Feminist performance "a rapist on your way." The body as a territory of resistance and subversive resignification

Reception: May 6, 2020

Acceptance: August 8, 2020


The performance "A rapist on your way" appeared in Chile at the end of 2019, and then it was reproduced in nearly three hundred cities on all continents. This article contextualizes the performance considering feminism and feminist art, significant movements due to their capacity for action. His narrative is then examined in the light of the thinking of Segato and other authors, who have shown how sexual violence is associated with a patriarchal power structure. Finally, this manifestation is analyzed considering its performative character, whose expression makes the body a territory of resistance and resignification, taking up the ideas of Turner and Butler on the performance as a "social drama" liminoid and antistructure.

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Feminist Performance "A rapist in your way (A Rapist in your Way)". The Body as a Territory of Resistance and Subversive Resignification

The performance “Un violador en tu camino” was created in Chile in late 2019 and it was later reproduced in nearly 300 cities across all continents. This article contextualizes the performance considering feminism and feminist art as significant movements, due to their ability of action. We then examine the narrative of the performance under the eye of Segato and other authors that have shown how sexual violence is related to a patriarchal power structure. Finally, this manifestation is analyzed, given its performative nature, the expression of which turns the body into a ground for resistance and resignification, revisiting ideas by Turner and Butler on the performance as a liminoid, anti-structural and "social drama".

Keywords: Violence against women, patriarchy, feminism, body, performance.

The patriarchy is a judge,
who judges us for being born
and our punishment
It is the violence that you do not see.
The patriarchy is a judge,
who judges us for being born
and our punishment
It is the violence that you already see.
It is femicide.
Impunity for my killer.
It is the disappearance.
It's rape.
And it wasn't my fault, or where she was, or how she dressed.
And it wasn't my fault, or where she was, or how she dressed.
And it wasn't my fault, or where she was, or how she dressed.
And it wasn't my fault, or where she was, or how she dressed.
The rapist was you.

The rapist is you.
They are the pacos.
The judges.
The state.
The oppressive state is a male rapist.
The oppressive state is a male rapist.
The rapist was you.
The rapist is you.
Sleep easy, innocent girl,
without worrying about the bandit,
that for your sweet and smiling dream
watch your carabinero lover.

The rapist is you.
The rapist is you.
The rapist is you.
The rapist is you.

Letter of the performance "A rapist in your way", Collective theses (2019a, 2019b)


The performance "A rapist on your way" arose from the Chilean collective theses as part of a more extensive artistic work on rape, but its presentation was interrupted by the social outbreak that occurred in Chile in October 2019. In this context, the collective made an adaptation of the artistic work, intervening with body and voice the Aníbal Pinto square in Valparaíso on November 20, in protest at the violations of women's rights perpetrated during the political crisis (see illustration 1).1

Performance "A rapist on your way", Valparaíso, November 20.

During the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on November 25, women occupied the Plaza de Armas in Santiago and various points of this city to demonstrate and denounce through the performance the violence to which they were being subjected by the institutions of the Chilean State (see illustration 2).2 Weeks before, the mime Daniela Carrasco had been found dead, after being detained by the police, and the murder of the photojournalist Albertina Martínez Burgos in Santiago, who had covered the repression of the demonstrations in recent months, had also generated a great commotion.

Illustration 2 Poster to summon the second performance on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5Nl542FjmR/, accessed January 15, 2021.
Illustration 2: Poster to summon the second performance on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5Nl542FjmR/, accessed January 15, 2021.

Later, the performance She inhabited the streets of Chile on several occasions to demand the resignation of authorities for the violations of women's human rights during the social outbreak. On December 3, women over 40 carried out an act of counter-occupation at the gates of the National Stadium, an area that was used as a detention and torture center during the military dictatorship of Pinochet.

In this context, theses called for a global action to reproduce the performance on November 29, and they had an echo in nearly three hundred cities on all continents during this day and on subsequent days (see illustration 3). In America, women took part in the streets in practically all countries. In Europe the performance It occurred simultaneously in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Slovakia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey (see illustration 4).

Illustration 3: Call to perform the performance around the world. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5X2BJ2lJ4H/, accessed January 15, 2021.
Illustration 4: Women in Bilbao interpret the performance on December 19, 2019. Source: https://www.entaciónretxea.org/mas-de-un-millar-de-mujeres-replican-en-bilbao-la-accion- a-rapist-on-your-way-las-the-theses /, accessed on January 15, 2021.

In Asia, "A rapist on your way" was heard in India, Israel, Japan, Kurdistan and Lebanon. In Africa women occupied the streets of Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique and Tunisia. And in Oceania, female bodies were expressed in Australia and New Zealand.3 The letter of the performance It was translated into Mapuche, Quechua, Japanese, Portuguese, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Basque, Catalan, Galician, Asturian, German, Hindi, French, English, Turkish, Arabic and even sign language, among others.4

La Tercera, Mapuche version of the performance “A rapist on your way”, 2019.

