Borders are sexist violence

Borders structure both territories and women’s bodies, they sustain diversity of identities and establish power relations and privilege spaces among women. Nowadays, these borders add difficulty and conflict to the coexistence of the different feminisms.


Even though it is a mistake to think of ourselves in terms of “otherness”, to deny privileges conferred by borders to only some of us, or the fact that they expropriate rights to women, and to misunderstand the main role borders play in feminicide; we must urgently find the right place from where to talk about borders in sisterhood and to stop understanding them in a patriarchal way, as a means to categorize our difference.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
Audre Lourde.

“In the academic field there is a peculiar arrogance to initiate debates about feminist theory without analyzing our numerous differences nor conferring space for the remarkable contributions of poor, black, third world and lesbian women. (…)

What does using tools produced by a racist patriarchal system to examine its very own consequences means?

It means that the extent for possible and permissible change is very limited. (…) For women the need and desire to mutually support each other are not pathological, but redemptive, and we should depart from this knowledge to rediscover our authentic power. It is this real connection that arouses fear in a patriarchal world. (…) Women interdependence is the path towards freedom which allows the Self, not to be used, but to be creative. This is the main difference between a passive and an active being.

Promoting mere tolerance of the differences between women is falling into the clumsiest reformism. It means completely denying the creative role that differences play in our lives. They must not be addressed with simple tolerance; on the contrary, they must be interpreted as a backup of needed polarities to encourage our creativity to emerge through a dialectic process.

It is within the interdependence of reciprocal differences (non-dominant) where resides the confidence that allows us to transcend the chaos of knowledge and return with authentic visions of our future, and with the concomitant power to draw the changes to make this future come true. Differences are the strong raw material from which we forge out personal power. (…)

Those who stay strong outside of the circle of what our society defines as acceptable women; those who have forge ourselves from the differences melting pot, i.e. those who are poor, lesbian, black or old; we know that survival is not an academic subject. Survival is learning to stay strong in solitude, against unpopularity, and maybe insults, and to learn how to make common cause with others who are also outside of the system, to together define and fight for a fair world where we can all flourish. Survival is learning to embrace our differences and to turn them into potentials. Just because the master’s tools never dismantle the master’s house. Maybe they will allow us to gain a temporary victory if we follow their rules, but this will never be enough to make a real change. And this is only threatening to those women who still consider the master’s house as their only source of support”.


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Women inhabit different countries; we live scattered across different places around the world and, however, not a single border can protect us against sexist violence. This violence that we are facing talks about our diaspora and about the importance of acknowledging ourselves as a human community, beyond the social and cultural contexts, as well as beyond the borders that divide the land within the symbolic patriarchal order. Without a community – claims Aude Lorde – it is impossible to free oneself, just a fragile and temporal armistice might be established between the person and the oppression at most. Hence, building a community does not mean to suppress our differences, nor to pathetically act as if they did not exist.



Maybe the first community is the “Outsiders’ Society” mentioned by Virginia Woolf in her book Three Guineas. Maybe breaking the territorial logic is a starting point to talk to each other about our transit experiences, looking for a place where sexist violence does not silence our voices.

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.” – Virginia Woolf.

Women do not want to play the game of male traditional politics anymore, which precisely leads to war, the ultimate expression of violence against women and their daughters and sons. Between dying and killing, the main crossroad in war, women choose to live. Therefore, aware of the fact that the patriarchy is a transnational structure, our methods must sustain every woman’s care, especially those who on their journey are exposed to sexist violence, a type of violence that some men exercise by using their privileged position in the patriarchal order.


And in this moment of thinking the present: how do we build dialogues? This is a political problem, and that is how Maria Galindo (part of Mujeres Creando collective in Bolivia) defines it:


“When talking about women, breaking with the universal understanding of what being woman means has been vital to constitute their own voice.

There are many stuck movements that stretch out and perpetuate their deed of naming and reassuring; and that refuse to accept that it is a moment, a step, a stage of an emancipatory process and not the liberation itself. (…) You socially play the victim’s role and you can always claim your weakness, you can always point out the system’s responsibilities, the other powerful, but never put yourself in a truly subversive position. This is when discourses stop communicating because they repeat the same over and over again. (…)

This criticism is not an invitation to skepticism, but it is to shake us from our comfortable identity-based places. Nowadays just being a fagot, a lesbian, a woman, an indigenous woman, disabled, young, old, or a slut is not by itself a subversive, engaging or uncomfortable position for the system.”

María Galindo, Feminismo Urgente ¡A despatriarcar!


And following Maria Galindo, how do women step outside of the system’s script to talk about migrations?