Speech: Demonstration against gender-based violence, Amsterdam 26-11-2021

”Everyone is female and everyone hates it.”

I am quoting from the book ‘’Females’’ written by Andrea Long Chu:

‘’Everyone is female and everyone hates it. I’ll define female as any psychic operation in which the self is sacrificed to make room for the desires of others. To be female is to let someone else do your desiring for you, at your own expense. Femaleness is not an anatomical characteristic but a universal existential condition.’’

And it has been us specifically, women, trans- and gender-nonconforming people of colour, who have been stuck for centuries in mechanisms that satisfy the desires of classist, racist and sexist men.  

We have been the main character of their pervert fantasies. And out of these fantasies came the hegemonic structures to sustain divisions based on race, class and gender. And these structures cause harm in intersectional ways. That’s why we cannot address the annihilation of gender-based violence, without simultaneously annihilating the constructs of race and class. Patriarchy is not simply about gender, it also reaffirms racism. And we, women, trans and nonbinary people and especially immigrant, refugee, disabled women, trans and nonbinary people of colour: we get to experience alll the shades and colours of intersectional oppression.

Since the early days of Western colonization, the objectification of BIPOC women has been used to justify enslavement, rape, forced reproduction, and other forms of sexual assault. The function has been to dehumanize women of colour, making it “culturally acceptable” for European imperialists to abuse BIPOC women. And unfortunately, it is -apparently- still acceptable on a global scale to perpetrate violence on women, trans- and gender-nonconforming folks. I don’t want and I don’t need to list facts or statistics. Because we already know. Otherwise, we would not gather here today.

And let’s be honest, we cannot give all the credits to the coloniser, because it is also within our own communities of colour where gender-based violence is rather the norm than exceptional.

I myself am standing here today, giving a voice to intergenerational violence against women that has been happening in my own family. I am standing here today to slice the throats of silence, shame and stigma that is surveilling gender-based violence.

There are circumstances and challenges that are specific to each community of colour, but it is a fact that women, trans- and nonbinary people of colour experience domestic violence and sexual assault at the highest rates. And they are also the ones who are less likely to report and seek help, because of cultural or religious beliefs, strong loyalty to community and family and distrust of law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and human services. Where do we seek protection and justice if the system is unjust to begin with?

There is a trend in the Netherlands nowadays and it’s called diversity and inclusion politics. Why do we need diversity if each one of us is already hybrid and diverse to begin with? We are diverse. Period. We don’t need diversity and inclusion. We need radical inclusion. Radical. As in from the roots. We need to tackle gender-based violence radically and that doesn’t only include tearing down sexism, but we also need to tear down racism and tear down classism. A decolonial approach. We need to decolonize. We need to collectively destroy the monster that is capitalism with swords that point in the same direction. Swords that point at the monster, and not each other. Because how can we build solidarity, if we simultaneously keep stabbing each other in the back?

So, I have a question. How many cis-men are present here today? Can you raise your hand if you identify as a cis-man? So this right here is for you:

Dear cis-men, We cannot separate the political from the spiritual, so when will you start to do your inner work? When do you start to take accountability for imagining a future that is not based on domination and exploitation? Your deep-seated feelings of cancellation and fear of vulnerability must be addressed, but not by or through us. Our bodies are not the sites for your male rage. These sexist and misogynist cages you build to trap us. We are fleeing them. Because we, women, trans and nonbinary people of colour, we have been trained to shapeshift and timebend. We know how to channel our ancestral resilience to thrive and build the life we desire. And this scares you. Because you, you are not training your muscle of imagination to imagine a world where things can actually be different. Like I said at the beginning, everyone is female and everyone hates it. This also includes you, dear cis-men. Do you know how to do your desiring for yourself and how to define yourself outside the hegemonic structures that have been doing your defining and desiring for you?

We cannot be radical without being radically inclusive. And in order to be radically inclusive, we need to spend more time, dismantling and decolonizing the realm of our imagination and desires. Dream together of togetherness and be vulnerable in each other’s presence. Thank you.