Alba Carosio has been a feminist activist since the XNUMXs. She practiced a feminism committed to popular struggles and to the poorest and most excluded women. However, it is aware that its scope was limited, until Hugo Chávez became president of the Republic.
—The struggles of women for their rights pre-existed the arrival of Chávez, but it must not be denied that he gave a boost and supported those struggles. There are colleagues who affirm that he did it because he was educated by women whom he loved very much and valued the effort that women make for subsistence in society, especially young women. This aspect should not be downplayed because it implies the dimension of humanity. He understood the justice of the struggles, because in order for a society to be transformed, it has to overcome that primordial relationship that is established, because we all have mothers, families. If there is exploitation and curtailed rights of women in that primitive nucleus in which we educate ourselves and grow, then there is an idea that the world is unfair and that this cannot be changed, which is transferred to adulthood and social life. He understood it and it is an idea that comes from the French Revolution, through the anarchists, the springs of the nineteenth century peoples and the revolutions in our region, which understands that the emancipation of women is necessary for society to be truly egalitarian, so that all of us are completely equal in rights, but that diversity is also respected.
She is a doctor in Social Sciences, a professor at the Center for Women's Studies of the Central University of Venezuela and a researcher at the Rómulo Gallegos Center for Latin American Studies (Celarg). She is currently coordinator of the CLACSO Latin American Working Group “Feminisms, resistance and emancipation” and is director of the Venezuelan Journal of Women's Studies.
She maintains that with the Bolivarian Revolution, very remote places were reached with the initiative of the Meeting Points promoted by the National Institute of Women and the Network of Users of BanMujer (Bank for the Development of Women), before the creation of the Ministry of the Popular Power of Women and Gender Equality. These initiatives collected information on exclusion and violence against women; rights and gender equality for the transformation of society.
- Has violence against women decreased in the last two decades?
—No, despite the impetus and support for women's struggles. What differs is that it is now visible. The stories before were not seen, they were not even told. This not only happens in Venezuela, but in Latin America and in different parts of the world. The incorporation of women into social life in general, both economically and politically, also brings resistance to women having participation in these spaces, it is a factor that affects violence. The administration of justice has had a very patriarchal concept, which must be transformed little by little. It doesn't happen overnight. And in this last year, it has to do with confinement due to the Covid19 pandemic. The United Nations has reported that violence has increased and in some parts violence against women has doubled. In Venezuela, which had a hundred serious cases and some ended in deaths, it has tripled a year. This without counting the cases that have been generated by migration that put women in a vulnerable situation.
"Is confinement a cause of violence?"
—Not a cause, but an aggravating condition. It is like poverty. It is not the same in the case of a woman who is a victim of violence with her partner and finds it easy to go out to a relative's house, to look for alternatives on the street and another thing is to spend more time at home. Not only with your partner, but with all family members, in a reduced space and with the anguish that the pandemic situation produces, but the cause is machismo, only that this situation that has caused the pandemic, aggravates it. It is said that gender-based violence exists in all social classes, but it is much more serious in sectors with fewer resources, for this reason Shelter Houses have been created in the world where women can take refuge when the levels of violence are very tall and have nowhere else to go.
How could legislation on communal matters contribute to transform the living conditions of Venezuelan women?
—I have not read the projects that are being discussed at the moment, but in principle you have to be realistic with communal legislation. Human beings, both men and women, are not angels or demons. We have moments of great solidarity and love of neighbor, but there are also moments of violence, aggression, etc. You have to see that head-on, because sometimes it can be considered that a commune is created and everyone behaves wonderfully socially. Solidarity, generosity has its phases. Sometimes it disappears. In the specific case of Venezuela, there are many community networks that are basically women who carry it out. For example, 80 percent of Clap and communal councils, for the most part, are organized by women. It is necessary to think about their participation in the communes, not only so that they do the work but to generate systems that support the life of the family. At the communal level, there should be systems of care because a socialist society must take care of its members, starting with those who are most vulnerable or those who need it most, such as those with disabilities or the elderly, whose care is generally the responsibility of women. of the family and end up exhausted from so much work. The same happens with child care, because to have productive initiatives it is necessary to have a lot of energy and time available. For the upbringing and care of children, it is necessary to have levels of socialization such as the day care houses, the Little Simon and to have support for the many tasks that women have in the family. Aleksándra Kolontái put it very well in the Russian revolution, she developed a food program called "pre-prepared" that relieved women of the heavy domestic burden and allowed energy to be released for production.
- "It takes a whole town to raise a child", as the popular saying goes.
—There must be co-responsibility between the genders, between adults, children and young people, between families in the community and with the State, which is the one who must strengthen services such as water, electricity, etc., that allow work to be carried out. In short, there must be individual, family, community and state co-responsibility.
—There is an overexploitation of women as they have to be a worker, wife, mother, and community leader. Has this co-responsibility been understood in Venezuela to create a society of equals?
—There are still many roads to travel. There were important initiatives such as the Food House that alleviated situations of food need and so that women could free themselves of this domestic burden and could carry out another type of productive activity. The economic situation, the blockade, so many circumstances, made these diminish. The popular woman is currently highly demanded because she has three working days: the one she does at home; in paid work, which due to the pandemic have to attend workplaces with greater difficulties; and then in the community. Major complications are dependent on young children and older adults. If they had the support they would help the economic development of the country.
- Can we consider violence against women such a burden?
"It's workplace violence."
"It's an overcrowding."
