Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Federation of Cuban Women Can’t Reinvent Itself / Yoani Sánchez

The Federation of Cuban Women Can't Reinvent Itself / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

You turned six and were already waiting for your neck scarf, the slogan
"Pioneers for communism, we will be like Che." Later, you started high
school and, automatically, without anyone asking you, joined the
Federation of High School Students (FEEM). As you continued to grow up,
you ironed your skirt and under your uniform blouse a pair of breast
buds began to be noticeable. When you reached puberty you were already a
member of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, and then you
became a part of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC). Tedious meetings,
ladies watching if you got home late, tongues ready to betray any
irreverent phrase that escaped your lips.

They taught you a dozen courses about the role of women in the
Revolution, but no one came to stay the hand of your husband who beat
you at home. You were just a number on the membership list and — more
than once — you diverted money from your FMC dues to make it to the end
of the month. It was hard for you to learn to separate the language of
the communications you read in an animated voice, from the domestic
phrases in which you showed your disgust. You developed several
techniques to stifle your yawns in these assemblies where they demanded
"more sacrifice, more commitment." And suddenly, everything began to
seem so useless, so detached from reality, so distant from the
ridiculous allowance the father of your children gave you, from your
boss who demanded "favors" if you wanted to keep your job. You realized
that the real discourse of your days was what came out of the half-empty
pot — like an open mouth — in the middle of your kitchen.

For the last five years you haven't been a member of the FMC. What's the
use of an organization like this, you say now, after coming to
understand that demands for the rights of women can't be met through
such a masculine officialdom. Last night you heard on TV that the FMC
wants to "put a new spin" on their role in society, and afterwards you
felt your womb, rubbed your arms, looked at the unpainted walls of your
house and your life in national currency. And despite the difference
between your bare face and the perfect makeup of those interviewed on
prime time news, you feel more free. Because that report had a whiff of
mothballs and you don't, you are alive for the first time your forty
years, "belonging" to no one.

17 December 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment