BY GABBY RAYMOND '20
On March 2, the Spanish, Latina/o, and Latin American Studies department hosted Women Write Back: Feminist Political Action Through Literary Production, a discussion with Chilean author Pia Barros. As the founder of the publishing company Asterion, which she runs with six other women, Barros is dedicated to printing the stories of abused women and children.
The collection, !Basta¡ (Enough!) is a compilation of short stories that women around Chile have submitted about their experience with gender violence. “We didn’t want an earthquake. We wanted a movement,” said Barros at the event, “but we were happy it happened.” The anthology was so successful in Chile that women around the world began to publish it in their own countries.
Spanish professor Nieves Romero- Diaz wanted to bring Barros to Mount Holyoke because she thinks college campuses in the United States are too quiet when it comes to talking about and taking action against sexual assault. “We have to bring consciousness about gender violence to America, and using literature provides a path for students to explore the topic like they never have before,” said Romero-Diaz.
She thought Barros would be a perfect fit to talk at Mount Holyoke, not only because of her activism, but also because of her connection to the Eliana Ortega House, a cultural house on cam- pus. Barros is good friends with Eliana Ortega, a former professor from Chile who co-founded the Ortega house. “She (Barros) was very excited to see what her friend accomplished here and to continue to educate young woman on feminist activism,” Romero-Diaz said.
While Barros created the anthologies to spread knowledge about the horrors of gender violence, she also encourages women to write their stories for themselves. “Literature is a cleansing experience, though any form of artistic creation is a form of self healing that provides a mirror to real life,” she said. Barros has identified as a feminist for most of her life — due to her origin in Latin America, her views on feminism vary slightly from ideas of feminism that have dominated the movement in the U.S.
“Feminism is in its adolescence is a political movement — it is a benefit because so many opinions shape it,” Barros told the audience. Ambar Mejia ’20, who identifies as Latin American, wanted to hear Barros’ opinion on feminism. “Currently in the U.S. ,the dominant feminism is white feminism. As a woman of color, it’s difficult to know where to align yourself politically, but it’s important to work towards inclusion.”
Barros herself emphasized inclusion in regards to gender violence and feminism. She pointed out that there is no one way to be a feminist. “Just because I wear make up and am fashionable, that doesn’t make me less of a feminist,” she said.
She also purposefully chose the term gender violence instead of domestic violence to make sure laws against abuse were inclusive to everyone, including trans women, men who were abused, and those who were not married or living together. “It’s important to ask ourselves what we take pride in as a gender and always advocate for everyone from a place of pride in ourselves,” said Barros.