The narration of the performance It had some adaptations or was accompanied by its own slogans, according to the context of each country. In India, women incorporated stanzas to account for the particularities of their patriarchal system: “in the name of caste, in the name of religion, we disappear, we are exploited, we bear the brunt of rape and violence in our lives. bodies ”(efe, 2019). In the Brazilian version, the part dedicated to the police shows the helplessness of the girls even in their homes and under the supposed protection of the State. In addition, one verse demanded "justice for Marielle Franco", a feminist sociologist, Brazilian politician and a human rights activist with important work in the favelas, who was assassinated by State agents on March 14, 2018 (Ruge, 2019).

In Mexico, the penultimate part of the narrative was modified: "Sleep peacefully, innocent girl, without worrying about the bandit, who for your dreams, sweet and smiling, we make street art." In various cities of the country slogans were added such as: "The State does not take care of me, my friends take care of me"; "Down with the patriarchy that is going to fall, that is going to fall, up with feminism that is going to win, that is going to win"; "Tremble, tremble the machistas, that Latin America will be all feminist" (see illustration 5). In this country, in Ciudad Juárez, women took to the streets for the umpteenth time to show the power structure that operates behind the multiple femicides in their locality and to denounce the complicity of the government authorities: “It's the chota, the uacj, the Prosecutor's Office, the femicide State, is Corral y Cabada ”, alluding to the police, the university institutions where harassment practices are carried out, the mayor and the state governor (Martínez, 2019). In Guadalajara the performance was held in front of the Government Palace and in university campuses such as the International Book Fair (fil), which is organized by the University of Guadalajara, and the Western Institute of Technology and Higher Studies, in both cases to demonstrate the sexual harassment that students experience in these spaces.5

Illustration 5: “A rapist on your way” in Mexico City on November 29, 2019. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5iGwFHgNdc/?igshid=ai0r0o9zzdvi

In Morocco the letter of the performance It was oriented towards the freedom of the body, emphasis was placed on fighting for the individual rights of women, the decriminalization of the interruption of pregnancy and sexual relations outside of marriage (Barranco, 2020). The women took to the streets to express with their bodies and with their voices.

Who I am?
I am the pillar and the foundation, free!
Free with my conscience and in my thoughts.
Free in my heart and in my body.
And who are you to send me? Free!
Responsible, capable, whole and complete.
And who are you to look down on me?
Abusive rapist, I am powerful.
And the rapist is you!
And the rapist is you, and you, and you!
It is justice, the police, the power, the state.
I don't care about this justice
and I don't care about the government,
Where is that justice? They want me to live in a coma.

Listen to me oppressor, listen to me!
Hear me judge, hear me!
Listen to me mandatory, listen to me!
I am the one who chooses, free, free, free!
I am the one who chooses and not you, you!
I am the one who chooses, free, free, free!
I am the one who chooses and not them, they!
Free with my body and my clothes.
Free with my life.
And who are you to forbid me? Abuser rapist, I am powerful.
And the rapist is you, and the rapist is you!
The rapist is you, you, and you!

In most countries where women occupied the streets with the performance there were reactions. Among these, what happened in Turkey stands out, where seven activists were arrested in Istanbul, when they were accused by the Turkish prosecutor's office of “offending the State”. And as a protest against what happened, after a few days a group of deputies sang "A rapist on your way" in the National Assembly of Turkey, while others showed photographs of women murdered by their partners (nius, 2019). Subsequently, hundreds of women gave life to the performance in Istanbul's Bosphorus Square, this time without the police intervening (Cooperativa, 2019).

The narrative of the performance was inspired by the theoretical reflections of Rita Segato (2016), who has pointed out how patriarchal, misogynistic and homophobic violence is revealed as a symptom of our era. And faced with this expression of violence, the performance had an important presence worldwide, because it contains a narrative that is transversal to all contexts and with which women identify regardless of their nationality. Furthermore, the intervention, due to its performative enunciation, makes the body a territory of resistance and resignification. And in the global scope it configures a communitas spontaneous violence of women in opposition to the network of economic and political corporations, which according to Segato (2016), systematically exercise physical violence on them.

