A feminist student movement in Chile

I don’t know of any new ethnographic research on Chilean student feminism, but the media is reporting on a significant feminist protest movement that has been going on for a month in Chilean universities and schools. The watchword seems to be “Against macho violence” (contra la violencia machista).

Let me evoke some of what I’ve learn from the press reports. According to a dispatch from Agence France Presse:

Thousands of women chanted “No means no!” during a march in Santiago Wednesday called by students to protest sexual abuse and harassment, part of a new feminist wave sweeping Chile.

Banners called for the introduction of “non-sexist education” and the end of “sexual violence” following a number of cases of abuse against women and deep-rooted practices in universities and schools.

To the rhythm of drums, dancing and the chants of “No means no”, the students, mostly women, filled a large section of the Alameda Avenue, in a largely peaceful protest, with only isolated incidents reported towards the end of the march.

“Today we are condemning what my aunt ignored and my mother experienced and kept quiet about,” said one of thousands of placards.

A longer piece from 48hills reports on street marches and on a visit to an occupied campus. Among the street chants of the movement is said to be this:

Y como y como (And how and how)
Como es la wea ? (How is this thing?)
Nos matan y nos violan (They kill us and they rape us)
Y nadie hace nada (And no one does anything)

The movement seems to be constructing some powerful street iconography as well, as some groups of women protesters march in red masks or dressed as nuns. You can get a sense of the march from this protest music video which I saw via a TV5Monde story. Many women wrote slogans on their backs; I liked soy la mujer de mi vida (I am the woman of my life). A striking Reuters photo in the TeleSur story also has Fuego al patriarcado la moral & el estado (Fire to the patriarchy, morality and the state), as the water cannons bombard the empty street.

It’s interesting to see the political motivation for the movement. One of the spokeswomen for the movement, Emilia Schneider, tells 48hills:

“She asserted that the meeting was not about any case specifically, but instead a general sense that things needed to change when it came to the way gender-based violence was dealt with on campus. (Since then, demands have expanded to include gender parity in curriculums. “Feminist public education is not a secondary issue, not an accessory issue, but an essential issue of how we approach radical educational transformation,” said Schneider.)

As a scholar of campus politics, I’m looking forward to hearing where this movement goes, and what sorts of curricular or legal changes it may bring into being. And if anyone knows of further sources on this, let me know.

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Eli Thorkelson

Eli Thorkelson edits Academography and also keeps a research blog at decasia.

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