-Sure. First of all, we find the division of labor where they decide that some jobs are for women and others are for men, which is an artificial division. We can all do the tasks essential for social reproduction. Women are generally twice their physical and emotional capacity. One of the findings that we could say from a recent study is that from an emotional point of view many feel surrounded by the enormous amount of activities they do that never stop. That when they finish one activity, they start another immediately. That is exacerbated in homes that have economic precariousness to get food, housing, services, which is a type of economic and labor violence against women.
"The poor woman especially."
—Poor women who have to attend to supermarket checkouts, food stalls, establishment toilets, health centers ... women who are exposed to infection and are physically exhausted.
The "e" excludes women
Digital networks have impacted on the new language codes. Pretending to be inclusive with sexual diversity, they try to displace the female gender after the Bolivarian Constitution managed to equalize the genders when they were appointed: presidents, etc. Carosio, without hesitation, considers that "women are once again being excluded."
—Women disappear again in language.
—Spanish comes from the XNUMXth century. The founding book of the Spanish language is the Cid CampeadorWhile The Quixote of La ManchaIt is from XNUMX. We have listened to speak exclusively in masculine for many centuries and ignore the existence of women. The gender-inclusive language is from XNUMX with the Constitution, that is, just XNUMX years ago. And two decades cannot go against centuries, machismo and patriarchy is so cunning ... it is like capitalism, it gives it a great turn that even makes it attractive and "includes" sexual diversity. Now, instead of saying “todas y todos”, they say "todes", which is neither a man nor a woman but nothing. Feminists, at least the line to which I belong, we want to remain women and share with men and we want to have our differences because we are different sexually. The diversity of life, even romantic relationships, is a beauty.
"What is the strategy?"
—The patriarchy has dominated for more centuries than capital itself, and its strategy is that it makes you look nice, beautiful and good, things that in the end hurt you. The video clips that are broadcast on YouTube now are so aggressive against women and poor people that they pose an underworld of the neighborhood, mixing the criminal with the aggressive, using weapons as a sexual symbol, imposing domination, romanticizing devaluation, of course, with a single male singer with four or five women apparently sexually related to him, pleasing in some way the valuation of the money obtained with violence and through money the women are obtained. That is presented to you packaged as something very good and desirable.
—In capitalism, sex and violence are their weapons of sale.
—The sale of sexuality through photography and the different forms of pornography are business. First, it is the weapons; second, drugs; and third, sexuality. There are even some social networks that are presented as economic alternatives for women. It is an entire industry of capitalism and some girls make it seem desirable because that is what the advertising axiom consists of, in "transforming a need into desire."
—What is your greatest concern for the future of girls and women?
—At this moment, for both Venezuela and Latin America, it is the transformation of sexuality into one that is pleasant but affective. In 2017, which is the latest figure I have, 5.200 boys and girls of other girls under 14 were born in Venezuela. All that human reproduction is violent, because we could not say that a girl is in a position to be a mother. Feminists have a slogan: "Girls, not mothers." If being a mother for any woman is a huge responsibility, imagine for a child. Latin America in general and Venezuela in particular, has this very acute problem, not to mention those aged 15 to 19, which is much higher, around 120 thousand boys and girls are born. At ages where there are serious difficulties to be mothers, both economic, emotional and physical, they are closely related to poverty, lack of expectations, educational difficulties and violence. It is important to work on inequality so that this does not happen, with cultural changes that promote real equality, which comes from the heart. Not because they imposed or manipulated it because of a slogan.
- Why is it that in Venezuela there are practically no public demonstrations for the legalization of abortion, while in other countries they are massive?
—It is due to the level of maturation and social analysis that we have not yet reached. There is still a lot of ignorance about biology. In other words, the idea still exists that when the ovum and the sperm unite, immediately after the sexual act, you already have a human being, which is not the case. Pregnancy goes through different stages to which it is unknown, for example, that in the first 16 weeks we do not have any human being. Different versions have been proposed of what it would be like to interrupt that pregnancy where pro-life groups have worked that overshadow all that would be the biological knowledge of that process. But what we women have to understand is that our body is ours, nobody else's.
—Why does a woman end up being prosecuted when she is a victim?
—We still have a Penal Code that dates back to 1936, in which some aspects have been reformed, but that of women, no, and we are going for a century. It is as if nothing has changed in all this time, that women do not have the right to their own body in the exercise of sexuality and if they misbehave, they are punished by pregnancy. If they do not accept divine punishment and interrupt the pregnancy, they can go to jail. Sexuality is still taboo and at the same time it is marketed as pornography. We have much to reflect on what human dignity implies in the exercise of sexuality.
—With these reflections, do you consider that it will promote the mobilizations?
—We are working so that these reflections reach the most remote places. But also the influences of religious prejudices that were imposed in the most impoverished communities do the task against it.
- Do feminist movements reflect on gender and class?
—Nora Castañeda told us that we should analyze from the perspective of gender, class and ethnicity. In feminist theory and practice we have an intersectional approach that cuts across oppressions. In other words, we talk about gender oppression together with class, ethnicity, territory, age, because we know that the type of oppression suffered by a middle or upper and white woman is not the same as what a woman suffers from. Indigenous woman, who lives in a precarious settlement and in conditions of poverty. Gender, that is, the condition of women, favors poverty through a phenomenon called the feminization of poverty. In the last census in Venezuela, the result was that 40% of the households were matrifocal, where those responsible for the maintenance of the family group were single women. But if we go to the most popular sectors, we find that this proportion is even higher, it is estimated that up to 60% are maintained by women. There is the indissoluble relationship between gender and class oppression. If we eliminate gender oppression, we will surely contribute to class equity, and vice versa.