For the development of this work, the intervention "A rapist on your way" is first placed in feminism and feminist art, significant movements due to their structural criticism of the patriarchal power system and their unique capacity for action. Subsequently, the narrative of the performance in light of the thought of Segato and other authors who have shown how sexual violence or the control of the female or feminized body is associated with this patriarchal power structure. Finally, this manifestation is analyzed considering its performative character, whose expression makes the body a territory of resistance and resignification, taking up the idea of performance by Turner (1982, 2007) and Butler (1988, 2002) as a "social drama" liminoid and antistructure. It will also show how the meeting of women, by giving life to the performance, create a communitas spontaneous, which makes singular bodies a concatenation of collective bodies on a global scale, articulating the intimate territory with the collective.6

The performance in the feminist sea

The political struggles of women have had an important expression since the century xviii, with his accent from 1850. The initiative of theses and its circulation in various parts of the world is part of this historical process, with a particular presence in contemporary feminist waves for its criticism and break with the State.

In the feminist sea, three great waves are usually identified, with the recognized limitations that any categorization implies. The first wave encompasses the mobilization around women's suffrage, stretching from the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 to the establishment of the vote in the United States in 1920. The second wave rises with the radical movements of the 1960s, whose struggles they viewed suffrage as a narrow political goal, especially when compared to their aspiration to bring about a profound transformation of society. The third wave, which arises from the 90s, focuses its criticism on the universalism of the proposals of the feminists of the sixties, which posited as desirable a unique model of women's liberation that emerged among white, urban, heterosexual and middle-class women . Third wave women have highlighted that such a perspective overlooked the cultural specificity of the Global South and non-heterosexual and binary identities, as well as socioeconomic differences (Cano, 2018).

"A rapist on your way" rises between the second and third waves: taking up the slogans on the freedom of the body and making evident the rape that has been denounced in the feminist movement since the 1960s; but in it there is also a clear criticism and rupture with respect to state policy. Such a position, which implies the denunciation of the patriarchal power structures, including the State, has been crystallizing since the 1960s in the feminist movement, as a result of observation and accumulated experiences.

But also the performance It is part of a series of actions of a movement identified as feminist art in Latin America, which had its gestation in the context of the second feminist wave and has extended to the third, and which includes a considerable number of independent artist collectives . This movement has been characterized by denouncing "military dictatorships, the disappearance of people, undemocratic governments, the poverty and precariousness of populations, the persecution of sexual dissidents and extreme violence against women" (Red Conceptualismos del Sur en Milano , 2016: 166), “while they have collaborated in making enjoyment, sexuality and pleasure visible as a political strategy for the recovery of our bodies” (Milano, 2016: 166).

And according to the analysis made by Mayer (2009) - a reference and forerunner of the performance, founder of Polvo de Gallina Negra, one of the pioneer collectives of feminist art in Mexico and Latin America - this movement has helped subtly and gradually undermine patriarchy through: a) the visibility of women artists; b) the representation of the experiences and / or problems of these; c) the questioning and disarticulation of traditional gender concepts; and d) the development of new ways of thinking about the relationship between art and politics, towards an art that not only seeks to represent reality in the sphere of the symbolic, but also seeks to intervene in it. As we will see, the performance "A rapist in your way" has contributed to dismantling the patriarchy through all these aspects. But unlike most feminist art actions, which given their strong themes and critical intervention are limited to intervening in certain spaces, this performance it had an extraordinary circulation in all the continents, for the reasons that are explained in the following two sections.

The performance driven by the thesis adds to the multiple actions within the feminist movement, even the act itself would not have had the same symbolic representation and political capacity outside the feminist sea. However, the intervention also reflects the characteristics of feminist actions: it is a spontaneous act that responds to a particular conjuncture, but at the same time it is anti-structural because it contributes to undermine the patriarchal system; it inverts the normative to the playful and corporal; it resignifies women and creates community senses, elements are described later.

Each action of feminism is enriched by the other actions, an example of this are the successions of the feminist waves themselves, but feminism also exists and takes on an identity thanks to these different incursions. "A rapist on your way" has inspired many feminist collectives and artists to give life to other artistic interventions; but it has also become a kind of feminist "anthem" in the world arena, its verses are heard in marches and protests.

A little over a year after the first performance in Chile, theses they maintain an important activity, have a relevant presence in their country and throughout the world; on Instagram they have more than 300 thousand followers and have taken joint actions with other groups, such as the Pussy Riot of Russia, with whom they created the “Manifesto Against Police Violence”.7 On June 12, 2020, the Chilean police filed a lawsuit against the collective, accusing it of threats against the institution and of undermining its image. Three months later, the magazine Time included theses among the 100 most influential personalities of 2020, considering that their performance it was a factor of change on a world scale.

The narrative: expression about the maximum consequences of the patriarchal system

The narration of the performance It starts from the identification of the patriarchy as “a judge who judges us by birth” and condemns us to violence, and then the State is described as “repressor” and “male rapist”. Patriarchy, as indicated by Lerner (1990) and Segato (2016), is the most archaic and permanent political structure of humanity, however, with the establishment of capitalism and nation states, this figure is formalized and achieves its consolidation with the colonizing process.

