The Silent Feminine: Essays on Jouissance, the Letter, and the Arts [1 ed.] 9781793653208, 9781793653215

Contributors to this edited collection use a psychoanalytic lens to examine the historical and political silencing of wo

216 47 3MB

English Pages 187 [195] Year 2022

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

The Silent Feminine: Essays on Jouissance, the Letter, and the Arts [1 ed.]
 9781793653208, 9781793653215

Citation preview

The Silent Feminine

Psychoanalytic Studies: Clinical, Social, and Cultural Contexts Series Editor Michael O’Loughlin, Adelphi University Mission Statement Psychoanalytic Studies seeks psychoanalytically informed works addressing the implications of the location of the individual in clinical, social, cultural, historical, and ideological contexts. Innovative theoretical and clinical works within psychoanalytic theory and in fields such as anthropology, education, and history are welcome. Projects addressing conflict, migrations, difference, ideology, subjectivity, memory, psychiatric suffering, physical and symbolic violence, power, and the future of psychoanalysis itself are welcome, as are works illustrating critical and activist applications of clinical work. See https://rowman​ .com/Action/SERIES/LEX/LEXPS for a list of advisory board members. Recent Titles in the Series The Silent Feminine: Essays on Jouissance, the Letter, and the Arts edited by Araceli Colín Cabrera The Borderline Culture: Intensity, Jouissance, and Death by Željka Matijašević In Search of Return: Mourning the Disappearances in Kashmir by Shifa Haq Trauma and Repair: Confronting Segregation and Violence in America by Annie Stopford Psychoanalysis as a Subversive Phenomenon: Social Change, Virtue Ethics, and Analytic Theory by Amber M. Trotter A People’s History of Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Liberation Psychology by Daniel José Gaztambide Rethinking the Relation between Women and Psychoanalysis: Loss, Mourning, and the Feminine edited by Hada Soria Escalante Lives Interrupted: Psychiatric Narratives of Struggle and Resilience edited by Michael O’Loughlin, Secil Arac-­Orhun, and Montana Queler Women and the Psychosocial Construction of Madness edited by Marie Brown and Marilyn Charles Revisioning War Trauma in Cinema: Uncoming Communities, by Jessica Datema and Manya Steinkoler Women & Psychosis: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Marie Brown and Marilyn Charles

The Silent Feminine Essays on Jouissance, the Letter, and the Arts

Edited by Araceli Colín Cabrera

LEXINGTON BOOKS Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Lexington Books An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www​.rowman​.com 86-90 Paul Street, London EC2A 4NE Copyright © 2022 by The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data Names: Colín Cabrera, Araceli, editor. Title: The silent feminine : essays on jouissance, the letter, and the arts / edited by Araceli Colín Cabrera. Description: Lanham : Lexington Books, [2022] | Series: Psychoanalytic studies: clinical, social, and cultural contexts | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2021056719 (print) | LCCN 2021056720 (ebook) | ISBN 9781793653208 (cloth ; alk. paper) | ISBN 9781793653215 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Spanish American literature—Women authors—History and criticism. | Feminism in literature. | Women in literature. | Psychoanalysis and literature. | LCGFT: Literary criticism. | Essays. Classification: LCC PQ7081.5 .S55 2022 (print) | LCC PQ7081.5 (ebook) | DDC 860.9/3522—dc23/eng/20220106 LC record available at LC ebook record available at The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.




Araceli Colín Cabrera Translated by Mariana Sandoval Gamboa Chapter 1 The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War


Araceli Colín Cabrera Translated by Natalia Rivas Colín Chapter 2 Nellie Campobello: Writing, Testimony, and Pedagogies against Silence


Cathia Huerta Arellano Translated by Maricruz Ocampo Guerrero Chapter 3 Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing: Rescuing Silent, Fertile Difference


Flor de María Gamboa Solís Translated by Mariana Sandoval Gamboa Chapter 4

Autoviudas: Prejudiced Justice for the Ladies of Death

Nubia Carolina Rovelo Escoto and Francisco Javier De Santiago Herrero Translated by Maricruz Ocampo Guerrero



vi  •  Contents

Chapter 5 Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable 93 Alejandra Cantoral Pozo and Alfredo Emilio Huerta Arellano Translated by Helen Harper Chapter 6 Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny: “The Good Daughter” by Almudena Grandes


Mario Orozco Guzmán and Hada Soria Escalante Chapter 7 Creative Silence in the Works of Frida Kahlo


Delphine Scotto Di Vettimo Translated by Victoria Grace Chapter 8 Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate: Two Narratives About Feminine Care of Old People, Something of Which There Is Nothing Left and That Returns to Interrogate Us


Eurídice Sosa Peinado Translated by Helen Harper Chapter 9 The Individual Rights Dimension Associated with Mental Health Care: An Essential Perspective in the Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Severely Abused Individuals 149 Viviana Pereda Ruiz Translated by Flavia Livacic Rojas Chapter 10

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject


Martha Patricia E. Aguilar Medina Translated by Helen Harper Index


About the Editor and Contributors


Introduction Araceli Colín, translated by Mariana Sandoval Gamboa

Two very important cultural revolutions have occurred in recent decades. One derived from the questioning of sexuality initiated by Freud and the practice and field of knowledge he founded: psychoanalysis. The second revolution concerns the questioning of women’s place in societies, a questioning from which several feminist currents emerged. Psychoanalysis subverted an order: Freud equated the discovery of the unconscious with the Copernican Revolution. What is disturbing about sexuality that nobody had said before Freud? What was not known before Freud? Children were known to have sexuality. It was known that abuses were being committed against them. It was known that human sexuality is not guided by instinct, as in animals, or only for reproduction. Many women were known to be sexually anesthetic. Many men were known to have sexual dysfunctions, but their impact on men and women and the way their partners were affected had not been studied. None of this was made public or studied carefully. What reigned in the nineteenth century was evolutionism. What Freud discovered was the engagement of sexual life, and in particular unconscious fantasies, in subjective disturbances. And what was most disturbing for the discourse of the institution that for many years governed the regulation of sexual life in much of the Western world, is that it questioned what produces arousal, that it affirmed that there is a bisexuality from which subjects stem to become men or women, that it traced the first coordinates of the different forms of subjective structuring.


2  •  Introduction

For the Judeo-­Christian tradition, sexuality is the same for all men on the one hand, and the same for all women on the other, since they must only copulate for reproduction. If psychoanalysis affirms that there is a unique erotic for each human being and that it is not oriented by reproduction, it removes its abnormal character from everything that was previously considered as such. Each human being, in the encounter with the real of sexuality, in the Lacanian sense, responds according to his or her fantasies, and these act as a screen in front of the unnamable. Through his writings, he also made public the consequences of denying what everyone knows and of attempting to impose another idea that is untenable. For feminisms, the gender category is clear and sufficient. They have sought equity in rights and obligations under the law and have questioned the cultural division of labor, among many other things. In recent years, women’s protests have been global and large-­scale. Recent demands coincide in saying no to silencing, and in putting an end to harassment, femicide, and impunity. Revolutions shake the pillars on which societies have been built over centuries, which is why these demands are met with significant resistance. The feminist revolution has also taken the form of public protests, which year after year become more large-­scale. One of the differences between feminist public manifestations and written intellectual production is precisely how the voice is conveyed, the way in which the feeling of social demands is updated. Something disturbing appears both in what is expressed and in the “listener” who allows to see how disturbing sexuality and the silent feminine is, which is a finding of psychoanalysis and which seems to be expressed more with a woman’s face, although not exclusively. Psychoanalysis has as its object of study the unconscious. It is not governed by the gender category. The notion of gender works in social life and is enough to explain and question the legal, religious, economic, and political order of inequality; but the psychoanalyst finds no use in this category of gender because in erotic life this category is insufficient. The silent feminine acts beyond gender. Each human being takes a different position in this regard. It is a logic excluded from the logos—that is why it cannot be said—and yet it is operating. Psychoanalytic dispositif is a space to interrogate desire. There are as many differences in the vicissitudes of desire as there are beings in the world. What is at stake there is not gender, but fantasies that are unique and different in every human being, and there is no possible classification. The logic of the unconscious and the transmission of knowledge that psychoanalysis produces do not operate like academic logic. It is not of the order of an accumulative knowledge, but of knowledges that are dispossessed in order

Introduction  •  3

to make new forms of enunciation emerge. It is not transmitted like other social sciences by means of rationality, explanation, and argumentation. The feminine can only be known case by case, erotic by erotic, whoever speaks; the path that brings us closer to the silent feminine is not the word, but the voice, as Lacan pointed out. The field of the production of this knowledge, which psychoanalysis seeks, is produced in its clinical practice and is designed to attend to the unique, the singular, what is one by one. Clinical practice writes with the voice on the analysand. The ways of transmitting psychoanalysis’ findings to other fields encounters difficulties due to professional secrecy. Psychoanalysis is not an activism; it is a confidential practice where the one who has the word and the knowledge about his or her unconscious truth is the analysand, even if he or she doesn’t know that he or she does know. The unconscious speaks beyond our saying and beyond our will. It escapes the control of the speaking being. It is present in erotic life and in human passions whatever they may be. The feminine and the unconscious have a very close relationship; they share the same logic of the unclassifiable, unfathomable, and elusive. We are speaking beings, and so for psychoanalysis, every statement has to be called into question because the speaking being thinks he or she knows what he or she says. His or her speech inevitably aims at the search for certainty, but then doubt emerges, reality punctures certainties again and again. The animal world is programmed by species for reproduction. On the opposite, in human erotic life there is no instinctive programming, nor any trace at the unconscious level of what it is to be a man or a woman. Undoubtedly, the place of men and women in discourse is also not the same. Each human being is silenced differently by culture. Each culture has its impact on what produces the purely significant men/women difference, in principle associated with anatomy but which has many ideological implications. Each culture also has a navel of what is unrepresentable and unspeakable. That is why the silent feminine cannot be located but on the edge of what each language leaves out. The assumption of a sex includes identifications that have to be questioned in analysis. Also at stake is the place of the subject, which, independently of the culture, is produced in that which is singular by the historical moment of each being born and by the letters in his or her name. That gives him/her a place in family discourse. There is no way to generalize without serious risks. That is why it is so difficult to talk about the feminine in psychoanalysis. This discipline discovered that each of the identifications is not with another person but with a trait that the other person carries.

4  •  Introduction

Psychoanalysis has questioned whether the feminine is identical to woman and the masculine to man and continues to hold that the feminine is an enigma in general and for everyone. We know that there are jouissances subordinate to anatomy that are not lived in the same way by men and women. The male orgasm has a very clear physiology and is beyond doubt. Female orgasm, on the other hand, is an enigma. This enigma is unbearable for some who have sought a supposed anatomical location in women’s erotic response. What causes human sexual arousal? It is a question that psychoanalysis has worked on for years and will continue to study. Freud was a researcher who listened to women in their subjective sufferings and allowed himself to be taught by them. He left evidence of that since the end of the nineteenth century by recounting a dream about the dissection of his own pelvis and the associations he had with it. When he analyzed this dream, he suggested that there was something in the feminine that was dangerous and that advancing in this knowledge was not like walking on solid ground, but rather on swampy ground. Perhaps he realized that some women can better trace some edges of the unfathomable feminine, although not exclusively. It was Lacan who developed this question. This dimension encompasses men and women; that is, it goes beyond anatomy. The feminine and the unconscious, precisely because they are of the order of the unrepresentable, are the driving force of all attempts at unconscious production, whether artistic or not. By derivation or repercussion of the first and second revolutions, the LGBT movements emerged. Psychoanalysis has had an impact on feminism, LGBT and Queer movements, and vice versa. That dialogue has been critical and fruitful in all directions. Some feminisms are very close to psychoanalysis. Others profoundly reject it, and others are close on some issues and differ on others. The forms of theorizing occur throughout history and are affected by what is historically inherited as prejudice and as constituted knowledges. The existence of these movements and their questioning of society and psychoanalysis is enormously rich and not without misunderstandings. Both feminism and LGBT movements encounter intense resistance in conservative sectors of societies. Some individuals are often the target of aggression and murdered by those who find it unbearable to (even) question something they do not want to think about or see. Queer movements also emerged, which, unlike the previous ones, emphasize even more what is unique, rare, and unrepeatable. This approach is very close to psychoanalysis’ discovery that each human erotic is unique. Typologies cannot be formed. The ineffable or silent feminine becomes most evident when it comes to pain, horror, love/hate, erotic jouissance, and anguish, for there is something

Introduction  •  5

about it that escapes the logos. These aspects are addressed in the chapters of this book either with an artistic work (painting, poetry, short story, or novel), with a testimony or with a historical chronicle or journalistic note. Psychoanalysis allows itself to be taught by art since artists are the first to open this other scene of fantasy. Art articulates that which is social and subjective, what is common and what is singular, the intimate and the public, reality and fiction, love and power, yesterday and today. Its material embodiment is a way of breaking the silence. Since its origins, psychoanalysis has been nourished by literature, because of the latter being an art that always overtakes theory. In Freud’s work we find hundreds of references to great authors of universal literature, from whom Freud learned. He found it really attractive to explore how the artist could liberate its pulsions through art. Whether it was fiction, poetry, chronicle, or essay, they all leave in writing the trace of what doesn’t exist anymore. It is the outline of a lost voice, of what establishes limit, hole, absence, and in any case, it is the testimony of a way of seeing life. One of the similarities between psychoanalysis and literature comes from an aspect highlighted by Lacan, which is that the unconscious and singular truth has a fictional structure. Another aspect is linked to the feminizing effect of writing. One way to circle the hole of the unspeakable is through writing. Lacan proposed, instead of the term literature, the neologism of lituraterre (Otros Escritos, 2012) to distinguish what concerns psychoanalysis from what concerns literary studies. Although both fields of knowledge rely on writing, their theories, methods, and objectives are different. Written literature was preceded by oral narrative (Frenk, 2005). In that sense, written literature has lost its voice. Art brings us closer to the truth of that which is human. Every speaking being uses the Letter, for example, to say, to act, to write, to sculpt, or to paint. The works revolve around the silent feminine and/or silencing in its various manifestations, from the way each author understands it. Other correlative notions are also derived from this, depending on the perspective of each chapter. This book is deliberately and necessarily heterogeneous in the disciplinary perspectives of approach, in the way problems are dealt with, and in the types of questions that are posed. The reader should not expect a feminist book. It is not. Three of its chapters do have a feminist perspective, but they are written not only to nourish feminism with another glance, but also to locate, from this segregation of the logos, what is unspeakable about the feminine. It’s not a psychological book either. Psychology does belong to the academy and does not study the silent feminine. Psychology’s methods and notion of knowledge are in line with the academy. What psychoanalysis

6  •  Introduction

seeks is to explore that which is singular, one by one, which cannot and will not generalize because it is unique like every human being. This is attempted by analyzing each work in almost every chapter. Other fields of knowledge converge in the chapter framework: philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and art. The productions of the unconscious studied in the chapters are creative, although not all are artistic. They are creative to the extent that it is an unrepeatable resource and that it tries to give rise to an expression that surrounds the unspeakable even from existential suffering or distress. Some creators make of it an artistic resource. Three chapters of this book have used the novel, another chapter the short story, another chapter the essay, one poetry, one painting; another is dedicated to analyzing the singular criminal acts of some women; another is dedicated to the analysis of the written testimony of a woman who has suffered the horrors of dictatorship. The last chapter, unlike the previous ones, proposes to analyze the relationship between feminism and psychoanalysis. This book reflects well the difficulty of contouring the unfathomable feminine because it cannot be analyzed in isolation from other cultural productions. We have mostly referred to Latin American productions regardless of the country of origin of some authors. We write in English that which brings into play the silent feminine dimension as there are things that are lost in the passage of languages. The same cannot be said in one language as in another. Idiomatic expressions and old Castilian words that no longer exist are impossible to translate. The notion of Letter considered here, highlighted by Lacan and deepened by Allouch, is not linguistic but psychoanalytic. That’s why this book is unclassifiable, singular, and rare (Queer), because that’s what both the unconscious and the silent feminine are. We will not be able to prevent this book from being misunderstood, because misunderstanding is proper to human nature. Misunderstanding is inherent to the disjunction of word and voice and is inevitable in the encounter of cultures. It is a controversial issue not only because it is revolutionizing societies but also because there are many stands. Also, because the subject deals with something very sensitive and unknown in every human being. The silent feminine is outside and inside, in the other and in oneself. Chapter 1 is entitled: “The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War.” Through the work of four authors (Aristophanes, Plutarch, Glantz, and Belli), I explore the possible relationship between the millennial silencing of women and what I have called “the silent feminine.”

Introduction  •  7

The first has been a subject of study in feminist philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. The second is a discovery of psychoanalysis. Aristophanes, Plutarch, and Belli describe historical silencing in very different cultures and periods—Greek in Antiquity and Nicaraguan in the Sandinist era—in matters of war. Virile power has silenced them. The silencing goes beyond cultural differences. Mexican writer Margo Glantz also describes the silencing and objectification of women in the sixteenth century in New Spain during the colonial war invasion. She observes something else: that the feminization of the colonizer Hernán Cortés by the natives was produced by translation. The role of translator was played by Malintzin, the Indian. That is to say that the voice has occupied a very important place in feminization. The latter questions gender categories, subverts the power relation between the so-called masculine and the so-called feminine between colonizers and the colonized, and brings into play the untranslatable and the ineffable feminine. This last—and essentially human—dimension transcends any anatomy, male or female. In chapter 2, entitled “Nellie Campobello: Writing, Testimony, and Pedagogies against Silence,” Cathia Huerta Arellano comments on one of the writer’s best works: Cartucho. In this novel, Campobello gives an account of the testimony of a girl in the context of war. Huerta questions the nature of female writing as opposed to the way men narrate. She agrees with Vanden that Campobello influenced Rulfo’s literature but was not recognized. Huerta argues that the testimonial writing, when it dares to expose from the feminine, is silenced. She reveals that the silencing of her work was due to the fact that she was not part of a hegemonic style, of a mainstream narrative about the Mexican Revolution. Campobello’s style is that of a girl who tells without filters the rawness of her experiences and who dwells on what is small. The focus on what is apparently insignificant is a way to approach the unconscious. She not only writes her own impressions of Campobello’s novel, but also collects the opinions of other authors about her writing style. One of the things that distinguishes Cathia Huerta’s text is to show the different places in the discourse that men and women have when it comes to giving witness to the war. The originality of Nellie’s testimony stands out. In that sense it defends her uniqueness. She is not interested in being part of the instituted discourse of men who talk about war as a way of patriotism. It is in this sense that that which is singular has a woman’s face. Nellie narrates the acts of pity or ritualization of the death of fallen soldiers in order to take away from the drama of war its savage face. This way of narrating opens other worlds that do not respect any convention.

8  •  Introduction

Flor de María Gamboa Solís, in chapter 3, “Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing: Rescuing Silent, Fertile Difference,” analyzes a work by Elena Garro entitled Color Week. She points out that Garro’s writing is not only feminist, but feminine. She points out that Garro is a precursor of the critique of the logocentric discourse. This idea is very important because it is precisely the silent feminine that is outside the logos, in men and in women. Gamboa points out that the culture seeks to stigmatize with logos the only possible places that women can occupy. In addition to the fine exegesis of Garro’s work, this is the main contribution of the chapter. Garro’s strategy is to employ with language the labels that women have suffered as a resource to reverse this stigmatization. Catholic tradition created these stigmas to corner women into the exclusive maternal role. To point out the above, she pauses to analyze two characters in Garro’s work, Eva and Leli, who, in Gamboa’s opinion, re-­create the split made by the Judeo-­Christian tradition when Lilith’s character disappeared, and Eva was left alone. She claims that they are not two women, but two sides of the same coin. They are ways of making present the two profiles of a woman—her sexual dimension, lover, insubordinate, disobedient, and perverse—and that of mother—submissive, obedient, and good. In Color Week Garro unifies virtues with vices to create with contradiction a profound questioning of the opposites of language, religious Manichaeism, and the relation of linear time—a dimension that has been separated into past, present, and future. The Letter is first incorporated by listening. One writes to try to know something, but along with it is our ignorance. It is an ignorance about everything we do not know and about everything we cannot see about ourselves nor about the social reality in which we live. When there is no letter for transmission, and tensions reach their peak, sometimes criminal acts are resorted to, horror appears, especially when it is in the context of local war movements that produce a lot of silencing, before, during, and after a revolt. At the same time, they dialogue with the tension and unspeakable nature of the horror of the periods between the two World Wars. Chapter 4 is entitled “Autoviudas: Prejudiced Justice for the Ladies of Death.” Nubia Carolina Rovelo Escoto and Francisco Javier de Santiago Herrero analyze a social phenomenon that occurred in Mexico in the thirties. This is the journalistic and judicial treatment of the crimes of some women who killed their husbands and whom the press nominated as “self-­ widows.” An act, whether criminal or not, seeks to inscribe and transmit something by speaking to the public or to an instance that represents it, that is to say, to everyone and to no one in particular. The press is the one that first becomes a spokesperson for a crime, through writing on paper;

Introduction  •  9

today it also does it through electronic media. The perspective of journalistic reporting inevitably creates a certain trend in public opinion. It was upper-­middle-­class women who were declared unpunished. The discourse in these proceedings retains common traces that questioned the society of their time and has effects on the present. What were these women trying to convey with their crimes, and how do their crimes relate to the silences that preceded, accompanied, and followed the Mexican Revolution? And what resonances were suffered in Latin America with what happened in Europe with the First World War? The two world wars brought about very profound changes in the social order, and in particular, in the place of women. More than three decades were involved in what was left unsaid about these crimes. What enigmatic jouissances are at stake in the horror of a crime? What drives public and judicial opinion to justify them? Freud dedicated some texts to highlighting the contribution of poets. He pointed out how much they taught psychoanalysis. Poetic figuration is very close to the oneiric one. And Freud proposed that the dream is the royal way to the unconscious. On the other hand, Lacan affirmed that the unconscious has more to do with logic and poetry. The multiple poetic forms that exist and have existed—whether by their rhythm, their sound, their echo, their metaphors or metonymies, their silences, their elisions, or their use of oxymorons—have much to teach us about the nature of the unconscious and the silent feminine. Alejandra Cantoral Pozo and Alfredo Emilio Huerta Arellano write about the Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio. Their chapter is called “Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable.” Di Giorgio’s poetry has the virtue of questioning by transgressing the limits of the binary opposition of language between what is human and animal, what is urban and wild, and the pairs of opposites of language, a resource that Elena Garro also uses. They claim that poets are able to think the act without thought. The poet gives shelter to a disarrangement of the senses and becomes a seer; they strip themselves to let themselves be inhabited by something else that some have called “muse.” This letting oneself be inhabited by something else seems to me to be one of the ways in which the silent feminine manifests itself. Except that poetry finds a marvelous way to inscribe it in the symbolic register. Letting oneself be inhabited by something else is something that happens to poets regardless of their anatomy. Cantoral and Huerta state that with poetry, the feminine voice borders on the unfathomable since the voice has a feminizing dimension and is the gateway to the unconscious. There, something else emerges, in its inflections, in the slips of speech, and in the vicissitudes of enunciation.

10  •  Introduction

Chapter 6, entitled “Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny: ‘The Good Daughter’ by Almudena Grandes,” is written by Mario Orozco Guzmán and Hada Soria Escalante. Through the psychoanalytic framework, the authors read the story “The Good Daughter” by Almudena Grandes. They first go through the silences suffered by the hysterics that Freud reported in his case histories. They suggest that perhaps the fabrication of hysteria occurs as a function of making women subsidiaries of the desire of the Other as the dominant will. It should be said that the notion of hysteria employed in this book has no pejorative or offensive meaning, which is a frequent misunderstanding by some feminists. It is a way that in the nineteenth century, a subjective structure that is not exclusive to women and whose manifestations vary historically was named. Both the hysterical woman and the hysterical man question themselves for what it is to become a woman. The nomination “hysteria” has been around for several centuries, but its significance has changed significantly in the last hundred years. Lacan made this form of subjective constitution a type of discourse. He called it “hysterical discourse” because it is a form of knowledge production different from the other three discourses he formulated, and named each one different, in his Seminar 17. Hysterical discourse involves a specific form of syntax of desire. In the story of “The Good Daughter,” Almudena Grandes travels through scenes that we also find in Mexican literature. On the one hand, we have the good, chaste daughter and, on the other hand, the whore, the one of overflowing eroticism. They wonder about the “domestic fairies” that have been a frequent resource in children’s tales as gift givers, fairies that can have an evil reverse and alter the gift, like witches. It is Bertha, the good daughter who witnesses Piedad’s erotic passion, who will suffer the brothers’ plan to take care of her mother in her old age without dissent. Orozco and Soria, by interrogating the silences of these women in Freud’s histories, show that there is something about that which is feminine that cannot be said. What they pick up from Almudena Grandes is that the dichotomous signifiers (whore or saint) are Manichean. Findings on human sexuality evidence the need of other nuances and unveil the limited character of language. Cultural reductionisms tend to silence the enormous range of singularities. When physical and subjective pain finds its limits in the saying, some people deploy their talent to do so by summoning the gaze, such is the case of figurative painting. Delphine Scotto Di Vettimo is the author of chapter 7, entitled “Creative Silence in the Works of Frida Khalo.” Scotto researches the ways in which the artist Khalo seeks to surround, with the brush on her canvases, the unrepresentable. Pain and anguish are among the most unrepresentable aspects that exist. The creative silence manifests itself as a power;

Introduction  •  11

the absence of images and words to name the bone of truth of the artist are a powerful engine to name his or her world. Scotto states that the production of art is the mise en scène of the unconscious. Khalo’s pain reflected in her work also implies the way she suffered several grief processes for her miscarriages due to irreversible injuries resulting from a tragic accident. Her precarious health condition, which could have been a major obstacle to her personal achievement, was transformed by her into a resource. Scotto argues that infigurability is the condition of all figurability. Khalo gave life and light in her art to what she could not give birth to. Both the gaze and the voice are forms of the object that causes desire, as Lacan named it. Voice and gaze are elusive remnants that fall; they are objects that are lost. The call to the gaze extends indefinitely in the painting with which one tries to write. Chapter 8, “Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate: Two narratives about Feminine Care of Old People, Something of Which There Is Nothing Left and That Returns to Interrogate Us,” by Eurídice Sosa Peinado, addresses the issue of the care of vulnerable people delegated to women. To do so, she looks at the works Oficio de Tinieblas by Rosario Castellanos and Como agua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel, two Mexican women writers who, in different periods of time, give an account of the same tradition of silencing the lives of these indispensable caregivers in Mexico, who are forced to cancel their own life projects. She points out that society does not seem to have generated satisfactory alternatives to these bioethical dilemmas. This brutal cancellation of a life, which some cultural forms have, causes a great deal of pain, and therein lies the unspeakable. These practices have been so “naturalized” for centuries that it is unimaginable that it could be otherwise. Eurídice Sosa reveals between the lines of the relationship between what culture silences and the silent feminine. If only the dimension of the silent feminine would always emerge in that which is symbolic and as poetry or a poetic painting. They are perhaps the most beautiful and sometimes horrific ways of opening the other scene. But sometimes the dimension of the silent feminine consists in allowing oneself to be inhabited by a delirium, by a hallucination, by the prolonged horror of another’s action of terror. In chapter 9, entitled “The Individual Rights Dimension Associated to Mental Health Care: An Essential Perspective in the Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Severely Abused Individuals,” Viviana Pereda Ruiz gives an account of the inhumane psychiatric treatment suffered by many patients during the time of totalitarianism in Chile. Corporación Tesi Huneeus (previously CORDES: Colectivos de Inclusión y Salud Mental) is a group of professionals interested in treating the mental health of people whose rights were extremely violated during that period. The horror

12  •  Introduction

caused by the subjugation of traumatic experiences in their life trajectories produces a painful mutism, and if we add to that the brutal silencing of totalitarian systems in spaces of supposed mental health care, there is no room for the expression of what is extremely disturbing. The written testimony made four decades later by Quica de Zanzi is in this sense revealing. Here, mutism, silences, silencing, and the silent feminine dimension, which cannot open other paths, are combined. In the attempt to express something that produces anguish or pain there is often something ineffable that is expressed in the body. Chapter 10 is Martha Patricia E. Aguilar Medina’s “From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject.” The axis of her text is the relation between psychoanalysis and feminism. She questions the history of the silence of women. She brings two fields of knowledge into dialogue with each other. On the one hand, she highlights that Freud started the hearing of women’s afflictions, an affliction that was condemned to be silenced and expressed through the body. It is in this initiative of exploring the labyrinths of the female soul that psychoanalysis was born, as Colette Soler points out. On the other hand, Aguilar recognizes Michel Perrot, who has studied how women are narrators of their own stories. Words can only emerge either from silence or from what has been silenced. This black hole makes the place that has been denied to women in social life (caused by culture) meet, along with that which is unfathomable from the human soul, meaning the unconscious. She points out that listening to women goes far beyond singularity. Listening to women means to peek through a window over what patriarchy has made invisible of social life. Much of this book was born during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation, and with it certain inevitable forms of silencing and the silence surrounding death, favored the writing of some and complicated it for others. But it was also surprising that this forced seclusion and massive “mouth-­covering” occurred after the streets were taken over by thousands and thousands of screaming people. Because we know that that which is feminine is an enigma, we did not intend to solve it, but only to make a modest journey to outline it. It has been a looping route, contouring a hole, which we hope will invite everyone interested to make their own route. In the interstices of these letters, the reader will have become aware of an underlying question that we could not address for now because of its complexity: whether there is any relationship between the millenary silencing of women of a cultural nature and the dimension of the silent and disturbing feminine that inhabits all human beings. The expression of this dimension

Introduction  •  13

seems to be closer if it has a “woman’s face,” at least this is how the Greeks saw it, who placed the feminine in the elusive nymphs of their mythology as a symbol, as Ovid relates. The co-­authors will be satisfied if this book manages to break some silences and/or silencings, and if it gives room to allow ourselves to be inhabited by other types of creative silences that open singular paths to the surprising and unedited unconscious. The discussion with my colleagues around the topics in this book has been extremely enriching. Thank you all for that. —Querétaro, Qro. 2021


The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War Araceli Colín Cabrera, translated by Natalia Rivas Colín

Introduction In this text I will pose a question involving two concepts that belong to different disciplines, and I will try to unfold the ideas that arise from the question. I am referring to the historical silencing of women, which has been studied by anthropology, sociology, and philosophy, and to the notion of the silent feminine, which belongs to psychoanalysis. The question is: Is there any relationship between the silencing of women and the silent feminine? If there is, which is it? One hypothesis is that maybe the impossibility to name the feminine in each one of us is what causes the silencing of women.1 When routines are broken en masse, the effects that gender division of labor has produced, come out. Women segregation has been endured for centuries. An extreme context where routines are broken are certain types of war. There is a wide variety in types of war. Wars vary according to the cultural context, current global conditions, and drug trafficking. There are wars between empires, wars where an empire subdues a country that is not an empire, and those resulting from drug trafficking. In any case, geopolitical order is at stake. In wars, women bear the brunt. Their place is even more affected than usual. To consider war contexts could help to unfold the ideas raised by the question. 15

16  •  Chapter One

I will refer to four authors who shed light on this topic in war contexts: Aristophanes, Plutarch, Margo Glantz, and Gioconda Belli. Written literature, as the heir of oral transmission, becomes a repository of collective memory. Written literature collects both what is known and what has been silenced. Before, communication was basically oral because most societies were illiterate. Only a minority group was literate in the strict sense of the term, although, in fact, any speaking being uses letter. Letter always circulates, first in an oral way. It is the speaking mass that transforms the language. But a written document portrays a certain moment (that of its production), and when comparing it to authors from other times, it allows us to see which aspects continue and which ones have changed. This is why we have chosen two ancient authors and two Latin American contemporary authors.

The Silent Feminine Freud wondered about the feminine very early on. He worked, investigating questions about femininity, among other topics. These questions arose in his practice with hysterical patients. They revealed to him the involvement of their sex life in their sufferings. And he often asked himself, What does a woman want? In what way is she the guide to discover the unconscious? In what does femininity reside? He concluded that he could not say what femininity was. For him it was an enigma (1964b, 112), the dark continent. He stated that he did not know what a woman wanted. And that psychoanalysis could not say what a woman is because it is an almost impossible task to solve (1964b, 116). The notion of the silent feminine is similar to the notion of the “navel of the dream.” Freud named “the navel of the dream” (1958) the point of the dream film that sinks into darkness because it is incomprehensible and connects itself with the unknown. Freud glimpsed the silent condition of the feminine universe, but could not conceptualize it. It is a kind of jouissance from which we do not know anything. He approached it with his studies on dreams. We maintain that this navel is the source of all creation, and not only for the dream plot. The feminine is something that cannot be mentioned, and not because of censure, but because it is not known. It seems to be linked in a figurative way to the child’s ignorance of the vaginal hole. There is no symbol for orientation, but rather its absence. Lacan declared at various points of his teaching that women experiment with feminine pleasure (which, in contrast to men, is multiple) but that they cannot talk about it.

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  17

The silent feminine is a mute dimension; it escapes to words at the same time as being a motor for that and the creative process. The silent feminine is inherent to all speaking beings, whatever their anatomy and their subjective opinion as to their sex. It is present every time we try to express ourselves. Lacan advanced on this path and pointed out there is nothing in the unconscious that indicates to the individual how to orient himself as a man or a woman. The paths of what they have to do as a man or as a woman are entirely abandoned to the drama, if I may say so, to the plot, which is situated in the field of the Other, that which is properly the Oedipus. (Lacan 1964, translated by Helen Harper)

Both man and woman ask themselves, What is a woman? What is a feminine organ? Her own nature is one of reception; she receives not only the male organ but also the possibility of becoming pregnant. This is evident to any adult. For children it is not evident. Because of their inexperience of life and their own child state, they formulate fantasy theories. They think about enigmas that remain unsolved and that are not erased in an individual’s history. They are part of the plot of their position in the world in relation to a sex. In childhood they play on an identification that, without symbol, finds an obstacle. That is why Freud proposes that for both the boy and the girl, there is only one symbol; either they have it or they don’t. Lacan makes it more precise: What we see is that an essential dissymmetry appears at the level of the signifier. There is no symbolization of the woman’s sex as such, the symbolization in any case is not the same, it does not have the same source, it does not have the same mode of access as the symbolization of the man’s sex. (Lacan 1956, translated by Helen Harper)

In that sense, Lacan recognized that there is a feminine jouissance that is very different from the phallic jouissance; it is multiple, unlike that of men. Women experience it but cannot say so; in that sense, it is a silent dimension; it can only be felt, but it escapes nomination. The speaking being in the psychoanalytic device is feminized. The way to assume its lack is gradual. The speaking being mourns a completeness that he only has in an illusory way. In psychoanalysis the study about the feminizing function of the letter was initiated by Lacan (2006a) when he analyzed the story by Edgar Allan Poe entitled “The Stolen Letter” (Poe 2010). Lacan showed that with the story but wanted to bring that contribution to

18  •  Chapter One

analytical practice. Lacan established a new discourse with his text “The instance of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason since Freud” (Lacan 2006b). He highlighted the function of letter and its unconscious instance. He would add that the voice also produces feminization in certain areas (in psychoanalysis and in art). In the case of art, it is necessary to analyze each case because it is not possible to generalize.

Gender Division of Labor as a Way of Silencing and Segregation In his text “The Future of an Illusion” (1961), Freud questions the idea of a supposed lower mental development of women (in comparison to men’s). In favor of that question, he points out that women have been prohibited from thinking about sexuality. They have been forbidden to think about their own concerns and sexual desires. For centuries, they have also been banned from politics. Even worse, a severe religious indoctrination takes place early in people’s lives. In both the Eastern and Western worlds, there are plenty of cultures that have silenced women throughout history. Women have been imprisoned to domestic life: kitchen, care and upbringing of children, and other domestic activities. They have been deprived of several freedoms that were prohibited only for them. If there’s something that cannot even have voice because it would be diabolical, blasphemous, crazy, or indecent, then it is, according to Foucault, a control mechanism. Following Michel Foucault´s legacy, I consider that daily life is the dispositive where all power relationships are visible. The most intimate, which is sexuality, and the most public, which are politics, are the quintessential spheres of discourse control. Foucault stated that control mechanisms are internal and external procedures to conjure up its dangers. Madness separation is one of those. Disqualifying women as “crazy” just because they are women is one of the ways of denying them a voice. There are human experiences, critical moments in which the division of labor falls apart. Routines break, the pact collapses, the law declines, the forms of political representation are weakened, chaos and violence emerge, and life is in danger. The division of labor not only organizes social classes, but men and women are also culturally divided by it. The division of labor has been a discourse control ritual. It has been a way of controlling women’s acts along human history. The male tendency to hide the transcendental role of women, and to silence women, has very diverse consequences for their identification

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  19

mechanism. We cannot generalize because each one of us passes through this mechanism in different ways. Life history, class condition, culture, and historical moments need to be considered. In real life, the relations between women and men are complex. Each family has its own criteria, which may not fit with that of the culture. There are compensatory mechanisms that parents implement to raise their children. There are ways of alternating the expression of evil that inhabits each speaking being, whether we want it or not. We know that the masculine does not entirely belong to men, nor the feminine to women. That would be a caricature. Every human being puts the other in the role of mirror (the “other I”). So things are not solved just with a transformation in division of labor, but it’s a very important aspect.

War War times are critical periods when all aspects converge. Though wars are terrible times, perhaps they allow us to design possible ways to reconstitute the lost social order. They enable social rearrangements and changes of places, even if temporary. As it has been said, chaos is where the beginning of order can be found—both the lost order and the new order. Wars make chaos visible. It is in war and in turbulence that life from a community is menaced. It is then that women can (and do) perform a role that had been denied for them. They break through not only cultural limitations, but also personal limitations, and they discover themselves more capable than they thought. They create a familiar zone where there was only the unknown. They find themselves as capable of anything as men. An aspect of the relationship between men and women that in peace conditions could not be noticed, finally becomes visible. Some silences are broken, and the word spreads in another way. Why does the fear of the unknown become an ambition to dominate? Everybody undergoes the fear of the unknown. It’s about that enigmatic, ominous, and fearful side of our feminine condition, no matter what the anatomy is. The silent feminine connects with the unknown of each human being. Thousands of civil or world war survivors have asked themselves how to avoid wars. What triggers destruction in such a short time? War destroys in minutes what culture took centuries to build up. It destroys both material goods and social bonds. The losses are overwhelming. Einstein wrote a letter to Freud in 1932 asking him if there was any way of humanity avoiding the havoc of war. Einstein told Freud that every attempt he had made for peace had resulted in sad failure. Freud (1964a) answered with despair that conflicts of interest among men were “solved” with violence, and that there was no way to avoid war because men love it.

20  •  Chapter One

War polarizes the roles of men and women. War carries looting along with it. When wars were fought hand to hand, that situation meant that every man measured his strength against another. Today, the technological power of one empire is tested against another. War is the occasion to indulge all transgressions, to void law and the effects of limits that law imposes, as Georges Bataille (1988) pointed out. It is the sphere that justifies sudden enrichment at other people’s expense and the possibility of experiencing deadly enjoyment without limit: destruction, murder, and all forms of physical abuse. People are forced to abandon agriculture and nurturing. In war contexts, women have to attend not only to nurturing, but also to their own subsistence, that of the children and that of the elderly, all on their own. War puts human beings in a persecutory use of violence, whose limit only seems to arrive when too much has been lost and the dimension of the most extreme barbarism is known. War is the justification for getting rid of law. It is a lawless state, exceptional, though not infrequent. Davoine and Gaudillière (2006) have shown how war, due to its devastating effects, has historically convened literature to bear witness to the madness it produces. It is very difficult to live through a war. Even more difficult is to bear that experience without any writing to bear witness to what happened. There we have The Iliad and The Odyssey as examples. We also have plenty of literature and film documents of the first and second world wars, among many other writings.

Aristophanes Aristophanes wrote the comedy Lysistrata (2006), which takes place in Greece in the fourth century BC. It portrays the sex strike that Greek women went on to pressure their husbands into making peace with the people they were fighting against. They were tired of breeding children for death. They were sick of living their youth imprisoned without sex, waiting for their husbands, so that they would arrive aged and ready to marry another young woman. If women tried to give their opinions about matters of war, they were systematically silenced. Men thought war was a matter only for men, as if women didn’t suffer its effects. Lysistrata, in the comedy, is the leader who organizes this sexual strike to pressure the Greek women’s husbands to come back to their homes. Aristophanes makes Lysistrata speak for him and express his own criticism about the cultural situation of his time. Aristophanes, as an observer of the ways of his fellow citizens, describes with detail the weaknesses of both men and women. He also describes how important it is when women intervene in

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  21

the Polis to manage goods for the common benefit, and not for war, as men frequently did. The strike is organized among women: They distribute tasks. Some of them will occupy the Acropolis, the place where the treasure is kept, so that it won’t be used for war. Besides that, they will all take their husbands to extreme arousal with seduction, but they will postpone the moment of intercourse. They swear they won’t cede to their entreaties for conjugal intimacy until the tension is unbearable, so they can force their husbands to make peace. The women’s rebellion isn’t accepted peacefully. Women are threatened to be burned or hit so that they will stop occupying the Acropolis and remove the sticks they have placed there. But they remain brave, not submitting to the men’s will. They look for a place to keep the money safe. Lysistrata asks the commissioner if they thought they were a herd of slaves who would not have courage. “You had to tackle, and you didn’t guess the thirst for glory ardent in our blood.” In another dialogue, they explain their rebellion. Lysistrata has seen that those who crave political posts want to steal and that they always cause turmoil. The commissioner asks her what the women will do with the money, and she replies that women will manage it. He laughs at her. She replies that it’s the same that they do all the time: manage domestic goods—even more so when their husbands are away for months. Lysistrata states that during the first stages of war, women endured whatever men did, and men wouldn’t let them complain. Women would often find out about bad agreements made by their husbands in conflicts with other towns. Lysistrata tells the commissioner how they decided to have a say in the war. Well, there were no men left. Before, they had always been silenced when they voiced their opinions or asked what had been resolved in an assembly. And their husbands got angry and threatened them if they didn’t keep silent about such matters. They were sent to spin yarn if they didn’t want to moan and groan, because they said that “war was men’s business.” But they were fed up with this situation, with just waiting for their husbands to make one ridiculous decision after another. So, the women decided to gather together to save Greece. Right away, the commissioner, impatient, keeps asking what they will do and how they think. Lysistrata answers with a weaving metaphor: that social matters are solved exactly the same way as when weaving is difficult because threads are tangled up. The dialogue continues, angry and impatient. The commissioner wonders how they can solve a war matter if they have

22  •  Chapter One

never gone to war. She responds indignantly, arguing how women also suffer losses: of human lives, of goods, and of their daily coexistence. It is women who face the consequences of the decisions taken by their husbands at war: the death of their children, the solitude during youth and old age. She says that the time for a woman to cohabit is short; on the contrary, men solve it even though they have gray hair, when they come back quickly looking for the company of a young woman. This fact is eloquent. Is it harder for men to deal with their lack, their gray hair, their wrinkles, their loss of beauty? What causes a fifty- or sixty-­year-­old man to look for a young twenty- or thirty-­year-­old woman? There are also women who look for younger men, and vice versa. But an overwhelming majority of cultures don’t accept an older woman being with a younger man, while the opposite—the male version—is typically celebrated. Rebellion isn’t easy, because many women cannot hold out and prefer to go through what they are going through, in order not to face the conflict that threatens all of Greece. The oracle anticipates that the women will win if they don’t fight against each other. Finally, they reach their goal. Some 2,400 years later, the comedy has amazingly current dialogues. And we will be able to see the common things it has, on one hand, with Plutarch’s text; and on the other hand, with Belli’s. It’s as if in one of the novels, she developed an idea that could have been from Aristophanes’s Lysistrata in regard to the city government.

Plutarch Plutarch (46–120 AD) was a Roman, but he lived in Greece. Contrary to most Greek men’s thinking of his time, he had an exceptional opinion of women. Plutarch’s text is not fiction; it’s a testimonial praise, titled “The excellence of women” (2019). It documents all the acts realized by them. Between his work and Aristophanes’s, there are four hundred years of difference. Nevertheless, there don’t seem to be great changes regarding war and women’s role in the narration of each work. For example, Thucydides believed the best woman was that who was least mentioned among outsiders, no matter if it was to praise her or to condemn her; supposedly, the name of the virtuous woman should not be on everyone’s lips. Not to talk about her was to keep her, like her body, in the domestic setting. Plutarch states that in turbulent times, in war, when life is threatened and there seem to be no more resources, is when women can have a role that changes their communities’ history for good. I find this thesis from Plutarch remarkable. It helped me to link a variety of questions and to formulate a hypothesis about what happens nowadays.

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  23

Plutarch dedicates his work to his beloved Clea. He describes Trojan, Persian, Celtic, and Lycian women, women of Phocis, of Chios, of Argos, of Melos, of Miletus, of Salmantica, and of Ceos. Let’s take the women of Troy as an example. When the city of Troy was taken, many of its inhabitants fled however they could. They didn’t know how to navigate, nor were they familiar with the sea, and they suffered through storms. They were bewildered, lost, and docked wherever they could until they reached Italy. The women thought if they had already lost their land and were unable to recover it, that it was better to settle on land than to continue to roam. And therefore, they agreed to burn their ships. Their leader was a woman called Roma. They went to meet their men. They feared their wrath. They tried to mollify them with pleas, embracing and kissing them. It is said that this is where the custom of greeting relatives with kisses originated. The local population received them in good faith and appreciated what these migrant women had done, and they settled there with the Latins (Plutarch, 2019). Plutarch’s text is organized by cases. Here is another one about Celtic women: What happened with the Celtic women is interesting. Plutarch says that before the Celts had settled in Italy, before they had crossed the Alps, they were caught up in a civil war. The women placed themselves amongst arms and took charge of the conflicts. They arbitrated admirably, and a friendship emerged between sides, cities, and families. From then on, the Celtic men conversed with the women about war and peace and took them as arbitrators in conflicts (2019). In all those cases, he talks about the military feats realized by women to defend their children, their men, the elderly, or other women. He also shows how they contributed to make peace, such as in the last case referred to. Plutarch praises what they did to help their men regain their dignity. Women emboldened men when everybody was just about totally devastated or annihilated. These feats were possible when everything seemed to be lost. If all had not been about to be destroyed, women would not have allowed themselves to leave their traditional roles, and men would have not allowed them to speak. Plutarch describes facts, and he contrasts one experience to another, to better ponder their actions. He dedicates the second part of the book to remarkable acts of women that were unique in contributing to pacify rebellions, who gave their lives to dignify their husbands or communities. This is how he speaks of Pieria, Polycrite, Lampsace, Aretaphila, Camma, Stratonice, Chiomara, Timocleia, Eryxo, Xenocrite, and others whose names he doesn’t remember, only their places of origin.

