A revolution testimony by testimony

Cristina Fallarás


This is the first time the 82-year-old woman has used the social network called Twitter, what does she have used, what does she know about those things. She has asked her granddaughter to open an account for her, and she has published it. It’s enough for me to go in there, see that she has no followers and that the account is not yet 24 hours old. My name is Cristina. I read her testimony, I estimate four or five days after launching the hashtag #Cuentalo. I read it by chance. It’s impossible to find it anymore, but I remember it perfectly. I also remember that I cried. My name is Cristina Fallarás. I remember so many, so many stories of women narrating violence suffered that I carry them sewn into the future, mine and those who will succeed me. That’s my name, Cristina Fallarás. All this is of no use if I don’t name myself. My name as a form of exposition. That old woman who wrote from Peru knew that she was carrying out a public act and surely did not know where and to whom. The act of finally narrating: her husband had raped and beaten her regularly since she was fourteen years old. She added that she had never told it because those things were not told. It’s that simple. In the space opened by #Cuentalo, around 3 million women demonstrated in just 10 days. (Defines silence. Defines gag. Defines pain) Some of the most repeated messages: It’s the first time I tell it. I believed that it only happened to me. I didn’t know this was rape. I hadn’t remembered that this had happened to me until I read it here. A single hashtag launched from a single person’s account on a single social network had opened in just a couple of days a door to the immeasurable pain of hundreds of thousands of women attacked, tortured, raped, murdered. And they immediately started telling it. In public. Three million in one fell swoop. A sudden crowd. And that was only among those who had access to the internet. And, of them, those who had access to Twitter. There were no actresses or singers, there were no stars or celebrities, there were no prominent protagonists. It was an enormous compact avalanche of women’s voices, a very painful lash of violence that unexpectedly hit those who until now had decided to deny it, dictate it, ignore it, not hear it, prohibit it. Because the first thing that brutal response made clear is that all those women, us, had not kept silent by their own decision. Only by admitting the prohibition, explicit or implicit, is the collapse of that enormous tongue of clay on the media, on public institutions, on political parties, on cultural actors and economic entities, on an entire society deaf and determined to deny it. Because denying it is a decision. His decision. I am going to narrate it, because I decide to be a witness, in another way: I was about eight years old during one of the many weekends in which my parents took us to the coast. My little sister was sleeping next to me and they got out of the car. The gasman took out his dick and stuck it to the glass of my window, the back one located over the mouth of the tank. At the time I didn’t understand what was happening, but before I got home I vomited. I’m 51 and gas stations still make me terrified and want to vomit.
It’s just the beginning. Later, between 14 and 20, the vision of several cocks and their subsequent masturbations imposed on me. Later, in work settings, touching, humiliation, various harassment. And couples that I curse. My name is Cristina Fallarás. That is my story, well, part of it, and I am not a special woman. Who could I have told the above to and for what? One narrates the first kiss, the first suspense, the first boyfriend, the first heartbreak and sometimes – rarely, in my adolescent time – the first menstruation. One narrates what there is a previous narrative about, that is, a collective memory. In theory, there are common narratives of everything that is common in a community. Unless he refuses. And denying is a decision. A joint decision, conscious and then buried. The pleasure and pain of women. Women’s pleasure is denied. The pain of women is denied and above that act they decide to deny the violence against us. My name is, I am, I narrate, I decide to narrate as I decide to name myself. My name is body, I am body, I narrate my body. All of the above refers to my body, to our body. It is my body, our body, that they decide to deny. The three million women who rushed out the door of #Cuentalo were three million bodies. And as women, bodies susceptible to being beaten, violated, broken, torn to pieces. That is: three million women narrating their body and being their body, three million desecrated bodies that revolt against the common and historical decision to deny such violence. It is about communication. And breaking abstractions through testimonies. Communication: mass media construct reality. This is how it is and that is its function. Among ALL of them there are some immovable consensuses that go from the left end to the right end of a supposed “ideological arc.” And they also share certain common traits. All of them. Without detours: these are companies that belong to men (males) and other companies that also belong to men, and so on ad infinitum. It’s about capital. Capital is masculine and without capital there is no mass communication, that is, there is no television, no newspapers, no cinema, no fashion, no consumption patterns…Consensus construction. Abstractions: the traits that ALL mass media share Traditional masses could be summarized as follows: they shield undesirable themes by enclosing them in abstractions. This apparently “intellectual” operation manages to uproot the possibility of any identification mechanism. There are four examples of basic abstractions in Spain: The “Transition”: empty (abstract) concept created to prevent the narration of post-Franco violence, of the permanence of the dictatorship and making it impossible for the testimonies of those who have been retaliated against, tortured, etc. The “risk premium”:
All of them exist to avoid testimonies, that is, the creation of collective memories. Because without testimonies, it is impossible for identification mechanisms to occur. In other words, if no one makes public the story of my poverty, no other poor person can feel identified, and each poor person is only one poor person, and therefore there is no possibility of them organizing themselves. But let’s go with what concerns us, the abstraction called “Gender Violence”. Saying “Hello, my name is Cristina Fallarás and I am against gender violence” is not the same as saying “Hello, my name is Cristina Fallarás, I am a journalist and a politician sent me a photo of his cock.” Let’s say someone of the caliber of the Queen of England utters a solemn “I am against gender violence.” Ultimately, that real statement means nothing, it does not modify, no one identifies with that empty shell. However, all those women who have had someone attack them with a photo, or those who have been harassed at work, or those who have had a penis imposed on them, all identify with my testimony about the politician. Identification mechanisms. And there recognition is created and therefore a common and applicable narrative. Dangerous, therefore, for the establishment and its hollow abstractions. That is what it is about. That is what the mass media has taken it upon itself to do.

The first 10 days of #Cuentalo overwhelmingly show a reality that had not been narrated. A reality so flagrant, so evident, that it would seem impossible not to see it. And yet, the #Cuentalo narratives, like #MeToo, have deeply shocked society. The question falls on its own: Why had such a blatant monstrosity not been narrated? There is no doubt that it is not that the women wanted to hide it, and proof of this is the immediate and immeasurable response as soon as a space (a simple hashtag) was opened for them to narrate it publicly. Thus, it is the media of masses, and also public institutions, who must give explanations for why they decided not to narrate it, that is, to deny it. The appearance of social networks as mass media whose use does not require capital has left the owners of communication naked. , to the creators of abstractions and their work to hide violence against women.

That old woman who in Peru asked her granddaughter for a space where she could finally tell herself, who wanted to do so as soon as she learned of the possibility, publicly, is infinitely more powerful than any current media corporation. And more revolutionary. The testimony of each of the women who decides to narrate the violence suffered, of each and every one of them, represents a revolution.

Text by Cristina Fallarás for the exhibition catalog Equivocada no es mi Nombre. Art against sexist violence