As Lerner (1990) points out, with the agricultural revolution the exploitation of human labor and the sexual exploitation of women were linked; kinship systems tended to shift from matrilineality to patrilineality and private property emerged. And the first appropriation of private property consisted in the appropriation of women's reproductive work, which was formalized with the development of capitalism. In this regard, Federici (2018) argues that the witch hunt in Europe, which reached its peak between 1580 and 1630, was developed as a mechanism to control the body of women by the State and thus constitute the capitalist system. Fertility knowledge was stripped away from women and the creation of the labor force and original accumulation were institutionalized for the benefit of birth control. Thus, "the sexual division of labor was above all a power relationship ..., an immense impulse to capitalist accumulation" (p. 206).

Segato identifies a link between patriarchy and the colonial process, a circumstance that favored the consolidation of the former's power structures. According to this author, the agencies of the colonial administrations were linked with the conquered men, since the patriarchy gave them the powers of hunting, contact with the villages, parliamentary or war. However, the ancestral masculine position is transformed “by this relational role with the powerful production and reproductive agencies of coloniality” (Segato, 2016: 115). Just as the emasculation of men themselves occurs on the white front, which shows them the relativity of their masculine position by subjecting them to the sovereign domain of the colonizer, this process also "is violent, because it oppresses here and empowers in the village, forcing to reproduce and exhibit the control capacity inherent to the position of male subject in the only world now possible, to restore the damaged virility on the external front ”(Segato, 2016: 116) .

Unlike Lerner (1990) and Segato (2016), Lugones (2014) considers that in some pre-colonial societies, such as among the Yoruba, there was no patriarchy. For this author, the gender system was consolidated with the advance of colonial projects and with the establishment of modernity. According to Lugones (2014), the modern-colonial gender system has a visible / light and a hidden / dark side. The visible side of coloniality builds gender relations hegemonically; defines biological dimorphism, heterosexualism, and patriarchy; in fact, it constitutes the very meaning of "man" and "woman" in the modern sense. While the hidden side of the gender system in the colony and until now has been completely violent; the diverse and racialized bodies "were reduced to animality, forced sex with white colonizers, and labor exploitation" (p. 71).

Federici (2018), Segato (2016) and Lugones (2014) coincide in pointing out that the patriarchal power structure was consolidated during the colony and has spread up to now, dragging with it the yoke of violence against women. Even, as Segato (2016) points out, in contemporary wars that are characterized by their low levels of formalization, a convention seems to be spreading: the affirmation of the lethal capacity of antagonistic factions in "writing on women's bodies" (p. 61). As the author shows us, public rape and torture of women represents

the destruction of the enemy in the woman's body, and the feminine or feminized body is the very battlefield on which the insignia of victory is nailed and the physical and moral devastation of the town, tribe, community, neighborhood, locality, family, neighborhood or gang that this female body, through a process of meaning proper to an ancestral imaginary, embodies (Segato, 2016: 80, 81).

Segato makes a distinction between violence of a personal nature (interpersonal, domestic and serial offender crimes) and cases where gender-based violence necessarily involves cruel treatment and lethality. Such attacks, according to the author, represent “femi-geno-cides”, as they are attacks on women with the intention of lethality and physical deterioration, in contexts of impersonality, in which the aggressors are an organized group. This is how the bodies become the territory. Power acts directly on the female body, "it is possible to say that the bodies and their immediate spatial environment constitute both the battlefield of the powers in conflict and the frame where the signs of their annexation are hung and displayed" (Segato, 2016 : 69, 70).

In this context of structural violence, there is a capture of the criminal field by the State, particularly in Latin America. According to Segato, "crime and the accumulation of capital by illegal means ceased to be exceptional to become structural and structuring of politics and the economy" (2016: 76). The State apparatus and its territory are intercepted by new jurisdictional realities (business-corporate, political-identity, religious, military-mafia), "which seize for themselves an important influence on decision-making and access to resources" ( Segato, 2016: 68).

Consequently, according to this author (2016), we cannot understand violence as dispersed, sporadic and anomalous: “we have to perceive the systematicity of this gigantic structure that links apparently very distant elements of society and traps representative democracy itself” ( Segato, 2016: 75). The narrative of “A rapist on your way” finds its voice in the approaches of Segato (2016), Lerner (1990), Federici (2018) and Lugones (2014), since it accounts for the systematicity of this gigantic structure and its repercussions.

"A rapist on your way" is an expression about the maximum consequences to which the patriarchal system has led women. The narrative also shows the fabric of this system. Patriarchy has historically played the role of judge, imposing its structural violence on women, as a punishment from birth. Femicide, rape, disappearance, recognized in the verses of theses, are part of expressive violence, of a war that finds the territory in the body of women to impose its power (Segato, 2016).