24  •  Chapter One

Margo Glantz Margo Glantz is a Mexican writer. She studies the role that Marina (previously Malintzin) played in the conquest of what was later called Nueva España, nowadays Mexico (2006a, 2006b) in the first decades of the sixteenth century. She does it through the chronicle of Bernal Díaz del Castillo, entitled The History of the Conquest of New Spain. She expresses interest for the transformation or mixture produced between the masculine and the feminine of iconic figures Cortes-­Malintzin during the conquest. Cortes was the invader, and she was his Indian slave translator. Through the work of French historian Christian Duverger (2019), we now know that Bernal Diaz del Castillo never existed; that it was Hernan Cortes’s pseudonym. Duverger’s work is a five-­hundred-­ page book with innumerable demonstrative arguments. When Glantz wrote her essays about Malintzin, Duverger had not yet discovered what he found. Cortes used plenty of screens. A pseudonym provides a screen for having a “fan” to talk to about his feats. Another screen was Malintzin, whom he spoke through. Cortes loses this camouflage in life, and later, his decadence will be visible, which, according to Duverger, was difficult to recognize and describe. Glantz shares passages from Bernal’s text that reveal the treatment that the body suffers during the conquest, both by the colonized and by the colonizers. But that’s not it; she also analyzes the nuances of this treatment to try to answer the questions that she makes regarding the progressive feminization of Cortes due to the interpretation work that Malintzin does. She was his voice. Spaniards considered that the interpreter’s was a mutilated body, which condensed in one sole organ the effectiveness of his trade. After a while, the invaded original population decided to call him “Captain Malinche” instead of “Captain Cortes.” Indians were enslaved, punished, mutilated, murdered, treated as objects, and branded with the letter G as for guerra (war), inventoried as the war booty. Men can be enslaved and taken as objects on multiple occasions; women are always in that situation, invariably. They are taken as an anonymous mass, no matter how they are dressed, by whom are they accompanied, and whether they are princesses or not. They are invariably transformed into slaves for work, and they become cattle to be branded. They are things to attend to men’s basic needs: food and sex. When talking about exceptional women, due to their personalities, their qualities are described as masculine. That was Malintzin’s case. Malintzin was her ethnic name. She was baptized as Marina. Spaniards could not pronounce Malintzin, so they called her Malinche. The original population kept calling her Malintzin, but in Bernal’s chronicles, she appears as Malinche,

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  25

because it’s Cortes who writes it. She was an excellent interpreter with a gift of languages. She was proficient in the cultural practices of different regions because she had lived there. She was a respected leader in the whole of Mesoamerica. Glantz remarks on the number of times that “Bernal” recognizes her ability, her integrity, and her strength of spirit. In contrast, under his own name, Hernán Cortés mentions her only once in a Letter of Relation. Glantz wonders about the relation between the masculine body and the feminine. The chronicle of Bernal Diaz, just like many other chronicles about Homer or others’ epics, are full of details about men’s bodies. Women do not take part in epics. Very few writers are the exception in this sense. The treatment of the bodies in the sixteenth century, during the conquest, is described in (supposedly) Bernal’s work. On the one hand, before the Spanish invasion, the Mexica Empire reached its most despotic phase, and this was expressed in the sacrificial treatment of the bodies, in the so-­ called Flowered Wars. The Spanish empire did the same with the invaded people. They ordered the branding of the colonized people’s faces to identify them as slaves. They severely punished the rebellious people who wouldn’t cede, mutilating their bodies. Slavery would adopt these well-­known atrocities, and would be even crueler with women, who were also sexual slaves. We shall not forget that during the conquest, the Indians were forced to abandon their original clothing and to adopt the Spanish manner of dress. The matter of the treatment of the bodies allows Glantz to explore the fusion (in the collective imaginary) produced between Cortes and Malintzin. Male Indian interpreters should wear Spanish clothing. On the contrary, Indian women kept using the HUIPIL, as it is shown in the codices where Malintzin appears by Cortes’s side. It was considered that the interpreter, due to the effect of his trade, mutilated his body. His voice would serve to express the other’s will. She wonders why women do not have a body in Bernal’s discourse and what Bernal’s silence regarding Marina means. Now, we would say: What does Cortes’s (disguised as Bernal) silence about Marina mean? Why do original Mesoamerican people name Cortes “Captain Malinche”? Suddenly, the narration of the conquest itself produces a full, drastic turn in the chronicle. Bernal’s vision has been polluted, adopting the viewpoint of the conquered. Glantz asks herself a question from which other questions derive: Why then, is Marina, the one with the voice, never the owner of the story? Her discourse is eluded by the indirect way of enunciation, it is put aside. In

26  •  Chapter One

short, it turns into a speech that ignores what it is saying because it is a speech that apparently only repeats what others say. Her discourse does not belong to her. Could it be that, because Marina is from a culture without literature, dependent exclusively on oral tradition, is the one enunciated instead of being the enunciator? Is it possible that, due to having transferred her name to Cortes, the power of her voice has been transferred to his? (2006b, 60, Translated by Helen Harper)

Is this transformation a result from the transitivism in the intimate and tight bond between Cortes and Marina? Marina, his tongue, pacifies the encounters. Marina shortens distances—those irreducible distances that separate societies—through her social functions. Glantz asserts that the story loses its structural strength, which was written for a Spanish reader, because the Indian was thought to be nothing more than an object. Suddenly, the Indian becomes an actor and has his own voice. When calling the hero “Captain Malinche,” he talks about him as an introvert, a sodomite, at least during that difficult time of the conquest. Maybe that’s why after the trip to Hibueras, Cortes retires Malinche from the trade of interpreter. A mutual empowerment had taken place. Cortes believed that he was the only one to empower her, and not the other way around. He took their son away from her, to live in Spain forever, at only seven years old. He would be a page for the Spanish queen and later become a soldier for the Order of Santiago (Duverger 2019). Malinche is dejected and dies soon after that. Then we see the effect that voice has. Voice is also transitive. It transits from one body to another. Voice allows the unconscious message to transit. With her voice, Malintzin weaves a bridge between two overwhelmingly different cultures. A feminization effect is produced. That’s what Glantz describes (2006). I will add that feminization wasn’t only produced by her participation as a happy usurper of his voice, but by hiding behind the pseudonym “Bernal Diaz,” because, as we have said, writing produces a feminizing effect.

Gioconda Belli Belli is a Nicaraguan writer who lived as a child during a difficult time of the somocist dictatorship. She witnessed political violence from the age of six. In her youth she could not avoid participating in the revolution in spite of being part of an affluent class. That drama was, undoubtedly, the engine for her creative artwork. That node is, in my opinion, Belli’s silent feminine. The mark of what she lived in her youth and childhood, regarding

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  27

the political order, can be appreciated in her literature. Belli highlights that during the armed revolution of the FSLN, many things were modified in Nicaragua. Some role changes for women were possible. But once life was not threatened anymore, women’s roles went back to normal, despite having reflected very diverse strategies to make the transformations endure (OEFSE 2013). Belli posited in an interview that she did not consider that women should wait for a group of men to decide to what extent role changes for women should take place in Nicaragua, when, in fact, women wanted and had the opportunity to participate abreast in the construction of a new country. Belli couldn’t abide men accepting women’s participation during the guerrilla process and not allowing them to occupy important positions once the armed phase triumphed. So, she organized along with other women who, like her, were middle class. They had the opportunity to influence decisively in matters that the government considered irrelevant. Belli experienced things that she could not share with anybody. She served in the military, and she was persecuted. Her life was often at risk, and she was forced to go into exile. She knew the ways in which Sandinist men exercised power. They delayed attention to women’s problems because they didn’t consider them relevant or urgent. Belli acknowledged the circuit of any power takeover. She lamented the surge of old vices and power abuses by the FSLN that the same FSLN had previously fought against. She was disappointed, she dissented, and she drew away to carry out her own battles, through literature. Nevertheless, she did not rule out the possibility of dialogue taking place and different positions being reconciled. The first novel of Gioconda Belli, strongly autobiographical, is The inhabited woman. Two time axes intertwine: One is the Spanish Conquest five hundred years ago, expressed through a love relationship between two warriors: Itzá and her beloved Yarince, who belonged to the Nicaraos. The Nicaraos were a Nahua tribe that left Cholula for what now is Nicaragua in the year 1200. They were conquered in 1522 by Gil González. The other time axis is the anti-­somocist war from the side of the FSLN. It is the beginning of the Sandinist Revolution. In this second time axis, Belli expresses biographical aspects through two lovers: Lavinia and Felipe. Lavinia, also a warrior, is a sort of reincarnation of Itzá, the first warrior. It is through her character, Lavinia, that she reports the process she had in becoming aware of the scourge of her country, and the deep injustice and inequality in an imaginary country called Faguas, to refer to Nicaragua. In the first novel during the Sandinist revolution, Lavinia was not resigned to wait like Penelope, Odysseus’s beloved. Belli was interested in making a parallel between these two rebellions from the eyes of a female warrior.

28  •  Chapter One

Itzá lamented because even though everyone comes out to the world from a woman on whom they would depend to grow and be fed, in order to have the first contact with the outside world and learn to get to know objects, and the words to name them; they would later seem to rebel with unusual ferocity against that dependence, by suppressing the feminine symbol, dominating it (2019). Itzá expressed her bewilderment. She asked herself why, if she was capable of giving life and enduring labor pain, and if she was skilled in the use of bow and arrow, she was relegated. She also knew how to cook and dance. And when life-­or-­death decisions had to be made, she wasn’t considered. Itzá thought it was because she had a cleft between her legs, that loquat-­colored flower (2019). In another novel, The country of women (2017), Belli develops an upside-­ down world. Women rule, and the men are in charge of domestic matters and upbringing. A role inversion threatens the characters of the novel like a tsunami. It’s an imaginary adventure to make visible the invisible, to give voice to what is silenced. The two poles of political practice are situated in the family’s daily life and the great matters of political power. Daily life is something that many writers approach in its minutiae and apparent insignificance. Belli observes each form of expression of labor division between men and women and the ways this segregation occurs according to social class. Regarding war, she describes what she observed: The cult of death is so masculine! The soldiers, both known and even unknown, always had the best monuments, the eternal flames, the obelisks, the triumph arcs. There were women pushing and pushing to give birth, pulling themselves together, breeding and raising those little men so ready for death, and they barely had those ungainly, pathetic monuments that would end up in the most boring parks in the world (Belli 2017). This description is close to the masculine contempt toward women described by Aristophanes. Belli suggests the term cuidadanía. It’s a transliteration of the Spanish word for “citizenship” (ciudadanía), a small inversion of letters that produces a neologism that condenses two Spanish words in which citizenship is linked to the action of caring (cuidar). The caregiving topic is part of the program of the PIE (Erotic Left Party in Spanish) referred to in her novel (2017). She posits that the choice of the term Eros is because it means life in its broadest sense. In an interview, she shares that she was invited to Colombia. And that in Bogotá, a female politician took from her fiction an idea to make it real. She had decided to pursue social programs, including Belli’s contributions.

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  29

This word cuidadanía was taken in Bogotá to be used as a slogan for social programs. It’s a way of redefining the term citizenship because it’s not just about the city. It’s about giving life to the city and the implications of taking care of, not only human life, but the city’s life. That’s why Belli asserts in Viviana Sansores, the main character’s, voice how amazing it is that plenty of women interiorize the silencing in such a way, that they cannot even dare to imagine an utopia, even less believe in it.

Final Words These four writers show in different periods (Antiquity, Renaissance, and Modern Times) that men have wanted to silence women. Why is this? They want to silence them especially when women question men’s certainties, when they shout out chants in public protests, when they question their arguments, or when they point out a mistake, inconsistency, or blunder in war contexts. They want to silence, censor, and stigmatize them as crazy if they want to intervene in war taking decisions. Women are silenced when they make peace efforts in an armed conflict. Nobody wants to hear what is unbearable to know. There are their own truths that are unbearable to hear from someone else’s mouth. When women protest against their segregation from social life, they make the cultural crime of their exclusion visible. War contexts are times of crisis in which labor division takes its most extreme form. When war deepens, labor division breaks and the social bond breaks. Historically, women have had a fundamental role in the reconstruction of social bonds, as shown by the writers mentioned here. This allows people to change roles precisely because life is threatened. These four authors, who describe very different periods, show that what women have achieved is to dialogue or to push their men to dialogue when life is threatened to the limit. This greater stake of the word in the universe of women crosses even the cultural differences between the old world of Antiquity and Latin America both in the Renaissance and in the present time in contexts of war. These writers’ exploration, description, and praise of women at war fighting to make themselves heard, questions us with respect to the logic of the feminine that also dwells among men but whose expression is stifled by the division of labor on the one hand and, on the other hand, because of the destructive drive that manifests itself most in war. The logic of power whose maximum expression is war is perhaps the antipode of the logic of the feminine. The feminine is not the patrimony of women but of the

30  •  Chapter One

human unconscious, whatever the anatomy is. Human beings are subjects divided by the unconscious, which shows again and again our lack and our incompleteness. This lack seeks to be silenced but keeps returning. It is a kind of pulsation. It is ineffable and yet it summons the word. It summons creation and reveals itself in intimate life in the need of the other when one experiences love. What Aristophanes, Plutarch, and even Belli describe is a bet on the improvement of community bonds. It is promoted only in the confluence of women who dialogue in groups. The care of children and the elderly in war contexts is done by women and not by men. This reveals that war promotes a destructive dimension that is not predominant nor allowed in the care of others for subsistence. Glantz goes a little further in questioning the logic of power and the logic of dialogue by revealing the role of voice in the feminization of Hernán Cortés (by translation) and his naming by the natives. I wrote a forthcoming article (“Margo Glantz: The Feminization of Hernán Cortés”) where I made an in-depth psychoanalytic exploration of this topic.

Note 1.  Research on the subject has been funded by the Autonomous University of Querétaro, México.

References Aristófanes, 2006. Lisístrata. In: Las Avispas, La Paz, Las Aves, Lisístrata. Translated by Francisco Rodríguez Adrados. Madrid: Cátedra. 7ª edición. Bataille, Georges. 1988. El Erotismo. Translation by Antoni Vicens. Barcelona: Tusquets. Belli, Gioconda. 2019. La mujer habitada. México: Planeta. ———. 2017. El país de las mujeres. México: Seix Barral/Planeta. Davoine, Françoise y Jean Max Gaudillière. Histoire et trauma. La folie des guerres. Paris: Stock. Díaz del Castillo, Bernal. 1989. Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España. México, Editores Mexicanos Unidos. Duverger, Christian. 2019. Vida de Hernán Cortés. La pluma. Madrid: Taurus. Foucault, Michel. 2002. El orden del discurso. Translated by Alberto González Troyano. Barcelona: Tusquets. Freud, Sigmund. 1964a (1933). Why war? Standard Editions of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Translated by James Strachey. The Hogarth Press.

The Silencing of Women and the Silent Feminine in Literature about War   •  31

———. 1964b (1933). Lecture XXXIII. Feminity. Standard Editions of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Translated by James Strachey. The Hogarth Press. ———. 1961.The future of an illusion. Standard Editions of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Translated by James Strachey. The Hogarth Press. ———. 1958. The interpretation of dreams. Standard Editions of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Translated by James Strachey. The Hogarth Press. Frenk, Margit. 2005. Entre la voz y el silencio. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Glantz, Margo. 2006. Capitán Malinche. In: Obra Reunida, vol. I. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Lacan, Jacques. 2006a. Seminar on “The purloined letter.” Écrits, The first complete edition in English. Translated by Bruce Fink in collaboration with Héloïse Fink and Russell Grigg. New York: Norton. ———. 2006b. The instance of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud. Écrits, The first complete edition in English. Translated by Bruce Fink in collaboration with Héloïse Fink and Russell Grigg. New York: Norton. ———. 1956. Séminaire 3, Psychoses, session March 21, 1956. http://staferla​.free​.fr/ S3/S3%20PSYCHOSES.pdf ———. 1964. Séminaire 11, Fondements, session May 27, 1964. staferla​.free​.fr/S11/ S11.htm. OEFSE. 2013. Interview with Gioconda Belli: “Escribir para la Libertad.” Austrian Foundation for Development Research. Österreichische Forschungsstiftung für Internazionale Entwicklung. www​.youtube​.com/watch?v=gvJxyMd_jjk. Plutarco. 2019. La excelencia de las mujeres. Translated by Marta González González. Madrid: Mármara ediciones. Poe, Edgar Allan. 2010. La carta robada. In: Cuentos. Translated by Julio Cortázar. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.


Nellie Campobello Writing, Testimony, and Pedagogies against Silence Cathia Huerta Arellano, translated by Maricruz Ocampo Guerrero

Writing: Silence as a Feminine Resource The lack of recognition in the case of Nellie Campobello comes from a calculated decision on her part to show that female writing possesses a transgression bias that can be uncomfortable and therefore silenced, and that if one opts for that route, one forfeits recognition. The type of writing that Campobello inaugurates provided other writers— such as Juan Rulfo—a narrative path that connects directly with the modern world that was beginning to emerge in the cities with African American and indigenous legacies. It created a space in which a common ground could be established for the understanding between the archaic and “the civilized”: the world of what was rural. The rural as an invention and literary setting ends up being perfected in Rulfo’s pages, but according to those interested in the genealogy of the postrevolutionary narrative, it can well be attributed to Nellie Campobello (Vanden 2012, 520). On the other hand, some biographers, as well as analysts, have shown not only the bridge that connects Rulfo with Campobello, but also how García Márquez came to drink from those feminine waters. In this way and in this order, according to certain critics cited by Vanden, there would be


34  •  Chapter Two

a genealogical link between Cartucho, La Sombra del Caudillo, Pedro Páramo, and Cien Años de Soledad (2012, 518). Although Campobello’s Cartucho had no major impact on readers of the postrevolutionary narrative, as did those of other contemporaries such as Mariano Azuela (Los de Abajo, 1916) and Martín Luis Guzmán (La Sombra del Caudillo, 1929), the contrast between the form and the obligatory style of writing history from the perspective of the winners started here. Campobello inaugurates the display of experiences that account for the unnoticed details, including those related to the subjectivity of those who lived the experience firsthand. Incidentally, in the aforementioned works, the feminine is reduced to the macho stereotypes that spilled from literature to popular culture, stereotypes that have been attributed to the identity of women. According to Carlos Monsivais (1975), for Azuela, women are “sufridas y abnegadas,” which would translate to “wretched self-­sacrificing,” and for Guzmán, they are “providers of children, pleasure, food, combative prostitutes, or domestic shadows” (Monsivais in Cázares 1996, 48). It is in this context that Campobello endeavors to become a writer. To do this, she chooses to present herself as a female witness of a war and, with her storytelling, leaving proof that testimonial writing, when it dares to be expressed from the feminine point of view, is silenced. Furthermore, Campobello’s image as an influential woman in the fields of dance and literature also shared the stigma of the representation of barbarism. Her unwavering admiration for Francisco Villa and his storytelling— simple, raw, sincere, and told from the irrational, or as it is said, “without any filter”—placed her in a position counter to that which was reinforced at one stage of the national life in which the once-­popular hero was portrayed as a bandit and an apolitical being. All this just when history was limited to official documentalism and historical novel to the domain of the institutionalized literary technique. In contrast, Nellie dared to portray and analyze the Revolution with an incomparable sense of depth, focusing on scenes of what is small, what nobody cares about, what nobody else sees even though it is so visible. A girl observes and recounts. A girl who is a point of view and a relentless narrator.... Things are as they are. The words are said as they are.... In Cartucho another intention, another sense is noted: this synthesis is absolute, always on the brink of silence. A minimal gesture separates her from total silence, as if secretly telling what happened while time was tallying. As if she were hiding in a trunk and she has to tell what happens before the

Nellie Campobello   •  35

adults come and discover her and she cannot continue telling her story. The story that belongs to everyone. . . . This voice is therefore a testimony. (Ríos 2011, 42)

The stories gathered in Cartucho showed that Campobello perturbed the purposes of male hegemony that seek to maintain a system of affective sterility in the fields of writing and history. Contrary to Nellie’s, the history of war does not always reflect the facts that sustain life: the acts and undertakings that have served to feed, heal, or keep alive the fallen. People who give men encouragement before battle are of no relevance, unlike the record of the deaths that give glory to kingdoms, nations, or peoples and the exploits of heroes. In turn, Campobello is an example of the invisibilization of the work of the female writers who have dared to relate, from their own experience and gaze, what happens, before their eyes, in times of war. If we accept the year 1900 as the year of her birth (which is the one that agrees with the registration records), Nellie would have been a girl between seven and ten years of age when the Revolution broke out. According to her official documents, she was registered as María Francisca Moya Luna, daughter of Rafaela Luna and Felipe Moya Luna, who are said to have been an aunt and her nephew. Although María Francisca first saw light in Durango, when she was very young, she moved to live with her mother in Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua. Rafaela is said to have been a respected “soldadera,”1 for her nursing skills and her loyalty to the Villista army. Nellie Campobello said that recovering her experiences was very important to her; she wrote so others would know what she had lived in her childhood, during a time of war and social volatility. Above all, she wanted, in her sense of justice, to humanize the soldiers who entered the deserts of the north of Mexico to find their death. In 1960, under the pretext of gathering her work, she herself would share her reasons in the prologue. She would explain, thirty years after the first publication of Cartucho, that more than a novel, this work represents a document that is useful for comparison: I looked for the way to be able to say, but to do it I needed a voice, and I went towards it. I was the only one who could set the tone, the only authorized: it was the voice of my childhood. (Campobello 2007, 339)

Although the dominant process of historiographic or literary production contributed to make Nellie symbolically “disappear,” like so many other

36  •  Chapter Two

female authors and protagonists of historical events, in reality, Campobello was the main character in a drama in which her elimination was literal: [T]hese disappearances do not simply consist of a silent slide of names from memory, from the page, from under the photo. Like the disappearances of deterritorialized citizens under dictatorships, they are violent, scandalous material and existential processes. The discursive and institutional processes that marginalize the historical actions of women cannot be separated from the forms of physical and mental violence that they face in their lived existence. (Pratt 2004, 153)

Although Nellie managed to publish three books about the Mexican Revolution—two volumes of stories (Cartucho and Las Manos de Mamá) and a biographical book (Notes on the Military Life of Francisco Villa)—her work went virtually unnoticed until the 1980s. It is not until 1998 that the terrible story of the last years of the life of the writer and dancer comes to light. Nellie disappeared in 1984. After gradually removing her from her job and circle of friends, she was stripped of her assets and kidnapped by a couple of alumni of the National School of Dance, which she directed from 1937 until the year of her disappearance. At the insistence of her relatives and the authorities to see her, Nellie was taken to the state of Hidalgo, where, two years later, she died alone and isolated from her world: After 13 years without direct news from her, years during which her kidnappers continually confirmed that she was alive and in good condition, finally in December 1998 in the city of Progreso de Obregón, in the state of Hidalgo, representatives of the Commission of Human Rights found a grave marked with the initials of Nellie Campobello, and a death certificate dating her death on July 9, 1986. As E. Poniatowska said, “they stinted her on her own death.” Nellie Campobello did not have the death she deserved, that is, a death that granted her entry into History. (Pratt 2004, 154)

Campobello experienced dispossession because she was not recognized as a precursor of a style that transcended fiction and caused the viewer to experiment with “horror” from a human plane. To the fact of being a woman, it could have been added that her work reflected a sympathy for a social movement overshadowed by the speeches of the groups that finally prevailed in the revolutionary war. The popular heroes, particularly Villa and Zapata, were uncomfortable for the postrevolutionary political power. This was the case especially for the modernist Mexico that was beginning to build itself with languages and visions far from the

Nellie Campobello   •  37

barbaric and rural world that no longer merged with the intellectuality and progress that began to represent the yearnings of the new citizens (Rivera 2001, 20; Martínez 2017, 152). I would add that the way of recounting the events—without the “adequate” techniques of the novel or the revolutionary story, but exposed as testimonies—would be unauthorized, and therefore not consisting of masculine ways to be recognized and accepted: In this context the writings of the Revolution were martial, guided by the ethos of official guidelines, produced by patriotic men or intellectuals of diverse statures, by men who conferred to their writing the power of the political scope of the state. The functions of a notarial act of the times, the powers of explanation of an impressive and new historical reality, are also conferred to writing and it is considered capable of managing mechanisms that elucidate, enhance and settle the historical evolution. (Martínez 2017, 159)

Thus, the reading of Cartucho makes us see that the feminine does not exist as a sphere apart from the masculine. Here the feminine is reproduced in spaces interconnected with the world of men and war. If the preservation of masculinity necessitates only the mandate of appropriation through violence or the performativity of rudeness, according to the stories that I myself have heard from women in the communities about their practices, the feminine must be fed, reinvented, and circulated. The customs of inheriting recipes, of transmitting knowledge in childbirth, of exchanging seeds, of caring for and using plants, of redoubling efforts to face the contingencies of life, are all small but complex universes. Worlds of knowledge that are maintained thanks to the camouflage and transmutation of the forms of exchange. From the point of view of some feminisms, the masculine and the feminine are constituted as spheres of antagonistic significance, as sets of habits, rules, and resources that materialize in the habitus of bodies according to the assigned sex. To continue along this line, I would add that the constructions on the masculine and the feminine are written on the body. Although the most recurrent thing might be to opt to investigate the mechanisms that accomplish the performative character that achieves particular displacements, the masculine, as a unifier model of heteropatriarchy, becomes a mandate. We must not lose sight of the fact that there are also the places to which these sexed bodies are anchored: public spaces within which only certain bodies—assumed as masculine, suitable for the exercise of politics and war—are considered. In each of the places of the Mexican Revolution that

38  •  Chapter Two

Campobello very well identifies—the cemetery with its firing squad, the hills of the battles, the barracks, the military camp, the auditoriums as scenarios for the assemblies—the feminine, embodied in women, barely shows. On the other hand, in war, the masculinized body is related to the use of force—the superior and mechanical strength, against the physical fragility and the feminine emotionality. According to Pierre Bourdieu, these presuppositions are socially naturalized (2000, 9). However, the experiences described in Campobello’s work expose the lightness with which the girl stands in an intermediate space, a place that is itself a window that allows her to look at worlds that would be closed to her later, breaking the statics of the public/private dichotomy. Although masculinity is relational to femininity, it does not possess the fluidity of the second, only historicity. In every age and society, there has been more than one proposal for masculinity, but we cannot deny that these forms, however heterogeneous, identify manhood as a dominant value, while the feminine is often expressed outside the body and is silenced. Therefore, war, as one of the masculinizing machines, involves individuals, subjectivities, practices, habits, objects, and meanings that have served to demonstrate a power with its own narratives. That the feminine participates is not part of the war montage; it is a wink of that other world that is not integrated into the patriarchy. For me, the feminized roles of submission, the stereotype of the unconditional availability of women, are part of the masculinizing project that does not show the will of the feminine to participate even in social crises. That is, I do not consider the person who carries the feminine in her identity a mere passive subject that, by being placed in concrete contexts and situations, can share other ways of being and relating. Thus, historically, male honor is equated with the power and use of weapons; hence, whoever wields them holds power, while whoever cannot possess them is dominated. This theory of honor that provides a killing machine constitutes the core of masculine domination, since the feminine is reserved as everything that does not have the necessary traits of domination, but which must be there to be subdued. Is it not then absolutely understandable that the feminine silences itself when it comes to expanding its territories and extending its own cartographies? Consequently, expanding and sharing the experience of care, affection, and life reproduction becomes a dangerous mission because the intention may prove that power is not dominance, but precisely not trying to dominate. What is attempted there is to preserve a movement, an eternal dunamis. The feminine is not a machine whose patented product is death.

Nellie Campobello   •  39

Another experience that affirms that the feminine does not only inhabit certain bodies, nor is it limited to the choice by a particular gender, is the material or symbolic violation that occurs with wars or disputes over territory. One of the clearest signs of domination is the case of the man subdued by his racialization or raped by another male sexualized body (Bourdieu 2000, 19). An example of this may be the act of colonization, where white, western, patriarchal domination prevails over the masculinity of indigenous men through racism. The feminization of the subjects, then, consists in subjugating the enemy, as is done in prison or in criminal organizations to take control over rivals to show power. Before addressing what is involved in the operation of the cruelty needed to install this domination and take it for granted, I share what Bourdieu affirms. To globalize the binarism that limits us to thinking about one of the two fields—masculine or feminine in terms of domination/submission—a pedagogy such as the institutionalization of a hegemonic principle that is in charge of dividing and normalizing that domination, is required: Bildung’s teaching action, in its exact sense, which operates this social construction of the body, only very partially takes the form of an explicit and intentional pedagogical action. In large part it is the automatic and agentless effect of a physical and social order entirely organized according to the principle of androcentric division (which explains the extreme force of dominance it exercises). Inscribed in things, the masculine order is also inscribed in the bodies through the tacit injunctions involved in the routines of the division of labor or collective or private rituals (think, for example, of the avoidance behaviors imposed on women through their exclusion from masculine places). (Bourdieu 2000, 22)

Nevertheless, Nellie can contribute a discrepancy to the idea that the masculine is sustained in terms of the feminine as its alterity, showing us that the feminine is not determined, that is, it does not arise ex nihilo to linearly travel a path toward the solidification of its structure. The feminine, not femininity as its mask, accommodates itself, reconstructs and reappears in history: Sometimes it emerges in the forests, in the factories, in the universities, in the maquiladoras, or as in this case, in wars, demonstrating that there are other worlds that interact with the masculine. The feminine, after breaking through, tends to dilute at least a little, withdrawing to avoid the coup de grace. The feminine takes advantage of the possibility of providing knowledge that is not institutionalized nor has fallen into the patriarchy’s state of ownership. Ángeles Alatorre (1961, 173) asserts that care, intelligence,

40  •  Chapter Two

cooperation, public demonstration, and the dissemination of news were the main contributions of women to the Revolution, without neglecting that: [t]he departure of the male citizens to war forces those who “remain behind” to replace the citizen-­man in the sphere of production, be it agricultural or industrial; in the control of the family; in business management; and in public responsibilities. These obligations come on top of the work called reproductive. (Pratt 2004, 160)

Nellie wanted to show that the feminine conducts itself with stealth so as not to interrupt its project of caregiving, without relinquishing to speak from silence; sometimes to talk with the dead and the readers, embodying a child’s body, which allows her to say everything with the words that are at hand, almost always those given to us by the maternal side.

The Testimony: The Feminine Tells a Story Campobello places as the storyteller, the gaze of a girl and with this she situates in front of the reader a female witness: “they are tragic events seen by my eyes as a girl” (Campobello 2006, 103). When I think of the girl who recounts her experiences of war in Cartucho, I hear a voice that wants to hurry to tell without stopping to consider the severity or the eschatological and brutal nature of some events that are installed as images for the reader. Perhaps Nellie thought of the maximum and eternal idea that children know how to say things while avoiding the training of institutions. If we add to this cultural construction of the child that her voice is located in a world that has defended and silenced itself for being feminine (Nellie’s childish world is surrounded by women dedicated to caring and transmitting stories), we would have a kind of substantiation that there is also a feminine way of telling, and above all a sensitive, and at the same time, tremendous way of speaking from the horror of war. Women have not had many arenas to exercise their narrative. The experience of Svetlana Alexievich, however, seems important and powerful in this regard. A Belarusian writer and journalist, Alexievich has composed a profoundly terrible, yet poignant book on Soviet women who participated in World War II and whose memories were buried by the official history. The story told by men is built to announce a victory, the conquered places, the number of casualties of the enemy army, or the bravery of its generals. The difference is that for women, the narrative is written from their testimony

Nellie Campobello   •  41

and therefore, is a voice unearthed, such as that of the girl from Campobello’s Cartucho. The female testimony, says Alexievich, has its colors, its smells, its lighting and its space. It has its own words. In this war there are no heroes or incredible deeds, there are only human beings involved in an inhuman task. In this war not only people suffer, but the land, the birds, the trees. All those who inhabit this planet with us. And they suffer in silence, which is even more terrible. (Alexievich 2013, 14)

Alexievich seeks to give voice to the female witnesses and exposes the mechanisms to silence those voices. Men who write about war write about men with a “masculine voice,” and we, as listeners, she says, are prisoners of these words and perceptions (2013, 13). Thus, the experiences that women have about war are unknown. The women survivors return to everyday life and are soon relegated from their patriotic mission. They go from being heroines to “domestic shadows,” forbidden to talk about their experience: They said to me: “Are men not enough for you? Why do you want all those stories about women? Those female fantasies . . .” The men feared that the women would depict another war, a different war. (Alexievich 2013, 24)

Women learn to censor themselves, to keep quiet or to find safe spaces to speak amid tears or laughter, those spaces where remembering is not repressed, the same memory that does not reach the status of History. After giving their testimony, the female informants made recommendations to Alexievich with an impeccable practicality, one that is acquired only when one is certain that there is a masculine world in which, as a woman, one must behave with alertness: “Don’t talk about the small things. . . . Write about our Great Victory. . . .” But the “little things” are the most important thing for me, they are the warmth and clarity of life: the bangs left after cutting their braids, the field pots full of soup and steaming porridge that nobody will ever eat because, of the hundred people who went into combat, only seven have returned. (Alexievich 2013, 23)

The feminine testimony leaves room for affections, for the show of fragility of those who support and obey the patriarchal mandate. Campobello and Alexievich also expose the flaws in the systems that produce these masculinities that are built to die for an ideal or because in any case there will be no options in misery. But how is this other form of witnessing constructed?

42  •  Chapter Two

To give an answer, the reflections that Agamben (2000) elaborates around the testimony that Levi gives about Auschwitz are relevant. These reflections invited me to carry out an exercise of superposition of his philological findings on the role of the witness that Nellie Campobello assumes as a marginal ethic for which the important thing is to recount for others, that is to say, alien to the dominant ethics of the testimony as a truth that must be verified. Starting from two Latin words to refer to the witness, it is determined that testis refers to a third party (terstis) in the middle of a strife. Thus, the word superstes refers to those who have lived or gone through an experience and who, by surviving, can offer a testimony of what they have lived through. Agamben says that, in that sense, Levi cannot be attributed the character of a witness, in the legal or institutional sense, because he has been directly affected. The twist that Agamben proposes is that the testimony can be recognized as the experience told by a survivor, rather than by a third party. I think of Nellie’s experience in two ways: She cannot be a witness in the same way as a third party. In Levi’s case, he does not renounce his shame for having survived, but instead affirms with the act of writing that survival is not a privilege. So, too, Nellie, who is not willing to abandon the subordination of what it means to keep her writing feminine—without technique, without tests, without distance, without detachment—takes sides and forsakes the privilege of placing herself in the first person to give way to the girl who will speak for those who cannot, even for her. It is as Agamben says. Levi is not a third party; he is, in every way, a survivor. It is not judgment that matters to him, and even less forgiveness: “I never appear as a judge,” says Levi. “I do not have the authority to grant forgiveness” (Agamben 2000, 10). It is curious that the only story that Nellie writes to speak in the first person, displacing the girl as a witness to a secondary place, is when she affirms that she had to wait many years to see how life had taken charge of collecting the old affront that a general had committed against her mother: My mother has never been erased from me, stuck to the wall turned into a painting, with her eyes on the black table, hearing the insults. . . . One day, here in Mexico, I saw a photograph in a newspaper, it had this legend: “The General Alfredo Rueda Quijano, in a summary court-­martial. . . .” Today they were to shoot him here, people felt sorry for him, they admired him, they had built him a great dais to die, to scream loudly, just as he yelled at Mamá the night of the assault. All night long I was saying to myself: “They killed him because he insulted Mamá, because he was mean to her.” (Campobello 2007, 58)

Nellie Campobello   •  43

Nonetheless, when she places the female witness as the first voice, when she recounts from the voice of the girl, she is authorizing her, as the dead of Auschwitz authorize Levi to present their testimony and speak for those who cannot. The testimony is a power that acquires reality through an impotence to say; it is the impossibility that comes into existence with the power that emerges from recounting the experience as a last resort. Judging is not part of the testimony of a survivor; the criticism of military processes “is not in the gaze that narrates, but it is up to us readers. Judgment is ours” (Pulido 2011, 52). This allows the witness free of commitment to a system, like children and women, to convey events from tenderness, however sinister they may be. We saw some soldiers coming with a tray up high; they passed next to us, talking and laughing. “Hey, what’s that nice thing you’re carrying?” From the top of the alley we could see that inside the tray there was something pink quite pretty. . . . “They are guts,” said the youngest, fixing his eyes on us to see if that would scare us; upon hearing, they are guts, we stood next to them and saw them; they were rolled up as if they had no end. “Tripitas, how pretty, and whose are they?” We said with curiosity at the edge of our eyes. “From mi General Sobarzo,” said the same soldier, “we are taking them to the cemetery to be buried.” (Campobello 2007, 60)

For Agamben, a true witness is one who cannot only lend his experience to a simple legal demand but deliver it when required. A girl is then the ideal subject who meets the necessary criteria to fulfill the responsibility of contributing the echoes of a memory that is fragmented. Furthermore, if we add that in war, women have a better chance of surviving, not without having gone through different risks, including being raped, the feminine acquires a burden similar to that of the gray zone. Levi told that through few, but decisive testimonies, it was confirmed that the Nazis invented a “special squad,” a highly effective death machine that worked with inmates of the concentration camps who had to lead the naked prisoners to death in the gas chambers and maintain order among themselves; then remove the corpses . . . and wash them with jets of water . . . pull the gold teeth from their jaws; cut the women’s hair . . . transport the bodies to crematoriums and ensure their combustion. (Agamben 2000, 24)

For the witnesses who lived to tell, having been chosen as part of the special squads gave them, once away from the horror, the responsibility to convey the experience, to recount for others. However, by accepting this duty,

44  •  Chapter Two

they also accepted a future life in which the guilt would be permanent, the guilt of having been part of this machine linked to the sense of responsibility of being witnesses. Here the term responsibility derives from the Latin verb spondeo, which means “to be guarantor of someone (or of oneself) in relation to something or in front of someone” (Agamben 2000, 20). The gray zone, a machine of death that allowed women to live to tell their stories of the revolutions of the early twentieth century, as well as the survivors of the concentration camps, will provide as part of its responsibility, its testimony, and this will remain forever marginal. They were there; they healed the soldiers; they looked for their children, parents, and brothers among the dead. They remained silent before the executions. From their female squads, from the infirmaries and kitchens with their stoves and cauldrons, from the rooms destined for the manufacturing of garments, they did nothing but work to support those who killed others and found death on the battlefronts. For all this, for Nellie as for Alexievich, it has been essential to look for witnesses who are not “third parties” in a trial, but representatives of the dead, responsible for recounting what was happening in that world that patriarchy does not speak of when promoting the war as an effective machine of domination, factory of enemies, and destroyer of life.

The Pedagogy of Women against Cruelty I have found in Campobello’s narrative that some stories focus on details that we could call “disturbing.” The recourse of recounting through the voice of a girl has helped to show that in times of military violence, resorting to subjectivizing processes of the naturalization of violence can be used as defense mechanisms against the constant fear of the proximity of death. As we have already seen, two of these countertraumatic forms are writing and testimony, both as a responsibility given by the acquired status of survivor. Nellie Campobello contributed to both, and that allowed her to move to a world that for her was sublimatory, the world of dance and politics. In regard to pedagogy as a way of ensuring a teaching or the transformation of the subjectivities that contribute to life, I do not refer to it in the sense of institutionalized pedagogy. I propose here two noninstituted ways to address it. On the one hand, the feminine pedagogies that in Campobello’s work are exposed as emerging forms appear in moments of social crisis to lessen the effects of wars. On the other hand, there is the pedagogy of cruelty (Segato, 2018), as that form of patriarchal deployment of violence in which there is no longer only one territory to confront enemy forces, but the bodies

Nellie Campobello   •  45

of the defenseless surge as territories on which to convey power. In this sense, I agree with Segato, in that there is a displacement of war by a more sophisticated and lethal format that is achieved by removing all possibility that the feminine expresses itself or, as she suggests, by lowering the thresholds of empathy to such a degree that we stop identifying with the suffering of others, and therefore, their lives seem less than nothing to us: I call pedagogies of cruelty all the acts and practices that teach, condition and program subjects to mutate the alive and its vitality into things. In this sense, this pedagogy teaches... how to kill from an unritualized death, a death that leaves hardly any residue in the place of the deceased. . . . When I speak of a pedagogy of cruelty I am referring to something very precise, such as the capture of something that flowed as wayward and unpredictable as life, to install the inertia and sterility of the thing... as it is convenient for consumerism in this apocalyptic phase of the capital. (Segato 2018, 13)

Segato will add that for cruelty to settle into subjectivity, it requires forms of transmission more than for its assimilation, for its submission. The most effective is the one that allows the normalization of the spectacle offered through objectifying the bodies by putting them in bags or disposing of them in pieces on landfills, removing the need for rituals in the face of death, especially the one sought out to grieve having as their principle the recovery and proximity of the living with the remains of the body: I myself gathered the charred remains. . . . I collected the family of my friend. . . . People searched for bones, bits of clothing, whatever, trying to recognize who they were. . . . People swaddled the bones in sheets. (Alexievich 2016, 80)

On the other hand, no novel or historical document on the Revolution will relate, as Campobello does, the urgent need to ritualize the death of a human. The girl, witness to Cartucho, learned from another woman the relevance of printing emotions on rituality, and this is reflected in different passages of her work: Two mayo friends of mine, Indians of San Pablo de Balleza. . . . One cold, cold morning, they told me when I left my house: “Hey, Zequiel and his brother were shot; they are lying outside the graveyard. . . .” I found them side by side. Zequiel face down and his brother looking at the sky.... I couldn’t ask them anything, I counted the bullet holes, I turned Zequiel’s head, I cleaned the dirt on the right side of his face, I was moved a little and I said to myself three and many times in my heart: “Poor things, poor things.” The blood had

46  •  Chapter Two

frozen, I collected it and put it in the bag of his blue tassel jacket. They were like red crystals that would no longer become hot threads of blood. (Campobello 2007, 37)

The modernity project, the one that removes Campobello from the world of recognition, is the one that comes from the cruelest practices to achieve its objectives and make the model work. The contrast, and thus the possibility that such a system can be challenged, has been revealed in the sustained elaboration of this essay. Clues have been shared that show that it is very difficult for women to make a pact to agree to these forms of degradation of life. The war reported in Cartucho, as well as that told by Alexievich’s female witnesses (2016), do not look much like those that we live today, which have reached unprecedented degrees of atrocity. The Revolutions of the early twentieth century would be the watershed between a type of social violence contained in the battlefield and that which roams the streets in daily life, to extirpate people and vomit them out later as broken bodies. In regard to the subjectivities built from the margins of colonial-­ patriarchal modernity, we can think that what characterizes the ontological status of humans is certainly their constitutive vulnerability. Adriana Cavarero (2008) takes from Hannah Arendt the idea that each one is unique because, by exposing ourselves to others and bequeathing our uniqueness to this exhibition, we show ourselves as we truly are. The singular is by definition vulnerable, and vulnerable alludes to one who can be injured or physically or morally damaged. Except for the fact that any person genuinely stripped of all dignity—such as the women who every day are stripped of their knowledge and whose bodies are objectified and thrown away broken—is at the same time helpless. Quoting Cavarero, the helpless is the truly exposed that awaits the cure and has no means of protecting herself from the wound. Her relationship with the other is a total surrender of her corporeal uniqueness in a context that does not envision reciprocity. (2008, 41)

In the experience that the girl-­witness of Cartucho confronts, although she realizes her vulnerability, she is not allowed to fall into a state of idleness. Through the child character, Nellie shows us a subject who is in a position to receive an education. In order to heal the wound composed of violence and loss, affection is provided, ranging from tenderness and the commitment with which the mother cares for the wounded and her children, to the rancor and fear produced in her by the behavior of those who do not abide by the

Nellie Campobello   •  47

minimum standards of military demeanor, for instance, not murdering, not raping, and not torturing the defenseless. Before moving on to identify in the reading of Campobello the feminine pedagogy and some of its forms, I establish as a point of continuity that cruelty is not affection, but rather a mechanism set in motion by the patriarchal death machine. Without saying that there are no negative affections, what I assert is that even the effects considered as “bad” would have the option of taking a turn, allowing the subject to show the human condition as well as in herself. To arrive at the exercise in cruelty found today in the news coverage of the “nota roja,”2 we have risen, through hetero-­designation, to the absolute dehumanization of women as a group on whom all possible expressions of cruelty will unfold. The body of women as silent refuge, like a vehicle for the reproduction of life and care in war, has been displaced to occupy a central, noisy, and spectacular place. It has become a canvas where horror is written, where the messages that dictate the limits of the owners of the power intolerant to empathy are written. To quote Adriana Cavarero: It is not that the current samples of the carnage, and much less those of the past, Homeric warriors included, are mostly women. Rather, as it happens in all the theaters of violence presently known, men continue to be the undisputed protagonists. When a woman presents herself in the trap of horror, the scene grows darker and, although more perplexing, paradoxically more familiar. Disgust increases and enhances the effect. As if horror, as myth already knew, needed the feminine to reveal its true origin. (2008, 31)

Segato also asserts that in the myths of origin, the symbolic infraction of the transgression of the feminine is always affirmed; she will be punished and reduced to a subordinate position. Myths, she says, invent the feminization of the woman: “who until then was not exactly a woman, but a person” (Segato 2018, 46). The soldier, the doctor, the teacher, become moralizers in this system; hence I dare to asseverate that women, with all the cultural burden inherited by that symbolic economy, become pedagogues for life in the feminized spaces that I have already mentioned. There they were heroically taught to draw limits, because while domestic violence was installed in their homes, under the same mechanism of banalization, other forms of high-­impact violence began to be perpetrated. We then see how the capacity of social intolerance toward the violence exerted by the stranger who enters the house, the hospital, or the asylum vanishes.

