"I have finally decided to talk about my experience of abuse with the Venezuelan writer Willy McKey." Thus begins the story that for a few weeks has been an unavoidable topic on the public conversation agenda in Venezuela. Born as a “trendy topic” in social networks, the situation splashes, shakes and challenges the world of entertainment, women's movements, authorities and in general a large part of the national public opinion that begins to become aware of face from the pain that many times the "normal" is not fair or correct.
In this specific case, the catalytic indignation is connected with sexual violence, both explicit and masked and especially when it involves minors. Given what happens, the first reference that comes to mind is the #MeToo Hollywood, and certainly everything is part of the same photograph: the normalization of gender violence in spaces of power where inequality is indisputable, a scourge that transcends geographical, cultural and generational borders and that is common to most women globally throughout history.
The phrase quoted at the beginning of this report opens a thread with 25 tweets written and published by a young woman in her twenties under the pseudonym “Pía”. At the end of last April, this Venezuelan, whose identity has not been disclosed, created the account @mckeyabusador to expose the lewd behavior that the columnist and influencer Willy McKey perpetrated against her when she was a 16-year-old teenager, disguising her as an intellectual mentor .
Accompanied by screenshots, transcripts of dialogues and narratives of encounters, her account exposes without a hint of doubt a 36-year-old perpetrator, manipulative and reckless. The forcefulness of the complaints was unobjectionable and the social condemnation of the perpetrator was so fierce that McKey, a few hours after the scandal came to light, made the decision to commit suicide.
But Pía has been just the most notorious case. The list of complaints is very long and more are added every day. Let's take a tour of what is happening and try to understand what it means and why it is important.
Pia was not the first
The last few weeks have been especially newsworthy in the world and especially in Venezuela. The international context offers as a menu Colombia with its streets on fire, Pablo Iglesias' resignation from politics and the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates; In parallel, the national news has had news of those that mark milestones on the agenda: the beatification of José Gregorio Hernández, the death of Aristóbulo Isturiz and the election of a new CNE in consensus with the opposition. All this in the general framework of the omnipresent pandemic that is already a daily landscape.
But none of that news caused as much of a stir as what we now know as the "I do believe you." The snowball of complaints on social networks does not stop and has generated comments of solidarity, accusations, ridicule, more harassment, empathy, among others.
The common denominator of the protagonists of this story, the complainants, is that they are very young women who use social networks as a natural space for interaction and now as a platform to report. Between all of them a network of solidarity is woven that legitimizes them and frees them from fear and guilt. Also that many of them did not know they had been victims of violence until they reached a certain level of maturity because, after all, a guy looking for a way to sleep with you "always happens and it's normal."
"The mattress operation is a pod that has existed for as long as I can remember," says Daniella Inojosa, founder of the feminist collective Tinta Violeta.
“To the extent that the feminist movement has been changing the collective unconscious and has been putting on the public arena that this cannot happen, that it is violence, to the same extent the girls have the possibility of saying 'conchale, I was a victim of violence ”, she assures.
The parallelism is exact with #MeToo, an event that in 2017 prompted a group of actresses to denounce Harvey Weinstein, an all-powerful Hollywood man, who demanded sexual favors in exchange for roles in movies at best, or not ruin careers at worst. The domino effect caused pots to be uncovered in many seemingly pristine spaces that even reached the foundation in charge of awarding the Nobel Prize.
Jeffrey Epstein, a pimp from the business world, committed suicide in prison in the middle of the same phenomenon. A little earlier, the former president of the International Monetary Fund and candidate for the presidency of France, Dominique Strauss-Khan, had been arrested for raping a waitress in a luxury hotel in New York, then uncovering a string of depravities perpetrated on women from all kinds and origins for decades. Anyway, the wave has not stopped.
In Venezuela, for now, theater groups, actors, musicians, announcers, entertainers and influencers, among other characters from a certain environment with claims of intellectuality, have been accused of having committed acts of sexual violence and harassment. Some of the victims and women in solidarity from the world of entertainment who have shown solidarity gathered on the Instagram account #YoteCreoVzla and from there they are already beginning to socialize more content and get together to seek justice, even if it is social justice.