The Oppressive state and male rapist it has historically been configured as part of this patriarchal and colonialist power system (Federici, 2018; Lugones, 2014; Segato, 2016). In this process, women have been marginalized; Patriarchal power structures have created a subordination that involves women, diverse or dissident bodies, and with a greater emphasis on black and indigenous women, racializing their bodies (Lugones, 2014). In addition, the State has promoted an economic system that has used the exploitation of the woman's body, her reproductive capacity, for the accumulation of capital (Federici, 2018).

Impunity for my killer, the cry shared in the performance, evidences the network of corruption and the capture of the criminal field by the State, involving “the cops, the judges and the president” (Segato, 2016). The stanza "Sleep peacefully, innocent girl, without worrying about the bandit, that your sweet and smiling dream watches over your carabinero lover" is a quote from the anthem of the Chilean police, taken by theses to ironically show its contradiction with reality.

Faced with expressive violence, signed on the skin of women as a sign of patriarchy, women respond with a clear message: “the rapist is you”, with a phrase that publicly identifies the attacker, his identity and his way of operating, highlighting the complicity between the structure of the State –police, judges, president– and the patriarchy. The narrative of women in the contexts where the performance it is a look at their immediate space, a complaint about the specific ways in which this complicity operates.

The voices of women in the performance they are a way of making violence visible, a sign that this phenomenon is structurally identified and understood. In the verses the women express their recognition, their perception and their deepest feelings about something that afflicts them as a whole. Contrary to the black blindfold over the eyes worn by women in the choreography, in the performance act they activate a gaze on their immediate space, thus making a poetic act possible (Milano, 2016).

The performance it is also expressed as a liberation journey for women. Women occupy the public space from which they have been historically marginalized and position themselves politically: “it was not my fault, nor where I was, nor how I dressed”, “the rapist is you”, thus showing an alternative narrative to the hegemonically imposed one. This political positioning is also visualized in the adaptations and own slogans that were integrated in each country where the performance: "Sleep peacefully, innocent girl, without worrying about the bandit, who for your dreams, sweet and smiling, we make street art"; "The State does not take care of me, my friends take care of me"; "Down with the patriarchy that is going to fall, that is going to fall, up with feminism that is going to win, that is going to win." It is so in the performance women resignify themselves as political subjects, and also create senses of collectivity, issues that will be analyzed in detail in the next section.

The body as a territory of resistance and resignification of women

If the woman's own body has been the battlefield of the conflicting powers, the frame where the signs of its annexation are hung and displayed, due to the process of meaning that it embodies in the patriarchal system (Segato, 2016), with the performance the body is rebuilt as a territory of resistance and resignification. To position the body in this way, the performance as a "social drama", as an action liminoid antistructure, which also activates senses of collectivity or communitas, according to the approaches of Victor Turner (1982, 2007) and Judith Butler (1988, 2002). From this point of view the body in performance it becomes a territory of resistance and subversive resignification, since it questions the traditional representation of women in the patriarchal system and the logic of power that underlies it, at the same time that it is resignified.

Turner is one of the most important scholars of the performance; establishes articulations between anthropological thought and dramaturgy based on his fieldwork on ritual ceremonies in non-Western towns (Peplo, 2014). This author distinguishes two types of performances: the "performance cultural ", which includes aesthetic dramas and staging such as theater, cinema, etc., and the"performance Social". This last performance Its main manifestation is the “social drama”, which is defined as a set of non-harmonic or dissonant units of the social process that arise in conflict situations (Celeste and Ortecho, 2013). The "social drama" breaks with the norm, breaks the law, moral principles and customs. This break can be deliberate or calculated by a person or a group, with the aim of questioning the authority or the power relations established. Both types of performances they express the reflective character of human agency, they are for Turner a type of “meta-theater”, a dramaturgical language that allows us to reflect on roles and status in everyday life. It is thus that performances They are not simple reflections or expressions of culture, but can themselves be active agents of change (Citro, 2009).

"A rapist on your way" was born as a cultural expression, since it was part of a play, but once it is represented in Chile and reappropriated by various women and groups in different parts of the world, it becomes a "social drama" , this characteristic being just part of its performativity. The original play was adapted to become a protest against violations of women's rights in Chile, and has gradually mutated. Women in various contexts of the world have given life to the performance integrating their multiple personal and collective experiences, and at the same time they have questioned the authority of the patriarchal system and subverted its prevailing values.