48  •  Chapter Two

The feminine power that allowed people to widely reject, as an authority, everything that normalizes the effects of violence in society is being abolished by a new format. Violence not only occurs on the battlefield, as already noted, but it floods both public and private spaces, subtracting in all contexts the importance of affect in building relationships. From where does this new way of exerting pain in the bodies of those who are or are not summoned to that world of horror feed? This penetration of violence is what gradually constitutes a rationality. From Foucault’s perspective, it is “a plural structure that involves a conflicting succession of specific or multiple rationalities” (Castro 2008, 368). In this work, this is what I have insisted on calling “mechanism,” as a disposition, an instrumentalization, or a subjective imposition to acquire ways of thinking, of acting. It is the construction of underwriters that allow procedures, norms, speeches, statutes, laws, or technologies that have what is necessary for a purpose to be fulfilled, in this case the mandate of patriarchality, that places the feminine as that object of cruelty. Quite the contrary, pedagogy, when proposed from the feminine world, provides society with very important avenues of knowledge that must be legitimized in order to face hegemonic discourses. According to Rosa María Rodríguez (2004), there are two veins that feminist research proposes to build a genealogy of this subdued knowledge: a) attention to disqualified knowledge: oral tradition, traditional healing, unclassifiable feminine texts, crafts, medical and culinary uses, resources for the caring of children and the sick, and b) specific scholarly knowledge: gynecology, legal and judicial research, pedagogical treatises, writings and activities in feminine convents, reconstruction of literary salons, manuals of spiritual direction, formation, hygiene, expert advice on motherhood, sexuality, child education. Bringing both sources of knowledge together in theoretical reformulations that offer alternatives to that Global History, of facts and ideas, that leave women out, constitutes an urgent intellectual challenge. (2004, 53)

It is with this knowledge that the girl of Cartucho was shielded by the feminine halo of her mother, who permits and furthermore, encourages, her little daughter to talk with the dead, with the soldiers, and with other women, and makes her go through all the possible spaces to attain from each of them the knowledge and affections that have become their truth, this being the catalyst for the madness and trauma of war. The mother can give her, with words, a power to emerge, if not unharmed, stripped of the condition of helplessness, of the confrontation with the horrors of war, to transform it into a learning ground:

Nellie Campobello   •  49

Mamá told me to hold a little tray, she was going to treat the wounded; now is the turn of a thigh; the wound reeked; she squeezed and there were rivers of pus; the man shuddered and his forehead sweated; Mamá said that until blood flowed she wouldn’t stop; the blood came out and then they put a cotton swab soaked in a jar and bandaged it. A head came next, a jaw, almost six more legs, and then a chapo3 with a bullet in his rib; this man talked a lot; a gravely wounded belly of a former general who did not open his eyes; another grazed in the haunches; she healed fourteen, I held the tray. Mamá was very empathic with the people who suffered. (Campobello 2007, 95)

For Nellie, it was imperative that the narratives show the power of the image of misery and pain, not so much to move as to teach. Societies are required to understand that war is inhabited by subjects who are not artifacts, but humanized bodies, which is why Campobello fragments them and chooses parts that represent the whole of these bodies (intestines, limbs, face, lips). This metonymic operation manages to impact with images that carry more than the detail to which the phrases carry us: And he walked by every day, skinny, poorly dressed, he was a soldier. He became my friend because one day our smiles were the same. I showed him my dolls, he smiled, there was hunger in his laughter, I thought that if I gave him some wheat flour “gorditas”4 I would do very well. The next day, when he was passing the hill, I offered him the “gordas,” his skinny body smiled. (Campobello 2007, 33)

The fragment shows the image of misery in the soldier, but also the empathy that the figure of the other provokes in the girl: “he smiled, there was hunger in his laughter.” Although in Campobello, many elements point to the precarious, to death seen as a destiny to which men march in wars, there is no place to dehumanize even the enemies. Soldiers who go into battle return as bodies to be buried. Not today, since the quintessential sign of these contemporary wars is the disappearance of the body, its annulment or its exposure in the most barbaric way possible.

Conclusions According to her own words, what Nellie Campobello was most interested to imprint in her writing was that those who suffer violent conflicts could be humanized. The writing with which she exposes this is feminine in that sense, since what she pretends is to generate resistances that forestall the exacerbation of violent manifestations in the context of a community that

50  •  Chapter Two

should provide for the life not only of people, but also of nature and the community itself. Nellie aspired to recover the value of subjectivity in literary and historical creation, and with this, she taught her readers that testimonial writing, although not valid in the field of science or official disciplines, can serve as a subversive or revolutionary act. The war for women who write about it, as well as for those who live through it, is just the expression of a system that is responsible, from birth, of reminding us that our aspirations, dreams, longings, and relationships are worthless. War serves to silence our indignation against a world that multiplies barbarism in the name of modern civilization, that expands death in the territories under its control, that rips our sensitivity to shreds, tearing at our skin and our senses from the great media outlets. Nellie shows how men become the main victims of that system; it is mainly them that she writes about, and she does it as we saw, from the window of the feminine world that gave her the tools to see without judging them, to tell the world that those men, those soldiers, are sons, brothers, parents, friends. On the other hand, Cartucho has the power to show that the ways of women’s survival have historically been marked by the immediacy to solve the problems that hinder existence. In this work, I tried to emphasize that women have their own pedagogy in a feminine code and that they prefer, without hesitation, the testimony to the silence of the texts. The testimony, Campobello tells us in Cartucho, is always collective, as it is made up of many memories, capable of affirming or questioning identities or even political, social, and economic systems. The testimonial writing, as well as what it teaches, is to challenge the limits of hegemony and to explore other spaces of construction of subjectivities that defend life, and not the interests of the owners of the capitalist world. I certainly hope that this text is just an example of how, in women’s writing, can be found a form of expression that provides vanishing points from submission, that writing in the feminine is also a possibility for those who assume themselves as men. Let’s continue telling stories in a feminine voice, and let’s continue reading the women writers who have been erased from the patriarchal scene of history.

Notes 1.  Soldaderas are female figures of the Mexican Revolution who fought alongside men, supplied weapons and fed armies, and served as spies, nurses, and lovers in times of war.

Nellie Campobello   •  51

2.  Nota Roja, or Red News, is the name given in Mexico to the crime and police coverage made by certain news outlets that depicts violence in a very graphic manner. 3.  Chapo comes from the term chaparro, often used as a nickname for a youngster or a person who is shorter than average. 4.  Gorditas are pockets made with wheat flour typical of the north of México.

References Agamben, Giorgio. 2000. Lo que queda de Auschwitz. El Archivo y el testigo. Homo Sacer III. Translated by Antonio Gimeno Cuspinera. España: Pre-­Textos. Alatorre, Mendieta Ángeles. 2013. La mujer en la revolución mexicana. Mexico: IEHRM. Alexievich, Svetlana. 2013. La guerra no tiene rostro de mujer. Translated by Dobrovolskaia and Zahara García González. Bourdieu, Pierre. 2000. La Dominación masculina. Translated by Joaquín Jordá. Editorial Anagrama. Barcelona, España. Campobello, Nellie. 2006. Las manos de mamá. Tres poemas. Mis libros. México: Factoría ediciones. Campobello, Nellie. 2007. Obra reunida. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Cavarero, Adriana. 2009. Horrorismo: Nombrando la violencia contemporánea. Translated by Saleta de Salvador Agra. Barcelona: Anthropos Editorial. México: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-­Iztapalapa. Cázares, Laura. 1996. El verde Paraíso de los amores infantiles. In Escribir la infancia: narradoras mexicanas contemporáneas. México: El Colegio de México. Martínez, Josebe. 2017. Cartucho de Nellie Campobello: el diálogo con la historia y la imposibilidad del “ser” mexicano. México: Cuadernos Americanos. No. 159. UNAM. Pratt, Mary Louise. 2004. Mi cigarro, mi Singer, y la revolución mexicana: la danza ciudadana de Nellie Campobello. Cadernos Pagu, (22), 151-184. Ríos, Brenda. 2011. Nelly Campobello: La Brevedad y la Forma. Revista Casa Abierta al Tiempo. Vol. IV, época IV, número 45–46. México: UAM. Rivera, López Sara. 2001. La lectura oculta de la revolución mexicana en Cartucho, de Nellie Campobello. México: Iztapalapa 52. (20). Rodríguez, Magda. 2004. Foucault y la genealogía de los sexos. Pensamiento Crítico / Pensamiento Utópico. Num. 110. Serie Cultura y Diferencia. España: Anthropos Editorial. Sau, Victoria. 1995. El vacío de la maternidad. Barcelona: Editorial Icaria. Segato, Rita. 2008. Contra-­pedagogías de la crueldad. Argentina: Prometeo Editorial. Salazar, Felipe. 2019. Dos novelas de la revolución mexicana: Los de abajo de Mariano Azuela y La sombra del caudillo de Martín Luis Guzmán. Universität

52  •  Chapter Two

Berlin: ResearchGate. Book. www​ .researchgate​ .net/publication/341325836_ DOS_ ​ N OVELAS_DE_LA_REVOLUCION_MEXICANA_LOS_DE_ ABAJO_DE_MARIANO_AZUELA_Y_LA_SOMBRA_DEL_CAUDILLO_​ DE_MARTIN_LUIS_GUZMAN/link/5ebae2c9a6fdcc90d6721a53/download


Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing Rescuing Silent, Fertile Difference Flor de María Gamboa Solís, translated by Mariana Sandoval Gamboa

Preliminary Words In my teaching practice and certain feminist activism at the Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo University, where I am about to complete almost twenty years of service, I have been listening to many women who have suffered from violence. I have heard of rape, femicide, and other less atrocious and traumatic cases, such as outrageous harassment, that nevertheless have left deep wounds and even psychic hemorrhages in the lives of many young women. I have also heard them in my practice, where more women than men come, as well as in my family settings, where there’s always a reference in some informal gathering to stories and headlines of missing, abused, or raped young women who someone knows but who go down in history as anonymous. The WhatsApp groups in which I participate share news items every day with headlines on the subject. In short, accounts of violence suffered by women have been the bread and butter of many of my days for several years. Whether I attract them because I seek them out is a question that has ceased to (pre)occupy me, so that I may occupy myself with thinking about them and playing them over and over in my head based on an infinite number of questions. And from everything I


54  •  Chapter Three

have thought about, I am more and more convinced that violence against women in Latin America is intimately linked to the structures that socially define the sexes, these being, according to Saltzman (1992), ideologies, norms, and sexual stereotypes. This is especially true of ideologies and norms due to their moral coating based on religious beliefs ascribed to the Catholic discourse, which fulfill the patriarchal mission of silencing female subjectivity with regard to the sphere of desire and the orb of jouissance. It is well-­ known that Latin America, in the last decade, has become the region of the world with the greatest number of followers in the Catholic religion, and that Mexico is the second country after Brazil leading this high numerical incidence (Rome Reports 2019). In light of the above, when Araceli Colín, the editor of this book, invited me to write a chapter, and described that the spring that had driven it was the silencing of the feminine; and when she suggested Latin American literature written by women for analysis, I was delighted to see that we agreed on yet another topic. Also, because these writing projects have provided an opportunity to weave a friendly bond with her and other colleagues, as well as a creative impetus for the flight of writing, I was eager to participate. Something else I particularly like about these projects is the freedom that surrounds them, their lack of “pretentiousness” since it is not the ego that cultivates them. I would dare to say that they are collective projects of resistance. And in these strange, fateful times, when there is more uncertainty than usual, taking a stance of one’s own, through testimony, in a collective environment of essay writing, which is not erudite but exploratory, implies building fences around the Other’s misleading jouissance and discourse; it implies opening up real dialogue. Especially when it comes to the feminine, the highly controversial psychic and social universe supports the conspicuous negativity that the symbolic apparatuses of culture have elaborated in order to consign it to the margins, to the periphery, to embody radical otherness. The feminine is the symptom of culture’s malaise, and literature written by women opens doors in order to observe it from various configurations, which is what Araceli has suggested we do in this book: observe the silent feminine, silenced, in silence, until it is made to speak from that marginality, even with its silences. I must add as part of this preamble that this book is born as a result of, or in addition to, the non-­effectuated (due to the health contingencies of the COVID-19) symposium “Of women, literature, the silenced and the silent feminine” programmed in the “6th Colloquium of stories and testimonies of psi knowledge in Latin America” to have been held in March 2020 in the city of Querétaro, Mexico. Justification for it is found in what Araceli herself

Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing   •  55

considers to be the current period in terms of what is happening with the sexes, with the female subject, with the feminist struggle, and with women and what they have decided to stop being silent about, particularly in Latin America, defining it as a moment of inflection in history, namely: “those points where a long-­standing malaise suddenly becomes explicitly massive as a protest” (Colín 2020, my translation), and the malaise in this case alludes to women’s subordination. Although the symposium did not take place, meditations around the topic did, and for me this chapter is an opportunity to elaborate on them. In 2018, together with my dear colleague and accomplice Lizeth Capulín Arellano, we published the text “Infamy as a strategy to control women,” in the book El frenesí sádico de la infamia, compiled by Martín Alcalá, and whose argument referenced certain aspects of feminine silencing. Now, in this year 2020, this reference continues to provide grounds for discussion and has enabled me to formulate new guidelines to enter into the complex social, cultural, political, and subjective network of silence, as well as its verbal and adjectival metonymic chains: silencing, silent, silenced, among which the feminine and its also metonymic derivatives have become entangled or have been entangled: femininity, feminism, feminine, as well as its metaphorical movements: woman and women. So, thank you very much, Araceli, for this opportunity.

Introduction This chapter explores, through an analytical-­feminist commentary of metonymic traces and deconstructive exercise, “feminine writing,” in the sense conceived by the French-­ speaking psychoanalysts of Lacanian stamp in the 1970s: Hélène Cixous (1995), Luce Irigaray (2007), and Julia Kristeva (1984), through appropriating the notion of “supplementary jouissance or feminine jouissance” of Lacan (1972–1973), developed in his theory of the process of sexuation. This procedure was applied in particular to the story La semana de colores (2019) by the Mexican writer Elena Garro, where a disturbing and unsettling allegory of the vices that the Catholic Church has defined as capital sins, along with some so-­called virtues, is displayed. The allegory chooses the figure of a female entity to tie around it a vice and a virtue in a total of seven, which is the number of days that make up a week. The result is a kind of device, in the style of Deleuze (1989), that makes us see the feminine from another perspective (not dichotomous) and enunciates virtue with other languages (not rational). I will develop this further. The authors referred to above seek to expose violence exercised by the phallo-­logo/centric system (Derrida 1975), by excluding that which cannot

56  •  Chapter Three

have a name, yes, one, in the singular, not to mention excluding polyglotism. The discursive apparatus of this system, which places reason engendered by phallic law at the center, limits “the destructive violence that emanates from driving the real, adapting linguistic structures to the socio-­economic order and submitting language to strict grammatical rules” (Tornos Urzainki 2014, 176, my translation). That destructive driving of the real is the feminine jouissance, because it is linked to the body that has been excluded from symbolic processing from its specificity and according to its difference since it is represented in comparison with the male body, which is taken as a model of perfection and the single source of reason. In comparison with the perfect body, the feminine one is interpreted as an incomplete, sick, cold, atrophied body, “suffocated by frustrations and convulsions” (Roudinesco 2019, 314, my translation), capable only of squealing, screaming, howling, whining—forms of animal language—of which several examples are exhibited in texts from ancient Greece. For example, in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Jupiter turned Io into a cow so that she could only moo (Beard 2018). Hysterical women heard by Freud did something similar as they were girt by corsets and they integrated their sexuality into a neurosis that performed the cultural stage of that time. Feminine jouissance, which is supplementary when it becomes the written word, “has the capacity to transgress the symbolic order of language, where the poetic force of a word that is beyond the rational limits of discourse is revealed” (Tornos Urzainki 2014, 179, my translation). It transgresses phallic law. Thus, the core of feminine writing to which feminists of difference exhort regards “the idea of a present impulse in language” (Martínez and Bolla 2020, 8, my translation), which has the capacity to offer new possibilities to de-­structure rational and discursive language; to break virile canons of writing that attempts to hide its privileges under marks of neutrality or indifference. This is why it is a violent writing impulse. It is a dance that consists of configuring and de-­configuring spaces and places, through movement (Berger 2008) of words, where a new possibility of writing and inhabiting the body is drawn (Tornos Urzainki, 2014) against the law of symbolic castration imposed by the Name-­of-­the-­Father, and from a political-­social perspective, against sexual norms and ideologies imposed by the Catholic religion. All this theoretical-­argumentative support that will be noted in other instances of the chapter is fundamental for framing the choice of the literary writing of Elena Garro. It is a writing that besides being feminist, and having visited many of her texts, and particularly La semana de colores, can be perfectly defined as feminine in the sense of supplementary jouissance.

Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing   •  57

The clear feminist hues of much of her work have been identified by different reviewers (Pedroza 2007), literary critics (Beltrán Félix 2016), peer and fellow colleagues (Poniatowska 2000), and humanistic scholars (Sáenz 2013; Pasternac, Domenella, and Gutiérrez de Velasco 1996), pointing out that, for example, Garro’s female characters tell their own story, which destabilizes traditional female identity, and that her literature focuses in an unprecedented way on portraying women’s condition in societies such as Mexico’s, where the law of the alpha male and the moralizing mandates of Catholicism rule, “captured and knew how to show the complexity of being—and becoming—a woman in a society and a tradition that deny or repress women’s freedom, eroticism and desire” (Beltrán Félix 2016, 12, my translation). Not so evident are the feminine nuances of her writing. Based on Elena Garro’s story, I will outline that her writing is feminine because: 1. Her protagonists emerge from the walled zone of silence and walk on the mystery of the unknown (Pedroza 2007), not to demolish that zone, but so that that unnamable silence slips into the interstices of the word and writes the text. 2. She chooses passivity to write defiance to the phallic system. The woman, taken as an object and not as a subject, builds actions of rebellion that destabilize subjugating symbols, such as those that are nested in desire stamped as excess, and that has been morally translated into a range of deadly sins. 3. She reiterates the female body as an almost spectral entity, neutralizing gender marks, toward the search of emotions, sensations, and perceptions that are foreign to the patriarchal body. 4. She defines fugitive characters who carry with them their double, their replica, their witness (Pedroza 2007).

Breaking the Silence with Her Writing: From Excision to the Silent Continuum of Femininity I will begin the commentary by referring to point number one of the properties described in the previous section. The protagonists of the story La semana de colores are named Eva and Leli. They are girls who “are united in sisterhood in the amazing discovery of the inner world” (Pasternac, Domenella and Gutiérrez de Velasco 1996, 30, my translation). Doesn’t the acoustics of the name Leli resonate with that of Lilith, the evil woman who, after arguing for her equality (Queijeiro

58  •  Chapter Three

2017), according to the Hebrew myth, abandoned Adam, leaving him alone in paradise? The (dis)association between Eva and Lilith has been subject to interpretative controversies in Hebrew mythical thought throughout history, regarding the occupation of the creationist founding place of the first woman of humanity, “The Woman,” to borrow Lacan’s phrase. Lilith does not appear in Genesis, while Eve does. Lilith has been erased from Sacred Scripture, the writing of the sacred in which Truth is fossilized, including that of femininity. “The biblical myth has erased her, exiled her from the Scriptures, transformed Lilith, created by God entirely and not like Eve, already existing out of a male rib, into an absence.” (Wechsler 1988, 437, my translation). It is not so interesting to proceed exegetically as to emphasize how interesting it is that the nature of original female sexuality is controversial and what of it participated in the equally original procreative copulation, to the point of having apparently engendered two powerful myths that have been translated into the two opposite universes of the extenuating symbolic and iconographic representations of femininity in the West: the mother (maternalized body) and the woman (erogenized body). Are we the daughters of a desire of a delirious nature, a la Lilith, fruitful darings of feminine jouissance, or we of a desire of a complementary nature, a la Eve, fruits of obedience to the commands of the Other in compensation for her own fault? What the story in question allows us to see by having twinned Eva and Le(i)li(th)—illegible writing (Barthes 1973) and errant—is that these are precisely two myths that make up one. These two female figures are not the equivalent of two radically different types of women, but of a myth that holds them both together like the two sides of the same coin. The mother and the woman—the mother/wife (submissive, obedient, good) and the lover/prostitute (insubordinate, disobedient, perverse)—are two positions that women can “cross over alternately, fixate on one or sustain (what a task!) both . . . some succeed, others do not. But if they place themselves in one, they will question the other” (Wechsler 1988, 440, my translation), thus revealing that femininity is neither one nor the other, nor is it all, and it entails perpetual perplexity. Neither is it all contained in motherhood, nor is it reduced to the territory of sex. Least of all during this time when women have been going around and entering the worlds that fifty years ago had been forbidden to them, and in those detours and entrances they have gradually understood that emancipation from fathers and mothers does not necessarily require marriage, and that going around as a virgin after twenty years does not mean the triumph of prudishness but rather that of an ambition committed to

Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing   •  59

greater self-­government in order to choose when, how, and to whom they open their holes, as I once heard a patient express. Femininity resists the phallic system by scaping the fixation to a fixed identity: neither woman nor mother only. That is, there is no woman as a generic identity because she is not all enclosed in the language that names her, which built her as an ideology, but suspended in the vacuum of uncertainty and silence. There are women, in the plural sense, diverse, unique, each of them. Therefore, the question of what women want, the fundamental driving force of the psychoanalytic venture at the beginning of the twentieth century, is no longer so appropriate for pushing curiosity about the femininities that today make social ties in terms of other horizons less restricted to motherhood and domestic life; avant-­garde femininities with the skin of Eve and Lilith simultaneously, (re)generating themselves continuously (Irigaray 1974/2007). I consider it much more appropriate to replace the previous question with a new one: What does such a woman want?

The Feminine Writing of Vice and Virtue from Deliberate Female Objectification Another strategy of feminine writing to subvert phallic law is to take the woman as an object, and from that position assigned by the phallic logos as passive, make her speak. Seven are the feminine, quasi-­spectral entities that live in Mr. Flor’s house embodying the days of the week. Mr. Flor guards them, possesses them, exploits them, rapes them, and consumes them at will, like objects. In an effort to tame them, he applies different methods and strategies because, depending on which one it is, they will respond better or worse to the totalitarian regime that keeps them prisoners of his virile power. We are not talking about just any female entities but ones that “despise reason and logic” (Beltrán Félix 2016, 13, my translation), because they are built from the encounter in coexistence, not in opposition, of vices and virtues. This extravagant coexistence of human wanderings along the boundaries of desire as excess (Roudinesco 2019): lust, sloth, pride, wrath, envy, greed, and gluttony, together with the journey through the tissues of the double they carry with them, virtues, either as conservation of the self, in Spinoza’s sense of responsibility toward one’s own existence (1677 [1958]), according to Fromm (1947 [2003]), or of reactive formations in the face of sexual impulses, according to Freud’s sexual theory (1905 [1976]): largesse, chastity, diligence, modesty, patience, abstinence, and humility, introduces a fabulously frightening vision of the failure of the patriarchal project, on the one

60  •  Chapter Three

hand, and, on the other, of language as a rational unit that seeks the Truth. Two birds eat from the same hand. As for the first failure, linked to the subject of the story, the female entities are confined to a domestic space. Each of them occupies one of seven rooms that are painted in different colors: Sunday, red; Saturday, pink; Friday, purple; Thursday, orange; Wednesday, green; Tuesday, pale yellow; and Monday, blue. But the work they undertake has nothing to do with the attention and care of the family, the great project of patriarchy for the female sex. These women do nothing; they exist objectified. Stripped of their subjective identity, however, they reveal the secret of an unspeakable and disproportionate truth linked to the monstrous nature of the virtues, indifferent to their arrogance, since they appear to be linked to the sphere of the vicious that rationally opposes them: lust with largesse (Sunday); sloth with chastity (Saturday); pride with diligence (Friday); wrath with modesty (Thursday); envy with patience (Wednesday); greed with abstinence (Tuesday), and gluttony with humility (Monday). Vice and virtue (vicissitude) coexisting, like the light-­dark of a full moon night, in unthinkable alternations, as vicissitude in Latin means that, alternation: “when it’s my turn to visit her, she makes me sweat blood, but I take it out of her too” (87), says Mr. Flor to the girls as he shows them Sunday’s room. The unsolvable disjunction: ‘either you are lustful or you are generous’ of the objectification of feminine subjectivity, gives way to the inclusive disjunction: ‘and lustful and generous’ that enables the juxtaposition of different moralizing marks of femininity. “So lazy is she, that she is not even good for a kiss” (89), continues the healer this time in front of Saturday’s room; and alluding to Thursday, anger and modesty: “the others tremble . . . she gives many pleasures, many pleasures. But only to me!” (90), and when they arrive at Wednesday’s room, envy and patience: “If it were up to her, I would only visit her. That is why the night I spend with her is rare. But she puts up with everything: contempt, beatings, as long as from time to time I grant her to punish the others” (91). These female entities are shaking off the moralizing pressure of the duality imposed by Catholic thinking to harbor new forms of abstinence, restriction, and excess. These scriptural fabrications show boldly that morality is not made up of fixed dis(positions), but of leak points that connect intensities, opening up its field beyond Catholic and ethical-­philosophical reductionism. It means that one can be gluttonously humble or humbly gluttonous like Monday; patiently envious or enviously patient like Wednesday; greedily abstinent or abstinently greedy like Tuesday; wrathfully modest or modestly wrathful like Thursday. Likewise, that diligence is not the virtue with which sloth is

Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing   •  61

necessarily and effectively combated, nor is humility unfailingly combated by pride. The unknown and secret truth of the dynamics of morality in human existence that Garro throws with her writing into the universe of femininity, using the passivity assigned to femininity as a method of destabilizing the symbols that subjugate it, guarantees a non-­edited construction, since she is in charge of producing her own origin without a model, in search of a critical questioning of the moral limits that circumscribe the self of the female subject. Let us remember with Miyares (2003) that women are directly affected by a high degree of hyper-­morality. Being identified with the private sphere, with the role of wives, with care and upbringing, with weakness, and with the ideal of beauty, they are prevented from accessing the freedom to be and to move between the different possible realities of their desires, their moderation, and their alternatives of social ties. The second failure, that of the phallo-­logo/centric language that introduces La semana de colores, forks into two directions: 1) it gets rid of reasoning (logos) to give way to the sensitive sphere, to the word of the body. Beltrán Félix (2016) points out that, in Garro’s work, “reasoning is an inferior tool that is prevailed by the plural fusion of the senses . . .” (13, my translation). Everything in this story is a banquet served by the dangerous hospitality of the senses, their ineffability and their oppressive call: terrible smells: “in the room there was only one terrible smell. They did not know whether it was pleasant or unpleasant” (86); inaudible sounds: “Can’t you hear the lashes? Mr. Flor insisted” (86); “they heard it without understanding it” (91); “listen . . . ,” Mr. Flor insists in front of Sunday; “can you see? Don’t you see the pleasures?” (91), “smell, smell!”, he urged them (93); “this one, when I touch her, licks my hands . . . Mr. Flor looked at his hands with satisfaction. Then he held them out to the girls, as if he expected them to lick them too” (92); visions of fear were reduced: “the girls had already forgotten their fears. They saw Mr. Flor’s eyes and smelled the currents of aromas that came out of the cracks in the colored doors, to gather in the center of the courtyard and form a whirlpool of vapors” (94). All these phrases are a wrap of words that are not directed to conscience but to sensation, for which it could be said that they become drives that allow the irrational movement of the signifier to be felt (Deleuze 1981/2009), “they reveal the political capacity of an irreverent word full of jouissance, which is written with the body” (Tornos Urzainki 2014, 176, my translation). Bloody lakes and dark stones inside some eyes, as those of Mr. Flor are described toward the end of the journey through the rooms of the days of the week, which coincides with the end of the story, supplied, in their metaphorical

62  •  Chapter Three

impossibility, my own eyes with an apprehension indescribable from reason. I felt an enormous desire, from my body, in a tone of impulse, to take this story to the theatre, to cinema, to Netflix as a starting point for elaborating a dialogue about the feminine that could be disruptive, in many ways, of the persistent loyalty to the rational vocation of the dichotomous system with which women are approached. In terms of an event, as Lacan (1971) understands it: “the advent of a discourse” (10), and not only of recognition, as feminism struggles. And not because this struggle is sterile or invalid, but because recognition is not the only thing that women require to exist socially, politically, and psychologically. What we require is a transformation of the dominant and hegemonic discourse for the sake of the manufacture of a subjective economy that allows us each to exist on the margins of the risks, challenges, and singular ties of our own desires, turned into words. The second direction in which the failure of the phallo-­ logo/centric system is attested to is that the text recovers the exteriority of the feminine to establish it as the center of writing. “Here only the center of the days remains” (85), responds Mr. Flor to the question of the whereabouts of the days formulated by Eva, since she does not see them anywhere. Which is the center? If we think of it as an interior zone very distant from the periphery, according to the definition of the term ‘center,’ and that what Eva and Leli pursue with subversive curiosity is the interior (world) of the days of the week, we would have to conclude that the center is the periphery. There they have it, the periphery that is “the irreducible otherness that remains outside the borders established by the rational and discursive system” (Tornos Urzainki 2017, 155, my translation), is recovered as the center around which the silenced feminine is capable of speaking despite its absence, in it. The absence of the days of the week of colors, works like an incentive of the desire to know because that absence conserves the center of the dimension of the unknown with the purpose of recovering the multiple and productive capacity of the difference, against the phallo-­logo/centric system of the western world.

Non-­Rational Temporality and Feminine Writing: The Exaltation of Difference One of the other contributions of women’s writing in its intention to fracture the symbolic order of language, “exposing the wounds that announce its precariousness” (Tornos Urzainki 2017, 155, my translation), is the nonrational treatment of the temporal dimension in her stories. Elena Garro “places at the heart of her fiction a non-­rationalist idea of time” (Beltrán Félix 2016,

Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing   •  63

14, my translation), equivalent to that used by psychoanalysis in explaining unconscious processes. Timelessness is precisely one of its properties (Freud 1976). In a unit of the week, the story challenges our notion of time by the disorder in which the days occur: totally outside the logic with which we are accustomed to think and live them. After having shown them all the rooms of the Days, Mr. Flor tells the girls: “Well, little girls, you have seen where the days of the week are . . . and you have seen that everything is in disorder: the colors, the sins, the virtues and the Days” (93). Monday is not followed by Tuesday, the penultimate day of the week is not Saturday, nor does the weekend end on Sunday; neither is it impossible that four days in a row are Wednesday. Leli would like it to always be Thursday, and Eve, Tuesday. This is similar to what happens to us when, after an arduous week of work, we would like there to be three Sundays in a row, or to disappear all of the Mondays of a whole month. Our routines, guarded by the days of the week, often define our moods in sometimes unsuspected ways. For depression and euphoria, there are the weekends, never on a Tuesday; for nostalgia and longing for the future, there are Fridays, or a full week of the winter vacation period; to embrace the happy encounter with the voice of a loved one who lives under the determinations of a time zone other than our own, there is the early morning or morning of any day. There are even set days for having sex, as a scene from the series Little Fires Everywhere (2020) shows, when one of the female characters refuses to turn on her desire at 11 p.m. on a Friday because there is still one hour left until Saturday, which is the day stipulated in her schedule for such a sexual undertaking. Apparently, routine helps us to keep some of our unconscious desires or drives at bay, and that is why when it is altered for some reason, we feel, with certain tints of anguish, that we are the ones who are altered. It seems that something of the self is at risk of dissolution due to the alteration of routine. Some of this has been revealed by the health contingency of COVID-19 in many areas. I will comment very briefly on the one I know: the university field. Since the order of the days of the week has been altered on a subjective level, since it makes no significant difference whether it is Tuesday or Friday to hold a work meeting or to accompany a daughter during her primary school classes, states of disorientation have arisen. Many people say that they are disoriented because they cannot fix their usual temporary routines, because they cannot distribute, according to the days of the week, specific activities with which they can establish certainties of life—fixed, “stable” paths of their own existence and that of their families. But in addition to

64  •  Chapter Three

the time factor, there is the space one. The forced fusion of work and family space has been painful and exhausting for many university scholars, particularly those who have children of child-­rearing age. I know this from an informal exchange of views within the Gender Academic Liaison Network in which I participate, born of the need to talk about our experiences of confinement. In my opinion, what has happened is that the disorder of the temporal dimension reduces the imaginary body of certainty and amplifies the sphere of what’s to come of something different and unknown—other weeks, other times, our own and collective, other perspectives for understanding time, living it, and inhabiting it that bring with them new possibilities for life, even if they are frightening to begin with. This is what Pedroza (2007) observes in her approach to Garro’s literary characters: “her characters go through different temporal proposals and towards different possibilities of life” (18). Along with the disruption of the sequential logic of the Greco-­Roman version of the days of the week, there is the disruption of its grammatical and chronological unit: present, past, future. In the writing of the story La semana de colores, like most of Garro’s work, “what we call present, past and future are [. . .] simultaneous stations that we human beings mistakenly apprehend in sequence, separated from one another” (Beltrán Félix 2016, 19, my translation). Simultaneously Eva and Leli visit Mr. Flor and Mr. Flor dies; the Days of the Week go to the Teloloapan Fair and murder their tormentor; and simultaneously, Mr. Flor punishes the Days of the Week and lets them escape. When the structure of time is torn, the summary judgments that nest in the rational discourse where “the good” is anchored to the past, and “the best” to the future, are unblocked. Let us remember that popular belief with a hint of nostalgia that all time past was always better, and the phrase that in a tone of optimism is said to someone who has bad luck in the present: “the best is yet to come.” Garro works with time from a logic very similar to the one that sustains the bet of the psychoanalytic practice: to remember the past while the relationship with the future is noticed, betting daily on what comes in the present with the possibility of contributing to the realization of our own history. Thus, the precariousness of rational temporality, but above all the awareness of it, has its benefits, especially for the advent of femininity. Considering that women’s time, in general, following Marisa Belausteguigoitia (2016), “is an interrupted time, a dispersed time” (53, my translation), insofar as it has to be at the service of multiple libidinal commitments that fluctuate between the sphere of maternity, sexuality, profession, and vocation, each one with its

Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing   •  65

respective hourly demands and results, what feminine writing teaches us with its contribution to the fertilization of the symbolic field from the otherness that marks the difference (Cixous 1975/1995) is that this fluctuation and temporal dispersion, which has been qualified negatively by the phallo-­logo/ centric discourse, can change its validity in our favor, becoming positive. This, because the only way to define time and to make it present is to relate it with what’s visible and what’s perceptible: change (Belausteguigoitia 2016). And change is what we women want.

Conclusions I’ve always had a hard time finishing a piece of writing. It may be because deep down I think that I cannot conclude anything, because nothing is ever totally concluded, or because to conclude is to temporarily close the door to ideas that have been left short or in a larval state, with a great desire to touch solid ground and from that and with that firmness be communicated. To leave them in a wreck always brings a little sadness, as well as frustration. I have the feeling that I could have said more, better, or more clearly, but if I let myself be dragged by it, I could not cross the threshold into something else, turn the page, as they say, to invest myself in what follows. The original plan for the organization of this manuscript was put aside as I moved forward with the research and writing itself. I knew that Elena Garro’s work was juicy enough to draw from it for the sake of the psychoanalytic-­ feminist project with which I best identify intellectually, politically, and affectively for a long time. So, given that juiciness, the first challenge was: Which story or stories to choose? I opted to apply the most reliable and honest criterion, although not necessarily the easiest or most practical one: that of my own fascination and astonishment. Hence, my absolute preference for La semana de colores, which is part of a work that compiles thirteen stories with the same title. I must confess that the main source of that fascination and amazement was the name of the male protagonist: Mr. Flor. And how could it not be? It has such an intimate impact as a signifier of my own name, and also, I had never before come across the name in a male version. My feelings bordered, as you might imagine, on the ominous, on the spine-­chilling sensation that comes with encountering a double. The next challenge was to choose the critical theoretical framework that would contribute to better fulfill the objective: to expose an articulation of the feminine, silence, violence from Latin American literature written by women, and that would contribute to the elaboration of some psychoanalytic knowledge. There is nothing better than the concept of feminine or

66  •  Chapter Three

supplementary jouissance developed by Lacan and recalled by the French-­ speaking psychoanalysts of the seventies, who find themselves in psychoanalysis from a disciplinary and political point of view. Joining these two decisions, the argument of the text was woven from shredding the properties of the feminine writing that gave rise to the construction of three axes of analysis, which are concatenated to the sections that support the chapter: 1) the dissociation of the positions that traverse femininity (mother and woman); 2) the passivity assigned to women as a writing strategy that weights sensation over reason and that is enough to disconcert the discursive logic of Catholic morality; and, 3) the disruption of rational time to promote the exaltation of difference. The following is a list of findings that unify the conclusion: 1. Elena Garro’s writing is feminine and not only feminist. The fact that it is chronologically prior, even if only for a few years, to that of the French-­speaking psychoanalysts of difference, places her in an avant-­ garde that is rarely seen from that point of view in the study of her work. And this forces us to continue a decolonial feminist exercise for the sake of recovering knowledge and contributions to the development of women’s symbolic order in our Latin American territory. 2. The rupture of rational language is a deliberate strategy of feminine writing to expose the precariousness of the phallo-­logo/centric system. 3. The confrontation of feminine writing with rational writing that seeks truth and stability of the signifier results in the destruction of the patriarchal dichotomous system of sexual difference. 4. Vices and virtues move in perpetual alternation, coexisting in varying intensities, a dynamic that cannot be captured through reason. It is necessary to let go of the imaginary body of certainties to make way for the body of drive. In this way we will be able to accommodate a different way of understanding the impact of Catholic morality on the configuration of feminine subjectivity in societies such as ours, where the law of the alpha male governs, toward its dismantling. 5. Rational time, whether in units of the week or of seasonal chronology, is not conducive to harboring and understanding the nature of women’s vital experiences, as well as the paths of their libidinal and self-­realization bets that are not precisely limited to those designated by patriarchy. It is necessary to value positively the dispersed and interrupted time in which women’s lives usually pass, since in it lies the possibility of considering other forms of human existence.

Feminine Jouissance in Elena Garro’s Writing   •  67

Finally, if any psychoanalytic knowledge about femininity can be elaborated from this immersion in La semana de colores, it is that it cannot be elaborated by designating it as a radical otherness, which is silenced, and then victimized, but rather as a position that speaks with what the Name-­of-­ the-­Father has silenced, and then, which is fortunate.

References Alcalá, Martín. 2018. El frenesí sádico de la infamia. Morelia: Morevallado. Barthes, Roland. 1973. Variaciones sobre la escritura. Barcelona: Paidós. Beard, Mary. 2018. Mujeres y poder. Un manifiesto. Barcelona: Planeta. Belausteguigoitia, Marisa. 2016. “Tiempo y movimiento: mujeres, jóvenes y la literatura Go.” In El cuerpo femenino y sus narrrativas, 43–59. Ciudad de México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Beltrán Félix, Geney. 2016. “Prólogo.” In Elena Garro. Cuentos completos, 2–22. Ciudad de México: Alfaguara. Berger, Anne. 2008. “Sexuar las diferencias,” Lectora 14: 173–87. Cárdenas, Juan. 2018. “Un vacío sin horizonte.” Revista de la Universidad de México 837: 40–45. Cixous, Hélène. 1995. La risa de la Medusa: ensayos sobre la escritura. Barcelona: Anthropos. Colín, Araceli. 2020. Documento contexto Simposio “De las mujeres, la literatura, lo silenciado y lo femenino silencioso,” enviado por correo electrónico a todas/os las/os autoras/es participantes. Deleuze, Gilles. 1981. Francis Bacon: lógica de la sensación. Madrid: Arena Libros. Deleuze, Gilles. 1989. “¿Qué es un dispositivo?” In Michel Foucault, filósofo, 155–63. Barcelona: Gedisa. Derrida, Jacques. 1975. La farmacia de Platón. Madrid: Fundamentos. Freud, Sigmund. 1976. “Tres ensayos de teoría sexual.” In Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud, edited by James Strachey, vol. VII: 109–223. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. Freud, Sigmund. 1976. “Lo inconsciente.” In Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud, edited by James Strachey, vol. XIV: 153–215. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. Fromm, Erich. 1947. Ética y psicoanálisis. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Gamboa Solís, Flor de María y Capulín Arellano Lizeth. 2018. “La infamia como estrategia de control de las mujeres.” In El frenesí sádico de la infamia, edited by Martín Alcalá, 21–27. Morelia: Morevallado. Garro, Elena. 2019. La semana de colores. Ciudad de México: Porrúa. Irigaray, Luce. 2009. Espéculo de la otra mujer. Madrid: Akal. Kristeva, Julia. 1984. Revolution in poetic language. New York: Columbia University. Lacan, Jacques. Seminario 3 Las psicosis. Translated by Juan-­Luis Delmont-­Mauri and Diana Silvia Rabinovich. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2009.

68  •  Chapter Three

Lacan, Jacques. Seminario 18 De un discurso que no fuera del semblante. Translated by Nora A. González. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2009. Lacan, Jacques. Seminario 20 Aún. Translated by Ricardo E. Rodríguez Ponte. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1981. Martínez, Ariel y Bolla, Luisina. 2020. “Psicoanálisis y feminismos: hitos polémico-­ productivo de un vínculo ambivalente.” Descentrada, 4 (1): 1–15. Ovidio. Metamorfosis, “Libro I, 587–641.” Translated by Ana Pérez Vega. Madrid: Gredos, 2008. Pasternac, Nora, Domenella, Alma Rosa, and Gutiérrez de Velasco Luzelena. 1996. Escribir la infancia. Narradoras mexicanas contemporáneas. Ciudad de México: El Colegio de México. Pedroza, Liliana. 2007. Andamos huyendo, Elena. Ciudad de México: Fondo Editorial Tierra Adentro. Poniatowska, Elena. 2000. Las siete cabritas. Ciudad de México: Era. Queijeiro, Elisa. 2017. Las hijas de Eva y Lilith. Conoce y sana a todas las mujeres que hay en ti. Ciudad de México: Grijalbo. Roudinesco, Elizabeth. 2019. Diccionario amoroso de psicoanálisis. Barcelona: Penguin Random House. Sáenz Valadez, Adriana. 2013. “Metáforas del poder en la racionalidad patriarcal: prototipos de la masculinidad en Elena Garro.” GénEros, 12 (2): 85–112. Saltzman, Janet. 1992. Equidad y género. Madrid: Cátedra. Spinoza, Baruch. Ética demostrada según el orden geométrico. Translated by Oscar Cohan. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1958. Tornos Urzainki, Maider. 2014. “Del goce lacaniano a la escritura femenina: la histerización de la palabra en Hélène Cixous.” Lectora, 20: 175–90. Tornos Urzainki, Maider. 2017. “El devenir animal en ‘La pasión según G.H.’ de Clarice Lispector.” Arte y políticas de identidad, 16:145–60. Wechsler Steinberg, Elina. 1988. “Eva versus Lilith (o la elisión de la Biblia de la mujer que goza).” Revista de la Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría, 8 (26): 437–43.


Autoviudas Prejudiced Justice for the Ladies of Death Nubia Carolina Rovelo Escoto and Francisco Javier De Santiago Herrero, translated by Maricruz Ocampo Guerrero

Introduction Several studies reveal that male crime rates are significantly higher than female crime rates. This could be the reason why, throughout history, female offenders have not been subjected to the same level of scrutiny. Different gender biases have contributed to the invisibility of women as perpetrators of crimes committed with knowledge and willfulness, turning criminality into an area also monopolized by men. Not surprisingly, academic research also follows these biases, resulting in a reduced amount of scientific literature on the subject. It is only recently that psychology, sociology, and criminology have focused their efforts on shedding light, from a gender perspective, on the reality of women who commit crimes. The enigma and stigma that builds around women who kill their husbands or lovers led the press and radio broadcasters of postrevolutionary Mexico to look for ways to name wives who committed this type of crime. One of the terms coined by journalists of that time was “self-­widows,” or “autoviudas,”1 a name that was appropriated by the public and that remains in use to this day. In this chapter, we will present eight of the most well-­known cases of “autoviudas,” analyzing the political and economic contexts, as well as the social and cultural conditions, that marked not only the lives of these 69

70  •  Chapter Four

women, but also their voices and silences in front of the judges charged with administering justice. These women receive special treatment and are portrayed not as persons, but as idealized objects in an imaginative pendulum that swings from extreme misogyny to extreme glorification (Sánchez, 1996). Even in classical mythology, we find the idea of the triple-­formed woman: mother-­daughter-­ charmer, or “man eater,” elements that correspond, respectively, to Demeter, Kore, and Hecate, thus forging a triangular feminine archetype where an apex is necessarily excluded in their interrelations. The woman-­mother cannot be devouring; the passivity of the daughter cannot be shown by the lover. Demeter (the mother) gives you life or gives you death, Kore accepts or rejects you, and Hecate places you in the light or in darkeness (Rísquez, 1991). As a result, all kinds of paranoid-­schizoid defenses will be installed on her person over the fear of meeting one woman or the others. These antinomies have sustained the fear of the unknown, of the regressive, and have placed man, always on the defensive, as a figure of historical power against women. In keeping with this, until very recently, thinking about the desiring-­woman, even in scientific circles, constituted inadmissible academic violence. The very cradles of knowledge, distributed in small Atheneums in universities, excluded any extreme behavior of women that went beyond decorum. Faced with the discomforts of paranoia and completely divided, the masculine as a gender, in its imaginary totality, had no other way out than to deny reality. Then the established sequence is projected, and since the defense mechanisms, primitive in themselves, are not effective, they are reinforced with greater energy, denying not only the drive, but reality itself. This denied reality, among other things, deprives women of the possibility of expressing their silenced darkness. It also prevents the observer, and posterity, from having a better understanding or questioning the truth. As a result, a woman who kills her child, who rejects the privileges of life, or who obscures the virtues of the “other,” of the masculine, becomes totally unacceptable. As if by chance, this triad seems to occur only in a blurred woman, the terrible witch who does not even touch the ground as she straddles her phallic broom. That is to say, in the perverse madness represented by a woman who laughs at men, who ridicules them, or who does not nurture them. With the breakdown of this archetype, it is evident that female violence is observed much less factually than male violence, which does not mean that it is less or more pernicious, even when using the stereotype that a man kills with his fists while a woman kills with her words. Consequently, we decided to focus our attention on the autoviudas, or “black widows,” of postrevolutionary

Autoviudas  •  71

Mexico, who, owing to their gender role, benefited from light sanctions resulting from patriarchal deviations that give homicides perpetrated by women a more social, and even legal, dimension and thus greater leniency.

How Did the Women Who Killed Their Husbands in Postrevolutionary Mexico Get Their Name? To better understand the postrevolutionary period, it is necessary to revisit the Mexican Revolution, the armed struggle that began in 1910 with the rebellion led by Francisco Madero to overthrow General Porfirio Díaz, the dictator who ruled Mexico between 1876 and 1911 (Garciadiego, 2006). It is important to point out, however, that there is no agreement on when the Revolution actually ended. Some historians consider that it concluded in 1917, while others believe it to have ended in 1920 or even 1924 (Garciadiego, 2005, 2006). In the following paragraphs, we will briefly contextualize important events and characters of this turbulent period. Capitalist exploitation, lack of justice, and inequality are among the main economic and social conditions that detonated the Mexican Revolution. These conditions generated a huge mass of poor people who suffered from hunger and marginalization. The so-­called rural aristocracy, headed by landowners and the high clergy, had total control over the national agricultural production. Through large land holdings, they monopolized all privileges due to the abysmal distribution of wealth and the prohibition of political freedom and free speech (Garciadiego, 2005) that characterized the Porfiriato.2 In addition, Díaz allowed foreign capital from the United States, England, Spain, France, and Germany to indiscriminately exploit mines, ports, factories, and oil wells (Delgado, 2007). Madero ran against Diaz in the presidential elections of 1910 but was arrested. He managed to escape to the United States, from where he incited Mexican people to take up arms against the government of Díaz. Among those who responded to the call, Francisco Villa, Emiliano Zapata, and Pascual Orozco stand out due to their prominence as leaders of revolutionary armies (Garciadiego, 2005, 2006). Madero ruled between 1911 and 1913 but did not follow through with the agrarian reform promised during his campaign. This led to the uprising of Zapata, who disavowed his government. Orozco did the same and defeated Villa, who had at the beginning of the armed conflict supported Madero (Garciadiego, 2006). General Victoriano Huerta, in alliance with Félix Díaz, nephew of the former president, forged a coup and assassinated Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez (Garciadiego, 2005, 2006).

