Hey, Chavismo! Calling Yourself a Feminist Won’t Cut It, You Need to Act Like It, Too

Today, on International Women’s Day, Venezuelan women are more powerless than ever. Chavismo claims to be a feminist revolution but they are nothing more than women users and abusers.

Original art by @modográfico

I have a thing or two to say today, so I’ll give it to you straight: you are doing a crappy job and when you claim your government is feminist, you are lying.

The overly excessive and uncultured differentiation between female/masculine adjectives while shouting at crowds in the name of the Revolution doesn’t make you a feminist. Neither does proclaiming a “Feminist socialist” holiday. The fact is, your government is quite the opposite of feminist.

Public policies adopted by chavismo have terminated the little empowerment women had in this country. It took you twenty years, but you’ve managed to put women in a place where it’s impossible to chase personal goals over the role imposed by society. Instead of democratizing the access to health and birth control, you’ve made family planning a right for the elites. Women are now at the mercy of men and their willingness to put on a condom.

You might say we are entitled to say “No,” and that’d be entirely unrealistic; many times, women are forced by their partners to engage in unwanted sex, and not complying might lead to abandonment, or violence. Women, under your policies, depend on men and their economic support for raising children and surviving. Now more than ever.

You’ve managed to put women in a place where it’s impossible to chase personal goals over the role imposed by society

Since your government had the brilliant idea of rewarding pregnancy instead of providing sex education, many couples might resort to conceiving, just for the extra income. A woman will earn more from her pregnancy than she would from professional work.

This “benefit” is exclusive, as only those with a Carnet de la Patria get it: the State’s idea of women empowerment is turning them into handouts recipients, having them queue up for hours. Claiming CLAPs and feeding the children, you think, is women’s duty in our society.

But you’ve also threatened women’s quality of life by neglecting their right to health. How many hospitals can offer annual mammograms? How can women get their annual PAP smears when output patient clinics and hospitals don’t have acetic acid or a lamp to perform a complete gyno exam?

Far from protecting women, your government takes advantage of them. Hypocritically speaking of women’s rights, to produce politically “inclusive” speeches is just another way of abuse.

On a day like this, I had to tell you, my dear socialist, self-proclaimed feminist:

  1. You can’t say your regime is feminist when maternal death mortality rates are the worst in Latin America.
  2. You can’t call yourself a feminist when your public policy steps on women.
  3. You can’t call yourself a feminist when your government hasn’t discussed abortion.
  4. You can’t call yourself a feminist when you don’t provide the minimal conditions for women to choose when, and how to start a family.
  5. You can’t call yourself a feminist when the vaccine against HPV (to prevent cervical cancer) is not available.
  6. You can’t call yourself a feminist when you don’t encourage women go to school, but you encourage them to get pregnant.

You and your fellow revolutionaries need to realize women’s rights are human rights. I wish you’d address the rise of gender violence, but publishing statistics gets women fired from their posts, and we won’t be hearing anything about disastrous early pregnancy rates either.

Instead, you justify maternal deaths, criticizing and even criminalizing obstetrics in the nation. While I agree there are many things to change in medical practice, it’s immoral for your government to point fingers: every woman dying for lack of basic medical supplies while giving birth is the State’s responsibility.   

It doesn’t matter that you advertise “humanized labor” if nothing is done to cover all women.

Last year’s gimmick for International Women’s Day was Introducing Hipólita, Matea and Apacuana to El Panteón Nacional, women who “dedicated their lives to giving, breastfeeding and educating”. Too bad nobody on your team thought of recognizing women’s achievement in science, politics and healthcare.

Far from helping, the decisions made under your so called “government of women” have only dragged us farther away from our goals: opportunities, equal pay, education, family planning, health care access and employment.

So, please: don’t ever refer to your government as “feminist.” You’re not entitled and it hurts those of us working hard every day to make a difference.

Astrid Cantor

Head of the Church of Martha Stewart: I bake therefore I am. Táchirense: Almojabana and quesadilla lover, "toche" and "juemadre" user. Pastelitos de queso con bocadillo fanatic and overall gochadas supporter. Also doctor —as in proper MD— and pobresora universitaria too.