adds, is the only way to understand other perspectives. Imagine other classes and other races with their own problems and fights even a few kilometers from your home: 

“New York is a very diverse place, but Manhattan has become bourgeois and there is no middle-class living there. That’s the faster way to kill a city,” she says. “We should protect neighbors and business for the City not to be a giant Starbucks.”

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