72  •  Chapter Four

Zapata, Villa, Venustiano Carranza, and the female Zapatista colonel, Amelia Robles Ávila, fought the new dictatorship established by Huerta and supported by Orozco (Valcárcel, 2005). In 1914, Carranza became president and accomplished the enactment of a new constitution in 1917. This document guaranteed the rights of all citizens, including peasants and the proletariat, as well as decreeing the expropriation of land owned by foreigners (Garciadiego, 2006; Malvido, 2006). To protect the interests of its citizens, the United States invaded Mexico and orchestrated the assassinations of Zapata and Villa (Delgado, 2007). In the following years, the surviving landlord and clerical oligarchy snatched the lands that the Revolution had granted the peasants (Garciadiego, 2006). Mexican people faced aggravated poverty and hunger, and widows and orphans multiplied amid the social insanity of the postrevolutionary period. The misery that the armed struggle brought with it and the grief for the deaths of combatants and civilians ruled the day. Diseases proliferated, and there was no access to education or medical services. Before the revolt, the class gap was evident. On one side was the “indiada,”3 ignorant and in misery, and on the other were the Frenchified landowners who had looted the peasant’s lands. With the Revolution came an even greater polarization and, consequently, the class struggle became more insidious and intense. The consolidation of the middle class, which before the Revolution was very small, took at least three decades.4 Added to this is the point raised by historian Dolores Lorenzo (2018), who comments on a study by González Navarro: The author did not stop questioning that, given the increased number of poor people who inhabited the country, it could hardly be attested that the Mexican Revolution had remedied the social demands raised by post-­ revolution governments (2018, 291). [The aim was to perpetuate] . . . the rhetoric, still rooted in official speeches, that the revolutionary state cared for its poor and underprivileged, which we know is not a version close to reality. (2018, 298)

It is in this context that in Mexico, between 1922 and 1929, a series of crimes perpetrated by women drew the attention not only of their communities, but also of the newspapers and radio programs of the time, because after killing their husbands or lovers and having been tried in popular trials, the women were acquitted or received minimal sentences. According to Aurelio de los Reyes García Rojas (1993), autoviuda, or “self-­widow,” is the name given by the 1920s press to women who murdered

Autoviudas  •  73

their husbands, because by ending the lives of their spouses themselves, they automatically turned into widows. The term autoviuda was the word most used in press and radio headlines in an attempt to name several cases that surged during that decade, implying that the husbands “slept with the enemy.” The neologism autoviuda was used by the media because it was easy for the general population to understand and pronounce, quickly becoming a very popular term. According to Elisa Speckman Guerra (2019), another term also used to name these women was uxoricide. The Latin etymology of this legal term refers to uxor, which means “wife,” and caedere, which means “to kill,” as in the suffix of the word homicide. Despite the fact that uxoricide means literally “the one who kills his wife,” the press and radio incorrectly used this legal term to name the women who murdered their husbands or lovers. It is worth noting that the adjective uxoricide clearly refers to the sex of who commits the act. Since at the time, marriage was conceived only from a heteropatriarchal logic, husbands were the only ones who could conceivably kill their spouses. However, since there is no legal term whose etymological root refers to the woman or wife who kills her husband, Sodi (1961) conjured the more generic term “conyugicida.”5 This is interesting, because in the history of humanity, since the institution of marriage exists, just as men have murdered their wives, women have also murdered their husbands. This should make us wonder if the fact that there is no term to name the women who kill their spouses is evidence of an intention to symbolically hide the fact that this type of homicide happened, does happen, or can happen. For decades, feminist women have denounced the practice of patriarchal invisibilization with the now-­famous phrase “what is not named does not exist”: [T]he male sector has presumed, as an unquestionable right, to assume himself as the only reference and the only model in science, the only holder of rights under the law, the only thinking individual capable of making decisions of government, and the only one whose work is worth recognizing, and therefore the only one that deserves to be named, a practice that is still perceived as “the correct thing” or “the normal thing.” In sum, each of these practices, in private and public, have contributed to the male population claim of being the sole representatives of humanity. (Guichard, 2015, 57–58)

It is not surprising then that journalists and broadcasters of the 1920s used the term uxoricide as universal to refer to anyone who killed his or her spouse, without verifying if it really encompassed all subjects without distinction of

74  •  Chapter Four

their sex. On the other hand, the term autoviudas makes women who murder their husbands visible. Autoviudas was only used as a feminine adjective, with the exception of the case of Alfonso Francisco Nagore,6 who was called “autoviudo” in 1927. The fact that the expression autoviuda was almost always used to refer to women can be explained because: An important role is played by the phenomenon of “marked” terms in the consolidation of the feminine and women as “the other,” the non-­universal, the particular and the specific. Thus, women are seen as belonging to the field of the specific and men to the universal. (Facio, 1995, 17)

The word autoviuda has the symbolic function of specifying and particularizing women who kill their husbands. However, this matter does not end here. According to Fernando Sánchez (2003), the inclusion of the term viricide was considered for the progressive Penal Code of Spain of 1928: The benevolent treatment of uxoricide (defense of male honor) is eliminated and the equality of spouses is introduced. The possibility of considering viricide (defense of female honor tainted by marital infidelity) was even studied.

To understand under what circumstances autoviudas lived and their reasons for killing, we will return to the definition of viricide provided by Sánchez (2003), as it contemplates several relevant points, such as the defense of female honor. Another author who addresses the expression viricide is Mary Anne Warren (1985). For Warren, the term has its origin in genericide, a neologism she coined to designate the systematic killing of subjects who embody one gender perpetrated by subjects of another gender, under the logic that they are opposites. For Warren (1985), the term viricide makes visible the extreme violence against men perpetrated by women. In other words, the murder of a man at the hands of a woman. However, viricide does not elucidate on the relationship that existed between the male victim and the female perpetrator before the murder, inasmuch as it leaves kinship out. The aforesaid leads us to reflect on a very forceful phrase from Sanmartín, “The history of humanity continues to be written in such a politically incorrect language that women not only disappear from the white chronicle, but even from the black one” (2002, 58). Women are not named for the better, their achievements or contributions are not recognized, but neither are they mentioned for the worse, when they violate social norms and go to the extreme of committing crimes.

Autoviudas  •  75

Finally, the expression black widows, the common name of the female arachnids of the species Latrodectus mactans that, after mating, devour the male—for which they are considered cannibals—was also used to name women who killed their partners: Since the late nineteenth century, tabloid newspapers around the world have covered in lurid detail the stories of women who murdered their husbands or other men for economic reasons or for no reason at all. These are tormented women, usually marked by a childhood full of abuse. The ones mentioned here are perhaps two of the most memorable female killers of that era. (Castellanos, 2008, 331)

Susana Castellanos (2008) refers to the American woman Belle Gunnes and the English woman Mary Ann Cotton who poisoned their husbands and children. In the collective imagination, a black widow merges with a femme fatale to seduce, manipulate, and frighten. This depiction has been so popular that it persists to this day, immortalized in songs, novels, poems, movies, and streaming series.

The Phenomenon of Autoviudas in Mexico Women have been confined to spaces shaped by various social and historical contexts based on traditions, customs, myths, and beliefs that have influenced the notion of the roles of women and femininity. For centuries, these traditions and customs led to the exclusion of women from activities that could bring their reputations into question. This resulted in their confinement to private spaces as well as restricting their access to public spaces (Cavazos, 2005; Lagarde, 2005). When the phenomenon of autoviudas arose, Mexican society was experimenting a transitional or liminal period in which the vestiges of the Porfiriato and its conservatism lingered next to attempts to advance toward a postrevolutionary modernity that appealed to progress and freedom. For Rebeca Monroy Nasr (2014, 2018), there are two events that influenced the decline of the number of men due to increase in mortality rates: the Mexican Revolution and the Influenza of 1918. Both situations are key to the resulting social changes, but above all to achieve the emancipation of women, which allowed them to adopt new roles that were previously forbidden to them. In this regard, it is important to point out some issues that Garcíadiego rightly addresses:7

76  •  Chapter Four

To understand the complexity of demographic changes during the decade of the Mexican Revolution, four elements must be considered: those who died from violence, epidemics, natural causes and, mainly (“the most important and which had the most effects”), the unborn . . . the most recent statistical analysis, carried out by Dr. McCaa, at the University of Minnesota, considers 1,400,000 deaths during this period, a figure that includes natural deaths, which we must subtract, but not all the deaths caused by violence alone. [We should also consider deaths] . . . related to epidemics and famine which were responsible in great part for the mortality of the decade . . . the lethal epidemic known as the Spanish Influenza arrived at the end of 1918 and lasted four months, between September and December. It is estimated that half a million inhabitants died during this period. [Furthermore] . . . the social cost of the “unborn” would have been two million Mexicans. The most dramatic and costly effect of the Revolution in demographic terms was the population decline due to the lack of new births, due to the disruption in the number of pregnancies, the separation of couples and the fact that many men instead of getting married went to war. (cited by Torres, 2016)

In this context, during the 1920s, when male mortality was rampant, a series of important political changes took place. Firstly, due to the brief interim presidency of Adolfo de la Huerta (1920), two periods of stability of four years each followed, with the presidencies of Álvaro Obregón (1920– 1924) and Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–1928). However, in 1926, during the second half of President Calles’s term, the armed movement known as the “Cristero War”8 began, concluding three years later, during the presidency of Emilio Portes Gil (1928–1930). Worldwide, this decade was marked by the first Great War (1914–1918), impacting Europe most of all. As a result, for many countries it was imperative that both men and women work in the reconstruction, not only of the towns and cities, but also of the social fabric. These cultural changes were decisive for the gradual integration of women in the workforce while continuing to carry out housework and child-­rearing. But this integration was not exempt of a certain perversity and social hypocrisy, as frequently nurses, maids, or secretaries were deemed mythically promiscuous or sexually suspicious (Vronski, 2020, 187), in contrast to the social acceptance and inclusion of teachers and caregivers. The garments of the late 1800s and the early twentieth century, consisted of long skirts and corsets,9 especially among wealthy women. These pieces of clothing were no longer useful to women of the middle or lower classes because they impeded the freedom of movement required in the workspace. The main reason why those women changed their clothes and hairstyles was a matter of necessity. Meanwhile, women of the upper classes shortened their

Autoviudas  •  77

skirts, cut their hair, and began to play sports that were previously exclusive to men, hence appearing more androgynous. They wore darker makeup to be fashionable but also as a form of rebellion (Molina, 2000; Monroy, 2014). According to historian María Molina, these influences from Europe and the United States had their effects in Mexico: At the beginning of the second decade of the 20th century, Mexican women distinguished themselves for their attachment to traditions and rules imposed by their elders. However, they could not remain isolated of the social and cultural changes brought about by the revolutionary movement. Rural life was transformed into urban life and the first communists made their appearance on the national scene. Women, especially the most informed and those with vast economic resources, succumbed to the charm of the new fashion, which for them was synonymous with freedom. (2000, 54)

Mexican women were halfway between modernity and tradition, which not only affected their public position and condition to work and study outside their home, but also the way they related to men, as they began to demand equal rights. During the 1920s and 1930s, there were other women organizations that fought for political rights for Mexican women, including the right to vote. The Mexican Feminist Council (1919–1925) and the United Front for Women Rights stand out. (Rodríguez, 2015, 276)

It is in this context of multiple social and cultural changes, which transformed the roles of women and the vision society had of them, that autoviudas surged. We must emphasize the difficulties incurred in collecting data on the eight most notorious cases of autoviudas in Mexico City shown in Table 1. Except for the cases of Alicia Olvera (Speckman, 2008), Nydia Camargo Rubín (Sodi, 1961; Speckman, 2008, 2019), and María Teresa de Landa (Macías, 1999; De la Barreda, 2005; Australia, 2013; Monroy, 2014, 2018), which have been studied in depth in various publications and books, the rest of the prosecuted women appear in very few journalistic notes or photographic archives, making it necessary to trace all information using multiple articles and books. Among the contextual circumstances surrounding the emergence of autoviudas were social changes in the roles of women and gender relations as well as the ease to acquire firearms—which were drawn at any minimal excuse—as a result of the Revolution. Starting with the presidency of Venustiano Carranza (1914–1920), popular juries, composed of nine or twelve male citizens, were responsible for delivering verdicts in criminal cases.

78  •  Chapter Four Table 4.1.  Notorious trial cases of autoviudas in Mexico City (1922–1929). Year


1922 Magdalena Jurado

1923 Alicia Olvera

1923 María Luz González

1925 María del Carmen Castellanos

1925 Nydia Camargo Rubín

1927 María Teresa Morfín

Crime Killed her lover, diplomat Carlos Félix Díaz, consul of Mexico in Belize, when he wanted to abandon her. She shot and killed him at the White Cross, but before he died, he accused her. She tried to stage the murder as suicide (Nuñez, 2016). Murdered her husband, Juan Manuel Serrano, who used physical, psychological, economic, and patrimonial violence against her. He was unfaithful to her, and when she tried to leave him, he took custody of her son (Monroy, 2014). Killed her husband in complicity with her lover, Antonio Martínez. They buried him in the Desierto de los Leones (INAH Media Library, 2012; Monroy, 2014). Shot and killed her boyfriend, Roberto Moctezuma, the father of her unborn child, because he did not keep his promise of marriage and threatened to disown her child (Nuñez, 2016a). While married to Enrique Vázquez, she murdered her lover, Alberto Márquez Briones, consul of Chile, who exercised psychological and economic violence against her, in addition to being unfaithful to her (Speckman, 2019). Killed her husband, Captain Moisés Gómez. He had raped her when she was thirteen years old, got her pregnant, and three years later, married her as a form of restitution. Later in the relationship, he threatened to leave her for Juana Cáceres, his first wife (Sodi, 1961; Speckman, 2019a).

Defense attorney

Ruling of the Jury

Querido Moheno


Querido Moheno

Sentenced to 1 year in prison (1923– 1924)

Querido Moheno


Querido Moheno


Querido Moheno


Federico Sodi


Autoviudas  •  79



1929 Bernice Rush

1929 María Teresa de Landa


Defense attorney

Ruling of the Jury

Acquitted Killed her sentimental partner, Genaro Federico Sodi Benavente Martínez, who had and José embezzled her fortune, leaving her Antonio in bankruptcy, prior to abandoning Reyes her for another woman (Sodi, 1961; Speckman, 2019a). Winner of the Miss Mexico pageant, she José María Acquitted Lozano killed her husband, General Moisés Vidal Corro, with six shots when she learned from a newspaper article that he had been married since 1923 to María Teresa Herrejón, with whom he had two daughters. Herrejon had sued them for adultery and bigamy (Monroy, 2014, 2018, 2018a).

It is of utmost importance to describe the political context of the time, since these criminal cases, and many other controversial cases, were defended by Querido Moheno Tabares, José María Lozano, Francisco Modesto de Olaguibel, and Nemesio García Naranjo, a team of lawyers known collectively as El Cuadrilátero.10 All of them held public office during the government of Victoriano Huerta and, when he was exiled in 1914, took refuge in Cuba, to return to Mexico in 1920 during the government of Adolfo de la Huerta. Their return to Mexican courts had the political objective of defending the accused before popular juries to undermine the institutions of the Revolution (De los Reyes, 2005), and through the cracks in the legal system demonstrate the failure of the postrevolutionary state (Monroy, 2018). The members of El Cuadrilátero, later joined by Federico Sodi, were considered reactionary lawyers. All of them possessed vast legal experience since they had been legislators, were great orators, and generally won their cases (Speckman, 2002, 2006). The defense strategy in the cases we are reviewing did not focus on proving the autoviudas had not killed their husbands or lovers, since there was evidence, testimonies, and confessions that pointed to their guilt. The defense argued that the women had exercised a legitimate right. Their rationale revolved around the idea that the defendants committed the murders driven by a moral virtue that drove them to vindicate their tarnished honor and dignity. That is why they were also called viricides. Anything was done to avoid portraying them as women who could murder in cold blood.

80  •  Chapter Four

To support their arguments, the defense reduced their crimes to mere circumstantial events, underlining the flaws of the victims until they turned them into oppressors and tyrants (Núñez, 2016). The attorneys exploited the gender condition of the defendants, manipulating the feelings of the jury through performances of fragile, indignant, defenseless, repentant, and impeccably dressed-­in-­black women (Speckman, 2006, 2019; Monroy, 2014). They had no qualms about revictimizing the autoviudas by making them participate in reconstructions of the events at the crime scenes, so they would reenact, over and over again, in front of judges, juries, prosecutors, and police, how they had killed their victims. Several authors include in this group of autoviudas fifteen-­year-­old María del Pilar Moreno, who in 1922, killed congressman Francisco Tejeda Llorca, who in turn had killed the journalist Jesús Z. Moreno, father of the accused (De los Reyes, 2005; Piccato, 2009; Monroy, 2014; Speckman, 2006, 2019). Her defense attorney was Querido Moheno, who even stated that she should be rewarded for delivering justice by punishing her father’s murderer. The jury acquitted her. María del Pilar Moreno was never Tejeda’s partner, lover, or wife. He had no relationship with her prior to his death, and the motive for killing him was to avenge her father, so she does not truly fit the definition of autoviuda. Two profiles of autoviudas can be clearly delineated. The first profile: According to the criminal cases of the sample, the eight women accused belonged to wealthy sectors of society, were over 25 years old, married or in common law marriages, childless and enjoyed relative economic autonomy. (Nuñez, 2016a, 168)

The second profile, according to Monroy, was comprised of autoviudas from lower social classes: The uxoricides had several things in common: they came from low or lower middle social strata, were not formally educated since most did not complete their studies; many had labored in various jobs that were “appropriate to their sex” in order to earn a living during the economic difficulties of the time, had scarce resources and great survival difficulties (. . .) most of them suffered from physical and emotional abuse since childhood. They were women deceived, mistreated and constantly harassed by one or several men, including the one who ended in a grave. Murdering their abusers was their last resort in the face of violence. (Monroy, 2014, 138)

Autoviudas  •  81

Of the two different autoviuda profiles, we have, on the one hand, young, attractive, and privileged women who had the financial resources to pay for their defense (Nuñez, 2016a) and on the other, poor and marginalized women. We can see in them the logic of the polarization of women who kill: they do not belong to the middle class or a middle ground (Ludmer, 1999, 365); they not only inhabit socioeconomical extremes, but the duality between good and evil. They all, however, shared a significant circumstance. Both rich and poor women were immersed in violent relationships that led them to murder (Monroy, 2014). When analyzed from the perspective of intersectionality, as proposed by Mara Viveros (2016), we notice social categories of class and gender with their corresponding systems of oppression in the differentiated forms of spousal violence these women endured. This is how Núñez highlights that in the term autoviudas, used by press and radio, prevailed an evident classism not exerted on all women who murder their partners since: Not all narratives in post-­revolution “nota roja”11were benevolent in their portrayal of killer women. Images of “famous” autoviudas were in stark contrast to those women of humble origins who became passion-­killers and, unlike the autoviudas, were described as heartless possessors of a murky past and a perverse nature, scorned lovers or femmes fatales . . . in contrast to autoviudas of the middle or upper classes, exalted and even praised, the crimes of the popular “vamps” were condemned to a degree that severe justice was demanded. Which says a lot if we consider the clemency authorities and public opinion granted autoviudas who were acquitted because they killed defending their honor. (Núñez, 2016, 43–44)

The above demonstrates that, for women, defense of one’s honor was crossed by social class issues that deeply separated Mexican society before and after the Revolution. Gender differences also have to be taken into consideration, since for women, honor was linked to sexual behavior and social reputation. Dishonor caused moral prejudice for the woman in question, as well as her entire family, thus making defending one’s honor absolutely necessary. It is worth noting one great paradox of these trials. On the one hand, liberal prosecutors were eager to highlight supposedly defiant, nefarious, or decadent behaviors of the autoviudas prior to committing the crime, to prove that for those very reasons they deserved to be punished. On the other hand, the reactionary advocates heralded that the women, grieving for their ruined honor and dignity, had no choice but to kill those who, claiming to love them, had instead defiled them (Monroy, 2018; Speckman, 2019).

82  •  Chapter Four

Silences and Voices of the Ladies of Death The Ladies of Death are respectively represented in Greek and Roman mythology by the Moiras and the Fates: Women who, in our collective unconscious, allot each mortal his destiny, spun from the thread of his first breath to his final moment, in death. Women who weave the happiness or unhappiness of mortals and choose when they must die. Thus, women are represented in a memento mori reminding that, although they give life, they also are the bearers of death. In that sense, death negatively stains the faces of women. In their metamorphosis, they become the White Ladies, the Silent Ladies, the Infallible Veterans, or the Ladies of Death. The representation of women linked to Thanatos becomes so intolerable and far removed from the virginal motherhood of the Holy Mother of Catholicism, that the only way to reconcile it is through madness or evil. However, it is difficult to name female evilness except by sweetening it. This is why society chose to call them Ladies of Death. This appellative fulfills the function of embellishing and silencing reason or psycho-­pathologization with a clear gender bias, because those who kill are part of a constellation of new female representations, but they clearly differ from the others. They are the reverse or the opposite side of the victims (Ludmer, 1999, 356). What relationship do Ladies of Death have with what is silenced or with silence itself? We must consider silence as the “effect” of silencing, of oppressing the truth, the acknowledgment that on the one hand, there is a wound, and on the other, there is the need to hide it. In general, human beings are not silent, and silence occurs when the voice of a person, group, or gender is mutilated, resigned. Within that silence, not passive per se, the ability to think and analyze situations in more depth multiplies in a positive sense. Analyzing this silencing from a negative sense, we see how everything silenced entails a certain degree of alienation. For Foucault (1961), in madness language is excluded, a chain that we intertwine, understanding that all exclusion entails simultaneous oblivion and rejection. Everything silenced brings about loneliness, and in this deception, silenced women have journeyed alone in realms that needed to be revealed. In many respects, women have lived in social alienation to the contentment of the patriarchy. All silence, therefore, needs to be heard, needs a suitable framework that can be broken through the safety of language. In this case, when women are silenced, their voices, heard in solitude, inscribe their silence. However, there is no silence without revolution or symptom. To speak is to open the body to let words substitute emotional and somatic aspects of our being, the

Autoviudas  •  83

same approach Freud proposed in his theory of psychic conflict in 1895: A silenced trauma generates a symptom. grandmothers and grandmothers, even our mothers, makOur great-­ ing emphasis on the feminine, have been silent for so long that they have become accustomed to their silence in an environment where impossible relationships coexist. The idea that while victors should celebrate with limitless festivities and songs, losers should live in silence or, at best, be honored with a minute of silence has been maintained for centuries. After every revolution where utopian and profound changes are expected, the forgotten groups make their own insurrection in the disappointments and microrevolutions that arise. To observe a minute of silence for all the victims of femicide is to place oneself in the position of silence, of what is lost, of the armistice after the battle. It is to honor a silenced grandmother rather than speaking until there is no surrender. The time in which autoviudas or Ladies of Death lived and broke the law, was marked by a dictatorship that used the power of arms to silence the humiliations committed against peasants, workers, and their families for thirty-­five years, adding to the violence against women and girls. It is well known that during armed conflicts, domestic and family violence increase. In order to sustain dictatorships, in addition to violence, a collective pact of silence that promotes impunity and fear is required (Trabucco, 2019). Garciadiego (2005) emphasizes that, although there were many attempts to denounce these abuses, they were crushed or ignored. Because the press serviced the regime, it disregarded the violence exerted against people and extolled the modernity and progress brought to Mexico by Don Porfirio. Infamous in tabloid press, autoviudas became the gateway to a revelation whose elements, gathered by history, can be analyzed from a feminist perspective, to challenge the idea of truth affirmed by justice and reason and highlight its implication in the disaster left by the civil war. Magdalena Jurado, Alicia Olvera, María Luz González, María del Carmen Castellanos, Nydia Camargo Rubín, María Teresa Morfín, Bernice Rush, and María Teresa de Landa were urged by their defense attorneys to stage the travesty jurors and judges wanted to witness. They brought law on their side by using the “scorned woman” stereotype to evade justice in postrevolutionary Mexico. During the trials, through their looks, their voices and silences, their afflicted faces, and their elegant mourning dresses, they reenacted scenes of innocence to transform themselves from delicate figures to disturbing ones, aware of their elusive seduction, of their abysmal omnipresence, of the tension between the silences and utterances of their crimes.

84  •  Chapter Four

To achieve their goal during the trials, the autoviudas staged the unfolding of their voices and silences in a conscious and articulated way, deciding what they should and should not say about themselves, about how and why they had killed. The women, considered weak, used the few tools they had at their disposal, such as their appearance and speech, not entirely alien to their gender, to manipulate the jury and not face it directly, trying to confuse or hoodwink the “strong” men who had their freedom in their hands. What bound their words and what they decided to silence in an unresolved tension can be inferred in the clear awareness these women had about the weakness of their position in the world and their surroundings. They knew they would be harshly judged if they were considered ruthless killers. Knowing themselves accused of murdering their husbands or lovers, they chose to silence their truth rather than go to jail, to imprison their voices before the courts and public. The same voices with which these women became masters of evasion, presented them as paragons of the norms and morals of the time, to prove they had killed to defend their personal dignity, asserting with their self-­imposed silence what a lady of their position could not say. The accounts of the trial of María Teresa, which is the best documented, allow the realization that she was well-­aware of how society saw her: a beauty queen fallen from grace. She knew that after the crime, opinions about her were not going to change once rooted in the collective because a woman who kills is twice placed outside the law: “[o]utside the law of the criminal codes and outside the cultural laws that regulate femininity” (Trabucco, 2019, 15). Therefore, in her statements to the court, María Teresa decided to appropriate the image created in collective imaginary to build her own narrative (Monroy, 2018) in accordance to those listening: the judge, the jury, the press, and the public. Showing off her intelligence and command of words, María Teresa decided at every instance what, how, and how much to tell, so much so that her closing statement became famous: “How the imperatives of my destiny have led me to the outburst of madness in which I destroyed, together with the man I feverishly loved, my happiness,” said María Teresa. When asked “Are you sorry?”, she replied[,] “Who knows? I prefer to foster with sublime love the memory of Moses dead than to have hated him in life for destroying the most precious thing in every human being: the heart. (De la Barreda, 2005, 17)

This makes us wonder: Who speaks through Maria Teresa? Is it just herself, or is it the need to preserve the image of an “honorable” Miss Mexico?

Autoviudas  •  85

Some clues could be found in the idea that Josefina Ludmer raises about women-­who-­kill characters present in Argentinian literature, since they clearly exemplify our Ladies of Death: The women who kill in “stories” are made of “feminine signs”: they all kill out of passion, out of love or jealousy or revenge, and their crimes are domestic; they kill former lovers or husbands who have not kept their promises or lied . . . they use “feminine signs,” such as that of “honest woman,” to evade justice and run as agents of a justice that is beyond that of the State, and this is why it encapsulates them all. (1999, 371–2)

Effects of Cases of Autoviudas The defense of the autoviudas became central to the debate about the great transition Mexico was undergoing from the Porfiriato of the late nineteenth century to the modernity of the postrevolutionary state. They embodied changes brought about by the twentieth century that questioned sexuality; the roles of women, men, and families; as well as the institution of marriage. Thus, [. . .] it is the autoviudas who confront the values handed down from an apparently expired moral agenda, that had not been presented in full force to the new Mexican woman—hence, the “uxoricides” would have to respond to the transition of moral, social, and cultural norms. With their murderous qualities, with their assumed guilt, they were liberated, but they wore their irons on the inside. (Monroy, 2014, 139)

It has been suggested that the trial of María Teresa Landa was the last one held before a popular jury (De la Barreda, 2005; Monroy, 2014, 2018); although we cannot attribute the responsibility of the abandonment of these procedures to her, we cannot say the same about her lawyer, “Attributing the end of this institution to the exoneration of María Teresa implies a gender bias that conceals the monopoly of violence by the postrevolutionary State” (García, 2016, 29). Since their inception in Mexico City in 1868, jury trials had multiple detractors. In 1909, in his book The Jury in Mexico, Demetrio Sodi highlighted the flaws of jury trials. Amongst others, he considered that members of the jury lacked the capacity to perform their duties due to their limited education, and therefore were susceptible to the oratorical skills of defenders or prosecutors; jurors were easily manipulated by the theatrical abilities of the accused, in addition to the press exerting great influence in forming their opinions (Piccato, 2010). Objectivity and legal reasoning, required to exert social justice in Mexico, were thereby lost.

86  •  Chapter Four

From then on, female criminality, associated with “modern women,” fostered social fear, because it meant greater sexual freedom, loss of morality, and the consequent abandonment of female responsibilities of motherhood and domestic work, pillars of the stability of patriarchal families, where husbands exercised absolute power. Accordingly, in research by Alia Trabucco on four homicidal women in Chile, where three of them fit the category of autoviudas, we find very similar social questions: Was it possible that such bloody crimes had been committed by women? Was their homicidal violence due to advances in feminism? If women reach the dreaded equality, would they kill as much as men? . . . The Argentinian intellectual Josefina Ludmer, correctly observes that these cases and their representations coincide with the irruption of women in the public sphere and serve to contain, through punishment or forgiveness, the anxiety triggered by imminent changes to male power structures. (Trabucco, 2019, 17)

The cases of the autoviudas of Mexico and female killers in Chile served to perpetuate the social dread that free, emancipated women who enjoyed same rights as men entailed, because women could become criminals and could lead the attack against the established law and order. The positivist criminological traditions of the following decades responded to these and other crimes by exalting biological determinism to explain the violent and criminal behaviors of women, overlapping characteristics inherent to sex with characteristics attributed to gender. As such, it was assumed that the offenders were abnormal or masculinized women who went against their feminine nature, conceived as a hegemonic model of docility, submission, weakness, tenderness, kindness, and maternal instinct. These prejudices were also present in legal and forensic medicine, which, through gender pathologization, have historically adopted totally patriarchal assumptions when defending murderous women. For instance, the pseudoscientific explanations that linked female criminality to hysteria expressed in 1878 by Dr. Samuel Wilks, should suffice because her entire nervous system, including her psychic and moral nature, becomes so perverse that any circumstance of the most extraordinary type can arise. . . . Her behavior is as if she were “possessed by the devil” making her capable of starting fires or killing a child. (1878, 364)

These conjectures spread with singular speed in the mid-­twentieth century. The case of Ruth Ellis, who, due to violence and infidelities in 1955,

Autoviudas  •  87

discharged a full Smith & Wesson in her husband’s back, serves as an example. During her trial, “[. . .] psychiatrist Duncan Whitaker declared that when faced with infidelity, women were more likely than men to suffer a hysterical reaction and lose their critical abilities, which, in turn, led them to solve problems in a more primitive way” (Tani, 2003, 663–4). Since then, around the world, two clearly defined positions have taken hold in the rulings or sentences women receive due to the implicit sexualization of criminal codes (Cecil, 2006). The first position is the apparent “chivalry” of some judges, who grant a minimum sanction or decide not to penalize women who have perpetrated a criminal offense. The second position is the criminalization of delinquent women who are subjected to a double punishment: moral and judicial. In addition, women who commit serious crimes are classified as more dangerous than men who commit the same crime, and their sentences are usually higher. In Mexico, women convicted of kidnapping or homicide receive an average of twenty-­three years in prison, while men are sentenced to seventeen years (Reinserta, 2020). A clear dichotomy that defines criminal women as innocent victims or ruthless criminals persists (Cecil, 2006). Women can only be fairies or witches, mothers or prostitutes, as if they did not have the same capacity to commit crimes as men. We must keep in mind that among prevailing social phenomena in Mexico and the world are sexual double standards that judge women more harshly than men for the same behaviors, as well as the witch hunts or public lynchings in the media/press and radio in the 1920s, and social networks.

Conclusion The criminal behavior displayed by autoviudas was the same as those who “[.  .  .] strive to be free, or look for revenge, or who, in their suffering, do not know what they seek. Women who become killers when they run out of choices. Women almost always kill whom they love or loved” (Grinstein, 2000, 23), mirroring themselves in the phrase, “I killed you because you were mine.” We agree with Trabucco when she proposes that remembering bad women is also a task of feminism . . . [talking about] . . . true criminals, confessed murderers, beings on the edge of the unrecoverable, is crucial for a feminism that seeks to unblock the affective ranges of women and men. Men who no longer find their masculinity in violence and women who can express anger without losing their humanity. (2019, 15)

88  •  Chapter Four

This brief journey through the cases of autoviudas, also called “avengers of female destiny” (De los Reyes, 2005) or “flowers of evil” (Monroy, 2018a), necessitated an analysis of historical, social, and political contexts to understand the facts and reasons for what happened. Our aim was not to justify, victimize, or criminalize them. What the press exposed about each crime, the statements the women gave in court and the political conflicts ingrained in 1920s Mexican society are the framework of these stories of half-­truths and simulations. The truth behind each of the murders was never known. It is precisely what has remained silent and hidden that inspires many to investigate these criminal cases through their protagonists. In the cases of autoviudas, silencing served to preserve an archetype of the social imagery of class and gender. With the unfolding of what they said and what they kept silent in the trials, they not only muted their truth so as not to be imprisoned, but they also cultivated the idea that their crime was an act where love prevailed over hate, although we know from psychoanalysis that hatred follows love as a shadow, and that in both feelings, there is something unconscious that is profoundly unknown. Therefore, the silence of Magdalena, Alicia, María Luz, María del Carmen, Nydia, María, Bernice, and María Teresa is not only to avoid conviction. This silence is at the service of: 1) sustaining ignorance about their loved ones, 2) maintaining their social status, 3) nurturing the image of the widow who “honors” her husband, and 4) in the case of Miss Mexico, conveying that with her crime she also honors her country, because every society needs to keep its idols on their pedestals. Thus, in self-­widows, we identify two paradigms that allow us to understand their crimes. The first, individualistic, pushes them to kill out of impulsiveness or premeditation due to disenchantment, anger, hatred, and thirst for revenge. The second is social, since these homicides are indicators of women’s discontent and exhaustion in the face of a society that tolerates, silences, and leaves violence against them unpunished. In their own way, the autoviudas narrate the postrevolutionary social madness that kills what cannot or should not be mentioned, just as they killed men who could not be told they were hated and unbearable. These memorable cases remind us of the great value of rhetoric and oratory as a means to persuade the judges. They also serve as warnings of the impact a very eloquent defense attorney, who knows how to present questionable evidence in such a way that seems conclusive, still has on the media. The new judicial orality procedures implemented a few years ago in Mexico, as part of the new Adversarial Accusatory Penal System, does not solve the

Autoviudas  •  89

fact that privileged defendants, like the autoviudas of our studies, have limitless resources with which to buy justice.

Notes 1.  The authors decided to use the Spanish term autoviuda to preserve the significance that the word acquired during the period of the Mexican postrevolution and that has transcended to the twenty-­first century. 2.  T. N.: The period of time governed by Porfirio Diaz is known as Porfiriato. 3.  The term indiada refers to the derogatory way in which wealthy Mexicans refer to groups of poor people of indigenous descent. Since the time of the Spanish Colony, the word indian has had a racist and classist connotation, referring to people who are considered inferior, ignorant, or vulgar. The Mexican upper classes have always sought to be identified as Europeans and denied any link to the original peoples of Mexico. This is associated to a sort of “pigmentocracy,” since brown or black people are considered ugly, dirty, poor, and even bad. 4.  The authors are grateful for the support of psychoanalyst Araceli Colín Cabrera, for her collaboration in the construction of the ideas that appear in this paragraph and in the previous one. Her observations and reflections contributed to the analysis of the social impact of the Mexican Revolution. 5.  T. N.: The Spanish term conyugicida developed by Sodi would be equivalent to the term mariticide. 6.  The resolution of his case, as we will later see, was similar to other cases of the time. Nagore, whose attorney was Federico Sodi, was released after being exonerated of the charges against him because the jury considered legitimate the outburst where he lost his sanity and drove him to commit the double murder, since at the time of confronting the infidelity of his wife, Sara Perea, and her lover, the photographer Gustavo Galindo, Nagore was subjected to ridicule (De los Reyes, 2005; Monroy, 2014). 7. According to Torres (2016), this quote corresponds to the participation of Dr. Javier Garciadiego, “Death in our stories of the 20th century,” at the meeting “Thinking of Death,” organized by el Colegio Nacional, October 20–22, 2016, Mexico City. 8.  T. N.: The Cristero War, or Cristiada, shook Mexico between 1926 and 1929. This armed conflict was unleashed in response to religious reforms, known as “Calles Laws,” promulgated during President Calles’s administration. Their main objective was to reduce the number of priests, restrict religious freedoms, and prohibit public worship and the expropriation of Church property and assets. A guerrilla faction known as “Cristeros,” consistent of Catholics, Protestants, and liberal atheists, fought against the government. The Cristiada resulted in the death of 250,000 people (Meyer, 2004). 9.  This female garment became very useful to husbands that tried to avoid infidelities. The man who tied the corset knew perfectly well the knot he made, which

90  •  Chapter Four

he certainly expected to see again at the end of the day without the slightest variation. Later, the woman also protected herself from infidelities or the anguish of not knowing, by giving a particular touch to her husband’s tie before leaving home. 10.  T. N.: Boxing ring. 11. T. N.: Nota Roja is the name given in Mexico to coverage of crime and police activity depicting violence in a very graphic manner by the tabloid press.

References Australia, G. (2013). De Miss México a Viuda Negra: el crimen pasional de María Teresa de Landa en 1929. En Relatos e Historias en México. México: Editorial Raíces, V (57), 26–33. Castellanos, Z.  S. (2008). Mujeres perversas en la historia. Bogotá: Grupo Editorial Norma. Cavazos, I. (2005). Mujer, etiqueta y cárcel. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México e Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Penales. Cecil, D. K. (2006). Ceguera de género. La falta de consideración de las delincuentes femeninas por parte de la criminología. In Derecho penal y criminología como fundamento de la política criminal, 171–83. Madrid: Dykinson. Corominas, J. (1973). Breve diccionario etimológico de la lengua castellana. Madrid: Gredos. De la Barreda, S. L. (2005). El jurado seducido: Las pasiones ante la justicia. México: Editorial Porrúa, Biblioteca Jurídica Porrúa. De los Reyes, A. (2005). Crimen y castigo: la disfunción social en el México posrevolucionario. In De los Reyes, A. (coord.). Historia de la vida cotidiana en México. Siglo XX. La imagen, ¿espejo de la vida?, 301–43. Vol. 2. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Delgado, de C. G. M. (2007). Historia de México. De la era revolucionaria al sexenio del cambio. Vol. II. México: Pearson. Facio, A. (1995). Cuando el género suena, cambios trae. In Área de Estudios de las Mujeres. Universidad de los Andes: GAIA. Freud, S. ([1895] 1986). Estudios sobre la histeria. En Obras completas. t. II. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu Editores. Foucault, M. (1961). Historia de la locura en la época clásica. Vol. I. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005. García, B. M. E. (2016). En defensa de las ilusiones: las representaciones de una mujer delincuente en la prensa mexicana posrevolucionaria (master’s thesis). Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Azcapotzalco. Garciadiego, J. (2005). La revolución mexicana: crónicas, documentos, planes y testimonios. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Garciadiego, J. (2006). Introducción histórica a la Revolución mexicana. México: Secretaría de Educación Pública.

Autoviudas  •  91

Guichard, B. C. (2015). Manual de comunicación no sexista. Hacia un lenguaje incluyente. México: Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (INMUJERES). Grinstein, M. (2000). Mujeres asesinas. Buenos Aires: Norma. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) Mediateca. Gobierno de México, 2012, available at www​.mediateca​.inah​.gob​.mx/repositorio/islandora/ search/catch_all_fields_m Lagarde, R. M. (2005). Los cautiverios de las mujeres. Madres, esposas, monjas, putas, presas y locas. México: Coordinación General de Estudios de Posgrado, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Lorenzo, R. M. D. (2018). Debates actuales sobre la asistencia y la pobreza: reflexiones desde la historia de México, 1857-1930. Tempo Niterói, 24(2), 285–305. Ludmer, J. (1999). El cuerpo del delito: un manual. Buenos Aires: Libros Perfil S. A. Macías, G. V. M. (1999). El caso de una beldad asesina: la construcción narrativa, los concursos de belleza y el mito nacional posrevolucionario (1921–1931). In Historia y Grafía. México: Universidad Iberoamericana, 13, 113–54. Malvido, E. (2006). La población, siglos XVI al XX. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Molina, M. (2000). En 1920, un nuevo tipo de mujer. México en el Tiempo, 35(2), 52–57. Monroy, N.  R. (2014). Identidades perdidas: Miss México. Dirección de Estudios Históricos, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, vol. XXXVI, 104. Monroy, N.  R. (2018). María Teresa de Landa. Una miss que no vio el universo. México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). Monroy, N. R. (2018a). Del jardín del Edén a las flores del mal: María Teresa de Landa. In Javien, A. L. y Mc Phail, F. E. (coord.). Rupturas y continuidades. Historia y biografía de mujeres. México: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Xochimilco División de Ciencias Sociales y humanidades. Núñez, C. S. (2016). Los estragos del amor. Crímenes pasionales en la prensa sensacionalista de la ciudad de México durante la posrevolución. Trashumante. Revista Americana de Historia Social. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Cuajimalpa, 7(2), 28–51. Núñez, C.  S. (2016a). Violencia y justicia durante la posrevolución. El homicidio en el Distrito Federal, 1920–1940. Tzintzun. Revista de Estudios Históricos, 63 (1), 149–76. Piccato, P. (2009). The Girl Who Killed a Senator: Femininity and the Public Sphere in Posrevolutionary Mexico. En Buffington, R. y Piccato, P. (ed.), True Stories of Crime in Modern Mexico, 128–53. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Piccato, P. (2010) Ciudad de sospechosos: crimen en la ciudad de México, 1900–1931. México: CIESAS/FONCA, 39–68. Reinserta, A.C. (2020). Diagnóstico sobre la percepción del desempeño de la defensoría penal en México. Accessed June 9, 2020. https://reinserta​.org/ Rísquez, F. (1991). Aproximación a la feminidad. Venezuela: Monte Ávila editores.

92  •  Chapter Four

Rodríguez, B.  R. (2015). Los derechos de las mujeres en México, breve recorrido. In Historia de las mujeres en México. México: Secretaria de Educación pública (SEP) e Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de las Revoluciones de México (INEHRM). Sánchez, M.  F. (2003). La España del siglo XX.: Economía, demografía y sociedad. Madrid: Istmo. Sánchez, T. (1996). La mujer sin identidad. Salamanca: Amarú. Sanmartín, J. (2002). La mente de los violentos. Barcelona: Ariel. Sodi, R. F. (1961). El jurado resuelve. México: Ediciones Oasis S. A. Speckman, G.  E. (2002) Crimen y Castigo: Legislación Penal, Interpretaciones de la Criminalidad y Administración de Justicia. In Ciudad de México, 1872–1910. México: El Colegio de México y la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Speckman, G. E. (2006). Los jueces, el honor y la muerte. Un análisis de la justicia (ciudad de México, 1871–1931). In Historia Mexicana, Vol. LV, N° 4, Abril–Junio, 1411–66. México: El Colegio de México, A.C. Speckman, G.  E. (2008). Dos crímenes, dos víctimas: los casos de Alicia Olvera y Nidia Camargo. In Gerardo Villadelángel (coord.), El libro rojo, una continuación. Volumen I: 1868–1928. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica y Tezontle. Speckman, G.  E. (2019). El derecho a vivir como una mujer amante y amada: Nydia Camargo, su crimen y su juicio (México, década de 1920). México: Colegio de México, Colección La aventura de la vida cotidiana: historia—investigación. Speckman, G. E. (2019a). La obra del legislador y el peso de los hechos. El Derecho ante el cambio social y la sociedad ante el cambio jurídico, algunos ejemplos (Siglos XIX y XX). In Cossío, J.  R., Mijangos, P. y Pani E. (coords.). (2019). Derecho y cambio social en la historia. México: El Colegio de México. Torres Cruz, I. (2016). No todo el millón de muertos de la Revolución pereció en batalla: Javier Garciadiego. Crónica. Sección Cultura, available at www​.cronica​ .com​.mx/notas/2016/990934.html. Trabucco, A. (2019). Las homicidas. Barcelona: Lumen. Valcárcel, I. (2005). Mujeres de armas tomar. Madrid: Algaba. Valles, R. R. M. (2015). Primer Congreso Feminista de México: los primeros pasos hacia la conquista del sufragio femenino. En Historia de las mujeres en México. México: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de las Revoluciones de México (INEHRM). Viveros, V. M. (2016). La interseccionalidad: una aproximación situada a la dominación. Debate Feminista N° 52:1–17. Vronsky, P. (2020). Hijos de Caín. Barcelona: Ariel. Warren, M. A. (1985). Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Wilks, S. (1878). Lectures on Diseases of the Nervous System. Filadelfia: Lindsay and Balkiston.


Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable Alejandra Cantoral Pozo and Alfredo Emilio Huerta Arellano, translated by Helen Harper

During the years of the dictatorships that we suffered in Latin America, especially in Argentina (1976–1983) and Uruguay (1973–1984), an unending torrent of literature emerged that continues to influence and surprise us, even now in the midst of this flow into which our lives are woven and which the philosophers call instant. That said, in the 1980s, in the last century, a movement known as “neo-­baroque,” or “neobarrosa,” emerged; the second term is used to emphasize its feminizing character (Minelli, 2010); this avant-­garde movement included writers such as Cono Sur among its followers; its cultural character is to make pleasure prevail and try to break away from existing models. From the point of view of aesthetics, we can define the neo-­baroque as a vanguard movement; Omar Calabrese (2008) has referred to it as an “atmosphere of time.” For us, it is the sublime accompanying narrative to the Latin America totalitarian nightmare. The neo-­baroque flooded and hid itself in a considerable quantity of cultural phenomena that, from their influence, interweave unsuspected relationships. It can also be defined as a matrix of meetings or connections that make the familiar and the unknown converge, meaning that it forms in the place where the heterogeneous comes together, sparking off an accumulation of possibilities and multiplication of objects. It is effectively a symbolic apparatus that became the vanguard. Calabrese demonstrates this neo-­baroque principle of making things converge when explaining that even scientific theories, such as 93

94  •  Chapter Five

that of fractals, catastrophes, and complexities, come together in research fields that were born from new and unsuspected theoretic convergence. In the 1980s, the fields of gay and lesbian studies, Queer theory, feminism of difference, and studies about care (care studies) appeared, which unite an immense quantity of works, experiences, and authors that collaborate to develop these fields of research that cannot be identified using traditional rigid and hierarchical disciplines. The neo-­baroque principle also included anti-­disciplinary methods that came from literature: philosophy, psychoanalysis, poetry, day-­to-­day speech, and small bits of knowledge. The relationships affected by this principle are neither simple nor direct; rather, they always take into consideration the way in which the meaningful things, the material elements of meaning, words, and things circulating in culture, combine with each other; the displacement they make in chains of meaning, and the place they occupy in the various levels of symbolic articulation, meaning the way in which they move and transform cultural discourse, which, as Michel Foucault said, speaking of texts, never stay quiet. The discovery, which states that even exact sciences are narratives that are articulated through day-­to-­day speech, from which they take some of their most precious meanings, images, analogies, and their widest reaches of meaning, their folds and rebuses, coincides with the neo-­baroque era.  A rebus is a word game that uses homophony as its basis and gives you the ability to name two or more different objects, including opposites, with one meaning. We can define it like Jean Allouch (1993, 158) as the effective treatment of that, which is experienced in desire, like a relationship that puts down multiple meaning from reading a meaning or image, this multiplicity being what allows us to produce new objects from the relationship with the reading. In psychoanalysis, a rebus is seen as training of the unconsciousness, which can cause unexpected objects to be born from a series of layers of reading and meaning. We are also interested in demonstrating that the neo-­baroque principle is a form of subjective posturing, certainly a characteristic of vanguard movements, but that consists of being made up of multiple discourses and perceptions where the small and insignificant make the most general and global collapse. Knowledge fuses and produces new ways of posing a problem, a phenomena, or an idea in the same writing about the things we discover to have been keeping silent and unfathomable; but that found a way of showing or expressing themselves in neo-­baroque expression and in the rebus at the moment of their enunciation. From there, we understand that María Alejandra Minelli plays with the term neo-­baroque and transforms it into a rebus of the word, which in its homophonic and feminizing

Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable   •  95

mutation becomes neo-­barrossa, to describe the writing of Alejandra Pizarnik and Marosa di Giorgio as its leading representatives. The same concept of “neo-­barrosa” extends a feminization in writing that has its source a century before, between Uruguay and France, from the pen of a certain Isidore Lucien Ducasse, a Franco-­Uruguayan, born in Montevideo on April 4, 1846, the son of a French diplomat. Better known as the Conde de Lautréamont, the master of the rebus in poetry, as called by Jean Allouch (1993), when in Letra por letra the topic of Lacan’s conjecture about the origin of writing comes up; Allouch’s book was also published in 1984—i.e., in the decade of the “neo-­barrosa,” it isolates and puts a spotlight on the use of transliteration as the reading method that belongs to analyzing transfer as part of analysis, that using the transfer rebus, produces the meeting of that which stays coded and unfathomable, hidden in writing, still waiting for its lucky reader, for its Champollion, to make it emerge from its larval and unedited depths. It consists of a decoding, which allows us to situate desire in the tracks of its implementation. What is the exploration of the unfathomable from a feminist perspective? Arthur Rimbaud mentions in a card to Paul Demeny on May 15, 1871 about his poem “El vidente”: These poets will exist! When the infinite servitude of women has been broken, when by her and for her, men—abominable up to now—having liberated her, she will be a poet too! Will her worlds of ideas differ from ours? Women will discover strange, unfathomable, repellent and delicious things. And we will take and understand them. While we wait, let us ask the poet for new ideas and ways. The wise ones will soon believe to have satisfied this wish. It is not about that! (Carré 1995, 38)

The unfathomable, repellent, and delicious would be written by women, and in effect, La voz femenina como exploración de lo insondable demonstrates this bias that is repeated in various writings and is linked, in addition, for its continuity, to the decoding method proposed by Freud in 1900 to analyze dreams; it involves a procedure linked to rare, strange, unmentionable, and therefore new things, things located as taking place on the oneiric plane. Let´s ask the question: “Does feminine writing maintain particular characteristics linked to deepening small details, small traces, and the construction of marvelous, delicious, and repellent stories, like Rimbaud mentions, apart from little folds, small details that demonstrate different ways, almost always unknown, of living in the world, or even making new worlds appear? Following this question, miniscule but fundamental, an answer unfolds that we can

96  •  Chapter Five

find in the writings of poets such as Marosa di Giorgio, or in the novels and stories of Guadalupe Nettel among others, that emphasize the point of what is insignificant, in the little stories, in the details in order to create stories with eyelids, petals, noses, bonsais as pseudo-­protagonists, transparencies that do not stop demonstrating fragility, instability, rarities, and those things that people try to hide: their fears, crazes, obsessions, pain, and pleasures, which they find, sooner or later, with someone else who looks, listens, or feels, someone similar to a bloodhound, without the other character, the other player realizing. As Nettel (2011) always demonstrates, stories are told and characters who appear but never become the main character, become unique through the details; literature always fleeting, someone lost in the immensity of the city, in its anonymity and small pleasures. In her stories, Nettel shows us fragments of the path being traveled by the neighbor, friend, secretary, child, father, mother, who find themselves in strange situations invented in the ordinariness of daily life, and who put the fragility of the strongest and the power that the strange, foreign, queer character acquires in the stories they choose to tell in the center. We can find another space that gives the small details, the little pieces, the little details room from the pen of journalist and historian Svetlana Aleksiévich (2013), who signals from historicization that she has tried to listen to all the actors in the socialist drama honestly: that she traveled for years, gathering evidence from the whole of the former Soviet Union to understand the category of Homo soveticus, who does not only belong to the Russians, but also, as she signals, to the Belarusians, the Turks, the Ukrainians, and the Kazaks. Aleksiévich states that all who have experienced socialism can look like the rest of the world but also be different because they possess their own lexis, their own concept of good and bad, of heroes and martyrs. She tells us that this history has given Homo soveticus a singular relationship with death. In the evidence she has committed herself to gathering, words and expressions appear that hurt our hearing: fire, shoot, liquidate, send to the courtyard. Her writing centers on showing everything that the History of war does not tell, what is not known about daily life on battlefields, in bombed towns, and that which makes the lives of all the characters who figure in her writing important to everyone. Svetlana Aleksiévich tells us why she writes: “I write, I unite the specks, the crumbs of ‘domestic’ and ‘interior’ socialism’s history.… I study the way in which it managed to live in the people’s spirit. That miniscule space, that space that only one human being, only one, occupies, has always attracted me…. Because really, that is where everything happens” (2013, 10). In that way, giving preference to little things, we find Marosa di Giorgio as a poet; with her prose, she commits to creating stories taking those

Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable   •  97

miniscule spaces, the scraps, the little pieces that remain spilled all over the place, to construct stories that allow us to imagine marvelous countries with extraordinary, gloomy, mysterious, or profane beings, who make us feel, palpate, and believe their inventions or realities, like the spaces Alice travels through from Lewis Carroll’s pen, or the nocturnal expeditions that Marosa undertakes, hidden from her parents, putting on strange outfits to go down to the town and frighten the neighbors and confront the prudery of her town with staged contrasts and jokes. We are not trying to explain or maintain divisions that discuss and define literary genres, because that is not our field, and we do not claim any expertise. Is it possible to label periods of history out of gender motives? And following on from that, we ask ourselves, Why look for a male or female character to define writing? Without deepening this division, what we are trying to claim here is that we situate literary writing that corresponds to the unfathomable and that the feminine know-­how penetrates in the unimaginable, newly unfathomable, and unpredictable. What is it when it is written? Rimbaud answers: It is a seer. “The poet becomes a seer through a long, immense and reasoned disorder of all the senses” (Carré 1995, 37). And what is a seer? Well, Plotinus tells us: “The seer stops being seen as an object, because at that instant it stops being perceived; it is no longer represented by two things, seeing as in some way he has been converted in something else, now he is not in himself, rather he is one with the One, just as the center of one circle coincides with another center” (Hadot 2006, 46). That is what seems to have happened to Marosa di Giorgio, as a seer, and a mystic, to whom from being a young child God revealed and explained her unique destiny, the office of making poetry. Back then, God already loved me, he always loved me with voracity. . . . Then he told me that my only destiny was to write poems. And I simply listened to him, feeling that I was going to obey. (Giorgio 2008, 9)

Lacan also explored that experience related to poetry, meaning something that points to a new dimension of the experience: There is poetry every time a writer introduces us to a world different to our own, and giving us the presence of a being, of a determined fundamental relationship, it makes it ours as well. Poetry leaves us with no doubt that San Juan de la Cruz, Proust and Gérard de Nerval´s experiences were authentic. Poetry is the creation of a subject that assumes a new type of symbolic relationship with the world. (Lacan 2008, 114)

98  •  Chapter Five

This definition coincides with Rimbaud’s; poetry introduces us to a world we do not know and opens the possibility of a new relationship. When Rimbaud says that women will write about the unfathomable, he knows that there are new and unknown worlds waiting for us. That way of defining poetry is tied to what we could name “feminization of a culture.” That can be understood as exploration and establishment of production zones or spheres, not only aimed at creation, but also at the civilized resolution of the urgent problems of the human habitat. Marosa di Giorgio was born in 1932, in the Uruguayan city of Salto, but her infancy passed on the edge of the forest. The forest and forest life are in her poetry. Opossums, foxes, butterflies, lilacs, violets, cats, wolves in incredible situations, doing unexpected and horrible–beautiful things that call to your dread and sometimes also to horror or tenderness and salvation. Life and death are in her writing and are revealed with every word; she makes the world talk, and all of it speaks. That is because poets are capable of thinking the act without thought. The maize God was the size of a cat; a little bigger. Clothes as black as he; ears placed in the form of a tiara, White slanted eyes, without iris or pupils, absolutely White. He was the only thing we saw as the night passed, walking. . . . (Giorgio 2008, 276–7)

In the collection of poems La liebre de marzo, which was published in 1981, Marosa shows us a fantastic world, a wonderland where the animals are Gods and the plants have faces and talk. The human is the animal, and the animal is the human; there is not only no dividing line between the two, but there is always a secret element between the most amazing social divisions; the Gods are always there for the reader to discover and become a domain in which the word changes the relationship with the world. The Gods are in the plants and the animals (immanence) or are between one and the other. This writing is detailed, tender, and sarcastic. As if it rescued a very old language that makes the up-­down, outside in, love-­hate coexist, everything is contained and possible because there are no limits to the reach of the poetic imagination; for the poetic imaginings that Marosa produces, it is always a wonderland visited by a girl of eight and thirty years old. On the subject of words that mean one thing and the opposite at the same time, and that suggest those strange loops with anti-­ethical meanings, Freud, in The Interpretation of Dreams, says that the behavior of dreams is striking in that sense, and the following stands out:

Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable   •  99

opposition and contradiction. Lisa and they simply omit it, the “no” appears to not exist in dreams. He has notable preferences to put together opposites in one unit or represent them in identical elements. And he even takes the liberty of representing any element through its opposite in the order of desire, meaning that with an element with opposites it is not known at first glance whether it is included positively or negatively in oneiric thoughts. (Freud 1996)

Freud suggests that in ancient languages, there were words that meant one or another thing distinct or opposite; those words were necessary to understand simultaneously occurring contrasts; the primitive use of those words approaches a complex symbolism and a world perceived as a chairoscuro integrated into the language and symbolically enriched; those language forms continue appearing in dreams and encapsulate oneiric meaning. Marosa di Giorgio demonstrates how poetry possesses a key to access images of desire that remain hidden, and her writing is a way to decode those ancient images which are presented to us when we read her poems; maybe that is why she is considered to be neo-­barroque/rosa, because, like Freud, she allows us to access illuminating ways of seeing the world. Freudian discovery reaches its height here; the thesis that explains how the reappearance of antiquity in the present is a form of the new and real, it signals a limit found in the excess of history, in the excess of what was said before, a renovation that is a return to the new. “And exactly those images are visible at the height of our traveler´s conscience, to liberate and pass on (desire) when fully awake.” (Bloch 2019, 313)

These lines are important because they demonstrate the power of the images in stories, dreams, and myths. Also, because the ancient brings with it novelty that reveals not only an archaic world, but a whole lost world and the possibility of something new; it is an opening into the inheritance of the image, it is desire silently moving toward the light. This utopian explosion is also a way of reading and reclaiming the anachronism full of possibilities that we find in literature and psychoanalysis. Bloch calls this image “authentic image.” It is certainly true that Freud descended, i.e., he took the path of the first dream.… He put the desire in the foundation and considered that intellect was a reflection; his world was also dark and instinct as libido was sufficiently irrational. But if Freud uncovered everything from the foundation, he did not do it with methods from the foundation, rather with the clearest and most analytical conscience. And the way to the unconsciousness was not the cure,

100  •  Chapter Five

rather for him the only cure was the sharpest conscience in how it penetrates complexes meaning the unconscious of the unconsciousness. (Bloch 2019, 315)

In Freud, there is a methodological link between psychoanalysis and literature, a community that can be found in his writing about clinical cases, which is surprising because it was written to show his failure. Freud knew how to notice: “In the way that one will admit there is a certain community between literary discourse and analytical discourse” (Allouch 2009, 13).  This nexus between psychoanalysis and literature can be found reflected in numerous essays that not only show his passion for literature, but rather the transformation of his supposedly scientific writing into literature: “His patients sometimes led him to such transformations” (2009, 13). He himself was honored with the Goethe literature prize for the writing in his book Studies on Hysteria, which was sold as a literary novel in its own right. Freud also knew how to abstain from applying psychoanalysis to literature and to let this be what showed the ways to subjectivity; his clinical and reading experience showed him that the literary was always one step ahead of a psychoanalyst’s knowledge. One should always have this epistemological and methodological recommendation in mind when we introduce ourselves to other disciplinary or anti-­disciplinary fields; as neo-­baroque teaches us, it is not about taking one field to another, rather finding the production of events at the points of convergence.     Another of the links between literature and psychoanalysis is the reference to the source of psychoanalysis’ fundamental rule, based on free association. In a short piece of writing from 1920 titled For the pre-­history of the analytical technique (1996, 257), Freud informs us that he takes his method from a writer called Ludwig Börne, whom he read at fourteen years old, and his Work was the only book he had left from his youth, where you can read the following:  And here comes the promised recommendation. Take some sheets of paper, and for 3 successive days, write down, without falsehood or hypocrisy, everything that passes through your mind. Note down what you think about yourself, about your wife, about the Turkish war, about Goethe, about Folk’s critical process, about the final judgment, about your bosses; and after the three days have passed, you will be amazed to see the new and unedited thoughts that you have had. There is the art of turning oneself into an original writer in three days. (Freud 1996, 259)

The relationship between literature and psychoanalysis should not be taken lightly; there is a methodological relationship that is shared: in

Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable   •  101

psychoanalysis as a fundamental rule, and in literature as a recommendation to become a writer with original ideas, Tristan Tzara proposes that to make a Dadaist poem, we can rehearse with a newspaper, and he shows us his alchemical recipe for writing: Take a newspaper. Take a pair of scissors. Choose an article in the newspaper the size you want to make your poem. Cut out the article. Then carefully cut out each word that makes up this article and put it in a bag. Shake gently. Now take out the strips of paper one after the other. Carefully copy them in the order they came out of the bag. The poem will look like you. And so you will be an infinitely original writer with an enchanting sensibility, even if misunderstood by the vulgar. (Georges Didi-­Huberman 2008, 16–17)

Other writers, such as Schiller, invite us to undertake the exercise of the free emergence of ideas. “However, the analyst does not make a literary work, nor does the writer analyze himself,” as Allouch (2009) warns us. That is why it is a great merit of Freud that he does not analyze literary works, but rather brings literature into the field of psychoanalysis; with it, he helps himself notice the phenomenon of subjectivity of unconscious subjection. Psychoanalysis takes the rule that enriches its methodological freedom, the method of free association, from literature. With respect to censorship, Freud says that “a cowardice to think, that invites censure, restrains us all. The censorship that public opinion exercises over our spiritual labor is more oppressive than government censorship” (Freud 1996, 259). Another route, one more, that psychoanalysis shares with literature is the habit of going beyond the unfathomable to travel to the underworld; even Freud is known to reach unfathomable territories in his “paradigmatic dream,” that dream that makes him fall through Irma’s throat for a long time in the manner of “Alice in Wonderland,” or as Lacan refers to it, to “that open mouth at the bottom of which Freud sees the terrifying and miscellaneous image that we have compared to the head of Medusa” (Lacan 2010, 264). Freud arrives at another place where he is precisely no longer himself; he decomposes, and in his decomposition he finds the consistency of that unfathomable thing that is the unconscious. Lacan says that in the dream of the Injection applied to Irma, Freud finds that place beyond, which he will return to in 1920, a place beyond that leads him to propose his death desire. “Where the ego is constructed from identifications it can no longer be, it does not enter, and it has vanished.” He recognizes it in his dream analysis, while he tells us “he speaks to us about something that is him and that is no longer” (Lacan 2010, 258); it fragments, it decomposes into multiple and small pieces of heterogeneous identifications.

102  •  Chapter Five

With his paradigmatic dream of the injection given to Irma, and from bearing the anguish of the descent of his patient’s throat, Freud reveals to us the existence of the unconscious and its materiality, supported by language through the word trimethylamine, seen as an image in the dream; which in its decoding, in the transliteration deployed by Jacques Lacan in his seminar on psychoanalytic technique, in the session of March 16, 1955, shows us what he reads, that was revealed to Freud and of which that unfathomable unconscious is made up of, in order to make it emerge from the depths. I am the one who wants to be forgiven for having dared to begin to heal these sick people, whom until today people did not want to understand and refused to heal. I am the one who wants to be forgiven for this. I am the one who does not want to be guilty of this, because to transgress a limit imposed on human activity until now, is to be always guilty. I do not want to be that. All the others are in my place. I am not there, rather the representative of that vast, vague movement which is the search for truth, in which, for my part, I erase myself. Now, I am nothing. My ambition was superior to me. The syringe was dirty, no doubt about it. And precisely insofar as I have desired it too much, insofar as I have participated in that action and wanted to be, I, the creator, I am not the creator. The creator is someone superior to me, it is my unconscious, that word that speaks in me, beyond me. (Lacan 2010, 259)

Freud invented a place beyond; he reached unfathomable lands, places where no one had gone before; with what was revealed to him in sleep, he skirted the borders of what he later called the death desire and also introduced a subject that speaks beyond the ego, a subject of the unconscious in a Beyond the pleasure principle, a beyond Western reason, that which we can name as unfathomable or which for Western reason appears as the Other. We know that “pictographic” writing is that which corresponds to the most basic form of writing. It consists of a cypher of coded writing that requires the reader to know what is coded. It consists of succeeding in writing, naming the unspeakable; it implies the reader knows beforehand what there is to be read there, as pointed out by Jean Allouch (1993, 155) about the conjecture of Lacan about writing, a conjectural writing that allows the discussion to be limited to certain kinds of “writing” that allow us to elucidate what corresponds to writing as opposed to what is imagined about it. “Transliteration is the name of the operation whereby what is written ceases to not be written” (Allouch 1993, 165). In her book of poetry “La falena,” published in Montevideo in 1987, Marosa di Giorgio writes an image that shows the moment of her birth; for us

Feminine Voices as an Exploration of the Unfathomable   •  103

it also relates the moment of the birth of writing, in which at the beginning a single line is produced which starts to generate an entire universe. [A] jasmine tree, whose marble blossoms were open, and that has marked me forever. . . . And that the sky was producing terror with all its candles so low and quivering, in the afternoon following my birth. (Giorgio 2008, 539)

Birth itself is one of the topics we cannot notice; we do not remember anything about our birth, because there is no writing, no register, like our own death, of which no register exists of our entry to the world, nor our exit from the world. In Marosa di Giorgio’s writing, there is room to explore the unfathomable, and it gives us a pictographic image of what we saw while we were being born and of what came afterward, of what every birth makes appear afterward.

Works Cited Aleksiévich, Svetlana. 2015. El fin del “Homo sovieticus” Translated by Jorge Ferrer. Barcelona: Acantilado. Allouch, Jean. 1993. Letra por letra. Traducir, transcribir, transliterar. Translated by Marcelo, Nora and Silvia Pasternac. Buenos Aires: EDELP. Allouch Jean. 2009. Contra la eternidad Ogawa, Mallarmé, Lacan. Translated by Silvio Mattoni. Córdoba, Argentina: El cuenco de plata, Ediciones Literales. Bloch, Ernst. 2019. Herencia de esta época. Translated by Miguel Salmerón Infante. Madrid España: Tecnos. Carrér, Jean-­Marie. 1995. Cartas de la vida literaria de Jean Arthur Rimbaud. Translated by Marco Antonio Campos. México UNAM. Didi-Huberman, Georges. 2014. Pueblos expuestos pueblos figurantes. Translated by Horacio Pons. Buenos Aires, Argentina. Manantial. Freud, Sigmund. 1996. La interpretación de los sueños. Vol. IV. Obras Completas, XXIV vols. Translated by José L. Etcheverry. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. Freud, Sigmund. 1996. Sobre el sentido antitético de las palabras primitivas. Vol. IX Obras Completas, XXIV vols. Translated by José L. Etcheverry. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. Giorgio, Marosa di. 2008. Los papeles salvajes. Translated by Helen Harper. Argentina: Adriana Hidalgo. Lacan, Jacques. 2008. Seminario 3 Las psicosis. Translated by Juan Luis Delmont-­ Mauri and Diana Silvia Rabinovich. Buenos Aires: Paidós.  Lacan, Jacques. 2010. Seminario 2 El yo en la teoría de Freud y en la técnica psicoanalítica. Translated by Irene Agoff and Diana Silvia Rabinovich. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Nettel, Guadalupe. 2008. Pétalos y otras historias incómodas. México: Anagrama Minelli, María Alejandra. 2010. Políticas de género en el neobarroco: Alejandra Pizarnik y Marosa de Giorgio. 18 de mayo. Último acceso: 08 de enero de 2020. Neobarroquerias​.blogspot​.com


Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny “The Good Daughter” by Almudena Grandes Mario Orozco Guzmán and Hada Soria Escalante

The Silence of Becoming in Hysteria It is because time has its horizons, as Federico García Lorca mentions in one of his poems, that it is possible to show there is a specific time for saying the things that oppress the soul and the whole body. There is an ideal time for speaking, even for screaming, the suffering. Freud took note of the existence of two different moments, two times to narrate an episode, an event that for being so overwhelming seemed unspeakable. Repression shows the gap between an immediate time to scream and say the overwhelming and intolerable things to the self, and a subsequent time in which the event covers itself with more than one meaning. Repression also shows the gap between the time for silence, the traumatic time, and a time to realize how an event transformed itself into a new dimension of the symptom. “Studies on hysteria” are a testimony of the silence of women because of the weight of some experiences characterized by their location in times and spaces of mnemic relief. In the case of Emmy V.  N., Freud (2006b) correlates dates of encounters and recollection of episodes of terror. It shows the time of the word that liberates the load of memories that had left her without words. Freud was looking for words, and the silence of this woman indicated how trauma makes groups and chains, that also chain the subject in scenarios of terror. 105

106  •  Chapter Six

Miss Lucy R. shows Freud that it’s inherent in the possession of a knowledge on everything that would make sense and provoke a disturbing scope. But it is a silenced knowledge. It was precise to demand the feminine subject to put it into words. The technique of the pressure on the forehead of the patients served with that purpose. It consisted in applying pressure in order to appeal the knowledge of words in a loving passion cultivated in silence. In the case of Katharina, the symptom is conceived as something inherent to the field of writing, as a hieroglyph to decode, as something enigmatic inscribed on the body. The anguish of this young woman emerges from a memory of sexual harassment perpetrated by his uncle when she was fourteen years old. Freud is required, during his journey in a vocational excursion through the mountains, by this adolescent, when she was eighteen, and whose silence was choking her. She expressed a lack of air, an oppression on her thought, but what seems to be lacking—as well as the presence of someone to express those words to—are words of invasion, violence, and sexuality in relation to her uncle, who was discovered by her having extramarital sex with a woman who was the cook in her home. Between both scenes, Freud speaks of a period when the symptom is incubated. Those are episodes that had been kept in silence until declared before Freud’s presence. He finds this girl put in a position of a will for ignorance, suitable for being self-­characterized as supposedly virginal. Freud decodes the symptom transformed into hieroglyph, denoting an effort of comprehension of the event in this young woman, by identifying herself with the cook. Her vomit, the “ambassador of trauma” (Maffi 2005, 20), denotes the disgusting connection the girl has been part of. The will of ignorance is replicated with the purpose of keeping the silence, as suffocating as it could be. Elisabeth Von R. also keeps silence on the events related to a brother-­in-­law who troubled her for his sexual actions. Her symptom, during the sessions with Freud, the paralyzing pain in her legs, is involved in the development of the things she formulates. That pain speaks of silence in moments of terror before the presence of a dying father and a dead sister. Elisabeth Von R. is a woman who embraces in silence the responsibility of becoming a nurse for her sick father. She wants to be sure she’s the first one in assisting him. Her legs began to hurt precisely while she assists the pain of her father. She does not declare being upset in this situation, but the pain of her legs speaks; something is being declared. The truth is that the death of her father generates pain, by provoking a social distance of the family, by destroying whatever could be pleasant in life, by destroying the health of her mother. Elisabeth then deludes herself with the possibility of finding “a substitute for the loss” (Freud 2006b, 156). It is not clear if she speaks of a substitute for the father.

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  107

But it shows that the pain in her legs is being constituted into some sort of a substitute for things unsaid, for the tolerated silences. The body, some parts of it, support unbearable silences. In Dora’s case, there are silences that make a lot of noise. The body carries the sounds of silence, as the 1964 famous song of Simon and Garfunkel. We know of the interchange that Dora narrates, as she was situated as an object of exchange, she and Ms. K., between the negotiations of her father with Mr. K. But there is one other exchange that was silenced, perhaps because it seemed not to be silenced. In exchange for the assistance that Ms. K. gives to Dora’s father throughout his disease, Dora takes care of Ms. K.’s children. Ms. K. obtains, as Freud writes (2006c), an everlasting right to her gratitude (24). Dora takes the open position of a mother, and Ms. K. takes the position of “friendly sympathy” (25). It is a silenced agreement. The famous scene of the kiss could be also silenced, that of Dora’s anger in relation to the attack. Freud does not speak of that anger, since he is covered by the interpretative speech of the displacement of libido from the genital area to the throat. It proliferates the Freudian hermeneutics of the disgust as a supposedly repulsive reaction to pleasure. In a fictional missive, Octave Mannoni (1980) puts some words in mouth of Dora, directed to Ms. K., her outrage for what Freud supposes she must have experimented in the scene of the kiss: “that I would have felt in… his pants, what a masculine daring he has! When it is nor practiced in seduction, is practiced in insults. I did not say a thing. I also know how to be quiet” (16). Before a man who speaks of what he knows about, Dora knows how to be quiet. And she learnt to be quiet in both moments, before the erotic daring of Mr. K., and the scientific daring—also somehow erotic—of Freud. She manifests her silence before the insulting authority of Freud, before the authority of someone who supposedly knows what a woman must feel in those circumstances. But what if the whole case of Dora is about something been stuck in her throat, an unspeakable anger, a shout of protest, which would be displayed into the impossibility of speaking, the so-­called aphonia? The kiss surprised Dora, left her without words, paralyzed from fear, muted her. As it could happen to other women. As Decker (1999) describes, the aphonia in Dora was repeated in the diseases of thousands of girls and women. The paralysis of the vocal cords was one of the most common paralyses in hysteria—maybe even the most common—in the nineteenth century. This type of paralysis can be a profound expression of anguish, provoked by pronouncing the words we don’t want anyone to hear, or a thought that we don’t want to admit, not even to ourselves. The aphonia spoke of sudden fear or anger that could also causes an anguish that cannot be put into words, or even

108  •  Chapter Six

into thoughts. The aphonia expresses paralyzed words by the fear or anger provoked by an episode of violence. Dora, however, is not paralyzed when Mr. K. tells her that his wife means nothing to him. She responds with a slap, but she doesn’t speak. Or maybe that slap says it all. It seems to speak of anger and hatred. The revelation in detail of what happened on that occasion is shown by Freud when he was alerted by a series of “enigmas” (Freud 2006c, 87). Dora understands that it is unnecessary to let Mr. K, continuing speaking, and she also doesn’t speak. That comprehension of not speaking could rise also from an imminent identification with that who is the object of her passion. Understanding that passion, involves links of love and identification, but also love and hatred. Lacan (1990a) points out this convergence of subjective positions in “Dora’s aphonia in times of intimacy, of confrontation with her object of love, linked to an oral erotization from the moment Dora gets too close to the object of her desire”1 (132). The role of Mr. K. as mediator in the quartet—as Lacan calls it—has been undermined, and Dora is face-­to-­face with the object of her desire. The confrontation also speaks of identification and aggression toward Mrs. K. It indicates that distances are lost. That’s why Lacan understands some sort of paranoid outbreak in a girl that feels manipulated in benefit of her father. It is evident that the hatred implicated in the slap is silenced. This is the fundamental aspect that leads Dora to abandon the treatment. That’s why Freud calls it a transference scene of vindictive character. Lacan (1981) situates three passional edges—ignorance, love, and hatred; being hatred inscribed between the imaginary and the real registers. Does this mean that the symbolic register doesn’t participate in its configuration? Hatred travels from the imaginary and the comprehensive identification of aggressiveness, to the real manifested in the action of a narcissistic capture of the image of the other. Or maybe, as if hatred was resistant to words, and then was incubated in silence—or as if it incubated silence—of the identificatory fascination, until an action makes it speak? A thick silence covers up some alliances between Freud, and Dora’s, and Hans’s fathers. Alliances between gentlemen that disperse a supposed intelligent knowledge about subjective dramas. Alliances that operate excluding the possession of words of the mothers. Dora’s mother not only is excluded, but reviled and disqualified. What could an “uncultivated woman” (Freud 2006c, 19) and “above all, a foolish one” say before a “dominant” and “vivid” man (18) who prospered in a world so adverse for Jewish ascendency people? He has Freud’s attention. He must have a lot to say. Just as Hans’s father, before a woman accused for the shocking appearance of the phobic symptom. Danièle Brun (2013) details how this explicit alliance with the father, this

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  109

silenced alliance, had repercussions on Freud’s theory, who places the father as the object of desire, the Oedipus. We could say that it also reinforces the statement of a mother highly questioned, as well as the perspective of the father, so idealized that he seems impossible to be questioned. Brun narrates the case of a girl under treatment who managed to accomplish the injunction of questioning the father. She can finally speak, only to complain about her new responsibilities after getting a job promotion. She realizes and manifests how she had to stop complaining since she was little, because her father had remained in silence, and “swallow” everything she had to say. She then remembers a moment in her childhood when, while playing with a boy, he falls from some gym equipment and breaks his arm. Her father only said it wasn’t important. For him, everything that went wrong was not important. Everything had to be swallowed.

Berta: Passions and Condemnatory Sentences Berta is the main character of “The Good Daughter”—La Buena Hija—one of the stories that configure the book of Almudena Grandes, titled Modelos de Mujer (2015), which traces her own horizons of silence. From the time of her gestation and birth, it was difficult to detach herself from a destiny apparently sealed and closed. The mistime seems to accompany her throughout her history. She also has the fundamental experience of passion, from which it results impossible to position herself as subject. She is the fourth daughter. Being forty-­one years old, between her and her sisters, there is a gap of more than a decade of difference in ages. There is hardly a mention of the father in the story. He seems to be named only at the moment of his fatal disease. Berta says she is “the last gift of nature that my mother was willing to receive with joy” (205).2 In psychoanalysis, the method of work follows the oscillations of a word, which implies much more than a “catalogue [of] the sum of its employments”3 (Lacan 1981, 344). We attend the form of use of the signifier, of signifiers that are used to say certain things within their errors. Referring to pregnancy by using the word “gift” would flatter Freud and his symbolic equation, which allows substitutions in the metaphoric route of the maternal unconscious. But in this case, it is the nature that gives the gift and not the father. The joyful reception of the gift, given by nature, creates an illusion of plenitude. It is interesting to explore how silence exists in this woman in relation to her history. Or maybe it is the silence that makes certain events decisive for Berta. Silence isn’t absolute, since the writing of Almudena Grandes demarcates it and contains it inside the real. At first, Berta lives in silence

110  •  Chapter Six

with the passion that dominates Piedad in relation to her lover, Eugenio. Piedad is not her mother, but Berta calls her, also in silence, “Mom.” She is a young woman who incorporates into the family life in order to help with the domestic chores. Berta’s childhood is full of memories of Piedad and her kisses. Piedad establishes erotism and also the image of otherness based on a fundamental narcissistic foundation, in order to constitute the unconscious image of the body, as Dolto (2006) names it. “I was always thinking of Piedad, because she was to me, a place in where no enemy would ever capture me, a tender castle, warm as a bed recently done, a pair of lips that would always kiss me, a pair of arms that would never stop hugging me, a machine of love that worked when I was being good and also when I was being bad” (Grandes 2015, 204). Nobody could capture Berta, because she was captured by Piedad, by her body and eroticism. Her body gave her the necessary support to deal with a life exposed to variations. She trusts Piedad with her faith and confidence. She will always be there. However, this space of supreme faith inevitably will fall down. Piedad isn’t Berta’s mother, but Berta has to remember herself that, in order to avoid any confusions between her and her mother, Doña Carmen: “My mother was the authority, the woman who made all the important decisions. She paid the school in September and received the notes in June, she bought the uniform and the books, she took her children in visits every Sunday and she managed that the beds were well made and the meals hot every day” (207). Lacan (1999) positions the maternal law to which the subject is summoned. This law can put ahead of the children the mother’s arbitrary will. In the case of Berta’s mother, she disappears before the discomfort of her children. Berta evokes the case of Brun, giving “her body and face, her hands and voice to mom, a sort of domestic fairy, with enough powers, to solve half of the problems and make the other half bearable” (207–8). This alterity of the mother, this division in relation to the motherly figure, this plasma, as Jean-­Paul Mouras (2004) calls it, implies the division in Berta herself, split between the relation of responsibility and commitment, and the relation with the body and voice; between the imaginary and the manifestation of suffering and longing. The mother was not willing to hear the voice of pain, complaint, demand. and desire of Berta. She was not willing to hear the voice, the cause of desire. Piedad, the mom, was there to cover that part. Piedad was there to pity Berta. Piedad, mom, had her body and voice, at the very same place where the mother vanished. Piedad solved half of the problems Berta had and made the rest of them bearable. However, what happens when the one who solves all the problems is immersed into a problem that seems to have no other solution than ruin

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  111

or destruction? What happens when the model of support seems to not be able to tolerate one problem that puts it between the limits of life and death? The experience belongs to the encounter, or the opposite, with a failure of the Other, of this “domestic fairy” (Grandes 2015, 208) in the imaginary dimension of omnipotence. Jules Michelet (2013) exposes this moment in which fairies emerge, as ancient queens of Galias, whose incessant dance exposes the enjoyment of the body, that Christianity condemns to live until the judgment day. They are capricious, and sometimes they are in bad mood, but it isn’t strange considering their horrible faith. So little and strange, they have a heart, and they need to be loved. They are good and bad, and full of fantasies. When a child is born, they go down the chimney, give their gifts to him, and mark his destiny. Lacan (1999) also locates this fastening of the creature to the fickle posture of a law with no control, supported on the good or bad love of the mother, the good or the bad mother. The fairies subdue to a terrible destiny, impose their power, by marking the destiny of the child. They impose a destiny, making the bad seem good, and the good as bad. Marie-­Cécile and Edmond Ortigues (2012) propose the category of distribution of family cards, as an exercise of the domestic fairy, who assigns a phantasmatic place to the children since they are in the crib. In Stendhal’s novel Red and Black (1977), Ms. Rênal hears in silence the distribution of cards her husband made in relation to their children: “She respected her husband, who talks to her about the future of their children, the oldest one was destined to follow a military career, the second one magistracy, and the youngest one to church” (30). The presence of Piedad, as a domestic fairy, is exalted when Berta counts on her and her words to face and eradicate her monsters. The overturn of the story is the moment when Piedad is trapped in an affair with a married man, Eugenio. This passion is so captivating that Piedad resigns to her own wedding. Expressions of euphoria, madness, and shivering are articulated in a group of alterities that disconcerts Berta. She sees Piedad crying while laughing, and laughing while crying, which makes Berta see her smaller and bigger at the same time. Inside Piedad live many women; she is a compendium of feminine alterities. Somehow, she gives the illusion of a Woman-­All. That is the reason Berta compared her with a statue or a goddess: the dream of a One-­Woman, or All-­Women-­in-­One. According to Berta, “this planet was formed and developed for Piedad, so Piedad could feel and love. I, that never been part of the chosen ones, also lived that love as a passion of my own, I followed it close, with my eyes wide open, without words to explain myself, but with hugs to share, I learned the lyrics of dozens of songs, affirmations of love, complaints of poisoned love, cries of betrayed love, and even stronger

112  •  Chapter Six

sentences, absolute, beautiful, but brutal” (Grandes 2015, 218). It becomes necessary to traverse this machine of presuppositions (Derrida 2010, 136). The whole world had been created in relation to Piedad. For Berta, instead, nothing has been constituted for her to be loved. She is not the center of love; she wasn’t chosen for that purpose. That is why she appropriates Piedad’s passional love. It is the passion toward Piedad and for everything that passions her domestic fairy. It is a passion that gravitates in silence. The story we attempt to analyze in a critical and deconstructive way, refers to the sentence, to the love made of sentences. Just like the one Berta enounces repeatedly, “This man is going to be my ruin” (Grandes 2015, 218), referring to Eugenio and also to a desire reduced to mandate of passion. Will this sentence take over Berta? Will she sentence the appropriation of the passion of the other, of the woman chosen by everyone, to be contained inside Berta? Is this something belonging to the order of introjection as Lacan (1981) situates in the symbolic register, as the integration of the word of the Other? But more than an introjection, it seems to be an authentic incorporation of the ruin produced by the lover. This transformation is verified to the point that Berta doesn’t recognize Piedad. She seems to be another. Her body seems to be taken by anger and spite. Berta witnesses a woman who travels from subjective sinking to a presumed decision on breaking up with Eugenio. Apparently convinced of her decision, she expects the comprehension of Berta. But Berta crumbles her only goddess. She assists in the castration of someone who was the holder of her faith, joy, and eroticism. She can’t stand “the apathy and silence” (Grandes 2015, 221) of the tormented body. Berta suffers in silence for Piedad and with Piedad, assuming it is her destiny for choosing to bet it all for that woman, for betting all her love for mom. Berta will make her react, by making one of the domestic chores to please her mother. Piedad sees in that moment that the limit of the loving experience has arrived. A sudden recovering also occurs in silence. It is no longer the silence of despair, but the silence of Piedad as an “articulated cold doll” (222). Berta’s marvelous domestic fairy seems domesticated by the loving passion. To the sentence of the wonderful fairy, omnipotent motherly figure, bad-­ good, there is a contrast with another sentence of a different figure of alterity: the witch, the legendary figure of the relation between power and knowledge in a woman who grows the land, and as a priestess, the cult to the dead (Caro Baroja, 2006). As significant, the witch appears in a surprise encounter between Berta and the mother of Eugenio’s wife. The mother of Eugenio’s wife, thinking she was talking to Piedad’s daughter, says: “A prostitute, your mother, that’s what she is, a slut, hopefully she dies, and you remain

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  113

alone, just as my daughter” (228). Berta herself thought of this woman “a witch face,” as a prophet. The efficiency of the prophecy is understood due the privileged knowledge of witches in relation to the future. “The Witch invokes, conjures and acts on destiny. She isn’t the ancient Casandra, who saw the future clearly. The Witch creates the future” (Michelet 2013, 30). What makes us think Berta’s future involves the creation of a witch-­woman? The solitude in which Berta finds herself years after, after the separation from Piedad, is verified by accompanying and by taking care of a mother who chokes her existence. She says she does not possess anything, nor a partner, nor children or job. She may have not admitted the possibility of possessing something, after admitting being Piedad’s possession. She now centers her life in collecting fragrant things inside crystal jars. Is this how the prophecy of the witch is fulfilled? Is the guilt an element of her participation in Piedad’s passion toward a married man? Is the silence of this guilt what makes her world falls down into the sentence of the witch? The irruption of these woman who looks like a witch, and who grabs Berta with violence, makes Berta scream, hitting her to free herself. Is it precisely in relation with this confusion of mother-­mom, that she feels as being punished by her mother’s faults? Why would the sons be punished for the sins of the parents? If Berta is punished, is it because she shares the sin with Piedad? Is it a way of taking mercy on Piedad?4 In a footnote written by Freud (2006d), he pointed out the unconscious position in guilt. It is a sentiment that seems to escape from the possibility of being put into words, and also being recognized. He points out that there would be an important opportunity to influence the guilt, when it has been borrowed from another with whom there has been a libidinal attachment. Piedad’s passion toward Eugenio makes Berta’s passion toward Piedad intense. It is a passion that wraps it all, which is made of the conjunction of creation and destruction, action and passiveness, love and hatred. It implies life and death, instincts of disintegration and disconnection with the others. We can read this in Eugenio’s message to Piedad, who wants her to know he’s dying, a message that Berta transmits. Eugenio seems to be begging for mercy to Piedad. He delivers a piece of paper with some verses of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. Berta reads these verses to Piedad while showing an “image of hatred” (Grandes 2015, 225). Piedad expresses the imaginary ecstasies of passion, in which love, as Lacan writes (1981), is something endured (403), something suffered, something that destroys because of hatred. After a shared crying, after an affiliation and identification through the cries between Berta and Piedad, Piedad will blame Eugenio for marrying someone else.

114  •  Chapter Six

Berta renounced to clarify things with the witch-­ faced woman. This woman showed up in her house, accompanied by her daughter, looking for Piedad, when Piedad had already fled with Eugenio, her son-­in-­law. There, in that moment, all confusion could be cleared up, and Berta herself could have been saved from her passional confusion toward Piedad. Berta enters into Piedad’s room and cannot find anything that belongs to her domestic fairy. “Nothing, except myself” (233). Berta belonged to Piedad. She was her property, her belonging. That’s why even the guilt of Piedad belongs to Berta. She already has caught her mother and her mom in guilty positions, but she has put a veil to the guilt, seeking for love, as the Bible says. Seeking for Piedad’s love, she makes her listen to the poems Eugenio has copied from an almanac, and lies to her by saying that he has written them. Berta admits to us that passion chooses carefully her victims “and only gives power to whoever has been capable of denying himself in order to surrender completely to the other. Piedad has lived for me to the point of dragging me forever into the domain of her love, and she was about to drag Eugenio” (231). Berta shows a disposition to subdue herself to that love. She shows herself as a victim that has resigned herself and her desire. This goes hand in hand with another experience of guilt, the moment she became a “perpetual nurse” (241) for her mother. This experience of losing herself perpetually makes her lose the last of her friends, Marcos. “Marcos left, and I didn’t have the courage to go after him. What a lucky girl you are! He’s a catch! A professor told me that. And Marcos was the only one to offer me a different destiny, a life of love and mathematics, and I loved him, but I didn’t have the courage to leave with him” (240). At the same time, she didn’t have the courage to appreciate herself (in a narcissistic demeanor); she didn’t have the courage to do what her desire dictated. What the duty dictated was stronger for her, and she wasn’t able to do what Piedad did, by leaving everything, the domestic chores, in order to follow the cause of her desire, and to let desire channel her.