Turner (1982) associates performance to a liminal act, an intermediate transition phase where the subjects go through a period of ambiguity, a kind of social limbo that precedes a new condition. For this author, liminality is playful and antistructured, in such a way that the performance it represents a bodily process of dissolution of the normative social structure and all the rights and duties associated with it. The liminal is considered as the "no" to all structural assertions, as the realm of pure possibility. Liminal situations are scenarios in which every possible configuration, idea, relationship, new symbols, models and paradigms arise, such as the seedbeds of cultural creativity (Turner, 1982, 2007). With this Turner (1982) does not conceive a structural investment in the liminal act, but rather the liberation of human capacities of cognition, affect, volition, creativity, etc., with respect to the normative restrictions that define a sequence of social states, promulgate social roles and establish corporate memberships of a family, lineage, clan, tribe, or nation.

This capacity for experimentation and variation becomes more relevant in societies in which leisure is delimited from work, and especially in all societies that have been shaped by the industrial revolution. While the liminal phases of tribal society are imposed and do not subvert the structural form of society, in industrial societies the liminal "social dramas" are spontaneous and subversive. Based on this consideration, Turner (1982) makes a difference between what is liminal and what is liminoid: 1) liminal phenomena belong to the productive sphere, tend to be collective and located in calendarized rhythms, while liminoid they are playful, they can be collective and individual and are generated continuously; 2) the former are centrally integrated into the total social process, while the latter develop in the interfaces and interstices of the institutions; they are plural, fragmentary and experimental in nature; 3) liminal phenomena contain symbols that have a common intellectual and emotional meaning for all members of a group; meanwhile, the phenomena liminoid they tend to be more idiosyncratic or extravagant, they are generated by certain individuals or groups and their symbols are closer to the personal-psychological pole than to the objective-social pole and; 4) the liminal tends to be functional for the social structure, while the phenomena liminoid they are social criticisms or even revolutionary manifestos, exposing the injustices, inefficiencies and immoralities of the dominant economic and political structures and organizations.

The incursion of the collective theses, as we pointed out, is part of feminism and feminist art, and like many of the incursions of these movements, it is a phenomenon liminoid, a playful and experimental act that arises spontaneously as a gap in the face of the decline of the patriarchal state. This intervention criticizes the principles of the patriarchal system, since it unmasks a morality that covers the authority of the State under a cloak of violence towards feminized bodies and calls that institution into question. With the performance The injustice, the immoral violence of the patriarchal system and the power structure that accompanies it are exposed.

The performance It is collective and at the same time intimate, it shows the temperament and the distinctive character of the community that makes it possible through the bodily and textual expressions of those who participate. Although the intervention is repetitive and group, it reveals the idiosyncratic adaptations of each participant in each context where it is carried out, it expresses in a contextualized way the most intimate feelings and emotions through symbols that are closer to the personal-psychological pole. It is thus that the performance allowed many women to recognize and report violence experienced in their own body in diverse contexts such as family, university or caste.

The performance as a “social drama” integrates various symbols that, from the corporeity of the participants, break with the norm and axioms of the patriarchal system, while resignifying women. For Turner (1982) les symboles sauvages that appear in traditional cultures and in genres such as poetry, drama, and painting in postindustrial society have the character of dynamic semantic systems. For this author, symbols are the smallest ritual units, they can be “objects, activities, relationships, events, gestures or spatial units in a ritual context” (Turner, 2007: 21). These symbols gain and lose meanings: as they "travel" through a rite or work of art they are destined to produce effects on the psychological, states and behaviors that communicate them with other human beings.

Symbols, both signifiers and meanings, are essentially involved in social variability, since people use them not only to give order to the universe in which they inhabit, but also to creatively use disorder, to overcome it, to question the principles axiomatic that have become a shackle (Turner, 1982). The clothes, the black blindfold, the body makeup and the steps in the performance "A rapist on your way" are dynamic symbols that re-signify this body, since they contain an alternative semantics to that of the patriarchal system, which has sought to impose its power through domination and violence on the woman's body.

In the choreography of the performance A central element is the squats, which are performed in reference to those who were forced to practice naked women and girls in police stations and jails in Chile, seeking to criminalize and frighten those who took to the streets. Then the finger is pointed at those responsible for the violence under the shared cry “the rapist is you”: he identifies himself with his hand raised to the left, in front, turning and both hands crossed at the police, the judges, the State and the president, respectively. And with a raised fist, the "oppressive state" is highlighted as a "male rapist." Finally, the closing comes when the women place their hands around their mouths, to increase their voice, echo their tone and secretly share the extract from the anthem of the Chilean police, ironically demonstrating its contradiction with reality. .

