For years groups of women have been demonstrating in Argentina. Women who, through different manifestations, make a claim for equal gender rights, protection, security, expansion of social benefits, etc.

From the parliamentary debate on the decriminalization of abortion, this movement has grown exponentially, taking to the streets of the country’s main cities, identifying itself with a symbol that became their insignia: a green scarf.

The Personal is Political

A collective voice, a new language: a green tide covers the broad field of the feminine and creates space at a point of no return that awakens civilization to the urgent fact that something does not work. This movement pushes our era to reformulate  concepts – patriarchy, mother, woman, body – that civilization had held as natural and predetermined.

From the beginning of his teaching in Seminar I, Jacques Lacan highlighted that psychoanalytic concepts escape dialectics because, “Freud’s thought is the most perennially open to revision. It is a mistake to reduce it to a collection of hackneyed phrases.”[1] In Seminar II he elaborates the anticoagulation of concepts. Psychoanalysis must pay attention to the new forms of discontent in civilization. It is important for psychoanalysis to free itself from the idea of eternity. In fact, what is new is not the claim, but the method of claiming. Marta Dillon, Argentinian journalist and activist, defines the collective as an open “we are,” an open and dynamic set including: fat, old, black, native, crazy, retired, young, very young women, transvestites and housewives; and she adds: “we are the girls who look at ourselves and those whom we make daughters of our defiance with the desire of changing it all.[2] Soon the claim opens out, from campaigns addressing gender-based violence – Not one Woman Less (Ni Una Menos) – to the National Campaign for the Right to Secure and Free Legal Abortion. Bewilderment is logical. The Green Tide gets around the traditional mode of party politics. The party belittles singularity. The insignia by which this movement can be recognized is based on the tradition of those women named Madres de Plaza de Mayo, who took to the streets during the last military dictatorship. From the Mothers’ white headscarves to the Tide’s green scarves there is a displacement that does not trust traditional politics. As Marta Alanis, a National Campaign organizer and leader of the Catholic Women for the Right to Decide, writes in an article published in the Argentinian newspaper, Clarín: “green (is) a color uncontaminated by political parties.”[3]

However, this feeling of mistrust does not seem to imply an apolitical position in any way because “the private is political”. Black feminism, embodied by Audre Lorde, Afro-American writer, feminist, lesbian and civil rights activist, claimed that “The personal is political”. Personal-private-political. Displacement is already a way to advance a redesign of the social bond by questioning the relationship between a way of conceptualizing the body and an identity politics.


The Green Tide employs social networks effectively and quickly. There is no room for Heidegger’s serenity in front of such a storm. If historians consider that fifty years is needed to narrate the facts, then they will have no place in the narrative, they will be out of the story because the movement does not allow itself to be captured and strikes South American post-populist governments, tangled, as usual, in the spiral of the former economic crisis and the economic crisis to come. Its narrative function harmonizes with the notion of swarm in Lacan’s Seminar XX,[4] replacing the sound of S1 by that of “essaim.” The Green Tide reformulates language as if it knew George Perec’s grammar machine. One letter is enough to introduce a difference in Spanish so that the language becomes inclusive. For example, instead of saying “todos” the masculine plural for “everyone,” they will use the neutral “todes”. Thus, this ultra-contemporary turn in the spiral of feminisms pushes our era into a perplexity that Jacques Lacan envisioned in 1953 when he described the enterprise of Babel as a continuous Drang.

Interpreting the strife of languages

The interpreter’s function first implies recalculating the horizon, so that in reverse, the subjectivity of the era does not give up on psychoanalysis. The pluralization of “feminisms” opens the door to Lacan’s last teaching. It is not a question of forcing analogies. On the contrary, the device to read these movements is there, as Jacques-Alain Miller points out both in his text “Commentary on the Non-Existent Seminar” [5] – where the hiatus between Seminar X and Seminar XI is alluded to – and in the break after “La Troisième.” It is clear that one of the paths – maybe not the only one – is marked by the style that James Joyce introduced in the shift from Ulysses to Finnegans Wake. If there is a moment of acceleration in the strife of languages, it is there and Jacques Lacan does not back away from pointing it out. Voices have diversified. The narrator does not allow himself to get caught by the reader. The author is written by the work, who names himself in the sonic resonance of twin brothers, Shem and Shaun, whose phonetics echoes the sound of James Joyce’s own name. The interpreter’s function in the strife of languages implies listening to what resounds in what is being said. It is not so much a question of making sense, but rather of paying attention to the readjustment of sexed identifications, the assemblage of bodies or the new discourses.

Equally, if we think about this function of interpreters in the strife of languages – let us focus on the plural forms – we should also remember that the relationship between the body, the symbolic and the social is a central concern in Lacan’s teaching from the Mirror Stage to Seminar XXIII. Reading the tide’s movements between the lines is going a step further in the direction of what is heard in what is said.[6]

Translated by Marilú Segura

[1] Jacques Lacan, Freud’s Papers on Technique, trans. J. Forrester (London/ New York: Norton: 1988), p. 1.



[4] Jacques Lacan, Encore, trans. B. Fink (London/ New York: Norton, 1998), p. 143.

[5] Jacques-Alain Miller, Conferencias Porteñas 2, 1991, Paidós, Buenos Aires.

[6] Lacan, “L’étourdit,” Autres Écrits, p. 449