“Entfremdung”: The Audacity of Desire The lack of courage displayed by Berta reached the point that not even a scream to end the silence of her destiny took place. She couldn’t say “no” to her siblings, the moment they decided she would be the carrier of the responsibility of taking care of her mother, an obligation of perpetuity. That sort of obligation has been always the place for the women defined as hysterical, forced to fulfill the function of object for the desire of the Other, as a dominant will. The devaluation of Berta goes hand in hand with the

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  115

devaluation of her desire, which allows guilt to grow. This is what Lacan (1990b) describes as the ethical dimension of psychoanalysis, which is the moment we deserve guilt, when we give up desire. He calls “giving up desire” (381) as the consequence of treason. The subject treasons himself the very moment he tolerates that someone to whom he has consecrated, treasons his expectation, or when that other hasn’t fulfilled his part of the pact. Maybe Berta had an imaginary pact with Piedad, but under what expectation? And was this expectation betrayed? But Piedad seems to embody a paradigm of someone so coherent with her desire, that she sustained it to the last consequences, to the rupture with duty. Maybe for Berta it was more powerful the jouissance of subduing herself to the mother, to this master of tyranny, than the pleasure with Marcos. The adventurous love with Marcos implies putting value to the desire, before the “valeur de la function unifiante de cetter presence de la mère” (Lacan, 1967). This characteristic of the jouissance, of “valeur fascinante,” extends the dream of unification for the human being, and, in Berta’s case, the phallic attribute of Mother Nature that had snatched Marcos. And also, it took her love to mathematics. She dedicated herself entirely to her mother, and by not being able to leave her, she also accepted the abdication of her love in teaching mathematics. Being trapped into the fascinating image of the good daughter, she accepted to become a victim to the motherly tyranny; she accepted not to be listened to in her protests. She gave up her desire in favor of her siblings’. There is an absence of a scream, facing the plan of taking care of her mother. There is a submission in Berta, as if there really was her mission to take care of her sick mother. The scream, as Lacan mentions in reference to the famous painting of Eduard Munch, “fait le gouffre où le silence se rue” (Lesson of 17 March 1956), the abyss in which the silence is plunged. But in the case of Berta, we could say she would want to shout the silence of the indifference of the Other, in relation to her despair and lack of hope. The pedestrians in Munch’s painting seem indifferent toward this strange being, taken by an anguish so deep that it traverses him violently. He can only scream but not listen. This indifference of the Other seems to generate the whirlwind of anguish, and it becomes a desperate scream. It is the same image of indifference that seems to appear in relation to Berta’s siblings, who don’t care about Berta’s sacrifice. They don’t care if Berta and her desire have to be offered in sacrifice for a benefit of the jouissance of the Other. Le Clezio (2012) writes about how in the Purépecha Empire,5 which was governed in its whole by a monarch—the cazonci—as the divine entity, there were women specially dedicated to look after each of his necessities. When the death of the cazonci arrived, seven of his women were forced to share with him his destiny. This is

116  •  Chapter Six

a historical moment that makes an echo in Berta’s history, since she appears to follow and share the destiny of her mother, isolating herself from the world of her desire, in order to follow the craving will of a mother who only thinks of looking for a “compassionate”—that has mercy?—place for her disease. It is at this point when Berta decides to stop being the good daughter. It is no longer possible to fulfill that position. She has to unknow her mother, and unknow herself as a daughter of this woman who is indifferent toward her desire. It is necessary to go through the road of the phantom. She has then to go through the phantom of the family romance. A turn of the destiny occurs when Berta finds out she can’t be “deprived from her free will to the necessity of the destiny” (Cicerón 1999, 310). It occurs in a reminiscence of an event of her childhood. Piedad and Berta went out to buy food for breakfast. Piedad pays for some churros and “porras” with money from Berta’s parents, but also with her own money. This event lights on the idea in Berta that Piedad could be her mother for real, and then she could become her true daughter (Grandes 2015, 235). The connection between knowledge and flavor is outstanding. Only a true mother can know what tastes better for a daughter. Only a true mother can know her daughter’s favorite candy. And not only that, only a mother confirms her place by paying with her own money for what is most tasty to a daughter. This unique knowledge in relation to the favorite flavor of a daughter can unlawfully hold a true mother. So she takes from Piedad the argument, somehow inverted, of the family romance: “The masters were rich but old, but they raised as if he was theirs, a child of some very poor shepherds who regret it later, or not, but always managed to look after the child even at distance, and maybe, in my case it was not very different” (236). When she sees her mother in the dining room, Berta respectfully greets her, calling her Doña Carmen, which made people laugh noisily. Berta seems to deprive her mother into the indifference limbo, but more precisely, she deprives her from the relationship bond. Freud (1999) argued the family romance consists, in a silent way, on the idealization of the parents under the fantastic line of alterity. The romance possesses two moments: an asexual one, which implies the disappointment of not having obtained the parents in plenitude of love; and other sexual, where the mother is involved in some erotic bond with diverse lovers. Berta found in her mother an erotic moment with the so-­called uncle, Armando. This imaginary unfolding of the family romance emanates from a process of “beginnenden Entfremdung von den Eltern” (228), the incipient banishment of the parents. In order to commence the detachment from the parents and the exemption of their authority, it is necessary to unfold a position of hostility and discredit of the parents, even though the figure of a mother of certainty

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  117

remains. Unlike Berta, the adolescent subject imagines his real parents are better than the ones he has. His parents can’t be the real ones, because they don’t know how to love him the way he wants to be loved. Freud (2006a), in his correspondence with Fliess, explains this fantasy as a romance of alienation with the purpose of discrediting the so-­called relatives. This is what happens in Berta’s case. She wants to discredit her mother, paradoxically, without disrespecting her. She wants to doubt her mother, as a way of confronting her with her power. It shows the relevance, the après-­coup of that episode, in which mom comes to substitute the mother, but also to leave her out of any relationship bond with Berta. “If I didn’t have recovered that specific memory, a detail in appearance trivial, in relation with the complete course of my existence, in the very moment in which the last drop overflew the glass, maybe my life hadn’t changed at all.” (Grandes 2015, 236). There are some conditions to take into consideration, in the passage from the decision of sacrifice or imposed punishment to its constitution into action. One of these conditions consists in the very moment in which Berta receives a postal from Eugenio showing her that Piedad has become a mom. If Berta had already lost Piedad when she left with Eugenio, the other loss is confirmed, that of the fantasy in which Piedad could have been her real mother. But she is the mother of a boy. Berta finds herself with courage and fear at the same time. For a brief moment, the fear imposes, and she admits she could never leave her mother with the purpose to follow Marcos. The impossibility has set in her existence, restraining her vitality. All that is envisioned in the field of love, of passional breath, all she envisages is loss—including mathematics. She tells herself Piedad has marked her absence as a true event, a gap in her history, transforming into an irreplaceable figure. Piedad is now a mother, she has found a sequence of transformations, she has even found replacements for Berta, while Berta has been stuck in her way through aging. Berta has been growing and living, but under the “sign of that absence” (238). Because living under the weight of the absence of someone, being placed as irreplaceable, paradoxically implies to absent herself from life. Does this mean Piedad took with her something of Berta, dragging with her loss, her desire, that same desire that Piedad seemed to embody with her subversion, and as a consequence, she left her alone, fulfilling the destiny marked by her siblings as irrevocable? Berta, who couldn’t find the way to replace Piedad, to replace her mom, the owner of her overflowing erotism, has now replaced herself in the caring and assistance of the mother. In order to detach herself from this mother and her dominance, she has to begin a movement of alienation from her. After displaying in her imaginary, the family romance that exuberates her longing

118  •  Chapter Six

autonomy, Berta sees her mother with “strangeness” (244). She sees her mother as a stranger who clings to her position of sick person, with all her moaning. She expects a silence to rise, and she also provokes the silence, as Lacan (1968–1969) recalls, a scream is the place in where the presence of an “inminence intolérable de la jouissance,” an unbearable closeness of jouissance, arrives. She greets her mother calling her “Doña Carmen.” Her mother, transformed and reduced into Doña Carmen, no longer has power over her. Berta even expected some gesture of love from this woman who barely sees her. But things supposedly went into the opposite direction: It was Doña Carmen, the one who depended on Berta. They both lived a lie; they both played some roles and pretended Berta was subjugated by her mother. This is the same mirage that happens in the imaginary order of aggressive relations, in which the figures of the despot and the subjugated are mixed (Lacan, 2003). But even this cheat situated in the symbolic order, or the aptitude to fake pretense (Derrida, 2010), opens up a space for “desmadre,” which is a mexicanism (Academia Mexicana de la Lengua, 2010) used commonly to express a situation of laxity, scandal, “bronca” (García Robles 2012, 124). Berta puts on scene this “desmadre,” this scandalous disorder, this disorganization into the family quietness, relaxing the chains of the tyranny of her mother. Since her mother has never differentiated her from her siblings, since she “has never looked at me with different eyes” (Grandes 2015, 245) in relation to them, then Berta does not have to look at her as a mother, she has to look at her as a doña—a lady—among all other doñas. The jouissance resides in the place where Berta can react with her mother as a fellow to whom it is possible to react with the same hostile and even deadly indifference, as she could do it herself. The des/madre is shown in this family romance that allows to see the mother as a close but strange person, even to herself. She embodies a figure of relaxation. Berta finds her mother pretty relaxed in the erotic moment with Armando, the uncle. She also rediscovers herself in her origins as a strange being to the family order. Nevertheless, it is from that place of strangeness that she can value herself in a narcissistic way. “The strange daughter who had dared to love herself, the daughter of a maid, without realizing it was the way she had been seen by the others, the docile daughter who still resists to believe that her mother could direct to her in a hard tone, a dry tone, so foreign, in order to cover her panic inside a last order, precisely now that her orders have lost any value” (246). The orders from her mother lose value when Berta produces that imaginary disorder of the family romance, designating her mother as Doña Carmen. The audacity of making her mother a stranger, into the imaginary and symbolic dimensions, allowed the audacity to value herself.

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  119

As a consequence, the field is ready for a harebrained decision (237), the field is ready for another person to occupy her place as the caretaker of her mother, who uses her disease in a manipulative, enjoyable way. Berta writes to her siblings, who are also alienated by her, using an ironic discourse of her relationship bonds with them: “dear Mr./Mrs. due to some family reasons . . . prevent me from continuing taking care of your mother . . .” (247). This writing is a testimony of a moment of rupture, even if it implies pretending to fake there isn’t anything that unites them in terms of parentage anymore. As Lacan implies in his seminar (1967–1968), testimonies transmit the consequences of an event, the implications of the articulation of speech. The destiny seemed irreversible to Berta; it seemed to imply a certainty of absolute loneliness, predicted by the woman-­witch in her shared guilt with Piedad. It also seemed to be her destiny imposed by the arbitrary will of her siblings, of taking care of her mother under the image of the good daughter. Both destinies seemed to be assumed in the silence of Berta, until there was something crossing the limits of tolerance: leaving the city and finding herself isolated with her mother in silence in the countryside. Under those conditions, they both would have mixed and confused their loneliness and guilt. Under those circumstances, Berta would be plunged into an experience in which she would exist only for her mother. In this reedition of the preoedipal stage (Freud 2006e), diverse desires interact, provoking an intense anguish under the impression of poisoning danger or devouring. It also implied that she renounced her profession as a mathematics teacher in some town. As docile as she was with her siblings, she was never obedient to her duties with the minister of education. It was maybe in that field that she found her desire and her place as a subject, in an activity so challenging and innovative that allowed her to grow and to feel loved by her students. This desire is mobilized to make possible a silent scream, to make possible the rewriting of her history (Lacan 1981, 29). Berta does not explain the family issues she refers to in her letter, she silences her family reasons, but it is possible for her to open up a space for screaming, and at the same time, she expresses the peak of imprisonment, of the fastening of her mother jouissance, and also, the pleasant glimpse of liberation.

Notes 1.  The translation from French to English is ours. 2.  The novel we refer to, “Modelos de Mujer,” from which the story “La buena hija” comes that we refer to in our analysis, was originally written in Spanish. All translations to English are ours.

120  •  Chapter Six

3.  Translation from French is ours. 4. “Piedad” also means “mercy.” 5. The purépechas constituted one of the widest ancient cultures in Mexico, before the Spanish conquer in 1521.

Works Cited Academia Mexicana de la Lengua. 2010. Mexicanismo. México: Siglo XXI. Brun, D. 2013. L’insidieuse malfaisance du père. Paris: Odile Jacob. Caro Baroja, J. 2006. Las brujas y su mundo. Madrid: Alianza. Cicerón. 1990. Sobre el destino. Madrid: Gredos. Decker, H. S. 1999. Freud, Dora y la Viena de 1900. Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva. Derrida, J. 2010. Seminario. La bestia y el soberano. Vol. I (2001–2002). Buenos Aires: Bordes Manantial. Dolto, F. 2006. La imagen inconsciente del cuerpo. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Freud, S. 1999. “Der Familienroman der Neurotiker.” In Gesammelte Werke VII. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer. Freud, S. 2006a. “Fragmentos de la correspondencia con Fliess.” In J. Strachey (ed.), Etcheverry, J.L. (trans.), Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud (2nd ed., Vol. I). Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. ———. 2006b. “Estudios sobre la histeria.” In J. Strachey (ed.), Etcheverry, J.L. (trans.), Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud (2nd ed., Vol. II). Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. ———. 2006c. “Análisis fragmentario de un caso de histeria.” In J. Strachey (ed.), Etcheverry, J.L. (trans.), Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud (2nd ed., Vol. VII). Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. ———. 2006d. “El yo y el Ello.” In J. Strachey (ed.), Etcheverry, J.L. (trans.), Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud (2nd ed., Vol. XIX). Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. ———. 2006e. “Nuevas Conferencias de introducción al psicoanálisis.” Conferencia 33, La feminidad. In J. Strachey (ed.), Etcheverry, J.L. (trans.), Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud (2nd ed., Vol. XXII). Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. García-­Robles, J. 2012. Diccionario de Modismos Mexicanos. México: Porrúa. Grandes, A. 2015. Modelos de mujer. Barcelona: Tusquets Editores. Lacan, J. 1981. Los escritos técnicos de Freud. Translated by Cevasco, R.; Mira Pascual, V. Buenos Aires: Paidós. ———. 1990a. Las psicosis. Translated by Delmont-­Mauri, J.L.; Rabinovich, D.L. Buenos Aires: Paidós. ———. 1990b. La ética del psicoanálisis. Translated by Rabinovich, D.L. Buenos Aires: Paidós. ———. 1999. Las formaciones del inconsciente. Translated by Rabinovich, D.L. Buenos Aires: Paidós. ———. 2003. La familia. Translated by Fishman, V. Buenos Aires: Argonauta.

Destinies of Silence, Silence of Destiny   •  121

———. 1964–1965. Les problèmes cruciaux pour la psychanalyse. Lesson of 17 March 1975. Unpublished. ———. 1966–1967. La Logique du fantasme. Lesson of 1 March 1967. Unpublished. ——— 1967–1968. L’acte psychanalytique. Lesson of 27 March 1968. Unpublished. ———. 1968–1969. D’un Autre à l’autre. Lesson of 12 March 1969. Unpublished. Le Clezio, J. M. G. 2012. La conquista divina de Michoacán. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Maffi, C. 2005. Freud y lo simbólico. Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión. Mannoni, O. 1980. Ficciones freudianas. Madrid: Fundamentos. Michelet, J. 2013. La bruja. Madrid: Akal/Gandhi. Ortigues, M. C. & E. 2012. Cómo se decide una psicoterapia de niños. Buenos Aires: Gedisa. Stendhal, H. B. 1977. Rojo y negro. México: Editores Mexicanos Unidos


Creative Silence in the Works of Frida Kahlo Delphine Scotto Di Vettimo, translated by Victoria Grace

I will begin with the following two quotations from the biography that Hayden Herrera (2013/1983, 82) dedicated to Frida Kahlo: “All of her life, she would desire a child that she never had,” and “It is in the blue house of Coyoacán where one finds the silent witnesses of this unsatisfied desire: a series of books on natural childbirth, a foetus conserved in formaldehyde—a gift from Dr Eloesser in 1941—which she would keep in her bedroom, as well as an overwhelming collection of dolls, and miniature items of furniture and accessories” (emphasis added). To interrogate what, in the process of artistic creation in the works of Frida Kahlo, is of the order of the unrepresentable and of silence, par excellence, it is appropriate to start from the autobiographical story of this Mexican artist, an autobiographical narrative that is extremely refined. This becomes clear, for example, when Frida Kahlo confided in a letter of September 29, 1926 to Alejandro Gómex Arias, signed in her own hand: “A few days ago, just a few days ago, I was a young girl who walked in a world of colors.[. . .] Everything was a mystery. [. . .] Now, I inhabit a painful planet, transparent, like ice, but which hides nothing” (Tibol 2007, 61), a tension that already attests to how much this revelation is affected by the coefficient of the unspeakable, at the very heart of the epistolary relationship. Gérard Wacjman (2004) testifies to this when he writes: “That which is hidden is a condition of the subject. There is no subject in a world of glass, of absolute transparency. There must be some shadow so that the subject 123

124  •  Chapter Seven

can enclose his or her life there. There must be an intimate territory of the subject” (2004, 465). In the light of the artist’s testimony and of Gérard Wacjman’s proposal, it appears doubly challenging to want to deal with the question of the unrepresentable and of silence in artistic expression. Nevertheless, this is the challenge that will be addressed in this essay. The masterful works of Frida Kahlo’s paintings (1907–1954) have been catalogued over and over as “autobiographical,” due in particular to the series of self-­portraits, of portraits and paintings that are highly personal, and of which she would say in an unequivocal way: “I never painted dreams. That which I represented was my reality” (Fuentes 1995, 14). This particular vision, as well as these comments made by the artist, but also her many sources of inspiration from literature, medicine, and art, will serve as a common thread to approach her work, in the light of the Freudian and Lacanian theory on artistic creation. This approach equally allows for a detailed study of the observation made by Murielle Gagnebin (1984): “[. . .] the substance in a work of art[. . .] seems to carry the possibility of discovering an irremediable caesura” (1984, 8, emphasis added).1 This immediately places absence at the heart of the work; in other words, it foregrounds that which is hidden, dissimulated, the un-­said, the unrepresentable which accounts for the difficulty in seizing, figuratively, psychic suffering, in particular that following a trauma, which constitutes the epicentre of my reflection. Similarly, beyond the fascination that a work of art can elicit, for Gagnebin its precise meaning “[. . .] appears marked with a seal of the unseizable” (1984, 5), and it is specifically this point of abutment that offers a framework for addressing the psychic dynamics at play. From then on, the act of painting for Frida, which is an integral part of a trauma whose stake is to transform it into a creative event, links intimately the problem of the unsaid, of the unspeakable, to that of “the emergence of this unfigurability, as the condition of all figuration,” as Murielle Gagnebin writes (1984, 22). Frida Kahlo has been proclaimed “the greatest painter of the beginning of the twentieth century.” Her life was marked firstly by poliomyelitis (at six years of age), then by a shocking bus accident at the age of eighteen years, leaving her with a legacy of irreversible bodily damage, in addition to a chaotic and tumultuous marriage, and a life equally marked by three miscarriages and the impossibility of having a child. She died prematurely at the age of forty-­seven. Frida Kahlo has everything that could represent the prototype of those artists who create art from the experience of pain. It is well-­known

Creative Silence in the Works of Frida Kahlo   •  125

that she used her personal conjugal and emotional lived experience, but also her body, and the intimacy of her biological experience, as a site of introspection, of self-­analysis (Crenn 2008, 2) and of inspiration, the quintessence of which was painting. Such an approach becomes further complicated, however, as I wish to shift away from a “simple” autobiographical approach for at least two reasons. Firstly: “the biographical perspective generally obscures the true work of self-­representation that preoccupied Kahlo” (Lomas 2001, 328). With these crucial words by David Lomas, we are immediately confronted with the delicate question of the reductionist dimension of the biographical approach. Secondly, to concentrate on what I qualify as unrepresentable in the work, that which Murielle Gagnebin refers to as the “[. . .] impossible capture” (1984, 8) and that leads her to say that this absence at the heart of the work would bring us back to the enigmatic forces of the unconscious (always in motion) of the artist. To formulate it in this way is to consider the activation of the unconscious in creative work as a veritable paradigm. In the light of this, I propose finally to interrogate silence, not as an expression of a gap or a capitulation, but a necessity: to create a vacuum around oneself, the creative work being easily comparable to giving birth to a child and evacuating, in a certain way, all other forms of procreation (Gagnebin 1984, 37), to the extent that the painting itself becomes transitorily the unique horizon of the artist. In this way, the birth of the soul and the birth of the flesh are bound together, with artistic birth being a “felt act” that is essentially solitary, according to an epithet used by Murielle Gagnebin in this context. From this dialectic, the analysis of the singularity of the course taken by Frida Kahlo passes through her statements, of course, but also through interviews, witnesses, biographies, sketches, lithographies, and her paintings, about which she will affirm in her lifetime that they mark the continuity between her life and her work.

Theoretical Argument Leonardo de Vinci would describe painting as “a silent poetry” (Gagnon 1999, 2), like a form of language; reflecting on this formulation, we can say that it at least resonates with Lacanian language. Lacan uses the form of the Klein bottle to portray how a topology of silence can be compared “[. . .] with the space enclosed by the surface of the Klein bottle. The reign of silence seems ‘to rise and descend in this space that is centred and open’” (Morin 2009, 11) to form a closed knot.

126  •  Chapter Seven

Conceptualizing silence as taking on “the primordial character of this hole that makes the cry” (Morin 2009, 11), Freud distinguishes, in the expression of the cry, that which manifests the first presence of the other. In such a way, “the cry is traversed by the space of silence without inhabiting it; and Lacan emphasises that the cry and the silence ‘are not linked by their existing together, nor by their succeeding one another’” (Morin 2009, 11); this constitutes a crucial point for us here. From the logic of silence, Lacan deduces “that which the picture would show—this hole from which things escape” (Juranville 2020, 143) in fact applies exactly to the function of silence, as an echo of the void, a gaping that characterises the real feminine, “a gaping that is unfillable because it is structural” (Juranville 2020, 114), as Anne Juranville recalls. But for an artist like Frida, this primordial state of emptiness, this place of the void, this chasm, is going to be an opening: From the developments produced by the surrealists, let’s remember that which promotes the “[. . .] picture like a window actually opened on the world of the inside” (Gagnon 1999, 10); that is to say, an intimate space of engenderment of which the work is the culmination. In a more prosaic way, silence is consubstantial with artistic creation; when Frida would paint, she devoted long hours to it (Herrera 2013, 185) in a state of extreme concentration and did not want to be interrupted. Diego ensured it. Actively consenting to the rigors of the void in the process of creation, by “the grace of a leaving it be” (Juranville 2020, 258), remains paradigmatic of the aspiration for silence, with the implication of accepting “[. . .] to close the window” (Gagnon 1999, 10) and to temporarily withdraw from the world.

A Painting That Intrigues It was an exhibition on the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Museum de l’Orangerie in Paris2 that sparked my wish to work on the function of the object in art, and the way the object can effectively interpellate us, summon us, or destabilize us. Hubert Damisch goes as far as suggesting that to read a painting, it is not only to look at what it shows us, but, in effect, to see “how it thinks” (Juranville 2020, 145). This was precisely my predilection when I chose this path, in the light of one work in particular: Self-­portrait with bed or Me and my doll, produced in 1937. This canvas enhances the radicality of the test of miscarriage and provides a framework for the expression of temporality specific to this event, which I designate as traumatic.

Creative Silence in the Works of Frida Kahlo   •  127

We will now take a leap back in time to enter into the heart of the matter. It is 1930. Frida Kahlo, married to Diego Rivera, is forced to terminate a first pregnancy for medical reasons. In 1932, while they are living in Detroit in the United States, she is again pregnant, even though the doctors were very skeptical regarding the possibility of a pregnancy being carried to full term following her very serious accident seven years earlier. Her pelvis, having been fractured in three places, now prevented a normal position for the baby and therefore of any possibility of procreation, in spite of her obvious desire for maternity. However, it seems that this reason is not the only explanation of this incapacity to give birth. In 1934, her medical file mentions the following: “[. . .] when she was pregnant for the third time, a certain Dr Zollinger ordered her to abort at three months because of an ‘infantilism’ of the ovaries” (Herrera 2013, 538), and elsewhere, as noted by Herrera, Frida Kahlo herself affirmed that “[. . .] all of the female organs had retained certain infantile characteristics throughout her life. They were the organs of a little girl in the body of a woman” (Herrera 2013, 538). After having received the medical opinion at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, she nevertheless continued her pregnancy and had a miscarriage on the 4th of July, 1932, during which she lived in a nightmare for fifteen days. The medical verdict fell on her as a severing of all hope of having a child: she would never be a mother. This is a dark period for the artist who learned at the same time of the agony of her own mother in Mexico. On leaving the hospital, Frida would paint two of her most intimate works: The Hospital of Henry Ford and My Birth, neither of which I will discuss here. Turning now to 1937, this year marks a particular evolution when Frida started to take her professional life more seriously, painting with increased discipline and a considerable improvement in her technique. In the space of twelve months, she produced more works than in the course of the first eight years of her marriage (Herrera 2013, 259). This profusion is not to forget the internal, tearing trauma—which, for Frida, takes the appearance of an insoluble contradiction between her desire to become a mother and her two miscarriages—always manifest in her productions. She had a remarkable capacity to bring to light the stakes of procreation, to galvanize her pain in the lived experience of being a woman incapable of becoming a mother, constituting a starting point for a framework of her artistic realization. What more can be said, except that painting enabled her to live her vocation as an act of birth, marked by several works that very year that show she “[. . .] always suffered from not being a mother” (Herrera 2013, 11 and 263),

128  •  Chapter Seven

and that the neuralgic point of her work consisted in making do with “this void” that inhabited her? We will now turn to examine this point.

Between Silence, the Unspeakable, and the Unrepresentable I turn now to examine this work Self-­portrait with bed or Me and my doll, a painting that is at once poignant and baffling. It contributes “to ‘teach’ us” (Juranville 2020, 81), with the strong meaning that Lacan gives this term, in the sense where, for the artist: “the object of creation [. . .] pretends to make a real exist, a real outside of the world, in the heart of the world” (Assoun 2004, 31), which, after a narcissistic collapse, would constitute “its remedy” (2004, 35) in a way. The canvas shows the artist sitting on a small bed “[. . .] next to a large, naked and lifeless doll [. . .] whose vacant, fixed smile contrasts with Frida’s sober posture” (Herrera 2013, 11 and 183). Frida is not looking at “the child” but at the viewer: “A cigarette in her hand, she is the incarnation of solitude itself” (Herrera 2013, 184), which reinforces this baffling mixture of infantile nostalgia and extreme gravity, since Frida is said to have had a third miscarriage at this time (2013, 263) or to have had another abortion. This painting, a veritable nodal point of a scenario that involves this battered body, seems overdetermined by a nostalgia for her own childhood (Herrera 2013, 263). But it seems, above all, to present the principle of an irresistible impetus in the artist who sees, in this ordeal of the loss of her child, the wellspring, even the condition, of her desire to paint that which cannot be said: With the doll that is “silent,” itself pointing to the epicenter of this tragedy, it creates an opening outside to the scene of the world. Hayden Herrera affirms it in this way: “In effect, the young woman defines herself as the child she cannot have. This frustration is again the most evident in Me and my doll” (Herrera 2013, 263), where she highlights in a timeless way the sort of concomitant test of dispossession corresponding to the traumatic separation from the object, a tipping point in the emptiness of the real “where silence rushes in,” as Lacan tells us (1965). Besides the sobriety, what makes this work enigmatic is the silence, where time seems to be suspended, the immobility of Frida “who poses,” obviously reinforced by “the doll object”: something that evokes here a container and its purpose, the naked baby doll as an add-­on, as an exile from the feminine. Beyond this, the ordeal of finitude can appear as though putting into play an existential element of the feminine, a void that is not of the register of a lack but of the contingencies of life, including that of not being able to “carry” a child, which Frida puts in the foreground. This is witnessed also by

Creative Silence in the Works of Frida Kahlo   •  129

David Lomas when he writes: “It is possible that for Kahlo, the experience of an abortion served to confirm this exclusion of the feminine from language” (Lomas 2001, 328). In this way, this canvas symbolizes solitude and leads Laura García Sánchez to affirm that: “It is a picture that shows how nothing would be able to attenuate the pain of not being a mother. Instead of the conventional image of maternal love, she has been represented as a woman with a sober gesture, sitting rigidly and smoking while ignoring her ‘child,’ a cardboard doll with a mocking smile” (Frida Kahlo 2019, 44) who seems to have been made up for the occasion. Finally, a brief bracket, in the period to follow, the artist will also turn to painting fruits and flowers somehow as living beings, in a way of projecting onto them this obsession with fertility. For her, painting was certainly the best protective screen from an omnipresent sterility, which we find again in the desertic, austere backgrounds in so many of her self-­portraits. The theme of the picture entitled Roots, which she produced in 1943, in my view particularly condenses this problematic of fertility: “It is her own body that Frida plants there” (Herrera 2013, 371), a body from which sprouts a network of leafy vines as a metaphor for her aspiration for fertility. This canvas shows the desire of the artist “to embed” (2013, 371) (s’enchâsser) herself in nature: “Frida connected her own body to the chain of life” (2013, 372) in giving birth to a plant whose roots shoot from her body even while mixing with her blood. Furthermore, this hypothesis redoubles another, meaning that even if the principal source of creation “[. . .] is the missing piece” (Assoun 2004, 33), in the sense given by Paul-­Laurent Assoun as that which engulfs the real (the unknowable), the work does not embellish any reality: The work “makes the world stand for its author” (2004, 33) in the sense whereby an object is created that would be a means to link the life and death drives. In other words, as Assoun writes: “The artist—‘the creator’—is she who is retained on the verge of the syncope3 by her work” (2004, 39), or again from collapse, from bursting, from wasting. Freud advocated the legitimacy, the pertinence of psychoanalysis as applied to art in the sense where creations, whether they be pictorial or literary, would not be produced so much to express something but rather “[. . .] to speak oneself or to paint oneself” (Gagnebin 1984, 172). This assertion is very meaningful: It promotes the concept of projection; the artist “projects himself or herself” in his or her work. Does Frida Kahlo manage to express the object of her suffering, to give it a content by way of representation? Does this pictorial representation enable a real elaboration, or even the overcoming of this traumatic lived experience of loss?

130  •  Chapter Seven

Here the spectator finds himself or herself directly intepellated by this incongruous, and almost surreal, character of this doll. Could we not equally read here “[. . .] the confession more of less conscious, of an actual impotence” (Gagnebin 1984, 177) to deploy on the space of the canvas “this non-­place,” this lived experience of non-­sense as a real inherent in the traumatic experience of abortion? Of course, all figuration implies some choice, everything cannot be figured, there are necessarily absences, falls, some unsaid (1984, 23). Finally, one could say that Frida Kahlo painted here a remainder that is plastically expressed by the presence of this “baby-­doll” object; in a way, one could argue that she paints her divestiture of the world (1984, 23) since the shock of her new miscarriage and the painful lucidity of her incapacity to bear children “[. . .] made Frida say that she wanted to die” (Herrera 2013, 184), momentarily dragging her into depression. In front of this rather pared-­down work, can we not perceive the persistence of a hidden, deeper, instinctive tragedy, more profound and of the order of the drives? That of the double loss: the desired child that would make her a mother. In other words, this picture would be a witness to this irruption of the real as a frightening echo of the real of the void of being, to incompleteness and to finitude. Silence, which emanates from the canvas and is again accentuated by the presence of the doll, does not incarnate renunciation: “[. . .] it is a silence that needs a space outside of meaning to hear the palpitations of the world and to write them in other ways by reducing them to the letter” (Morin 2009, 18), which aims to unfold in the writing as such of the painting. This is the salutary outcome of an alternative—where the other would be a fixation on the traumatic scene—whereby the act of painting would become a compelling recourse, the solution of a psyche brutally confronted with the vacuity of the world. What is shown in the case of this work, with a striking acuity, is the veritable transformation of this ordeal into a creative event, as an elaboration around a hole, raising an object (the expelled foetus, abject, shocking) “to an artistic dignity” (Juranville 2020, 180) and leading the artist to pictorial inventions that reveal, in the words of Anne Juranville, “the resulting miraculous transformation of reality” (2020, 180), at once emblematic.

In Conclusion “I’m not going well, and I’m going to get worse, but I learn little by little to be alone and it is already something, an advantage, a small triumph,” Frida Kahlo wrote in 1937 (Jamis 1995, 248 emphasis added).

Creative Silence in the Works of Frida Kahlo   •  131

To conclude, this blunt interrogation of maternity in the work Self-­portrait with bed or Me and my doll, invites us to an ongoing reflection on the links between psychoanalysis and art, of course, but also on the transformation of the failure of procreation into a successful creative activity. In the year of her death, the artist will confide to a friend: “My painting carries in it the message of pain [. . .]. Painting has completed my life. I have lost three children [. . .]. The paintings have substituted for all that” (Herrera 2013, 184), or, at the very least, one could say for a part of “all that.” What about the other part, the “remainder” then, if it is not to consider it as a negation which precisely actions the work of art, marking it in her flesh with the seal of the elusive and the unrepresentable? Negation, absence, silence, void; as surprising as it may seem, we can bring to this constellation of terms a character of fecundity, valorizing the hollow, the void, promoting there “[. . .] the negation in the very fabric of the work of art” (Gagnebin 1984, 16), and from this something can spring forth: in the sense of Murielle Gagnebin, “a supplement of reality” (1984, 16). Anne Juranville summarizes this idea with a striking statement: “To freeze on some impossible, ‘to aim at the real’, by ‘showing the hole,’ is the essence of art and its truth. Truth of ‘the absence that is put before the eyes [. . .]’” (Juranville 2017, 137); of the viewer: “the absence [which] is, perhaps, the work of art” to paraphrase Pierre Fédida (1978, 7). And in which silence, a kind of test of the void of being—both initiatory and iterative—echoes. “That which we cannot say, we can show” (Wittgenstein 1989, 107).

Notes 1.  The caesura, between two lines of a poem, marks the separation between two words, which marks the end of a meter; synonymous with the cut. 2.  Exhibition of the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Musée National de l’Orangerie, Paris, 9 October 2013–13 January 2014. 3.  A syncope is an abrupt loss of consciousness, sometimes caused by a cardiac arrest.

References Assoun, Paul-­Laurent. 2004. “La ‘Création’ à L’Epreuve de la Métapsychologie. L’Objet Inconscient de la Creation” [‘Creation’ put to the Test of Metapsychology. The Unconscious Object of Creation]. In Psychisme et Création [Psyche and Creation], edited by Céline Masson, 17–41. Paris: L’Esprit du Temps. Crenn, Julie. 2008. “Frida Kahlo, La Chair Ouverte” [Frida Kahlo, The Open Flesh]. Genre & Histoire [Gender and History], 2: 1–11.

132  •  Chapter Seven

Fédida, Pierre. 1978. L’Absence [Absence]. Paris: Gallimard. Frida Kahlo. 2019. Madrid: Éditions Susaeta SA. Fuentes, Carlos. 1995. Le Journal de Frida Kahlo [The Diary of Frida Kahlo]. Paris: Éditions du Chêne. Translated from Spanish by Rauda Jamis. Gagnebin, Murielle. 1984. L’Irreprésentable ou les Silences de L’Oeuvre [The Unrepresentable or Silence in the Work]. Paris: PUF. Gagnon, François-­ Marc. 1999. “Le Silence dans la Peinture Contemporaine” [Silence in Contemporary Painting]. Théologiques 7 (2): 53–77. Herrera, Hayden. 2013/1983. FRIDA. Une Biographie de Frida Kahlo [A Biography of Frida Kahlo]. Paris: Flammarion. Translated from English (États-­Unis) by Philippe Beaudoin. Jamis, Rauda. 1995. Frida Kahlo, Biographie [Frida Kahlo, Biography]. Arles: Actes Sud, Collection Babel. Juranville, Anne. 2020. Demain sera Féminin? Indifférence et Différence des Sexes. Ce que L’Art Enseigne à la Psychanalyse [Will Tomorrow be Feminine? Indifference and Difference of the sexes. What Art teaches Psychoanalysis]. Paris: Éditions Les Contemporains Favoris. Juranville, Anne. 2017. La Psychanalyse à L’Epreuve de L’Art. Le Féminin, le Procès de la Création [Psychoanalysis put to the test of art. The feminine, the trial of creation]. Saarbrücken: Éditions universitaires européennes. Juranville, Anne. 2009. “La Sensation dans le Processus Visionnaire de la Création chez Virginia Woolf” [Sensation in the Visionary Process of Virginia Woolf’s Creation]. Cliniques Méditerranéennes 80: 81–95. Lacan, Jacques. 1965. “À Propos de la Chose” [About the Thing]. In Seminar XII. Problèmes cruciaux pour la psychanalyse [Crucial Problems for Psychoanalysis], unpublished proceedings, seminar of 17th March 1965. Lomas, David. 2001. “Lenguajes Corporales: Kahlo y la Imaginería Médica” [Bodily languages: Kahlo and the medical imaginary]. In Crítica Feminista en la Teoría e Historia del Arte [Feminist Critique in the Theory and History of Art], edited by Karen Cordero and Inda Sáenz, 327–43. Ciudad de México, México: Universidad Iberoamericana. Morin, Isabelle. 2009. “Œuvre de Silence” [Work of Silence]. Psychanalyse [Psychoanalysis] 2 (15): 5–19. Tibol, Raquel. 2007. Frida by Frida. A Selection of Letters and Texts. Paris: Éditions Christian Bourgeois. Translated from Spanish by Christilla Vasserot. Wacjman, Gérard. 2004. Fenêtre: Chroniques du regard et de l’intime [Window: Chronicles of the look and intimacy]. Lagrasse: Verdier. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1989. Tractatus logico-­philosophicus. Paris: Gallimard, Collection Tel. Translated from German (Royaume-­Uni) by Gilles-­Gaston Granger.


Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate Two Narratives about Feminine Care of Old People, Something of Which There Is Nothing Left and That Returns to Interrogate Us Eurídice Sosa Peinado, translated by Helen Harper

Introduction A century after the contexts narrated in Rosario Castellanos’s and Laura Esquivel’s literature, about feminine characters who look after others, the nanny and granny figures seem to have faded. The new circumstances, among which longer life expectancy stands out, have led to multiple transformations. This new reality brings up, among other questions: with whom and how will we live as life expectancy duplicates? What will our quality of life be like? If necessary, will someone look after us? Whom will we women look after, and how will we look after ourselves in the twenty-­first century? What will the new narratives of feminine care while growing old in our societies be? These questions will be addressed through four sections: The first is focused on thinking about the place of care as a “no place,” especially for women who look after old people; the second describes old-­age care in the context of increased life expectancy; in order to analyze fragments of Rosario Castellanos’s works about female carers and old-­age care in the third; and finally the fourth analyses the drama in Laura Esquivel’s novel Cómo agua 133

134  •  Chapter Eight

para chocolate, to investigate the possibilities and impossibilities marked in a tradition where the younger daughter looks after her elders. At the end of this journey, some reflections about this first foray into the topic and some new questions are proposed. I consider it necessary to warn you that this exploratory journey has an important precedent in a deeper research during my PhD, which was focused on the question: What do young people think about the aging process and old age? This led me to explore the diverse narratives within literature about practices to confront ageing in popular stories, for example that of Huitzilopochtli, who arranged for her sister Malinalxóchitl to look after their parents without asking about or considering her wishes.

The Place of “No Place” In La verdadera vida. Un mensaje a los jóvenes, Alain Badiou questions the dilemmas that young women face in the twenty-­first century, when they are experiencing an intense process of life and reconstruction of social institutions. Especially in the chapter titled “A propósito del devenir contemporáneo de las chicas,” which confirms: In traditional society, the cursed part is always that of women. The single mother is an example of that. The single woman is another. By definition, a daughter should be young, meaning that a single woman is a place that is a “no place.” This topic of a displaced place is a classic structural theme. (Badiou 2017, 56)

Some examples of this statement can be found in literature, specifically in the Mexican feminine narrative that, in some fragments and little details, shows us scenes from the lives of the invisible and almost imperceptible women who look after old people in a place that is a “no place” and displaced from being the protagonists or the subject of the narrative, but also from their own lives. For the following reflection, I propose that readers share the risk that Alain Badiou suggests to us, following as a guide the search for the place of the displaced, in this case women who look after their elders. For that, we will try to detect some traces, ideas, and practices people are used to related to those young women who have dedicated their lives to such work in the stories of the two Mexican female authors, in order to know a little more about the processes or dilemmas that have meant that women caretakers do not occupy the role of protagonists, those who are visible and

Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate   •  135

sustain the drama of a narrative, on the contrary, they have been displaced to secondary roles, to that “no place” as carers for others, invisible but very present in the family scene, in the private sphere of what occurs inside the house walls, and that which Alain Badiou reminds us of citing Plato: What is family? Already in Plato we can see that three important social functions exist: produce, reproduce and defend. Work is what produces, family is the place where reproduction takes place and one’s homeland is what is defended. Between production and protection, the daughter who is converted to a woman, locked into maternal labors, guarantees reproduction. (Badiou 2017, 58)

In effect, in that intimacy is where social reproduction takes place. Then, in the way that the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg (2000) suggests we trace in micro-­history, we will also look for the tracks of these forms of social reproduction in the daily routine, in the naturalized, in the repetition of family practices surrounding feminine care of old people, who have remained captured in the literature of those two Mexican women, in order to try to find the sense and meaning of those practices.

The Thread of Reproduction and Looking after the Family in the Twentieth Century A second point of the present reflection, as we have already mentioned, will be to think about the social reproduction through care, especially of the elderly, that both authors describe in their narratives. In both narratives, it is possible to analyze different moments of the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and identify whether something of what emerges from the silent caretakers sheds light on the invisibility of children’s nannies and old people in today’s society. From Plato’s time to ours, it has been affirmed that the family is where humans reproduce; however, what is not as transparent nor so obvious is that this fundamental condition for human life is sustained in a particular way by women, especially when it is to do with nonautonomous subjects, such as children and old people who require special care. This situation has been so naturalized that it seems to be a permanent, unmovable, and invisible situation in society, meaning that feminine care takes on a ghostly character. The care that a mother has for her child or that of a daughter for her parents appears so natural that Judith Butler (2016), with her critical eye, analyzes it as a form of social reproduction. That is how in this analysis

136  •  Chapter Eight

Graph 1. Progression of life expectancy in Mexico. México 1930–2016. Own elaboration with Census database INEGI, 2016. Created by Eurídice Sosa Peinado.

through literature, we will attempt to look for the silent, to discover whether that “no place” of women who look after old people has changed through time or if it remains the same, but also to get to the bottom of who and how care of elderly people has been carried out and is carried out in the present, with the aim of ensuring the process of growing old in the future and elderly people’s autonomy. A first condition to highlight is that in the transition from the twentieth to the twenty-­first century, many changes have occurred that have repercussions for care and reproduction in family life due to the fact that the duration of care between birth and when a human being becomes autonomous in our neoliberal societies is becoming ever longer, and care of the elderly from the moment they cease to be productive until their death is much longer. In addition, everything indicates that this time of needing care will increase. The second condition to highlight is that in the last seventy years, there has been an increasing tendency to access, use, and appropriate science and technology (Olivé 2008), and the conditions and resources available in terms of biological, psychological, and sociocultural health, among other things, have modified our lives due to the general use of such powerful technologies like antibiotics and vaccines that contribute to prolonging life, which has meant a drastic change in duplicating life expectancy—particularly after World War II—especially in urban societies. Graph 1 shows this progression in Mexico.

Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate   •  137

In the same way, falling maternal and infant mortality rates have had a striking impact on demographic evolution; meaning, on the one hand, families are reduced, and there are fewer people able to look after nonautonomous members, and on the other hand, the number of living people increases the general population, as well as the number of people requiring care in old age.

From Darkness to the Board of Ladies: A Trajectory of the Twentieth Century, Narrated by Rosario Castellanos Rosario Castellanos’s novels were written around the middle of the twentieth century; nonetheless, the majority of them portray the context experienced in the Mexican southeast at the end of the nineteenth century, and the first decades of the twentieth, like Balúm Canán, La ciudad real, and Oficio de tinieblas, which marvelously envelop us in rural life, its people, rhythms, occupations, and, above all, beliefs in the family and the links that sustain its relationships. In these stories, nannies appear as women who have always existed. It is as if they had always been there, that silent and acting feminine, busy with those requirements and care of some of the most vulnerable. Through these stories, we know that they were the ones who made food, rushed around with household chores, moved, fetched, and carried, and were those who took charge of the children and the old people who needed daily company in all the fundamental life tasks: eat, wash, move around, get dressed, sunbathe, and play. In Rosario Castellanos’s narratives, they are not the protagonists in the dialogues, but they are part of the house’s inhabitants and, as a last resort, they are the ones who sustain life inside the home and the family. They are silent beings about their worries, they do not have a voice, but they do not narrate their reasons for being or existential conflicts either; though we can suppose that they have abandoned their lives and projects to look after others, particularly those who are not autonomous. Something to notice is that Rosario does mention the nannies, even though she does not explicitly talk about the assumptions that support those practices of care and company. This is the way that she always makes them present in her narrative: The nannies are witnesses and company, silent about their own lives, carriers of truths like that in the narrative above, where Castellanos situates the coordinates of the link between indigenous peoples and mestizos, the plundering of words, of their language, and with that, memory, a fundamental element of life:

138  •  Chapter Eight

My nanny takes me by the hand through the street. . . . The nanny makes me walk quickly.[. . .] When she has finished serving, she sits down.[. . .] She solemnly extends her hands towards the fire and keeps them there for a few moments. They talk and make as if to close the circle around her. I anxiously break it—Nanny, I am cold. She, as always since I was born, pulled me over to her bosom. It is warm and loving. But it will have a blister, a blister that we have irritated. (Rosario Castellanos 2016a, 20–21, 24)

These are fragments that the protagonist narrates about her nanny; the importance she has in her life and her attitude do not appear in first person. In that way, the ghostly figure emerges of that woman who, as the protagonist states, has been her companion since she was born. The first part of the book closes with the telling phrase: I go in trembling. In the darkness, I cannot guess the factions of the lump that has come to stand in front of me. I believe to have guessed the figure of an Indian woman without age, with no face. —Nanny, I cry softly.[. . .] —I am with you my girl. I will come when you call me, like a dove when it scatters the corn grains.[. . .] (Rosario Castellanos 2016a, 66)

As Rosario tells us, they are the unconditional companions even in darkness, those who are there for everything, in every context and circumstance; to accompany, even in a state of darkness, so common in the wooded region of los Altos de Chiapas. This is how we know about these women and unconditional caretakers through their own narratives; nonetheless, little is known or said about who looks after old people. This care is even more silenced. However, in her later dramatic work, there is a marvelous theatrical piece, Tablero de damas, published for the first time in 1952, in which a meeting of writer friends and acquaintances occurs faced with the imminent death of the person who summoned them, a successful and solitary female poet. The narrative is not set in the era of her previous novels, but rather in the middle of the twentieth century, and the scenes occur in the “suite of a luxury hotel in Acapulco” (Rosario Castellanos 2016b, 279). This work presents various problematic situations of the feminine circumscribed in an urban and postwar context, now of busy women, writers, and poets, and it is here where our author explicitly addresses some of the dilemmas about the care of old people with the pretext of the women’s meeting. We will focus on some fragments of the debate between two single women:

Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate   •  139

Matilde, the established poet and organizer of the meeting, and Aurora, the young poet who has been invited. —Aurora: Matilde, please let me stay. —Matilde: You? —Aurora: I know that I am nobody to aspire to that . . . —Matilde: But you will have a family as well. —Aurora: Oh, that is not important, my mother does not know where I am. And even if I never returned home, she would not know where to look for me. Patricia would keep the secret. —Matilde: Working as my secretary is very demanding. It would take up all your time. (Rosario Castellanos 2016b, 315)

The dialogue is about how Aurora will become the secretary of the sacred writer, which will imply her renouncing her own life project to look after her and accompany only her, putting her own family life on hold, even abandoning her writing; therefore, the following dialogue continues to surprise us. —Aurora: What do I want time for? —Matilde: You have your career, your future. —Aurora: I would give it up in order to serve you. What you do is much more important than what I will never be able to do. (Rosario Castellanos 2016b, 315–6)

This wonderful intergenerational dialogue puts in relief the willingness of the young woman faced with the dilemma of dedicating herself to caring for the older writer, without the possibility of fulfilling her life objectives. This option is put forward in a very enlightening way in the following fragment: —Aurora: You do not realize, but you are not able to look after yourself not even for the most insignificant things, you even need someone to light a cigarette. —Matilde: And why is that important? What reward do you want if I allow you to serve me? —Aurora: None, I would not do it for money. (Rosario Castellanos 2016b, 316)

140  •  Chapter Eight

Another interesting aspect of the conversation is the frank recognition that an intergenerational exchange is possible, and that from the young woman’s point of view, caring for the older woman does not have to be a financial transaction, and the older person’s requirements forced the young woman to give up any life project she had to be her secretary, a kind of negotiated slavery, as related below. This possibility, that the post of companion exists in return for the young caretaker cancelling her own life in order to submit to the wishes and necessities of the older writer, supposes a total freezing of her life in order to accompany her. That implies a displacing of the nanny image from past eras to the present because, although the effect of putting her life on hold to look after the other continues and ends up being the same obligation to renounce her own wishes, now it is a relationship measured by a financial exchange and an admiration for the established writer, in that the young writer prefers to contribute to her life and survival, rather than develop her own writing, her own work. And the most surprising reasons that encouraged such an agreement are narrated by the young writer when she claims: —Aurora: You were right, I am scared, very scared. I feel so alone, so disorientated. I would also like . . . to be happy. —Matilde: How? —Aurora: Like everybody else. Get married and have children. —Matilde: You will be a mediocre writer, but a bad wife and a worse mother. —Aurora: Why would it be necessary? To reconcile things.[. . .] —Matilde: You are afraid of my advice, because you see me. And you imagine that all the old age, all the pain, all the resignation, came to me all at once. And that my loyalty has been a sudden conquest and you feel incapable of taking on that task. But is has not been like that. Every rejection makes you strong, every happiness validates you. Day by day, minute by minute the time passes and water leaves the stone.[. . .] (Rosario Castellanos 2016b, 317—18)

It is very interesting to observe that in the time that passed between the life contexts of the author’s first works and those situated in the middle of the twentieth century, after the second world war, in the narrative of her dramatic works, one can see several differences in terms of caring for elderly people. It is possible to make a comparison between passing from a silent agreement of unconditional care to a clarifying dialogue to explain reasons and confusion as to why and what it means for a young woman to care for an old person, at the cost of cancelling her own life project.

Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate   •  141

Today, a hundred years after the first works of the Chiapas author and seven decades after the second, in their respective life contexts, we could ask ourselves whether it is possible to think about other scenes and agreements. Can only successful women pay and decide who looks after them? Do their caretakers have to submit to care similar to slavery? Do those who are not successful and do not have economic resources to support their own old age have to do without being cared for? The big question in this topic is if there are only these options: Be it the use of silent nannies or undergoing a financial transaction to care for an older person in return for a salary and for a young person to cancel their own life projects, would it be better to return to the silent agreement of the nannies “without words,” of those non-­protagonists who do not even explain their condition? Or can we put other practices and life culture in place that generate intergenerational relationships (Triadó and Villar 2006; Maas and Huerta 2018) to have quality of life and autonomy as we grow old today in the twenty-­first century?

Revolutions, Riots, and Changing Biases: A Possibility Shown by Laura Esquivel In contrast to the Chiapas author, in her novel Como agua para chocolate, Laura Esquivel shows us an epic story that takes place during the Mexican Revolution in the north of the country, whose protagonist is a woman destined, although she does not know it, to care for her mother in her old age, to cook and look after the family, and because of this, she finds it impossible to carry out her own life project. The Revolution interrupts as a scene or circumstance that coincides with her self-­authorization to live her own internal desires. A century after the contexts related by both authors, both nanny and Tita feminine figures seem to have disappeared. As already mentioned, new circumstances exist, among which we must emphasize the increase in life expectancy: In exceptional circumstances, Tita’s mother would have gotten to the age of forty-­five; nonetheless, nowadays, the majority of Mexican women will get to the age of eighty. If Tita existed, she would have to spend sixty-­five years of her life looking after a mother and cooking for the family, and we would have to ask ourselves questions, such as, Who will look after the nannies who reach the age of sixty, eighty, or more? This question, among many others, can serve to make a first exploration out loud about some of the transformations or tensions of the feminine that are emerging.

142  •  Chapter Eight

With the new circumstances of our twentieth-­century societies, so digital, so virtual, we seem to have blurred the feminine characters in charge of looking after children and old people, who tell our stories and challenge us to ask ourselves: With whom and how will we live as our life expectancy increases? What will our quality of life be like? If necessary, will someone look after us? Whom will we care for, or how will we look after ourselves as we twentieth-­ century women grow old? What will be our stories about feminine care while growing old in the new contexts we are experiencing? What will be the narratives of feminine care while growing old in our societies? Let us do a tour of the traces left by the author about looking after old people as a destiny, presented in the work as an imposed family tradition that allows us to discover the hints of the agreement that Tita, the protagonist, will have to fulfill unconditionally by taking care of her own mother. Here we have another narrative about younger women caring for older women. It is not about an unspoken agreement, nor is it the result of a service agreement; rather, it is a tradition established before the protagonist was born, or at least, without her participation or consent: However, Tita did not agree. A large quantity of doubts and worries came to her mind. For example, she would have liked to know who had started this family tradition. It would be good to let that ingenious person know that in their perfect plan to safeguard women´s old age, there was a small problem. If Tita could not get married and have children, who would look after her when she was old? What was the correct solution in those cases? Or was it to be expected that the daughters who stayed to look after their mothers would not survive much longer after their parent´s death? And what happened to the women who got married and could not have children? (Laura Esquivel 2004, 8)

The boycott of the possible marriage of Tita and Pedro, her boyfriend, was an action of the mother to manipulate the will of the characters and make Pedro marry Rosaura, Tita’s older sister, which perplexes even Pedro’s father, who tells him off for the surprise in him accepting to marry the sister faced with the impossibility of marrying Tita: —Why did you do it Pedro? We look ridiculous accepting a marriage with Rosaura. Where is the love you swore to Tita? Do you not have a voice? —Of course I do, but if you were flatly denied marriage with the woman you love and the only way they allowed you to be near her were to marry the sister, would you not make the same decision as I did? (Laura Esquivel 2004, 9)

Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate   •  143

This situation lets loose a conflict with many aspects—between the sisters, between the beloved Tita and the ex-­boyfriend, now brother-­in-­law; between the mother, daughter, and son-­in-­law—which develop in many circumstances: in the scenes of Rosaura and Pedro’s wedding, in the birth of the daughter of the young people’s marriage, in the feeding of the girl and in the mother of both girls spending time in the house, until, in the context of the revolutionary movement, a North American doctor arrives, who, after treating the protagonist and falling in love with her, decides to open another solution to the tradition of looking after the mother and proposes marriage to Tita, with the consequences that implies: John remained silent. It was not in his interests to irritate Mamá Elena further. It was not even worthwhile, considering she was clearly convinced that he would marry Tita with or without her permission. (Laura Esquivel 2004, 52)

The emergence of this masculine character radicalized the tensions and competition between the characters to such an extent that Mamá Elena entertained the possibility that her daughter Tita was poisoning her in order to save herself from the tradition of looking after her: For a while she had suspected that Tita wanted her to disappear from the world in order to be able to marry freely, not just once but a thousand times if she so wished. She perceived that wish as a constant presence between them, in every touch, in every word, in every look. But now she had no doubt that Tita was trying to poison her little by little in order to be able to marry Doctor Brown. (Laura Esquivel 2004, 52)

Confronted with this new element, two important defining events occurred that led to new living conditions. One was the mother’s death, and the other, the return of her sister Gertrudis, who had risen up with the revolutionary army, in order to attend her funeral: With so many people all over the house and patios, it was impossible to talk to Pedro, let alone meet him in the dark room.[. . .] —Indeed not? Well of course not! Because that love is one of the truest I have ever seen in my life. Pedro and you both made the mistake of hiding the truth, but you are still in time. Look, Mamá is already dead and God knows that she did not understand, but it is different with Rosaura, she knows the truth very well and has to understand it. More, I think that deep down she has always understood it. Therefore you both have nothing left except to show your truth and that is that. (Laura Esquivel 2004, 71)

144  •  Chapter Eight

That situation led to a new and definitive explicit rivalry between the sisters. Once the mother was dead, the purpose of Tita remaining single no longer made sense, and she seemingly found new doors opening in spite of becoming engaged to John. This competition is so head-­on that it sets the scene for the ending of the novel: —And that I am going to break as many times as necessary, as long as this damned tradition does not take me into account. I had as much right to get married as you, and you were the one who had no right to come between two people who loved each other so much. (Laura Esquivel 2004, 81)

The end of the novel Como agua para Chocolate leaves us with more questions than clues as to what we have been reflecting on, because it would seem that the only way out of this dilemma is the death of the old people so that the young ones do not have to take care of them; faced with tradition, there are no possible alternatives, and the most convincing, looking for our inner desires, leads us to consume life in more than one sense of the word. In this way, a century after the context narrated by Laura Esquivel, we could ask ourselves, Are there other ways to confront looking after old people that do not lead to the cancellation of the caretaker’s life project, whether it be through tradition, a financial transaction, or another such agreement?

Main Conclusions I will now explain some main conclusions, broadly speaking and in detail, about what we can find in our journey through the literature of these two Mexican women about that place that is not named, that “no place” of those who care for old people, those displaced from being the protagonists of their own lives because of caring for others, to suggest a first outlook on their reasons and practices. Some of the main things to learn that I can identify and confirm after the journey I have traveled include: • The partial or total loss of autonomy. In the works analyzed, which take place in such different contexts—rural life at the beginning of the twentieth century, in the southeast and north of the country, or in an urban setting in the middle of the century—old age is narrated as a stage of life in which the total or partial loss of autonomy seems inevitable, requiring care from other women: nannies, younger daughters, or secretaries.

Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate   •  145

• Old age as a dynamic rather than reproductive stage (Triadó and Villar 2014; Maass and Huerta 2018). The possibilities for an autonomous aging process with solidarity networks that ensure reproductive life processes, does not seem to be the prototype of ageing in our societies, at least not in the narratives explored here, written by the two Mexican writers. • Cancelation of your life project to care for others. In the fragments analyzed, caring for old people implies the canceling of feminine figures as protagonists who renounce their own life projects, whihc seems to be the only alternative for their attention, motivated by some tacit motive, a commercial exchange, or due to family traditions. • Narrative about the heroic act of human reproduction. In the works analyzed, the naturalization of caring for old people as a job for young women who renounce their own protagonism and take on the place of “no place” to look after others, is a narrative that appears to be fading away. Despite that, the heroic act of human reproduction deserves to be told through other characters. The possibility to contribute to a debate in the present about care and methods of reproduction of the “nonautonomous” is possible from the thread of the diversity of possibilities of practices and narratives about care. As we have already said, the twentieth century has seen an enormous transformation between rural and urban societies, between the extended and nuclear family, between a limited and longer life expectancy, between a life more dependent on family ecosystems and dependence on technological resources that come from access to technologies such as vaccines and antibiotics, against traditions of care and human reproduction of agricultural scoieties from previous centuries. Now that these ways of human reproduction are fading, these practices come under pressure. Knowing where and how they are mutating is part of our uncertainties, and in other fields such as bioethics, they become possible stages for its analysis (González and Linares 2013). In these transitions of ways, possibilities, and conditions, the transformation of such important institutions such as the family, work, school, and state has accelerated, they find themselves immersed in restructuration processes, and a key effect in the uncertainty of the transmission and consolidation of care practices in our societies can be identified, meaning that “no places,” the “not said,” expand, because more than a century ago, tradition organized communities that woke up in darkness in the mountainous area of Chiapas, and today they are no longer the standard, nor are they living possibilities

146  •  Chapter Eight

for the majority of our country’s inhabitants, although something persists from that in the twenty-­first century; but not even the conditions of the revolutionary or the postwar era are the same for human reproduction, and these days, after more than thirty years of neoliberal policies and a society of transnational markets, they do not seem to answer care or human reproduction needs for those who cannot pay for a caretaker’s services. Literature analysis is an opportunity to evaluate life’s practices and beliefs that stay inside drama, that which is modifying itself or in transition toward new forms or life, or those elements in tension that allow us to address what is about to be constructed, like some bioethical dilemmas in the present, to start a diverse and problematic dialogue about care in old age. To conclude, I can say that the writers’ feminine look was very useful to me as a stage for the analysis and feminine care of old people, in order to make them conscious and visible. I consider that feminine literature offers us the opportunity to analyze and think about whether there is more than one possible present, and with that, open ourselves up to a future beyond the one we have thought about (De Sousa, 2019).

Works Cited Badiou, Alain (2017). La verdadera vida. Un mensaje a los jóvenes. Translated by Víctor Goldstein. Buenos Aires: Interzona Editora. Bauman, Zygmunt (2014). 44 cartas desde el mundo líquido. Translated by Martha Pino Moreno. Barcelona: Paidós. Butler, Judith (2006). Deshacer el género. Translated by Patrícia Soley-­Beltran. Barcelona: Paidós. Castellanos, Rosario (2016a). Obras I, Narrativa. México: FCE. ——— (2016b). Obras II, Poesía, Teatro y Ensayo. México: FCE. De Souza, Boaventura (2019). El fin del imperio cognitivo. La afirmación de las epistemologías del sur. Madrid: Trotta. Esquivel, Laura (2004). Como agua para chocolate. México: Grijalbo. Ginzburg, Carlo (2000). Ojazos de madera. Nueve reflexiones sobre la distancia. Translated by Alberto Clavería. Barcelona: Península. González, Juliana (coord.) (2008) Perspectivas de Bioética. México: FCE/UNAM/ CNDH. González, Juliana and Jorge Linares (coord.) (2013). Nuevos saberes y valores de la vida. México: FCE. Grimaldo, Adriana; Luis Miguel Gutiérrez; and Liliana Giraldo (2015). Realidades y expectativas frente a la nueva vejez. Encuesta Nacional de Envejecimiento (Colección Los mexicanos vistos por sí mismos. Los grandes temas nacionales). México: UNAM.

Las Tinieblas y El Agua Para Chocolate   •  147

Maass, Margarita and Virginia Huerta (2018). Calidad de vida en la vejez. México: UNAM-­CEIICH. Maass, Margarita et al. (2015). Cibercultur@ e iniciación en la investigación interdisciplinaria. México: CLACSO/UNAM. Versión digital: http://biblioteca​.clacso​.edu​.ar/ Mexico/ceiichunam/20170426051029/pdf_1277.pdf Nussbaum, Martha and Saúl Levmore (2018). Envejecimiento con sentido. Conversaciones sobre el amor, las arrugas y otros pesares. Translated by Antonio Franscisco Rodríguez. México: Paidós. Triadó, Carmen and Feliciano Villar (2014). Psicología de la vejez. Barcelona: Alianza. ——— (2008). Envejecer es positivo. Girona: Romnya Valls. Villar, Feliciano and Carmen Triadó (2006). El estudio del ciclo vital a partir de las historias de vida: una propuesta práctica. Barcelona: Universidad de Barcelona.


The Individual Rights Dimension Associated with Mental Health Care An Essential Perspective in the Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Severely Abused Individuals Viviana Pereda Ruiz, translated by Flavia Livacic Rojas

Introduction From the context of mental health treatment in a psychosocial unit, created and conformed mainly by women, the experiences of the caregivers speak of silencing. In the 1960s, Tesi Huneeus and many others raised the alarm concerning the existence of violence and of undignified treatments in psychiatric hospitals. The need for a respectful and energetic vision against the abuse and violence of the stigma that is imposed on individuals, especially those diagnosed with schizophrenia, has demonstrated to be not enough. As psychotherapists, we must actively listen to, and attentively take care of, the truths that are denounced in the testimonies we hear and pay special attention to the devastating effects that such medical practices have left on the individuals and that are replicated in intimate spaces.


150  •  Chapter Nine

Taking Care of Others Is a Labor That Falls within the Public and Private Realms Our therapeutic community started operations at the end of the 1980s, in the east side of the city of Santiago, Chile. We were coming out of seventeen years of military dictatorship, and in March 1990, our recovery of democracy was just beginning. In part, the new democracy was based on a civic and military agreement that gravely weakened the ability to prosecute human rights violations. We have had decades of silencing, arbitrariness, repression, fear, and death. Many humanitarian groups have worked—and continue to work—in the articulation of the public and private levels, bringing peace and support to individuals and families silenced by a violent system of oppression that has asphyxiated and subjugated our society, especially the most vulnerable, in a culture that fostered the stronger over the weak, the powerful over the helpless, thus normalizing a culture of oppression and brutality. Our founder, Tesi Huneeus and all the women who have worked to provide close relief to such individuals had been providing humanitarian and human rights support, and they have bequeathed their testimonies to us. In this context, and with the arrival of democracy at the beginning of the 1990s, our founder transformed the “Comunidad de Peñalolén”1 [Community of Penalolen] into a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in support of primary health care teams and actively integrated the community, promoting visits to isolated individuals with mental health issues, always moving forward against the current that tended to normalize the violence, the silence, and the stigmatizing, differentiating behaviors and sensibilities. Groups were formed to chat, and notes were kept on individuals of concern to the community in general; it was a labor of resistance, of articulating the silenced areas, in times when getting together to talk and share sorrows and ailments was difficult, even a cause for fear. This experience left many records (Colectivos de inclusion y salud mental [CORDES], 2018). These are records that on one hand demonstrate the constant search for resources and denounce the need for mental health care that coexists with a large number of reports and records containing the typical medical vocabulary to report advances in the care process. And on the other hand, they articulate a space that speaks of everyday activities: cooking, meeting in groups and assemblies, playing Ping-­Pong, knitting, performing gymnastics, and making ceramics; spaces that speak of togetherness, of artistic expression, of taking care of common spaces, and of going for a stroll together.

The Individual Rights Dimension Associated with Mental Health Care   •  151

During the democracy, several reforms were made to mental and psychiatric care in the Health Ministry of Chile. Hence, the discourse of respect for the human rights was recovered. In that context, our group of therapists and psychotherapists was included as a psychosocial outpatient program for adult women and men who were discharged from hospitals where they had been treated for psychiatric reasons (Minoletti 2005). We started gathering testimonies and listening to the individuals’ and their families’ pain and difficulties, particularly related to the lack of the quality of care expected in the most severe cases of abuse, extreme fear, pain, and violence. In such situations, we started to notice the presence of girls and boys in the discourse of women who had been diagnosed with severe mental disorders; they talked about severe abuse, and they mentioned their daughters and sons, as well.

Provide Emotional Support, Allowing Space to the Memories In the mental health field, it is possible that the language, and the different ways of naming and registering events, distance us from the reality of everyday life and from elements that are of significance to the individual. Due to this reason, and to render justice to the reality we were being made aware of and express our feelings while we accompanied such individuals, we developed a modality of recording painful events, as well as their needs and everyday activities (Abusleme 2019). We took great care regarding the words expressed in the interventions and those we exchanged among colleagues with whom we shared the treatment. We gave special attention to the few words the affected individuals used to communicate the severity of their experiences, one of the most difficult aspects of this field. The items that are in front of us, those that impact us the most, are the ones that have led us to retell the daily lives of women, mothers, youngsters, and unseen girls. Sticking to the literal words and writing assists us in daring to recount, to register the tasks related to the care of others: taking care of the household, the details that provide continuity to the day-­to-­day, the home, the boys and girls, the looks, the homework, and the chores. This exploration enabled us to define unavoidable events that needed support. The need to differentiate, prioritize, and talk about rights was made evident (Abusleme 2017). In talking about the ESC rights (Economic, Social, and Cultural rights) and taking into account the women’s silencing, the importance of expressing their feelings, and the waiting for and reception of such intimate and reserved spaces, the therapists and psychotherapists of our Community, with the idea of establishing the truth and justice that those women needed and deserved, have articulated an access path to the basic rights in order to

152  •  Chapter Nine

exercise the dignity of the abused individuals. This articulation allowed the individuals to visualize issues in a private space and to exercise and feel their basic rights in a public space.

Articulation of Double Therapies with the Idea of Actively Listening to Expressions of Pain, Damage, Abuse, and Silencing In our experience as therapists and psychotherapists in the field of psychiatry and mental health, it is always difficult to start a conversation. And, paradoxically, the individuals who have and show an urgent need to express their emotions, pain, and intense suffering are more difficult to care for. In such cases, traditional treatment predominantly includes means of physical (straitjackets) and chemical (tranquillizers) restraints; hence the treated person is quickly dismissed, or their story is not validated. When we receive these individuals, we proceed to accept intensely painful realities or some that are radically unseen; we are “unfamiliar” with traditional practices, and we question the usual ones related to the therapist, the patient, and the psychopathology. This has resulted in very minute work, difficult to perform; as in the context of mental health, it is a regular practice to expose and sometimes force individuals to tell everything, without due respect to their dignity and human condition (Pereda et al. 2017). As an example, I will mention the medical psychiatric questionnaire conducted even today in public auditoriums with the intention of teaching future professionals in mental health. With this practice, the life and confused moments of the individuals are exposed publicly with uncommon violence. This practice constitutes a revictimizing action that is often considered “normal” in the mental health system. At the time of telling and sharing experiences with the therapeutic duo (one occupational therapist and one psychologist) and the individual we are working with, we make sure that beforehand, when designing the mental health treatment plan, we carefully chose the details and decide which are the concrete elements that we wish to convey. We respect the right to privacy; for example, the specific women’s rhythms and the “exposed” experiences of the individuals’ lives whom we have met during these last years. Thus, in our work, to listen is a primary action, to listen to the individuals and their truths, and we know that the psyche is a subtle space that may collapse and cause pain at the most difficult times; this is when the sharing becomes confused and delirious. In our experience, at such moments, we allow the necessary time to take note of a condensed, felt, and true story. The notes and the necessary time support the understanding of the intense

The Individual Rights Dimension Associated with Mental Health Care   •  153

pain demonstrated by sharing the story in a jumble of words. We have concentrated in observing and looking for symptoms that coincide with our hypothesis. We pay attention to severe violations of rights, to the words, to the names, and also to the silent stories. We have developed a method to literally record each person’s story. The tough events are revisited. Writing them down creates a space and an unavoidable timeline that enables the storytelling and helps in modeling the issues that are being concretely shaped during the accompaniment. The accompaniment, the concrete and practical approximation to the known difficulties of everyday life, together with the injured women we treat, have allowed us to learn about the infancy of these adult women. We have gathered the pain of abused, battered, disowned, and underestimated women who are qualified as dangerous, possessed, or carriers of mental disorders. Violation of rights and abuse are always at the center point of our work. We may say that all the individuals we have met have suffered severe violation of their rights and abuse in their lives, and that we have arrived late to listen to them. This practice of caring for others generates great energy that many times reenergizes other members of the family group. Severe events have been silenced due to the prevailing fear, and in addition to the existing devastating pain, they may result in mental health issues or in an intense cohesion among group members. The complexity relates to the fact of committing such a large number of people. All of them assist in supporting the pain (Davoine 1998). Respecting such spaces and creating these care environments, as well as preparing the abused individuals for expressing their feelings, has been tough work, but it has also resulted in recovery, laughter, and good disposition. The importance of individual listening and the actual and real value of these stories has given us access to realities that need to be accepted. Considering the dimension of the damage, the abuse, and the violation of rights does not seek to find culprits. However, the psycho-­therapeutical and therapeutical work articulates the silenced areas in space, and time assists in separating responsibilities and accepting damage. As psychologists, we can support by separating, containing, and dialoguing, remaining together, but not merged and in silence. During the therapeutical duo and afterward, among the therapeutical team, the sharing and integrating of these aspects transfers the responsibility of intervening in cases of abuse and transgression of multiple individual rights to the therapists and psychotherapists of our institution.

154  •  Chapter Nine

Caring Is a Form of Relationship among Individuals Who Rescue the Singular Worth and the Most Intimate Vital Strength The concept of “caring” emerges from the feminist movement as a result of several countries’ social protection policies that evoke inequalities related to civil, social, and economic rights (Abusleme 2019). Different authors underline the need to expand its dimension, arguing that all individuals require care along their vital cycles. This broad perspective of caring protects us from limiting it to keeping alive and looking to avoid death, which could reduce the concept to its most negative dimension. This represents a danger, as it reduces the positive dimension of the concept of caring (Worms 2012). The danger of reducing care to an intimate and individual space is that such care is separated from the space of policy, which remains related to the public and collective spaces. Historically, women have been entrusted with vulnerable matters, the most fragile or weakened: children, sick people, and bodies, in intimate and private spaces. If we separate the concept of “caring for others” from public policy, women may be excluded from the open public space. On a positive note, in the world of caring it is important to recognize the value of such caring in our lives. To sustain a subjective and the enabler of a subjective relationship (for without it, we would not be persons) in caring reintroduces this dimension in the social space and in politics. This form of relationship is oriented to provide to a face, to a specific person, what they need for their full development, and to be happier or feel better (Daskal 1990). It restores their individual rights. If we reduce caring to actions that tend only to maintain lives, we could impoverish our relationships and many aspects of the social and political lives. If, on the contrary, we take into account integral care and the unyielding diversity of the different dimensions that such caring provides—both the inclusion of the individual rights, as well as the defense and respect of such rights in social life—we enrich the relationship and make room for all the tasks that imply the “policy of caring,” particularly in the field of mental health. In addition, this will allow us to enrich the general policy in its entirety (Worms 2012). For our group of therapists and psychotherapists, caring has been the engine of our practices to treat mental health issues. Caring—care for someone who presents with issues—is a process that we have made more complex and that has been thoroughly considered, but overall, valued. Therefore, we can say that caring is a way to take action, which may occur or not, that is

The Individual Rights Dimension Associated with Mental Health Care   •  155

irreplaceable, urgent, needed, and evident for those who provide it. Besides, in our case, we can rapidly identify the lack of caring and the neglect, and how they impact enormously the attitude of the family group members. Caring provides vitality; meanwhile neglect diminishes it. However, as we have mentioned before, we have also maintained the caring policy, socializing the right to mental health support and to other different social, economic, and political rights. In the last ten years, we have seen women who, due to the state of their mental health, have lost the right to take care of their boys and girls within the family group, and they have lost the right to experience the worries and concerns of normal women. In our experience, the women for whom we have cared are not different from other, “normal” women; they suffer in many of the same ways, but they have been silenced.

Conclusion Writing has been an antidote and an important action that has “cared” for us and has helped us in creating the necessary space to support the emotional expressions of the injured women whom we treat. As mentioned before, it is necessary to take action; in many opportunities against violence and the strength of the discourse, that imposes on us disjointed realities, particularly in the cases of mental health. The intention of this story, foreign of psychiatric vocabulary, is to take care of the vulnerable moments, providing specialized mental health care and support based on dignity. Dignity implies the gathering of the pain and the allowing of the right to speak, to express and explore in silence, while integrating support and care. Writing has left records that protect us from mechanisms and practices that tend to separate such realities, to deny what happened, or to leave it behind as if it had not happened—or to pretend that what happened, happened, and that it has left no traces. These practices are maddening for us, the mental health workers. To share and denounce actions that have damaged, that produce pain, is the subject of our work in mental health. It requires that we relate closely and systematically to the services that defend social, civil, cultural, and human rights. It is extremely damaging to separate these aspects at the time of treating the damage that has severely impacted the souls of the individuals. The ongoing communication with the services and institutions related to rights, the intersectoral work, has been essential and quite healing.

156  •  Chapter Nine

Finally, I refer to how Quica’s writing has been an emotional support, a vital imaginative elaboration (Fleury 2019). It is a story that is faithful to herself, the author, who needed to express her truth by means of an intimate story that gathers the support that many times she found in herself and in other women who embraced her, consoled her, and healed her during very hard times. She wrote her book based on the notes she took during the time she was kidnapped, and she worked on it for more than forty years. In her book, she relived the terror she survived, and she described many places, experiences, names, and faces. In her book, Quica de Zanzi (2002) shares not only her experiences with those despicable beings, as she wrote many times with an impacting truth: “If it was not for the drama, the truth is that it would have been funny.(…) They were the masters of Chile by law and by the law of terror” (De Zanzi 2002, 116). She also spoke of unspeakable terror and pain, and her writing is also a way of sharing her most intimate experiences, full of sentimental expressions regarding women, her loyal companions, unscathed mothers and daughters. Her story is full of warmth, support, consolation, caring, and loving thoughts for her partner and her children, her parents, and other individuals who are the reasons she was able to survive. She shared very clearly how the terror was made even more horrendous because the actions were committed by persons she knew. In many parts of her book, she writes, “I know him.” Many of her torturers and jailers, as well as those “in charge of…” her captivity, were members of the community, people whom she had known all her life: “I begged him to tell me where Carlos was. He responded he was sorry about what was happening to us, because he knew us, but he had to follow orders from superiors and he could not speak” (De Zanzi 2002, 68). It is a necessary story and, paradoxically, full of hope and humanity. Both Quica and Tesi alert us, reminding us that the passing of time and experience are not enough to heal the wounds or help us improve the social and cultural conditions so that we will never have to regret such brutality and abuse. It does not suffice that us, the therapists, declare and respect the rights of the injured persons to ensure that in the public arena their rights as individuals are also respected. Centuries go by, and history tells us that to act on behalf of the weak, of those who have been greatly abused, is a task that needs to be intensified and is an area where we can provide caring, integrating this activity as an essential dimension in our lives. Besides the fact that external conditions may make more difficult exploring the reality, such exploration of reality with individuals has been the most difficult part of the work. This is in part because we find ourselves in spaces of caring, at least in our context, saturated with activities and actions that are

The Individual Rights Dimension Associated with Mental Health Care   •  157

performed over the body of the sick person. Hence, it is difficult to introduce intimate spaces and the rhythms that this experience “of the soul” requires.

Note 1.  The first name of the “Comunidad de Peñalolén” was Corporación CORDES (Colectivos de Inclusión y Salud Mental); nowadays, it is called “Corporación Tesi Hunneus” (

Works Cited Abusleme, M. T. and Aguilera, L. (May 2017). Sistematización programa de apoyo para la autonomía: Acompañamientos para el acceso a derechos pro autonomía y participación comunitaria. Cordes Corporación & Servicio Nacional de Discapacidad, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social de Chile. cordescorporacion​.cl/wpcontent/ uploads/2020/02/InformeSistematizacion2017.pdf. Abusleme, M. T., Quinteros, M. C., Abad, M., Silva, G., Sandoval, C., Paredes, P., Rodríguez, F., Aracena, P., Alarcón, C., Pereda, V., and Mujica, A. (March 2019). Sistematización programa de apoyo para la autonomía: Continuidad de cuidados y apoyos en salud mental. CORDES: Comunidad Terapéutica de Peñalolén (2017–2018). CORDES: Corporación y Servicio Nacional de Discapacidad, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social de Chile. cordescorporacion​ .cl/wp-­ content/uploads/2020/06/InformeSistematizacion2018.pdf. Daskal, A.N. (1990). Malestar Silenciado, la otra salud mental. Santiago, Chile: Isis Internacional, Ediciones de las Mujeres N14, ISSN 0716-8101. Davoine, F. (1998). Che Vuoi? Moments psychotiques dans la cure N9. Paris, France: L’harmattan. ISBN:2-7384-6686-9. De Zanzi, Q. (2002). Mi memoria es mi verdad. Punta Arenas, Chile: Comercial Ateli y Cia Ltda. Fleury, C. (2019). Le Soin et un Humanisme. France: Tracts, Gallimard. Huneeus, T. (2005). Esquizofrenia. Santiago, Chile: Mediterráneo. Letelier, P., Pavez, J., and Zamora, C. (May 2019). Sistematización programa de apoyo para la autonomía: Informe final 2019. CORDES: Corporación y Servicio Nacional de Discapacidad, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social de Chile. cordescorporacion​.cl/wp-­content/uploads/2020/06/InformeSistematizacion2019.pdf. Minoletti, A., and Zaccaria, A. (2005). Plan Nacional de Salud Mental en Chile: 10 años de experiencia. Rev Panam Salud Pública/Pan Am J Public Health 18(4/5). www​.scielosp​.org/pdf/rpsp/2005.v18n4-5/346-358/es. Pereda, V. (2015). Procesos terapéuticos con personas aquejadas con trastornos mentales severos: recorridos, útiles, prácticas. [Tesis de magister psicología clínica

158  •  Chapter Nine

de adultos, Universidad de Chile] Repositorio académico Universidad de Chile. repositorio​.uchile​.cl/handle/2250/138038. Pereda, V., Sandoval, C. (comp.), Davoine, F., Gaudillière, J.  M., Andreoli, L., and Aulagnier, P. (2017). Algunos referentes para el tratamiento psicodinámico de la psicosis. Santiago, Chile. http://cordescorporacion​.cl/wp-­content/uploads/2020/02/ Algunos-­Referentes-­para-­el-­desarrollo-­psicodinamico-­de-­la-­psicosis​.pdf Worms, F. (2012). Soin et politique. Paris, France: Puf.


From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject Martha Patricia E. Aguilar Medina, translated by Helen Harper

Introduction The question about feminine silencing is not only an inspiring and lucid unsolved mystery; it worryingly pulsates with multiple consequences, and in the end, it consists of the possibility of placing women within the fabric of society. What kept feminine voices silent? What are the effects of that silence within women’s own lives, and within culture? What made them stay silent? To start with, it becomes essential to go back into the history of women’s silence, as well as the speeches that made them famous. It is not a minor issue; it is about the word, the voice, and the statements of “half the world and of half of heaven” (as a feminist slogan states in women’s protests). What impacts does silence have? What are its effects, its causes, its reasons? What is known about silence? This document only intends to create a dialogue between some authors who have considered women’s silence and make it a subject of study. With this, I aim to trace some routes and slogans, which will allow us to think about women’s place, or of the silenced feminine voice within the fabric of society and its function. Two perspectives have guided the present reflection: firstly, psychoanalysis analytical categories such as the subject and silence; on the other hand, the function of the patriarchy in its double civilizing role: violence control among men, and control of women’s speech and bodies. 159

160  •  Chapter Ten

I do not aim to confront the immense challenge of identifying the cause of and reasons for women’s silence. Rather, I lean toward rescuing the silence and the place where women’s words shine, just as I have affirmed psychoanalysis has done, as well as trying to formulate questions that can serve to guide future inquiries about what has been said about women, why certain ideas and female figures were created about women, whom we did not hear about, and who was silenced. On the other hand, speaking about silencing, I will give a reading of the patriarchy from a psychoanalytical point of view according to Dufour and Helí Morales. I will consider some differences of opinion from a feminist reading about their structures and causes. From this framework, I will try to identify the place of women’s silence within the fabric of society.

Women’s Silence as a Problem Since the 1960s, feminism has documented, in an immense bibliography, the endless list of offenses toward women throughout history and throughout societies, ways of subjugation, oppression, exclusion, invisibility, and gagging. Additionally, injustices have been objectified through analysis of the institutionalization and normalization of violence and cruelty toward women within society, as well as in the discourse of different eras and generations. The structure supporting and reediting this long-­term history was called the patriarchy, or more recently, the patriarchal system. Considering these problems from this angle has, undoubtedly, made it possible to change the norms and rules of the game, including cultural changes and real, subjective mutations. Nowadays, women create, teach, govern, analyze, wish, march, and speak in a public form, in first and second person singular and plural. However, the struggles and understanding of women took a route from a specific current of feminism that left the problem trapped within legalistic and criminalistic, cognitive and functionalist thinking. This has emptied the historical burden of grievances into overly narrow sentences, on the margins of law and conscience, by creating sophisticated concepts, definitions, specifications, and penalties. Experience has demonstrated that raising and trying to solve issues in such a way is not just insufficient; it is worth reviewing the extent to which a legal, rights, and penal approach addresses the major questions about women’s place in the fabric of society, the causes of that position, and its effects. So far, such an approach has not created the conditions that would make it possible to subvert the established order.

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject   •  161

The complexity of this lengthy story pushes the boundaries in the fields of scientific, cultural, philosophical, and artistic thinking and practice. In particular, it goes beyond legal and human rights thinking. Reconsidering the questions will enable the radical imaginary (Castoriadis 1997, 131) to be configured, so that finally women can take the floor and raise their voices in first person with knowledge, in power, taking ownership, and in relation to desire and from creation. There are many efforts dedicated to the task of thinking about women: their place, the discourses that link their configuration, their desire, their visibility, and their audience, from distinct angles, in different paradigms, and across disciplines. In fact, a global clamor, in addition to the so-­called eradication of violence against women and girls, is for their visibility in all areas of life, including their social life.

The Historical Silence of Women From the vast catalog of offenses toward women, it was their invisibility, from their social practices, their affections, their dreams, their utopias, and their desires, that was analyzed. Incidentally, such matters have sustained life. Their silence has been considered to a lesser extent. Michelle Perrot points out: To write women’s history is to take them out of the silence in which they were submerged. But why this silence? . . . Why wouldn’t women belong to history? . . . Women have long been excluded from this narrative, as if condemned in the dark of an untold reproduction, they weren’t in present in time or at least not there in the account. Buried under silence in a deep sea. Indeed, in this deep silence women are not alone. This silence envelops the lost continent of lives swallowed up by the oblivion in which the mass of humanity is abolished but falls with more weight on them. (Perrot 2008, 17–18, emphasis added)

The reasons for their silence are those that arise from the imaginary border between public and private space that has triggered so many debates, not only in historical and anthropological studies, but also in social and economic ones. In principle, because women are seen less in public space, the only one that for a long time was worthy of the interest and the narrative. They work in family, confined at home (or it what serves as a house). They are invisible. For many societies women’s invisibility and silence is part of the natural order of things. They

162  •  Chapter Ten

are the guarantee of a peaceful polis. Their appearance in masse is frightening. For the Greeks it means stasis, disorder. Their public word is indecent. (Perrot 2008, 18, emphasis added)

But it was not only for the Greeks that women’s silence was desirable. Perrot reminds us of Paul the apostle’s words and that Christianity upholds: “Let the woman remain in silence. Because Adam was formed first and Eve second. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman, seduced, who, committed the transgression” (I Timothy 2:12–14), then “they must pay for their sin with eternal silence” (Perrot 2008, 18, emphasis added). The silence and the silencing of women’s speech is the product of an unfounded fear, around which myths, fictions, collective delusions, religions, and laws have been created. Following the author, the second reason for women’s silence is the sources’ silence: Women leave few direct traces, written or material. Their access to writing was later. Their household productions consumed more quickly or dispersed more easily. They destroy them themselves; they erase their tracks because they believe the vestiges are of no interest. After all, they are only women, whose lives count for little. There is even a feminine modesty that extends to memory. A devaluation of women by women themselves. An inherent silence in the notion of honor. (Perrot 2008, 19, emphasis added)

The notions of honor and modesty that were imposed by a culture that organizes itself based on masculine—more specifically paternal—figures prohibit, subjugate, and suppress women. When it is men who speak about women, they do not describe them, nor do they narrate their lives or their acts. Men write what they imagine about women. It is “sexual asymmetry of the sources”; thus “the deepest silence is that of the narrative.” Just as it was established by the first Greek or Roman historians, history will first be circumscribed to that which is public: wars, heroes, happenings (Perrot 2008, 20). There is a silence of women in history. But this does not mean to say that they were not there with their own experiences of caregiving, organization, invention, bonding, desire, and love. Fortunately, from the 1970s, circumstances have allowed female historians to start bringing women out of the silence. This change is due to scientific, sociological, and political reasons, and this movement was called “work of memory” (Perrot 2009, 24). What is interesting to highlight thus far is that the silence and silencing is historical. It has been identified, addressed, and worked on by history. The

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject   •  163

incognito has not been entirely solved. They are flames that ignite and extinguish over time, like the feminist struggle. That is why it is still valid to open up access routes both to the reasons behind this, as well as the unsuspecting effects of its discourse. Above all, it is important when disciplines of different natures approach this mystery. In addition to the series of events and circumstances that brought out women’s voices, it is important to note that history was able to document part of that silence. Perrot points this out, based on the questions asked by the third generation of the Annales School. On writing History of Private Life and entering intimate spaces, Georges Duby ends up asking himself: “But, what about women? What do we know about them?,” a question that became the center of his studies (Perrot 2008, 23). Women have been searched for in libraries, archives, art, and monuments. What can be found is where references are made to the private world: diaries, autobiographies, correspondence, poetry, recipe books, embroidery, clothing, and even quarrels. They are found in court trials for blows, separations, jealousy, and infidelities, their words inscribed there and kept silent for many years.

The Silencing and Its Discourses Contrary to their silence, there is an outpouring of discourses, as well as representations of what women were, are, and should be—writings and images produced by men—that are evidence of a contemptible retelling. Like Michelle Perrot (2008), several authors agree that the opinions of women didn’t even appear in these tales. What has been said about women is ignominious. Cowards before their silence, privileged by their voice, with an unfounded fear, created from the vortex of their fear and their excesses, for centuries, men and the institutions they represented generated a damning discourse: “She is bad-­mouthed, she is almadice (on la dit-­femme, on la diffame: We call her a woman, we slander her). The most famous thing about women that has been kept in history, strictly speaking, is the most defaming” (Lacan 1981, 103). Coinciding with Lacan about this infamy, the psychoanalyst Helí Morales created an opening to discuss the tarnishing of women. He scrutinized the words of women listened to by Freud and Lacan, the prescribing and concepts of religion, medicine, and law, as well as analyzing females in history. It is a synthesis and a reading that invites indignation: History is there with its letters and its infamies about women and the myths that have dwelled in that field of life and time. Lilith, the mermaids, the

164  •  Chapter Ten

indigenous women, the maids . . . and thousands more anonymous citizens, who cannot be forgotten in this story of their passions. Accused of being whores, burned as witches, or typecast as hysterical, before women in these modern times a possibility opens to make a difference, a discourse; from their ethical desire and their story, a singular art between life and death. (Morales 2003, 652)

Which women do men talk about? Mothers? The hysteric ones? Feminine ones? Which accounts amused them enough to be put down into writing? Which women’s words were kept in silence or silenced? Why do women stay silent? In order to think about these questions, at the risk of synthesizing excessively with a fascinating, exhaustive, rigorous, and brainy approach by Colette Soler, I would briefly like to make a distinction between hysteria, femininity, and motherhood—a difference that I believe forms part of the mystery about the silence. The author will put forward the different destinies of women in relation to the other sex that: Hysteria is the offering of the subject as an object of desire to reject later. Femininity is the possibility of offering oneself as an object of desire, consenting and able to be another’s pleasure under the condition of exclusivity. The mother is the son or daughter’s position giver. The mother is the one whose words leaves a mark on the son or daughter, the mediator of a discourse (Soler 2006, 21–170). Men who believed they spoke about women, throughout history, did not speak of women. They spoke of an image projected out of their own desire that scared them and impeded them. When speaking about the mother, perhaps they talked about the ghost of their own mother. Perhaps they spoke of the feminine body from the form of their own body.

Silence and the Subject Who Speaks A thesis that has been a unifying thread of my work in the clinical, political, and collective fields constitutes the specificity of the subject that psychoanalysis proposes to the world of knowledge, which is the subject who speaks (Lacan 1983, 263). Yes, the subject of psychoanalysis is a subject that speaks. In the long knowledge march, other subjects have been unveiled: the one who thinks (Descartes), the one who criticizes (Kant), the one who acts (Touraine), the one who is subjected (Foucault), and the protagonist (Zemelman), just to mention some. This subject speaks and, of course, I am not only referring to speaking beings in general, but to the subject who speaks as an epistemological category.

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject   •  165

An overly audacious, and perhaps naïve, thesis was to propose that the subject emerges from the route of silence (Aguilar and Díaz-­Guerrero 1994, 62–66). At first, we maintained what we call the psychological, or conscious person who was established in Freud’s version in the “Psychology Project for Neurologists” (Freud 1986, 339, 342). Later on, right from the approach of the first experience of satisfaction (Freud 1986, 362), two fundamental psychoanalysis concepts emerged: desire for the lost object and, additionally, the concept of neighbor that appears in his first essays on remembering and judging (Freud 1986, 376). This is where a qualitative leap within the dialectic spiral was located that we identify as the moment of emergence of the unconscious subject. But it is Lacan, from his conceptual construct that the unconscious is structured like a language, who, in later developments, clearly establishes the subject who speaks in the following terms: “what is the subject? given that this is, technically, in the Freudian sense of the term, the subject of the unconscious, and therefore, in essence, subject who speaks” (Lacan 1983, 263, emphasis added). Based on Freud, we proposed that that which belonged to the world of silence appeared as ramifications, in dreams (The Interpretation of Dreams); parapraxes, or Freudian slips and lapses (The Psychopathology of Everyday Life), jokes (Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious), and symptoms, all of which encrypt and encode that which cannot be said. Our contribution was only to add the dimension of the implied silence into the figurative representations (Aguilar and Díaz-­Guerrero 1994, 52–63). At the same time, the path that took us to the subject who speaks allowed us to propose that silence is the unsaid word, the badly said word, those words placed in the body, or the one who is forgotten. And it is from that perspective that silence takes place through the work of repression, it is transfigured, and it is expressed by its ramifications. Hence, “the unconscious [is what] we say” (Lacan 2003, 790). Until the unconscious was established, there was no talk of creating a mechanism such as psychoanalysis. It was made possible by giving women the power of speech and listening to them. Psychoanalysis was created thanks to making space for the psychic sorrow, suffering, and affliction of women. It was imperative to bring forth what had remained in silence. Words were placed in the body. Unexpected effects of this were not only establishing women as subjects who speak, but also starting to form a new subject for knowledge. Boldly, it can be suggested that listening to the feminine unease in psychoanalysis resulted in a subject who speaks, to women as subjects who speak and to psychoanalysis itself.

166  •  Chapter Ten

In Collette Soler’s words: Freud would not have invented psychoanalysis without the graceful collaboration of hysterical women. Among those patients who taught him, one holds a special place: Anna O., the first patient. As reported in Studies on Hysteria by Sigmund Freud and Joseph Breuer, published in 1985, she demonstrated for the first time that hysteria symptoms react in relation to words. (Soler 2006, 17)

Thus, a particular mechanism is established so that the subject can speak, so that women can speak, be listened to, and above all, listen to themselves, taking place in their own desires and discomforts. But a cure for subjective conditions was also possible, to have presence and change their position in the world. Some women, only then, were able to identify the secret of their silence and their word power in order to be a subject. Women’s silence has made symptoms out of dreams, singing, embroidery, delirium, crying, complaints, paralysis, possession, the body, desire and demands, and also psychoanalysis as a place for their speaking out. That is why the analytical mechanism constitutes a milestone in the history of feminine silence. Helí Morales states: Freud dares to listen to the sounds of silence with which the female body spoke in the midst of a muddle of pain. Women, through whom the body said what was unbearable to hear, were called hysterical. The hysterical woman said with her body what she could not say aloud. Her body spoke through enigmas that took on the status of somatic symptoms. . . . The symptom was the language of a silenced female history embodied in the organs and systems. (Morales 2003, 637; emphasis added)

Paradoxically, psychoanalysis as a discipline is not exempt from the silence and the silencing of women, in their work as much as in their stories. One example is the case of Sabine Spielrein, whose work is the precedent of the death drive that Freud developed in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1984). Freud was characterized by his rigorous and elegant way of recognizing the authors with whom debated and dialogued in his texts. However, to her and her splendid work, he dedicated only a footnote. Fortunately, with this simple footnote, Sabine Spielrein was able to go down in history (Freud 1984, 53). On this issue, there is a wide bibliography that stopped silencing the female psychoanalysts in the attempt of others to abandon the silence. It was a matter of finding those who were lost in the thick fog of male discourse on women.

