Stumbling around in search of a subject of its own, after having constructed and deconstructed it several times, feminism seemed to dissolve into gender theory, which put the accent on the “bodies that matter”(1), that is, all those excluded by the heterosexist norm. The result was the multiplication of identities, which were not any the less segregative for being queer.
Furthermore, these bodies were “paper bodies, without any verdure”(2); more precisely, they were textual bodies, and as texts they could be easily edited or rewritten to one’s taste, without any obstacle, privileging a voluntary and autobiographical subjectivity, which fitted comfortably into the neoliberal canon of the “entrepreneurial self”.
The feminist movement in Argentina moved forward against that logic, displacing the question in at least three ways.
Under the slogan “Ni una menos” (“Not one less”, written in the feminine gender in Spanish), a new kind of corporality burst onto the scene, according to which each and every body counts in a radical way, one by one, to the point that not one less is acceptable. In other words, bodies count as a series rather than as a class, the logic of the not-all prevailing over the “for all”(3) that inexorably excludes some while asserting an universal, specially in the order of identity.
The immediate effect was an unprecedented demonstration, where bodies took themselves out into the streets, fully aware of the originality of this convocation. In the seething mass of bodies gathered near the Congress of the Nation, an old lady struggling to reach the square, exclaimed: “Whew! How difficult it is to make History!”
The vindication “Ni una menos”, which preserves the feminine gender even while promoting the use of inclusive language, at the same time made visible the hatred of the feminine, whose most atrocious form has finally been designated under the legal figure of femicide. It is life that is at stake, the life of women, murdered on account of being women. These bodies that count, one by one, thus count as living.
According to Jean-Claude Milner(4), there is a psychoanalytical notion of the body which, unlike the religious and philosophical versions, does not suppose a created or deduced body, but rather a body that is born, in which resides its real. It is here, close to the animal condition, that rights begin, for they are not the rights of Man nor any other fantasy, but rather the rights of speaking bodies, one by one.
Moreover, it happens that those bodies that are born – and this is the second issue, raised by the debate on the decriminalisation and legalisation of abortion – are bodies that are born from bodies that gestate. The phrase “gestating bodies” does not involve the idealization of maternity into which that feminism of difference had fallen –and against which Judith Butler posed her theory – it rather puts the accent on the particular condition of some bodies, which unlike others, can, if they so wish, gestate other bodies. Thus, from “bodies that matter” to bodies that gestate, another radical displacement was produced, from the identitarian trap –figure of the “Egocracy”, as Lacan puts it(5) – to the fissure that introduces desire as a humanizing condition, both incalculable and incoercible; along with the addition of making visible the most brutal face of the exploitation exercised on bodies that gestate.
But it does not end there, since putting economical inequality at the centre of the demand for legal, safe and free abortion, the vindication aims to connect desire, choice, with the material conditions for its exercise. “Don’t count on me” or “I’m not paying for your abortion” are slogans that sum up the neoliberal torsion of the social contract, according to which individuals could dispose of State funding in any way they wanted, laying waste to the public sphere, but also any notion of community whatsoever.
In contrast, the women’s movement not only inscribes itself amongst the traditions that have equality of rights as their horizon, but also amongst those that demand equal access to resources as an intrinsic part of communitarian life. In the currently bleak global scene, this means taking a stand against a right wing that is ferocious in its discourse and merciless in its methods. Nonetheless, neither does it automatically become a movement of the left, but rather one that questions and perforates the traditional categories of party, ideology and social class.
Seizing the occasion, the feat(6) of bodies that gestate managed to knot a genealogy – “daughters of the white scarfs, mothers of the green scarfs” – with an aesthetic of a green tide in the streets, bodies singing and dancing, alien to the “sad passions”, perhaps making place for a real as enjoyment of life?
This enjoyment of life serves as a counterweight to the right to enjoyment (of the Other), which leads straight to the Sadean bedroom and its contemporary variations turned into techniques of governance. Perhaps this is what Spinoza is referring to when he says: “No one has yet determined what the body can do”. Thus, if “the spark of desire can change a subject, a community, a country”(7), then the uncalculated and incalculable effects gestated by the women of Argentina remain to be seen.
- Butler, J (2005): Cuerpos que importan: sobre los límites materiales y discursivos del sexo. Buenos Aires: Paidós
- Copjec, J: “Encore, Un esfuerzo más por defender la diferencia sexual”, en AA:VV: Ser-para-el-sexo. Diálogo entre filosofía y psicoanálisis. Barcelona: S&P Ediciones.
- Lacan, J. (2012): “El Atolondradicho” en Otros escritos. Buenos Aires: Paidós.
- Milner, J.-C. (2016) Relire la révolution. Paris: Verdier.
- Lacan, J. (2010): El Seminario. Libro 17. El reverso del psicoanálisis (1969-1970). Buenos Aires: Paidós, p. 66.
- In Spanish, the word “gesta”, meaning feat, is homophonic with the verb “gestar” (meaning gestate), in the present indicative tense, third-person plural conjugation. Thus “la gesta de los cuerpos que gestan” has a poetic resonance that inspired this article.
- Dessal, G.: http://www.telam.com.ar/notas/201402/50752-la-chispa-de-un-deseo-puede-cambiar-a-un-sujeto-a-una-comunidad-a-un-pais.html
Image: @holamafia https://www.facebook.com/holamafia/