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"!Estamos Hartas!" Feminist Performaces, Photography, and the Meanings of Political Solidarity in 1970s Mexico

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On May 10, 1976, en route to a meeting organized by several feminist collectives, more than 50 women walked toward the Mother’s Monument in downtown Mexico City singing a chorus of, “We are fed up with having illegal abortions that put our health at risk; our body is our property, and thus together we will fight to defend our rights” (ya estamos hartas de tanto abortar, corriendo el riesgo de que nos puedan matar, nuestro cuerpo es nuestra propiedad y por eso juntas vamos a luchar). At the monument, the women staged a theatrical farce entitled “Women’s Oppression” (La Opresión de la Mujer). Carrying full-body cardboard costumes configured to represent a drunken man, a soldier, a corporate executive, and a priest, members of the feminist collective La Revuelta (The Revolt) ridiculed the ways in which each figure oppressed women by dictating supposedly proper feminine values, virtues, and looks (Figs.1 and 2). As Eli Bartra, a member of La Revuelta, recalls the song ¡Estamos Hartas! (We are fed up) was written by Italian feminists and had arrived in Mexico through the exchanges and travels of several activists. Similarly, the use of cartoon costumes as props in street theater had been introduced to Mexico via relations with Italian militants. Certainly, as many have argued in the aftermath of the first United Nations International Women’s Year conference (IWY), held in Mexico City in 1975, transnational relations and exchanges between feminist activists across the globe were strengthened. These exchanges injected new energy into a generation of Mexican second-wave feminists who organized lively street protests to demand the end of discrimination against women at all levels of society and the right to self-determination for all women. This included seeking legislation on reproductive rights and the criminalization of violence against women.
This chapter analyzes how art—particularly songs, banners, objects, and street theater—in 1970s feminist protests was used as a means to build solidarity with other local and national calls for justice not necessarily identified with feminist demands. By building visible connections with different forms of oppression and violence through art, this chapter suggests that feminist protesters contributed to the production of publics that would increasingly become aware of the relations between different forms of violence against gendered and sexualized bodies. It explores the ways in which feminist artistic expressions performed in public conjured up connections between apparently disparate forms of violence and oppression perpetrated against different kinds of bodies and how, by doing so, feminist activists made visible the ways in which gender and sexuality intersected and were (and would increasingly become) crucial aspects of claims to citizenship and human rights in the decades to follow.
Publication title
The Art of Solidarity: Visual and Performative Politics in Cold War Latin America
Document title
¡Estamos Hartas! Feminist Performances, Photography and the Meanings of Political Solidarity in 1970s Mexico
Jessica Stites-Mor and Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas
University of Texas Press
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