We give birth to children every day…
Hebe de Bonafini
Anti-Peronist women are always in a position of counterattack, armed with a commonplace: since the most representative Peronists did not declare themselves or self-perceive themselves as feminists, the conquests of feminism do not belong to them. It is true, neither Eva Perón, nor Hebe de Bonafini nor CFK considered themselves feminists: they are too peronists. The point is that Peronism always included the rights of women and minorities. It is about the old vice of judging Evita for her omissions rather than for what she did say, Cristina or Hebe for her “ways” rather than her words and actions.
Eva, Cristina and Hebe became village mothers. Being that we live in a society in which motherhood is a matter of private, depoliticized life, we are interested in situating this place not to talk about “matriarchy” or the “teat of the State” but to think about something superior: motherhood as a relationship politics, overflowing the mere mother-biological child relationship. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo socialized motherhood: they removed maternal love from its instinctive place and linked only to their own, biological and Oedipal child, and they instituted a political motherhood. To this day it remains an exception for mothers to have political participation. A mother is supposed to be in her house and not in public life. The most interesting thing is that Las Madres have a House, which they consider is not theirs but the town’s.
Maternity is an institution that remains under male control, is governed by patriarchal norms and paradoxical messages that are often maddening. The same form of vigilance subsists on women: being tied to their own bodies… and their homes. They are usually thought of as extensions of the “female body”. They are the ones who inhabit them the longest, clean and decorate them; They are the ones who know where to find things in the house. Housewives, but not as material owners of the brick, but rather as those in charge of housework. Men are the owners, women love them. Private maternity, of the home, forms the ghetto of the only feminine capacities. They are granted a single “power”, that of doing whatever they please with their children within the home; and then they are told that what they do is detrimental to the mental health of their children.
The house that Las Madres founded is a space where they gather to cook and have lunch, to meet so as not to be alone, a space where history and memory inhabit, but also the everyday. And it is precisely from that shared daily life that their political intervention emerges: their own meetings, interviews with various referents, activities for the community or even the transfer of space for holding meetings, plenary sessions and militant gatherings. It was transformed into a museum, but very much alive, where all the memories and gifts that were given over the years are kept. They have turned that private place into a public and political place, the home of the people.
According to Hebe, the most difficult thing was getting the names of the disappeared from the handkerchiefs and not taking the photos of their children. The difficulty –because of the terror that was lived in those times– was to vindicate them as revolutionaries. The point is that mothers are required to pacify and appease political and social history. A mother should be able to look to the future and deny the past. A mother’s anger is unacceptable and therefore, when she feels down, she tends to repress herself and turn towards herself, and in many cases towards her daughters. Mothers are expected to hide their anger, anger, and despair behind closed doors.
The fact that a mother loses her child is so horrifying that there is not even a way to name it. There is no equivalent to “orphan”: when a mother is left without a child, there is no word. The only possible place for these mothers is eternal suffering, Calvary, madness or the request for individualized justice: “Mother of pain”. It is unthinkable that mothers come together to carry out collective acts of justice that are not in the name of their own children: to talk about maternity, abortion, childhood, human rights and the needs of the most vulnerable. Motherhood that is not individual and white is censored.
In the middle of the dictatorship it was said “They must have done something!”. This is what mothers claim every day, transmitting the pride of that “something” always belittled, censored, clandestine, turned into a crime: militancy. That “something” for which their children dreamed and fought is a fairer and more supportive country. The point is that the mere fact of being a mother entails responsibility for the actions of the children: “They must have done something and you are to blame for how they were raised.” The Mothers claim to have raised children who fought for a just cause, who had a political commitment; but the truth is that many admit to having been interested in politics when their children disappeared. We want to say that many militants did not come from committed fathers and mothers but, conversely, it was the children who taught their mothers and fathers –who in many cases had not even gone to school. What a subversion of a commonplace around parenting: the pride of having learned from the children.
With the advance of neoliberalism, motherhood is increasingly idealized: a “real mother” must be white, middle-class, have a job, a husband, and smile, no matter what. “Successful mother” is one who can do everything, who preserves her autonomy and who did not have to give up anything for her daughters. This Ideal is possible at the expense of women/mothers from popular sectors who carry out maternity tasks while the successful ones go out to make their lives. It should be possible to maternity without state help, otherwise they do not deserve the title of mothers: “they should have thought about it before, if you do not have enough money you should not have children”. Successful motherhood is a class privilege. The prejudice insists that black women procreate irresponsibly, that they get pregnant because of a plan or come from neighboring countries to take advantage of the health system. “Motherhood is the only thing that fulfills you as a woman” …and on top of that, not everyone really is!
If a woman has ten children and lives in a villa, she is ignorant and does not know how to take care of herself; if a rich woman Opus Dei He has ten children, he does it because God commands it or because he feels like it. He despises the poor mother, parasite of the State; but it is those poor mothers who have to leave their children to raise the children of rich women… and in generally undignified working conditions.
JA Miller popularized the concept of maternal havoc of Lacan, turning it into a clinic. She placed various effects on the children, setting it up as a paradigm –moral rather than clinical– of how a woman should behave in front of her daughter so as not to fall into the havoc, assuming that what is “essential” is that a mother wish beyond the son. The anguished mother would be the one who wish little or bad as a woman. And the parents? When they do not fulfill their “parental function” they are classified as mentally ill or merely absent. Only a mother can be despicable for psychoanalysis.
Women are forbidden a desire that is not maternal enough. On the one hand, they are mothered so that instead of feeling the lack of desire they feel guilty for wanting. On the other hand, they are told not to be so mothers because they won’t have any women left and men won’t want them. Faced with this dilemma or double standard, we ask ourselves about the exercise of political motherhood: not the maternalization of politics –bringing the prefigured attributes of what it means to be a “good mother” to the political exercise– but a politicization of motherhood. Contrary to what was proposed by Miller –a wish beyond–, a political desire for motherhood. It is a know-how that is prohibited, and for this reason mothers tend to raise children in solitude under male control, which generates feelings of deep guilt for not living up to the mother’s expectations. good enough.
If the care of the baby is assigned to the mothers, why not assume that the State could pick up the gauntlet regarding such care, understanding it not as charity or “doing for love” but as care policies? Faced with the maternalization of care, the proposal to make public what is unfairly destined for the maternal-private dyad.
In the photo that accompanies this writing we see her resisting with a dress, heels and a basket. She carried out her struggle and militancy being what she was: a mother, a woman from the town, a housewife. She learned from her children and became a revolutionary without any imposture or masquerade. The Mothers are the most revolutionary women in the world. They are a model of maternity that is neither individual nor commercial, of a more sisterly and caring maternity. They are a symbol that turns motherhood into a mirror in which women can look at themselves. mothers of all it means that what is apparently more personal can also become political and, therefore, plausible to be transformed into a collective know-how.
Sofía Rutenberg and Julián Ferreyra are psychoanalysts.