The choreography alternates rhythmic, joyous and festive steps with the three moments described above, in this way the body transits from squats to dancing, from violence embodied to liberation, to play, to pleasure. With the squats, violence towards feminized bodies is exhibited, but transforming this exhibition into an act where the parodic, subversive and emancipated body resurfaces. Thus, body movements are symbols “of change, criticism and creativity within repetition itself. This is where parody enters as a tactic to break with the idea of an original or primary gender identity that emanates from within us in the way of an essence ”(Milano, 2016: 159); to break with the patriarchal imaginary that sees the territory in the woman's body to impose its power. These symbols, as they travel through the performance, produce effects on the psychological, states that communicate with each other to the participants, who individually and collectively resignify themselves, but also produce effects among those who observe.

Like the liminal subjects identified in the studies of Turner (2007), who disguise and color their bodies to symbolically show their position outside the social structure, the black blindfold, the clothing that goes from the style glam traditional costumes, and makeup on women's bodies also indicate their position outside the patriarchal system. The black bandage that contrasts with the clothes and makeup is an example of how from liminality, that is, from darkness or a kind of social limbo, women resignify themselves by dressing as they want. This is due to the fact that the patriarchal system has historically attributed the responsibility of sexual violence to the way women dress, however the women refute: “it was not my fault, nor where I was, nor how I dressed”.

All these symbols make the body itself a space of resistance and resignification, where the subversive woman appears who marks its border with respect to the State and patriarchal power. This question is also demonstrated by the expression of the performance in public squares in front of government precincts, in spaces occupied by dictatorships to inflict torture, such as the National Stadium of Chile, and in places of political representation such as the National Assembly of Turkey. The woman's own body is symbolized as an alternative territory in front of the spaces that have historically represented the power and violence of the patriarchal State.

The body in its liminal state resignifies the woman. In this regard, Turner (2007) points out that during the liminal period, bodies are no longer represented as males and females. In this case, the body is considered as a microcosm of the universe, “as a privileged place for the communication of gnosis, of mystical knowledge about the nature of things and the way in which they come to be what they are ”(p. 119). For Turner, this process involves non-rational or non-logical symbols, arising from basic individual or unconscious cultural assumptions, from which the body takes most of the social action.

In the notion of performance and Turner's liminal body is an articulation with Butler's approach. For this author (2002), bodies are not simple objects of thought, but rather indicate a world that is beyond themselves. Butler suggests the reformulation of the materiality of bodies in the face of the heterosexual imperative that allows certain sexual identifications and excludes others. This heterosexual imperative or "excluding matrix by which subjects are formed requires, therefore, the simultaneous production of a sphere of abject beings, of those who are not 'subjects', but who form the constitutive exterior of the field of subjects" ( Butler, 2002: 19). Butler's exclusive matrix coincides with the modern-colonial gender system of Lugones (2014) explained in the previous section. However, for both authors, recognizing the matrix of gender relations that establishes and sustains the subject is not the same as saying that it acts in a decisive way.

The idea of "abject beings" by Butler (2002) converges with the figure of "novices" by Turner (2007), who are in a liminal situation, outside of social life, but whose condition of living under the sign of " unlivable ”is necessary to circumscribe the sphere of the subjects, their autonomy and their own lives, according to the first author. Thus, the threat of abject beings is not a permanent opposition “to social norms condemned to pathos of eternal failure, but rather a critical resource in the struggle to rearticulate the very terms of symbolic legitimacy and intelligibility ”(Butler, 2002: 21).

In fact, Butler (1988) links his idea of the materiality of the body with the notion of performance and Turner's "social drama" (1982), to analyze the constitution of sex-gender. For Butler (1988), the body is not passively written with cultural codes, as if it were a lifeless receiver of totally pre-given cultural relations. Just as Turner (1982) identifies the performance As a liminal act of antistructure, Butler (2002) considers that gender is a performative act where social norms are reiterated but also gaps and fissures are opened that represent constitutive instabilities in such constructions, such as that which escapes the norm or that the exceeds. For this author (1988), although the actors are on stage in a culturally restricted body space and perform performances within the limits of existing directives, a script can be promulgated in and in various ways, since the play requires text and interpretation.

In opposition to the theatrical or phenomenological models that take gender as prior to their acts, for Butler (1988) these acts constitute identity. In this sense, the body is, in itself, performative, which means that: a) it is not predetermined in any way, and b) its concrete expression in the world implies the specific taking and representation of a set of historical possibilities. Therefore, one is not simply a body, one makes the body and, in fact, one makes the body different from contemporaries, predecessors and successors (Butler, 1988). For this author, the body becomes its gender through a series of acts that are renewed, revised and consolidated over time.

From a feminist perspective, Butler (2002) suggests trying to re-conceive the body as the legacy of sedimented acts, rather than a predetermined or excluded structure, be it natural, cultural, or linguistic. In such a way that for this author it is possible perform the category "women"; Thus, the process of discourse production and the dissemination of ideas about men and women are reconstructed and, therefore, hierarchical power relations are revealed and with it the organization of society and politics. Consequently, Butler (2002) concludes that power is not a grammatical and metaphysical subject, but the destruction and subversion of that grammar and that metaphysics of the subject.

