Chiara Botteci: “Those who claim that eternal feminine essence do the work of fascism” | Ideas


The philosopher Chiara Bottici, at her home in New York.
The philosopher Chiara Bottici, at her home in New York.Joana Toro

The Italian philosopher Chiara Bottici has established at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she has taught since 2010, a global observatory and a virtual community for gender studies. In her work she has addressed critical theory, the history of European philosophy, capitalism, feminism, racism, postcolonial studies, and aesthetics, with an emphasis on the politics of imagination and feminist mythology.

On the occasion of the Spanish edition of his Anarchyfeminist manifesto (NED Ediciones), receives EL PAÍS at his home in Brooklyn. An area, the domestic one, in which the structure of dominance over women is also reproduced: “The exhaustion [por la suma de tareas] it is a new form of oppression, ”he says.

QUESTION. Is feminism more of a political or academic discussion than a movement? Or both?

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ANSWER. I think both. Most significantly, in political terms, it has been the most vital social movement in the last 10 years, bringing millions of people to the streets. There is no other movement that is currently having such an impact in the political arena and embodies politics not only as institutional politics, but as the politics of the streets.

P. So the 21st century will be feminist or it won’t be.

R. The policies of this century must be feminist, or they will not be political. It will be a revolution that will radically change the way of doing politics.

P. Who does feminism represent?

R. We need a form of feminism that integrates all the people who belong to what I call the second sex, and that’s where anarch-feminism comes into play. Even in places where patriarchy is in decline, because men are no longer the heads of the family, androcracy rules, the power of man. A monochromatic society, because men are still the first sex, and all other sexes, including women, people assigned female at birth, but also people assigned as men, trans women, lesbians …, are not allowed to occupy the position occupied by men cis [que se identifican con el género asignado al nacer] Worldwide.

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P.So Beauvoir’s second sex today would be broader.

R.The second sex is not that it has expanded, it is that it is a space inhabited and defined by a multiplicity of bodies, by all kinds of experiences of being a woman.

P.Also feelings, or sensations? It is a highly criticized approach.

R.Too. It may be menstruation, another may be in transition, or take hormones. There are many ways to be a woman today. And that’s where the anarchyfeminism approach is important. Because if we don’t develop a truly inclusive form of feminism, men will remain the first sex and the division within the second sex will keep us in a weak position. We must build solidarity among those who define themselves as women and feel like women.

P.In Spain there is a heated debate about it. Is it a value-adding or effort-consuming discussion?

R.It happens in many countries, it is a pity. Trans-exclusive feminists have always been there, what has changed is that you cannot limit the second sex only to people assigned female at birth. Those divisions have led to what we see today, which is this backlash from sexist fascist and populist movements. The divisions between us created by those who claim that woman is that eternal feminine essence do the work of fascism.

P.His work especially addresses the mythology built around women. What reflect?

R.The whole building of culture is not just politics. The reason that politics at the institutional level is so alien to women is because the entire edifice of culture has been built by the primacy of the first sex. We need narratives that allow us to realize what it means to be a woman.

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P.How is this new narrative written?

R.Our identity as women depends on the stories we tell. If I think deeply about who I am, I think of a story. I was born at this time, this has been my development … But the way we build these stories is largely due to outside influence. How is this inference process? It is processed by basic narrative nuclei or models that I call myth. So what is a woman? The woman is a myth that we build every day.

P.Myths have always been written by men, from Homero until El Mahabharata.

R.That’s how it is. For several millennia, under patriarchy, it has been largely men who have written novels, philosophy or science that have been transmitted. There were also women, but they were not broadcast. One example is philosophy: I went to school at the age of six, got a Ph.D. without having read a single woman, and I’m not just talking about philosophers. My teacher even skipped over Sappho because she was inappropriate. I was born in 1975. I went to school at the age of six, in 1981. I was not born three centuries ago.

P.Can we say what has changed compared to the time when Simone de Beauvoir spoke of the second sex?

R.Many things, although not everything that was an achievement (such as the right to abortion) is guaranteed. But now there is a global consciousness. And a global look all the more necessary, because there are 126 million missing girls from the world population.

P.Or thousands of femicides in Mexico, for example.

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R.That is why I insist on the importance of anarchyfeminism. There is no single principle that explains the oppression of women. Once the political oppression is over and equal voting rights have been achieved, we will not be at the end point. We must add the class dimension, economic inequality, cultural inequality, ecology. Oppression is like a knot. Until we undo the skein, it will continue to reproduce.

P.In this inclusive vision, is there also room for the unemployed, the marginalized, the women of the third world, the representatives of voiceless minorities?

A. We cannot have freedom for women until the whole planet is free.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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