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject   •  167

At least, Lacan (1981), in a masterful and spectacular way—from the Freudian question that made so much ink run: “What does a woman want?”—makes an authentic ode to a position and to a non-­phallic jouissance Other that vindicates the woman’s position and femininity. One last contemporary example of silence and silencing in psychoanalysis is represented by what is spoken of today in the Lacanian psychoanalytic world. Current psychoanalysts have become true stars with the help of social networks. Many young people speak of the not-­all, of the jouissance Other, of motherhood, of the genealogies of the arrival of psychoanalysis, and of Lacan’s proposal to Latin America. The compulsory question is: What about the female psychoanalysts? Although these women have produced an extremely important number of texts and sustained amazing ideas, nobody mentions their importance to psychoanalysis in this region. To paraphrase Georges Duby on women’s absence in the accounts: What about Elizabeth Roudinesco, Piera Aulagnier, and Colette Soler? Where are they recognized, quoted, and named? These women listened, transported, transmitted, reworked, and wrote; they spoke out and speak in first person; they were there in Lacan’s seminars. So then: What is the silence of women? What is the silencing of the feminine? What has been said about women? What has been silenced? Feminine silence and the silencing of what is feminine is fear. On the one hand, women’s fear of violence, of discreditation, of dishonor, of disrepute, of deep voices shouting, of striking the table, and ultimately of the fear of losing love. But also, there is the fear of being murdered, like the women who dared to speak their knowledge: Hypatia of Alexandria, the witches, and Olympia de Gouges, among many others. On the masculine side, there is the fear of fearless women and the secret of life.

Women’s Public Silence and Patriarchy But what specificity does women’s public silence in the face of power, knowledge, and desire carry? Has the women’s silence constituted an authentic “radical resistance” to political powers, to private property, to accumulation, to infinite pleasures, to the devastation of nature? Is this silence the invention of desire, of eroticism, and of one’s own virility? Is the silence of the feminine an authentic scansion to exploitation, accumulation, and subjugation? What is the product of women’s silence?

168  •  Chapter Ten

I have sustained the idea that this silence and control of women’s bodies, their knowledge and feminine power, are part of the price humanity has paid for civilization, that is to say, for patriarchy, which was also an attempt to limit violence among men. Silence and control over women were not always a “conscious policy” of patriarchy; it is a product, a result. Without intending to make an exhaustive critical analysis of their theses, I open a dialogue between Dany-­Robert Dufour and Helí Morales in order to state this. Dufour sustains that hominids had to create multiple prostheses in order to survive and complete themselves, trying to imitate animal characteristics. In addition, they had to create language, due to its inconclusiveness and incompleteness. Animals are already equipped to survive; they do not need to create tools, nor plan, nor evaluate how to hunt their prey. As human beings were destined to live in the past or in the future, as language is something more than a means of communication, it demonstrates this, “thanks to language, things that are absent can be brought to the present, that is to say be re-­presented” (Dufour 1999, 33). It is the long process of creating tools and language through which the organism becomes human, in phylogenetic and ontogenetic terms. It is not because we have a mouth that we speak; it is not because we have sex that we feel pleasure; and it is not because we have a brain that we think. Language, eroticism, and thought are products that the human organism did not come, nor comes, readily equipped with. And which path led hominids to produce such organs of their second nature? Man rose out of animal nature and produced objects and weapons, but also because of the consciousness of death and sexuality that seeks pleasure. Was he left free to his own impulses; this could not be carried out? To achieve this, the dimension of law and prohibition had to be imposed. Without restrictions, there would be no work done nor accumulation of knowledge. Against what are the injunctions lifted? In the face of violence, what is it good for? To regulate unruliness, which would otherwise end the world of work. The violence that we try to regulate is the violence of desire. The prohibition falls on the violence of sexual desire and of destruction. (Morales 2003, 93) The homo faber built stone instruments, but also from the Middle Paleolithic the funerary rituals began. The tomb is evidence of the knowledge of death and the first monument to the effects of the interdict that represents the law symbol turned into act. (Morales 2003, 94)

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject   •  169

It is also then that murder is prohibited. Death is caused by something or someone and, in that sense, a murderer is assumed, that is why, if one wants to live in society, the prohibition of murder is established. This prohibition is an attempt to limit the nature that makes us and destroys us. (Morales 2003, 95)

At this point, I introduce the thesis Dufour proposed (2003) in his works based upon the trinitarian structures that have historically been present in culture, in which language is also included. This text incorporates a philosophical reading of Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents.” He warns us that this limitation of man’s virulence is coupled with the creation of great deified figures. First, there were natural forces, then gods of polytheistic religions, and later the monotheistic God, and then the king, until the establishment of the State. Extremely powerful figures, beloved and feared, had to be placed far and away, as violence could not be limited among equals. It is the unfolding of the patriarchy itself, in other terms, that culture is sitting on a collective delirium that limits the free flow of sexual impulse and the death drive, having as a referent a feared and loved figure that has been attributed rationality. Helí warns: Sexual freedom is always a regulated utopia. Regulations have existed in all societies. The law of regulation takes on different forms depending on the people and the times, but it does not cease to exist. The prohibition of incest spans time and geography. The nature of which we are part, is an outpouring and an uninterrupted flow. It is an exuberance of sexual impulses and an overflow of destructive forces. If there were no interdicts, there would be no cities or societies. In some way, culture begins with a NO. The refusal is not only to natural excesses, but to the kingdom of nature. (Morales 2003, 95)

Thus, figures and forms were invented, which were perfected and named, in such a way that we have the most amazing creations, such as religion, philosophy, polis, art, and science (Freud, 1986), and also figures, such as Nature, God, the King, the State, the Proletariat (Dufour 2007, 47–48). All these forms and figures could have a common goal, which is to control the rabid nature of the hominid. Patriarchy’s function—as an effect of the fictions mounted around sex and death—was, precisely, to limit nature’s virulence. It is here that we can identify the control (administration) of women’s bodies. On analyzing these approaches with care, what is not solved in this story is the place that women occupied in this transformation. We could say that the

170  •  Chapter Ten

law and prohibition is established particularly to limit the violence of men, the violence of death and sex. The figure of God shows with singular clarity, placed far and away, in extreme greatness, a rationality. So, God forbade and loved from a certain rationality, and therefore, God was both loved and feared. Furthermore, this figure makes possible a link and the relations among equals, as the Commandments were aimed at regulating relationships among equals, even though the starting point was love of God Himself. Here to, what has been pointed out is the importance of what we can call the great patriarchal figures and the creation of the symbolic guarantees that allowed, in their journey through history, civilization and culture, without forgetting that in the individual subjectivation, these figures still have effects in the makeup of the subject by the intermediation of the language, in which culture is placed and re-­created when transmitted from generation to generation. Well-­defined social institutions sit alongside these figures—such as the army, the church, and social organizations—which are all mostly made up of men in pyramidal and hierarchical constructions. On several occasions, these institutions were headed by tyrants, absolute masters, and lying clowns, not to be believed at all. Too much ink has flowed discussing the decline of the Father. Generally, the spirit of those approaches calls for nostalgia. The shortening in distance between those great figures and the subject has produced the greatest crack in the symbolic order (Dufour 2007, 118–32). But when we look back at women following in the footsteps of patriarchal figures throughout history, it is noticeable that women have not shaped nor participated in social formations or institutions in the manner of men. The reasons can be found in codices, theologies, worldviews, theories, norms, laws, and documents of the most varied logic. The social bond sustained by women is horizontal, silent; it has not made institutions, church, armies, God, or Nation, but objects of desire, invoking drive, a soft voice. Furthermore, it has perhaps produced the look and movement that erects the crest of masculine desires that demand consent, subject to being unique and keeping her desire in silence.

The Productions of Silence Asking ourselves about desire leads us to different paths, from a feminism that pretends to be lacanian, from the non-­legislative of our drives, the indomitable of our pleasure, with its limits and limitations made spoken and

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject   •  171

silence. Asking ourselves what imaginary will be necessary to create from the daily resistance of women with their labile and horizontal ties that have not made gods, churches, kings, states, armies, institutions, political parties, and football or bullfighting. The creation of erection and orgasm of desiring bodies occurs in silence. Virility is an extraordinary proof of the creation of desire and language, a prehistoric sign of the abandonment of the animal body that responds only to the flow of smell and heat. The feminine orgasm that converted the chemistry of the woman’s body that lights up into the bursting of a thousand flowers and vehement moaning. In this sense, it knows that the consciousness of death, art, and eroticism have the inscription of their emergence in the same cave painting (Bataille 2011, 25–54). It shows a man who lies dead with an erect penis and a spear in his hand. This figure shows us at least three things: the consciousness of death, the virile sign, and the representation itself. Following to Morales’s ideas, eroticism and art are two great human creations that were possible in spare time as a result of the accumulation and excess time from work. This is the other side of cultural creation (Morales 2003, 75–78). On the one hand, we have prohibition, punishment, guilt, bonding, accumulation, and excess. On the other hand, we have sublimation, eroticism, silence. The journey to produce eroticism, language, and thought has been very long. The traces left no indication of women’s productions. Men appear there in the great productions of figures, organizations, and systems. Male domination is a long-­lasting process. In effect, this domination called patriarchy is the framework in which culture itself—language and thought (whether religious, philosophical, or scientific)—were articulated, that is to say, transversally. What I have been trying to argue up to this point can be reinforced by the next words: “Silence, then, is double-­sided, being a principal clinical fact and, at the same time, the ultimate manifestation of the mute nature of psychic life” (Nasio 1987, 11). To remove the gag, to stop keeping quiet, to stop being silent, to fight against the silencing, has implications for each woman, each person, each group, each community that prints its distinctive stamp of its time and rhythm, of its forms and places. It results in implausibility that the community changes and that women do not, or vice versa. It follows that the word, the language, the culture will change because it is spoken, and speech is produced by each individual in particular, but it does not change because a person wants it to; it changes because it is used, because it is spoken by

172  •  Chapter Ten

each and every man and woman; it is not a decree—it is the transformation of cultures. Being a woman is a convention that will have to be re-­created or invented, even if what is hoped for is that the sexual difference will be no more, and more strictly speaking, the hierarchization of the sexes and domination exercise of one sex over the other will form part of a cultural construction that silences women. With regard to the decline of sexual difference, one must be warned that everything culturally created on the basis of sexual difference—such as eroticism, pleasure, the prohibition of incest, the logic of law, the logic of power, and the logic of desire, just to mention some of its products—will be upended. This is where the logic of judging things by their effects has the greatest importance.

The Trajectories of Women’s Silence Meanwhile, to put forward that the position of woman and femininity is a convention that one not only wishes to re-­create, but that is in continuous transformation and movement, is a fact. To give it the direction that is desired, without declining the great human creations—such as desire, eroticism, thought, and language—is a challenge. In other words, it is necessary to invent ways of articulating new discourses that change the content of discourse—objects, subjects, and relationships—but which do not disarticulate the very possibility of desiring, eroticizing, and thinking. These are dimensions that, we maintain, pass or have passed through the silence. Configuring such mechanisms is always a gamble. The exercise of judging things by their effects, rather than by their causes, complicates the ways of understanding the forms in which speaking beings constitute both subjects and society. To make an issue of the nature of objects that are defined in relation to the silence and the speech of women is the slow way. Such complexity leads us to the need of positioning ourselves or constructing creative and crossdisciplinary frameworks in the face of the quandaries: individual-­society, social construction or the law, effective processes versus cognitive processes, analysis or therapy, and a plethora of options and all their possible combinations. If this route has been chosen—that is to say, the long way—it is precisely because of the consequences of reading psychoanalysis. The transmission, the clinic, and the writing of psychoanalysis induce a different concept of time, a time that is not chronological, but one that jumps, that dances, that returns, that has cadences, with nonconventional rhythms and diverse directions.

From Women’s Silence to the Speaking Subject   •  173

The warning is there, that it is not only in the plane of consciousness, of rationality or volition, and of chronological time that subjectivities are resolved or transformed. This walkthrough has not been enough to provide an account of women’s place in the fabric of society with their silence. But it has been necessary to enumerate some points of arrival that allow us to say that the women’s revolution we are going through—their emancipation, their speaking in first person, and the change in social relations between men and women—is equivalent to the magnitude (but not the form) of the abolition of slavery. The scream went through the very bodies of the possessed, overwhelmed, or hysterical women. It was a stifled scream that created female figures that transcended their silence—female figures like nuns, prostitutes, witches, and saints. The speaking out of women had to wait for a couch after the burning at the stake or confinement. They had to wait for feminism to awaken their voices and for the 1960s of the last century to articulate and write their own history. Listening to women state their demands—in their shouts, their sobbing, and their chanting —may mean listening beyond a desire for themselves and a need for love. It may mean hearing that their cry speaks of the need to care for life, the effort to distribute resources, the advantages of horizontal bonds, and the importance of participation and collective construction. Many men also know and have managed to position all of these issues in discursive forms, but barely as historical and social practices.

References Aguilar, Martha and Esperanza Díaz-­Guerrero. 1994. “La inclusión del sujeto en psicoanálisis.” MBA thesis. México: Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. Bataille, George. 2011. “El hombre de Lascaux.” In Lascaux o el nacimiento del arte. Translated by Isidro Herrera and Meritxell Herrera, 25–54. Córdova: Alción Editora. Castoriadis, Cornelius. 1997. “Imaginación, imaginario y reflexión.” In Ontología de la creación. Selection by José Malaver y Fabio Girlado. Translated by José Malaver, 132–212. Colomb: Ensayo y Error. Dufour, Robert-­Dany. 1999. Cartas de la naturaleza humana para el uso de los sobrevivientes. Translated by Pio Eduardo Sanmiguel Ardila. Colomb: Escuela de Estudios en Psicoanálisis y Cultura Universidad Nacional de Colombia. ———. 2002. Locura y Democracia. Translated by Juan Carlos Rodríguez. Mexico: FCE.

174  •  Chapter Ten

———. 2003. Mutaciones en la Cultura Seminary from 7 at 12 April 2003, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, México, where he developed the thesis of his book from 1990, Mysteries of Trinity (Les Mystères de la Trinité). París: Gallimard. ———. 2007. “De la modernidad a la posmodernidad.” In El Arte de Reducir Cabezas. Translated by Alcira Bixio, 31–132. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Freud, Sigmund. 1986. “Proyecto de Psicología.” In Obras Completas Tomo I. Translated by José Luis Etcheverry, 323–89. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. ———. 1986. “Malestar en la Cultura.” T XXI, 57–140. ———. 1984. “Más allá del principio de placer.” T XVIII, 7–62. Lacan, Jacques. 1981. “Una carta de amor.” In Seminario 20. Translated by Diana Ravinovich, Delmont-­Mauri, and Julieta Sucre, 95–108. Buenos Aires: Paidós. ———. 1983. “¿Par o impar?. Más allá de la intersubjectividad.” In Seminario 2 El yo en la teoría de Freud y en la técnica psicoanalítica. Translated by Irene Agoff, 263–85. Buenos Aires: Paidós. ———. 2003. “La posición del inconsciente.” In Escritos 2. Translated by Tomás Segovia and Armando Suárez, 789–808. Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI. Morales, Helí. 2003. “Trazos en la historia de las pasiones femeninas.” In Sujeto en el laberinto. Historia ética y política en Lacan, edited by Paola Ponce, 619–52. Mexico: Ediciones de la Noche. ———. 2003. “La transgresión y el interdicto.” 89–113. Nasio, Juan. 1987. El silencio en psicoanálisis. Translated by José Luis Etcheverry. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. Soler, Colette. 2006. Lo que Lacan dijo de las mujeres. Estudio de psicoanálisis, Translated by Ana Palacios, 17–170. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Perrot, Michelle. 2008. “Escribir la historia de las mujeres.”. In Mi historia de las mujeres. Translated by Mariana Saúl, 13–49. Mexico: FCE.


absence, 5, 11, 16, 58, 62, 115, 117, 124–25, 130–31, 167 abuse, 20, 75, 80, 149, 151–53, 156 act, 2, 5, 8, 9, 37, 39, 42, 50, 73, 88, 98, 124–25, 127, 130, 145, 156, 168 activism, 3, 53 Agamben, Giorgio, 42–44 Aguilar, Martha, 12, 165 Alcalá, Martín, 55 Alexievich, Svetlana, 40–41, 44–46 Allouch, Jean, 6, 94–95, 100–2 analysand, 3 analysis, 3, 6, 54, 66, 76, 88, 89n4, 95, 101, 119n2, 125, 135, 145–46, 160, 168, 172 anguish, 4, 10, 12, 63, 90, 102, 106–7, 115, 119 archetype, 70, 88 Arendt, Hannah, 46 Aristophanes, 6, 7, 16, 20, 28, 30 art, 123–24, 126, 129, 131 artist, 5, 10, 11, 124–31, 150, 161 artistic, 4–6, 123–27, 130, 150, 161 asexual, 116 Auschwitz, 42, 43

autonomy, 80, 118, 136, 141, 144 autoviudas, 8, 69–70, 74–75, 77, 78, 79–81, 83–88 Azuela, Mariano, 34 Barthes, Roland, 58 Bataille, Georges, 20, 171 Beard, Mary, 56 Belausteguigoitia, Marisa, 64–65 Belli, Gioconda, 6, 7, 16, 22, 26–30 Beltrán, Félix Geney, 57, 59, 61, 62, 64 Berger, Anne, 56 bioethical, 11, 146 bioethics, 145 bisexuality, 1 black widow, 75 black widows, 70, 75 body, 12, 22, 24–26, 37–40, 45, 47, 49, 56–58, 61, 62, 64, 66, 82, 105–7, 110–12, 125, 127–29, 157, 164–66, 171 Bolla, Luisina, 56 Bourdieu, Pierre, 38, 39


176  •  Index

Camargo Rubín, Nydia, 77–78, 83 Campobello, Nellie, 7, 33–36, 38, 40–47, 49–50 Capulín Arellano, Lizeth, 55 care, 10–12, 18, 29–30, 34, 38–39, 46–47, 60–61, 94, 107, 113–15, 119, 133, 135–38, 140–42, 144–46, 149–55, 169, 173 care studies, 94 caretaker, 119, 140, 144, 146 Carranza, Venustiano, 72, 77 Castellanos, María del Carmen, 78, 83 Castellanos, Rosario, 11, 133, 137–40 Castoriadis, Cornelius, 161 Catholic, 8, 54–56, 60, 66 Cavarero, Adriana, 46–47 Champollion, 95 children, 1, 10, 17–20, 22–23, 30, 34, 40, 43–44, 46, 48, 64, 75, 107, 110–11, 113, 130–31, 135, 137, 140–42, 154, 156 ciudadanía, “cuidadanía”, 28 Cixous, Hélène, 55, 65 conflict, 22, 29, 71, 83, 89n8, 143 Cono Sur, 93 Cortés, Hernán, 24–26 crimes, 8–9, 69, 72, 74, 80–81, 83, 85–88 crisis, 29, 44 cruelty, 39, 44–45, 47, 48, 160 Cuadrilátero, 79 culture, 3, 8, 11–12, 19, 22, 26, 34, 54, 94, 98, 141, 150, 159, 162, 169, 170–171 Dadaist, 101 dark continent, 16 de la Huerta, Adolfo, 76, 79 de Landa, María Teresa, 77, 79, 83–85, 88 de Nerval, Gérard, 97 death, 7–8 , 12, 20, 22, 28, 35–36, 38, 43–45, 47, 49, 50, 69, 70, 80, 82–83,

85, 89, 96, 98, 103, 106, 111, 113, 115, 129, 131, 136, 138, 142–44, 150, 154, 164, 166, 168–71 death desire, 101–2 death drive, 166, 169 Deleuze, Gilles, 55, 61 demand, 43, 77, 106, 110 dependence, 28, 145 Derrida, Jacques, 55, 112, 118 desire, 2, 10–11, 18, 54, 57–59, 61–63, 65, 94, 95, 99, 101–2, 108–10, 112, 114–17, 119, 123, 127–30, 141, 144, 161–62, 164–68, 170–73 desire of the Other (Lacan), 10 dialogue, 4, 8, 12, 21–22, 27, 29–30, 54, 62, 137, 139–40, 146, 159, 168 di Giorgio, Marosa, 9, 95–99, 102–3 Díaz, Porfirio, 71, 89n2 Díaz del Castillo, Bernal, 24–26 Díaz-Guerrero, Esperanza, 165 Didi-Huberman, Georges, 101 difference, 3, 8, 22, 40, 53, 56, 62–63, 65, 66, 94, 109, 164, 172 discourse, 1, 3, 7–10, 18, 25–26, 54, 56, 62, 64–65, 94, 100, 119, 151, 155, 160, 163–64, 166 dispositive, 18 division of labor, 2, 15, 18, 19, 29, 39 Domenella, Alma Rosa, 57 domestic, 10, 18, 21–22, 28, 34, 41, 47, 59–60, 83, 85–86, 96, 110–12, 114 domination, 38–39, 44, 171–72 Doña Marina, 24–26 double, 57, 59, 65, 87, 89n6, 130, 152, 159 dreams, 16, 50, 95, 98–99, 124, 161, 165–66 drive, 29, 66, 70, 166, 169–70 Dufour, Dany-Robert, 160, 168–70 Duverger, Christian, 24, 26 ego, 54, 101–2 Einstein, Albert, 19

Index  •  177

Elías Calles, Plutarco, 76 emancipation, 58, 75, 173 enunciation, 3, 9, 25, 94 epistemological category, 164 erotic, 2–4, 10, 28, 107, 116, 118 eroticism, 10, 57, 110, 112, 167–68, 171–72 Esquivel, Laura, 11, 133, 141–44 exclusion, 29, 39, 75, 82, 129, 160 family, 3, 19, 28, 40, 45, 53, 60, 64, 81, 83, 106, 110, 116–19, 135–37, 139, 141–42, 145, 153, 155, 161 family cards, 111 fantasy, 5, 17, 117 fecundity, 131 female, 7, 12, 27, 28, 33–36, 40, 41, 43–44, 46, 54–55, 57, 59–61, 63, 69–70, 72, 74–75, 82, 86, 88, 89n9, 97, 127, 133–34, 138, 162, 166–67; female figures, 50n1, 58, 160, 173; female orgasm, 4; female sexuality, 58 femicide, 2, 53, 83 feminine, 2–13, 15–17, 19, 24–26, 28, 29, 33–34, 37–45, 47–50, 53–60, 62, 65, 66, 70, 74, 83, 85–86, 93, 95, 97, 106, 111, 126, 128–29, 133–35, 137–38, 141–42, 145–46, 159, 162, 164–66, 167–68, 171 femininity, 16, 38–39, 55, 57–61, 64, 66, 67, 75, 84, 164, 167, 172 feminism, 4–6, 12, 55, 62, 86–87, 94, 160, 170, 173 feminist, 1–2, 5, 7, 8, 10, 48, 53, 55–57, 65–66, 73, 77, 83, 95, 154, 159, 160, 163 feminization, 7, 18, 24, 26, 30, 39, 47, 95, 98 fertility, 129 Foucault, Michel, 18, 48, 82, 94, 164 free association, 100–1

Freud, Sigmund, 1, 4–5, 9–10, 12, 16–19, 56, 59, 63, 83, 95, 98–102, 105–9, 113, 116–17, 119, 124, 126, 129, 163, 165–67, 169 Gagnebin, Murielle, 124–25, 129, 130–31 García Márquez, Gabriel, 33 Garro, Elena, 8–9, 53, 55–57, 61–62, 64–66 gay and lesbian studies, 94 gender, 2, 7, 15, 18, 39, 57, 64, 69–71, 74, 77, 80–82, 84–86, 88, 97 geopolitical order, 15 Glantz, Margo, 6–7, 16, 24–26, 30 Goethe, 100 González, María Luz, 78, 83, 88 government, 22, 27, 59, 71, 73, 79, 89n8, 101 Gutiérrez de Velasco, Luzelena, 57 Guzmán, Martín Luis, 34 hegemony, 35, 50 heteropatriarchal logic, 73 hole, 5, 12, 16, 126, 130–31 homicide, 73, 87 honor, 38, 74, 79, 81, 83, 162 horror, 4, 8–9, 11, 36, 40, 43, 47–48 Huerta, Victoriano, 71–72, 79 husband, 73, 78–79, 87, 88, 90n9, 111 hysteria, 10, 86, 100, 105, 107, 164, 166 identification, 17, 18, 108, 113 image, 34, 40, 49, 84, 88, 94, 99, 101–3, 108, 110, 113, 115, 119, 129, 140, 164 imaginary, 25, 27–28, 64, 66, 70, 84, 108, 110–11, 113, 115–18, 161, 171 Indians, 24, 25, 45 Indigenous, 33, 39, 89n3, 137, 164 interdict, 168 intergenerational, 139–41

178  •  Index

intimate, 5, 18, 26, 30, 65, 124, 126–27, 149, 151, 154, 156–57, 163 invisibility, 69, 135, 160–61 Irigaray, Luce, 55, 59 jouissance, 4, 16, 54, 61, 65–66, 115, 118–19, 167; feminine jouissance, 8, 17, 53, 55–56, 58 jouissance of the Other (Lacan), 115; phallic jouissance, 17, 167; supplementary jouissance, 55–56, 66; Jurado, Magdalena, 78, 83 Juranville, Anne, 126, 128, 130–31 jury, 78–80, 84, 85, 89n6 justice, 8, 27, 35, 69–71, 80–81, 83, 85, 89, 151 Kahlo, Frida, 123–27, 129–31 kidnapping, 87 kill, 45, 69–70, 73–74, 81–82, 85, 86–88 killed, 8, 42, 44, 71, 73, 75, 78–81, 84, 87–88 killers, 75, 81, 84, 86–87 Kristeva, Julia, 55 Lacan, Jacques, 3–6, 9–11, 16–18, 55, 58, 62, 66, 95, 97, 101–2, 108–13, 115, 118–19, 125–26, 128, 163–65, 167 lack, 17, 22, 30, 33, 54, 71, 76, 106, 114–15, 128, 151, 155 ladies, 8, 69, 82–83, 85, 137 language, 3, 6, 8–10, 16, 56, 59–62, 66, 74, 82, 98–99, 102, 125, 129, 137, 151, 165–66, 168–72 Latin America, 9, 29, 54–55, 93, 167 letter, 5–6, 8, 16–19, 24, 25, 119, 123, 130 Levi, Primo, 42–43 LGBT, 4

listening, 8, 12, 53, 84, 151–53, 165, 173 literary, 5, 33–35, 48, 50, 56–57, 64, 97, 100–1, 129 literature, 5–7, 10, 15–16, 20, 26–27, 34, 54, 57, 65, 69, 85, 93–94, 96, 99–101, 124, 133–36, 144, 146 lituraterre, 5 lost, 5–6, 11, 19–20, 23, 83, 85, 89n6, 96, 99, 108, 117–18, 131, 155, 161, 165–66 love, 4–5, 19, 27, 30, 81, 84–85, 87–88, 98, 108, 110–18, 129, 142–43, 162, 167, 170, 173 lover, 8, 58, 70, 78, 80, 89, 110, 112 Lozano, José María, 79 Madero, Francisco, 71 male orgasm, 4 Malinche, 24, 26 Malintzin, 7, 24–26 man, 3, 4, 10, 17, 20, 22, 39, 40, 49, 70, 84, 89n9, 107–8, 111–13, 168–69, 171 men, 1–4, 7, 8, 16–24, 27–30, 35, 37, 39–41, 47, 49, 50, 53, 69, 70, 73–77, 80, 84–88, 95, 151, 159, 162–64, 168, 170–71, 173 marriage, 58, 73, 78, 85, 124, 127, 142–43 Martínez, Ariel, 56 masculine, 4, 7, 19, 24–25, 28, 37–39, 41, 70, 107, 143, 162, 167, 170 masculinity, 37–39, 87 memory, 16, 36, 41, 43, 84, 106, 117, 137, 162 mental health, 11, 12, 149–55, 180 Mexican Revolution, 7, 9, 36, 37, 50n1, 71–72, 75, 76, 89, 141 Mexico, 8, 11, 24, 30n1, 35, 36, 42, 51, 54, 69, 71–72, 75, 77–79, 83–89n3, 90n11, 127, 136 miscarriage, 126–28, 130

Index  •  179

Miyares, Alicia, 61 Moheno, Querido, 78–80 moral, 54, 61, 79, 81, 84–87 Morales, Helí, 160, 163–64, 166, 168–69, 171 Moreno, María del Pilar, 80 Morfín, María Teresa, 78, 83 mortality, 75–76, 137 mother, 8, 10, 35, 42, 46, 48, 58–59, 66, 70, 82, 96, 106–19, 127, 129–30, 134–35, 139–44, 164 murder, 20, 64, 74, 78–81, 89, 169 mutilated, 24–25, 82 myth, 47, 58 mythology, 13, 70, 82 Name-of the-Father, 56, 67 nanny, 133, 138, 140–41 Nasio, Juan, 171 natives, 7, 30 navel, 3, 16 navel of the dream, 16 negation, 131 neo-baroque, 93–94, 100 neobarrosa, 93 Nettel, Guadalupe, 96 nonautonomous, 135, 137, 145 object, 2, 11, 26, 48, 57, 59, 97, 107–9, 114, 126, 128–30, 164–65 Obregón, Álvaro, 76 old age, 10, 22, 133–34, 137, 140–42, 144–46 Olvera, Alicia, 77–78, 83 oppression, 81, 106, 150, 160 other (fellow), 126, 150–51, 153–54 Other (Lacan), 10, 17, 58, 102, 111–12, 115 Ovid, 13, 56 pain, 4, 10–12, 28, 48–49, 96, 106–7, 110, 124, 127, 129, 131, 140, 151–53, 155, 156, 166

passivity, 57, 61, 66, 70 Pasternac, Nora, 57 patriarchal, 39, 41, 44, 46–48, 50, 54, 57, 59, 66, 71, 73, 86, 160, 170 patriarchy, 12, 38, 39, 44, 60, 66, 82, 159, 160, 167–69, 171 peace, 19–20, 23, 29, 150 pedagogy, 39, 44–45, 47–48, 50 Pedro Páramo, 34 Pedroza, Liliana, 57, 64 Perrot, Michelle, 12, 161–63 phallic, 17, 56–57, 59, 70, 115, 167 phallic law, 56, 59 phallo-logo/centric, 55, 61, 62, 65, 66n2 pictographic, 102–3 Pizarnik, Alejandra, 95 pleasure, 16, 34, 93, 102, 107, 115, 164, 166, 168, 170, 172 Plutarch, 6–7, 16, 22–23, 30 poetry, 5–6, 9, 11, 94–95, 97–99, 102, 125, 163 political order, 2, 27. See also geopolitical order Poniatowska, Elena, 36, 57 Portes Gil, Emilio, 76 postrevolutionary, 33–34, 36, 69–72, 75, 79, 83, 85, 88 practices, 11, 25, 37, 38, 45–46, 73, 134–35, 137, 141, 144–45, 146, 149, 152, 154–55, 161, 173 procreation, 125, 127, 131 profile, 80 prohibition, 71, 168–72 psychoanalysis, 1–7, 9, 12, 15–18, 63, 66, 88, 94, 99–101, 109, 115, 129, 131, 159, 160, 164–67, 172 psychoanalyst, 2, 89n4, 163 psychoanalytic, 2, 6, 10, 17, 30, 59, 64–65, 67, 102, 167 psychotherapeutic, 11, 149 psychotherapist(s), 149, 151–54 pulsion, 5. See also drive

180  •  Index

queer (adjective), 6, 96 Queer theory, 94 Queer movements, 4 Queijeiro, Elisa, 57 radical imaginary, 161 rational, 55–56, 60, 62, 64, 66 real (Lacan’s register), 2, 56, 99, 108–9, 126, 128–31 reason, 18, 56, 59, 62–63, 66, 69, 75–76, 82–83, 102, 111, 127, 151, 162 rebus, 94–95 religion, 54, 56, 163, 169 representation, 18, 34, 125, 129, 171 reproduction, 38, 47 Reyes, José Antonio, 79 rights, 2, 11, 36, 72–73, 77, 86, 149, 150–56, 160–61, 180; violation of rights, 153 Rimbaud, Arthur, 95, 97, 98 Rivera, Diego, 126–27, 131n2 Roudinesco, Elizabeth, 56, 59, 167 Rulfo, Juan, 7, 33 rural, 33, 37, 71, 77, 137, 144–45 Rush, Bernice, 79, 83, 87 Sáenz Valadez, Adriana, 57 Saltzman, Janet, 54 seer, 9, 97 Segato, Rita, 44–45, 47 segregation, 5, 15, 18, 28–29 self-portrait, 126, 128, 131 self-widow, 72 self-widows, 8, 69, 88 sentences, 72, 87 –88, 109, 112, 160 sex, 3, 16–17, 20, 24, 37, 58, 60, 63, 73, 74, 80, 86, 106, 164, 168–70, 172 sexes, 54–55, 172 sexual, 1, 4, 8, 18, 20, 25, 54, 56, 59, 63, 66, 81, 86, 87, 106, 116, 162, 168, 169, 172

sexuality, 1–2, 10, 18, 48, 56, 58, 64, 85, 106, 168 sexualization, 87 sexualized, 39 sexually, 1, 76 sexuation, 55 signifier, 17, 61, 65–66, 109 silence, 5, 7, 10, 12, 18, 25, 29, 33, 34, 40–41, 50, 54–55, 57, 59, 65, 82–84, 88, 105, 106–15, 118–19, 123–26, 128, 130–31, 150, 153, 155, 159–68, 170–73; silences (noun), 9, 10, 12–13, 19, 54, 70, 82–84, 107; silences (verb), 11, 38, 88, 119, 172 silenced, 3, 7, 12, 16, 18, 20–21, 28–30, 33, 34, 38, 40, 54–55, 62, 67, 70, 82–83, 106–9, 138, 150, 153, 155, 159–60, 164, 166–67 silencing, 2, 5–8, 11, 12, 15, 18, 29, 54–55, 82, 88, 149–52, 159–60, 162–63, 166–67, 171 silent, 2–6, 8–9, 11–12, 15–17, 19, 21, 26, 36, 44, 47, 53–55, 57, 82–83, 88, 94, 116, 119, 123, 125, 128, 135–37, 140–41, 143, 153, 159, 163–64, 170–71 sins, 55, 57, 63, 113 slave, 24 slavery, 25, 140–41, 173 social functions, 26, 135 social order, 9, 19, 39 Sodi, Federico, 73, 77–79, 89 soldadera, 35, 50n1 soldiers, 7, 28, 35, 43–44, 48–50 Soler, Colette, 12, 164, 166–67 speak, 20, 23, 40, 41–45, 54, 59, 82, 107–9, 129, 149, 150, 155–56, 160, 162, 164–65, 166–68 speaking, 3, 5, 8, 12, 16–17, 19, 40, 55, 62, 66, 83, 94, 105, 107–8, 144, 159–60, 163–64, 166, 172–73

Index  •  181

spectral, 57, 59 spheres, 18, 37, 98 Spielrein, Sabine, 166 Spinoza, Baruch, 59 subject, 3, 6–7, 12, 30n1, 38, 43, 46–47, 53, 55, 57–58, 60–61, 69, 97–98, 102, 105–6, 109, 110, 115, 117, 119, 123–24, 134, 155, 159, 164–66, 170 subjectivation, 170 subjective, 1, 4–5, 10, 17, 48, 55, 60, 62–63, 94, 108, 112, 154, 160, 166 subjectivity, 34, 45, 50, 54, 60, 66, 100–1 support, 41, 44, 56, 66, 80, 89 n4, 107, 110, 137, 141, 150–52, 155–56 symbol, 13, 16–17, 28, 168 symbolic, 9, 11, 39, 47, 54, 56, 58, 62, 65–66, 74, 93–94, 97, 108–9, 112, 118, 170; symbolic castration, 56; symbolic order, 56, 62, 66, 118, 170 symptom, 54, 82, 83, 105–6, 108, 166 talk, 3, 7, 16, 22, 24, 40–41, 48, 59, 64, 98, 137–38, 143, 150–51, 164–65 testimonial, 7, 22, 34, 50 testimonies, 37, 43, 54, 79, 119, 149–50 testimony, 5–7, 12, 33, 35, 40–44, 50, 54, 105, 119, 124 Tornos Urzainki, Maider, 56, 61–62 tradition, 2, 8, 11, 26, 48, 57, 77, 134, 142–45 traditional role, 23 transgression, 33, 47, 153, 162 transliteration, 28, 95, 102 trauma, 48, 83, 105–6, 124, 127 traumatic, 12, 53, 105, 126, 128–30 trials, 72, 81, 83–85, 88 truth, 3, 5, 11, 42, 48, 58, 60–61, 66, 70, 82–84, 88, 102, 106, 131, 143, 149, 151–52, 156

unconscious, 1–7, 9, 11–13, 16–18, 26, 30, 63, 82, 88, 100–2, 109–10, 113, 125, 165 unfathomable, 3–4, 6, 9, 12, 93–95, 97–98, 101–3 unnamable, 2, 57 unrepresentable, 3–4, 10, 123–25, 128, 131 unseizable, 124 unspeakable, 3, 5–6, 8, 11, 60, 102, 105, 107, 123–24, 128, 156 uxoricide, 73–74 vices, 8, 27, 55, 59, 66n4 Villa, Francisco, 34, 36, 71–72 violence, 18–20, 26, 36, 37, 44, 46–48, 51n2, 53, 54–56, 65, 70, 74, 76, 78, 80–81, 83, 85–88, 90n11, 106, 108, 113, 149, 150–52, 155, 159, 160–61, 167–70 viricide, 74 virile power, 7, 59 virtue, 9, 55, 59, 60, 79 virtues, 8, 55, 59, 60, 63, 66, 70 visibility, 161 voice, 2–3, 5–7, 9, 11, 18, 24–26, 28–30, 35, 40–41, 43–44, 50, 63, 82, 110, 137, 142, 159, 163, 170 war, 6–9, 15, 16, 19, 20–24, 27–30, 34–38, 40, 41, 43–50, 76, 83, 89n8, 96, 100, 136, 140 Wechsler Steinberg, Elina, 58 widow, 88 widows, 72–73 wife, 58, 73, 78, 80, 89, 100, 108, 112, 140 woman, 2–4, 6–8, 10, 13, 16–17, 20, 22–23, 27–28, 34, 36, 41, 45, 47, 55, 57–59, 66, 70, 73–75, 79, 81, 83–85, 90n9, 105–114, 116, 118–19, 127–29, 134–35, 138–42, 162–63, 166–67, 171–72

182  •  Index

women, 1–4, 6–12, 15–25, 27–30, 34, 36–41, 43–44, 46–48, 50, 53–62, 64–66, 69–77, 80–88, 95, 98, 105, 107, 111, 114–15, 133–38, 141–42, 144–45, 149, 150–56, 159–73 women’s history, 161 work, 5–8, 11, 22–25, 35, 36, 38, 40, 44–46, 48, 50, 57, 60–61, 63–66, 73, 76–77, 86, 100–1, 109, 124–26,

128–31, 134–35, 138, 140, 142, 145, 150, 152–53, 155–56, 161–66, 168, 171 write, 5, 6, 9, 11, 41, 50, 54, 57, 96–98, 100, 130, 161–62, 173 writer, 7, 24, 26, 34, 36, 40, 55, 97, 100–1, 138–40 Zapata, Emiliano, 36, 71, 72

About the Editor and Contributors

Editor Araceli Colín Cabrera works as a psychoanalyst and independent researcher. She has been teaching seminars on psychoanalysis. She holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the Facultad de Psicología, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, México, and a PhD in anthropology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She is the author of Antropología y psicoanálisis. Un diálogo posible a propósito del duelo por un hijo en Malinalco (Toluca, UAEM- Fundación Mario Schneider, 2005) and twenty-­ three chapters in seventeen edited collection books (publishers: Paidós, Fontamara, Pearson, Plaza y Valdés, Kanankil, Colofón, Samsara, and university publishers). Colín is a collaborator in Spanish- and English-­indexed magazines. She has presented the results of her research in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Italy, and France.

Contributors Martha Patricia E. Aguilar Medina has been a professor and researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétero (UAQ) since 1984, and is also a feminist and psychoanalyst. She holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a bachelor’s degree in social psychology. She is also studying for a PhD in the social sciences. She was a member of the women’s movement promoting the Platform for Action of The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. She has organized and promoted an endless number 183

184  •   About the Editor and Contributors

of academic events, as well as outreach activities having to do with gender, common assumptions, body, art, and psychoanalysis. She founded the Interdisciplinary Program of Gender Studies of the UAQ in 2007; the Cecilia Loría Saviñón “Espacio Morado” Documentation Centre in 2010; and the UAQ Gender Centre in 2012. She has been the coordinator of publications such as Psychoanalysis at University, Quereteran Studies, The Body and Pschoanalysis, and Women’s Voices and Echoes, among others; and she has written some twenty articles in books and magazines. Alejandra Cantoral Pozo holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Universidad Autónoma de Quéretaro and is a professor and researcher at Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (UMSNH). She is currently a contributing researcher in multiple projects, and she maintains a reading seminar, “La clínica de la Letra,” on matters related to psychoanalysis from 2014 until now in the city of Morelia. She has worked as a therapist in CIIP (Centro Integral de Intervención Psicológica) since 2006. From 2015 until August 2019, she was the coordinator of that CIIP at the school of psychology from UMSNH, and she has been involved as an integral part of the academic network for gender studies from UMSNH. She has published several articles and she works as a psychoanalyst. Francisco Javier De Santiago Herrero is a professor at the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatments at the Universidad de Salamanca (USAL), director of the Unit of Analysis of Criminal Behavior at USAL, and deputy director of the Center of Women’s Studies at USAL. A psychoanalyst endorsed by the European Federation Psychotherapy Association and a clinical psychologist, he is also a specialist in legal and forensic psychology, criminal behavior analysis, brief dynamic psychotherapy, group psychotherapy and psychoanalytic psychodrama, and in Rorschach test psychodiagnosis. Flor de María Gamboa Solís has been a professor and researcher at the School of Psychology at UMSNH since 2001. A psychoanalyst and feminist, she holds a PhD in gender studies from the University of Sussex, UK. She is the founder and current coordinator of the Gender Academic Liaison Network at UMSNH, as well as the coordinator of the master’s program in psychoanalytic studies at UMSNH. She develops research work from the articulation of feminism and psychoanalysis to study, theorize, and document the processes of production and the reproduction of women’s subordination that originates in sexual difference.

About the Editor and Contributors   •  185

Alfredo Emilio Huerta Arellano is a professor and researcher at UMSNH school of psychology. He holds a PhD in philosophy from Colegio de Morelos and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. He is a speaker in courses related to philosophy, epistemology, psychoanalysis, sexuality, and gender. These days he is a therapist at Centro Integral de Intervención Psicológica (CIIP) at the school of psychology at UMSNH, and he coordinates the line of research: “Diversity and Marginalisation. Politic proposals and collective.” He has taught courses, seminars, talks, and conferences at public universities in his native country, as well as at foreign universities. He has also published articles and has contributed chapters to several books. Nowadays he works as a psychoanalyst. Cathia Huerta Arellano is a clinical psychologist who holds a master’s degree in anthropology, with doctoral studies in social economy. She is a community trainer in popular education. She has participated in and coordinated various participative research. She advises civil society and governmental organizations that collaborate mainly with indigenous women and youth. She is currently a professor and researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro (UAQ), and she participates in the coordination of various community intervention projects with a feminist approach. Mario Orozco Guzmán is a professor and researcher in psychology at UMSNH, México. He holds a PhD in psychology from the Universidad de Valencia (Spain). He is a psychoanalyst and a member of Espacio Analítico Mexicano. He coordinates and belongs to the academic group on Studies on Psychoanalytic Theory and Clinic. He is also a member of the National Research System (Mexico). His most recent works include the 2020 book edited by Porrúa entitled El rastro de las palabras. Pesquisas psicoanalíticas sobre testimonio, narcisismo, amor y violencia; the book Figuras de la alteridad. Estudios psicoanalíticos (Porrúa 2019); as well as a chapter entitled “The sanguinary dimension of jealousy: pain, grief and unbending certainty,” for the 2019 book entitled Rethinking the Relation Between Women and Psychoanalysis: Loss, Mourning, and the Feminine, edited by Hada Soria (Lexington: 2019). Viviana Pereda Ruiz is a psychotherapist and psychologist. She holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology, focusing on psychoanalysis, from the Universidad de Chile. She has worked with people diagnosed with psychosis since 1990 in different areas, both public and private. She is specialized in the analytical treatment of people with psychosis, men and women with mental pain, in the context of ambulatory teams working in the field of mental

186  •   About the Editor and Contributors

health. Part of her clinical training took place in the Saumery Clinic (Blois, France), with outstanding French psychoanalysts, between 2000 and 2010. Viviana is a promoter of the consideration of mental pain and psychotherapy for psychosis along with institutions that promote a human rights approach. Through her work, she has become part of the reform processes in mental health and psychiatry in Chile. She works at “Corporación Tesi Huneeus.” Nubia Carolina Rovelo Escoto is a professor and researcher at the Faculty of Psychology at Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro (UAQ). She is a member of the Gender Unit (Unidad de Género) at UAQ, and she holds a doctorate in clinical and health psychology from the Universidad de Salamanca (USAL). A clinical psychologist and specialist in legal and forensic psychology, she has carried out studies in seminars of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis. She is the author and co-­author of national and international publications, as well as the author of the book Mujeres transgresoras: violentas y psicópatas, published by Ediciones UAQ (2018). Delphine Scotto Di Vettimo is a clinical psychologist and professor in clinical psychopathology with training courses in psychology. She has belonged to the Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR) in Nice, France, and she holds a PhD in psychology with honors. She also holds a diploma of advanced studies in adaptation, development, sports, and health; a diploma of higher specialized studies in clinical psychology and psychopathology; as well as a university diploma in criminal science from the Université de Montpellier. She earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology and psychopathology in Montpellier, France; a degree in psychology in Montpellier, France; and a diploma of general university studies in psychology in Montpellier, France. She is currently an associate professor at Aix-­Marseille Université. Hada Soria Escalante is a professor and researcher at the School of Psychology, Universidad de Monterrey (México). She holds a PhD in psychology from UMSNH. She is a psychoanalyst, a member of Espacio Analítico Mexicano, and a member of the National Research System (Mexico). She coordinates the laboratory on psychoanalytic studies in theory and a clinic of the subject and the culture. Her most recent works include a book published by Lexington Books in 2019 entitled Rethinking the relation between women and psychoanalysis: loss, mourning, and the feminine, and a chapter in M. Orozco’s book entitled Figuras de la alteridad. Estudios psicoanalíticos (Porrúa, 2019).

About the Editor and Contributors   •  187

Eurídice Sosa Peinado has been a research professor at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Ajusco Unit since 1986, and she currently works in the Academic Area of New Technologies and Alternative Models as a member of the Academic Body: Subjectivity, Technology and Education. She completed a degree in sociology from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on educational innovation at La Salle University. She is a candidate for a doctor of sciences and humanities for the development of interdisciplinarity at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México/UAdC. She is a participant in teacher training projects for preschool, basic, upper middle, and higher education in face-­to-­face, hybrid, and virtual modalities.