Crimes against human rights
"In the patriarchal system, women are guilty until proven otherwise," says Susany González, lawyer, executive director of the Center for Studies on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Cedesex) and activist of the feminist collective La Quinta Ola.
González details that, as often happens with stories of this type, many of the complainants had previously gone to family or friends to talk about their episodes of violence and seek guidance, but had not received credibility.
What were you doing there? Why did you go? How were you dressed? Why didn't you run away? They are alleged that are usually made to women who report a rape or an episode of improper access to their body, questioning the veracity of their story and blaming them.
González explains that in this context, social networks come to establish themselves as a natural and conducive space to speak collectively and safely. "In any case it is a process of liberation", she affirms, regarding the feeling of each one who finally decides to take the step.
The interviewee emphasizes that social networks become social courts for public derision given the difficulty of most of them to exercise legal action since the crimes of which they were victims have prescribed.
Venezuelan laws make the expiration date of sexual crimes run once the victim reaches 18 years of age, but even so, many of them, more than 20 years old, have already exceeded the time they had available to report in competent bodies as well. that they only have to grieve the public claim, seeking empathy.
“Let us remember that no matter how philosophically —even so it is included in international instruments— violence against women is a violation of Human Rights, therefore it does not prescribe, our legal system has not adapted to that rhetoric, therefore, the Violence against women has a statute of limitations like any other crime ”, she details.
Inojosa, for her part, also justifies the divorce of these complaints from the formal channels, claiming that “public derision is often more effective. Justice takes so long it demands so much from the victim because it requires her to prove it — and that is not bad because the truth must be proved. But the truth is that it is very difficult to demonstrate lewd acts years later ”.
And it places sisterhood as a central element in the psychology of the phenomenon, a key factor for the loss of fear on the part of the complaining women because it implies a feeling of brotherhood, of tribe. It is only necessary to refer to the etymological origin of the term.
“There is one thing wrong with all this and that is that the girls overcame their fear, the fear that we all have. In general, these attacks are from guys who know things about you because they were your partner or who have some power and that is why they could act with impunity, so overcoming that fear is tenacious," she says.
"I mean, 'I want justice for myself but I also want the others not to go through what I went through.' And that seems feministly correct to me, "said Inojosa.
Turning point for the feminist movement
The two interviewees see in Yo si te creo a turning point in the movement for the demands of women in the country.
“What strikes me about this is that this does not come from the feminist movement, and it does seem to me that it is a brutal social change. This brings to the fore what we have always said from the feminist movement. It gives more importance to other demands and that seems important to me. It also shows once again that we can create a scandal ”; Inojosa says.
“We have to measure it because political polarization and the crisis resulting from the blockade and other circumstances have made women's rights not in the public arena. We hope that this will give us more capacity to mobilize ”, she stressed.
González, for her part, values how the situation dialogues with the ecosystem of social movements. "The feminism movement in Venezuela, which is super diverse like all feminisms in the world, has been denouncing sexual violence for a while, what happens is that it has not had yellowish visibility in the media," she says.
For the activist, that the phenomenon has brought together without any reluctance all women's movements in the country without distinction of political affiliation, it is worth highlighting.
“It is interesting because we are showing that as a society, beyond our political or ideological differences, we have many points in common and we can come together to guarantee women's Human Rights. Even setting an example to other movements and sectoral organizations with frank fractures as a result of the Venezuelan polarization,” she added.
As a final reflection, Inojosa called for evaluating the narrative regarding feminisms, which at times like this begin to be attacked, trying to place the movement on a battlefield against men, and not against machismo.
“It seems important to me to highlight how masculinities are left. What is the world we dream of, because well, they are trying to establish a media narrative that what we want is for men to die, to disappear, and that's not it.
What we do not want is for them to grow up as perpetrators or to be victims either, neither of the two things, but rather that the relationship between the genders does not have to respond to this dynamic ”.