In this sense, the performance "A rapist on your way", at the moment in which he constructs symbols opposed to the patriarchal system from the corporeity, from the most intimate feelings and emotions of the participants, subverts the grammar and metaphysics imposed on the woman as "historical subject". As we saw previously, when women put their bodies on the street representing the violence inflicted on them, they subvert this very act from their flesh. The expression of the body inversely mutates the idea of women as a battlefield where violence is inflicted, of that being that passively accepts its destiny, according to the axioms of patriarchal power, to become a territory of resistance.

The body in the street represents the condition of visibility and legitimation of women as a political subject, with a different text and context from the script imposed by the colonial patriarchy, which has marginalized her from public life. Women find in the playfulness of their own body the appropriation of their intimate and at the same time political being. Like the witches claimed by Federici (2018), who met to ward off evils through dances because they recognized a territory of power in the body, women from their bodies write history in different ways and dismantle the power of the patriarchal system. There is a political resignification from the skin, from the intimacy, a question that can be appreciated in the verses of the performance in Morocco:

And who are you to command me? ...
And who are you to look down on me? ...
And who are you to forbid me? ...
Who I am?
I am the pillar and the foundation, free!
Free with my conscience and in my thoughts.
Free in my heart and in my body.

And one of the most important ways to disempower the patriarchal system was the gathering of women through the performance, making singular bodies a concatenation of collective bodies on a global scale, moving from intimacy to collectivity. The personal is thus implicitly political insofar as it is conditioned by the shared social (Butler, 1988). According to Turner (1982), a communitas spontaneous, since subjectively there is a feeling of unlimited power, a shared feeling that all problems (not just your own) can be solved; the group feels (in the first person) as "essentially us" and can sustain its intersubjective illumination. Women who interact with each other in the performance they are absorbed into a single, fluid, synchronized event. In this situation, teamwork is not essential, but rather "being" together even in physical distance, where the making of utopias is an essentially playful or sentimental activity. According to Turner (1982), such a social configuration reveals itself as a loving bond in the face of the normative structure and provides it with alternative models.

With the circulation of the performance in various parts of the world a communitas spontaneous action of women in opposition to the network of economic and political corporations, which according to Segato (2016) systematically exercise physical violence on them; making this communitas a political territory of resistance that starts from the body, but is strengthened among the multiple bodies of women. A body-communitas-territory that transcends the nation states themselves, that breaks with borders to make possible a global common demand, that questions the moral authority of the state and subverts its principles. A body-communitas-Territory that, as Segato herself has indicated, “circulated around the planet on its own feet, evaded all filters, all selectivities of conventional channels” (in Pichel, 2019).


For Turner (1982) the processes liminoid they are the seeds of cultural transformation and have become central no longer as a matter of interface between “fixed structures”, but as a matter of holistic development for society. As noted, the performance "A rapist in your way", as an act liminoid, joins the feminist waves. Feminist incursions have been weaving their territories of resistance and subversion for a long time.

As illustrated by analyzing the performance, the feminist project encompasses both the individual and the collective, both the conscious and the unconscious, it implies the participation of women in public spaces, but also their resignification on the basis of power relations. According to Braidotti (2015), feminism entails the empowerment of female subjectivity in the political, epistemological and experiential sense. For this author, emancipation does not mean adapting to the norms, criteria and values of patriarchal society; The rules need to be redefined in order to make a difference and to make the difference concretely perceived.

Through narrative, volition, denunciation, symbols, shared relief, affection, complicity, enjoyment, company and fun, women define themselves as political subjects outside the structures of the State, they create meanings community exercises to build the body as a territory of resistance. Feminists know that they face the challenge of articulating another life, other forms of political, social and economic organization, where all bodies with their own grammars are worthily recognized, because only in this way will it be possible to build a territory that passes from being resistance to being a common landscape for human coexistence.


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Kenia Ortiz Cadena She has a doctorate in Social Sciences from the University of Guadalajara and her Master in Intercultural Studies from the Università degli Studi di Padova. She is a full-time professor at the University of Guadalajara, a candidate for National Researcher; in his spare time he writes poetry. Currently, she is interested in studying the body and identity among migrants with sexual and gender dissident orientation. His research topics have been: social networks, community senses and translocal practices in migration contexts and intercultural processes in the construction of identity. Among his most recent publications is the book Community Senses in Diaspora. Reflections on the migration of Juanchorrey, Zacatecas, Mexico: University of Guadalajara, UNESCO Chair in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Jorge Durand Chair in Migration Studies.

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