For March 8 (and beyond)
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
A friend of mine posts on her Facebook wall a comment in which she regrets what she considers to be an example of insufficient diversity in the images that, on the television screen, were used to present (and represent) Cuban women in the celebration of March 8. My friend is black, with a deeply dark skin tone.
Here’s a topic, I say to myself, and then I remember that years ago I wrote an article for the newspaper Juventud Rebelde about the transformations that -in terms of beauty standards- had taken place in the country since the years of my childhood.
The article focused on the perceptions and meanings of black people’s hair and hairstyle and, on this basis, proposed assessments in which racism and freedom, the hidden mechanisms of domination and the battles of the subjects in search of their real emancipation were confronted.
After that I wrote two other articles, which were not published at the time:. The first aimed to analyze the connections between obesity, beauty and social control; the other took as its motif the case of a woman in England who had announced on her personal website that she would stop shaving her legs and who – from then on – began to receive dozens (eventually hundreds) of denigrating messages, some of which contained threats to her physical integrity.
How and where, by whom and with what effects do we construct the image of what a woman is? Better yet, in what way are the limits of what is considered – at a given moment in a particular society – possible for a woman to be and project? What participation do we have, even those of us who are willing to swear that we are not part of the process, in the infinite number of actions through which this “ideal” of what is supposedly feminine is molded?
This inevitably leads us to understand (and propose for debate) not only the responsibility in the production, distribution, control and consumption of images, but to lead us to a point where we are forced to ask ourselves: What have we done or do? What role do we play in the various forms and scenarios in which actions of micro-oppression of women are manifested?
Another friend tells me about the time when, at the exact moment of wearing a new dress for a night out she was looking forward to, she discovered -just as she arrived at the place- that the rush had made her mix up the ornaments and that she had put on two different earrings. She doesn’t know how much she taught me and I learned from her response when, contemplating her face in the mirror of a bathroom on-site, she said to herself: “it doesn’t matter: you are the fashion”.
I admire that way of not obeying the dictates of a codified norm, which pretends to define what you are in a perverse game, where visuality is supposed to make transparent the moral condition of the person and even her history itself. I admire that inner strength and will to self-affirmation.
A third friend uses her menstrual emissions, exactly that which, in a more evident way, transmits the “weakness” or “flaw” of the woman, to create -with that intimately personal matter- works of art. As in the previous example, the logic that presides over the action is that of the search for and expression of the most absolute freedom.
What is a woman, where is she, what are her limits, how is she represented/presented?
The face perfectly aligned with the Hellenic beauty patterns or the very dark skin accompanied by thick lips and a wide and flattened nose; the youthful figure that communicates agility and the other that moves with effort due to age; the straight hair, the implants, the straightening under the effect of keratin, the hair in the form of “afro”, in the so-called “carreritas” or in long and powerful “drelos”; the thin or overabundant, obese contour; the gesture of a dapper style or with a wider arc in the movement of the hands; the image of a “traditional” femininity (in which ideals of “fragility”, “delicacy” and “sensuality” prevail) or the reverse of the “masculinized” female, which is usually attributed to the lesbian; with tattoos, “piercings”, hair dyed in unusual colors (green, blue, orange): it’s all women.
Peasant women, highly skilled professionals, housewives, workers in an industry or construction site, we need images of the most extraordinary diversity possible to “refresh” our images and approach women, ask questions, get closer to their struggles, offer them solidarity and push together with them the limits of presence, representation and participation in new worlds.
And that is what a Revolution is: a new world.
I end with a personal story. A few years ago my children Kenneth, Karen and I got tattoos. On that occasion the one that my wife dreams of for herself was left pending: the Elvish word for FREE.
By Paquita Armas Fonseca, a Cuban journalist specialized in cultural issues. She is a regular contributor to Cubadebate and other digital media such as La Jiribilla, CubaSi and the Cuban Television Portal. She was director of El Caimán Barbudo.
February 4, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Degree in Psychology, PhD in Psychological Sciences, Master in Sexuality and Sexuality Pedagogy, Professor and Senior Researcher, President of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES). Beatriz Torres Rodriguez is the Bety who once a week has been talking about Sexuality and daily life for 20 years, first on CHTV and then on Canal Habana.
That has been one of her jobs as a communicator, she has had others (you will find them in this text) and soon she will be the host of Miradas sin excusas, a magazine that will precede the awaited series Rompiendo el silencio (Breaking the Silence). “The panels do not comment on the chapters of the serial, but make reflections and look for alternatives and turning points to prevent gender violence to give alternatives for coping with it” stresses this charismatic psychologist:
-Why Psychology? Is there a gene in the family?
When choosing a career as a teenager, generally as in my case, there is no effective professional orientation, but I have always been a passionate reader and lover of cinema and I was attracted by the characteristics of the characters, how they faced conflicts, how there could be different alternative solutions, which not only depended on the environment in which people developed, among other elements and that approached the studies, which I later learned, were the components of the psychological framework. Also, because from what I knew was a helping profession, at that time with the vision of patients with psychiatric disorders, which constituted and constitute for me a great mystery, despite the years of professional practice.
There is no specialist in my family related to this science.
Since I was a student at the Psychology Department of the University of Havana, I became interested in this subject and received extracurricular courses given by what was at that time the National Group for Sex Education. At the same time, I began my professional practice in a Mental Health Center, and I saw how mental health disorders, whether the most complex and chronic or the most acute, mostly have an impact on sexuality and life as a couple, at different ages of life, which leads to present, from discomfort related to this area, to disorders, with a great burden of suffering in most cases.
This was later enriched by working at the Center for Medical and Surgical Research, where I expanded my diapason to the accompaniment and treatment of patients with chronic diseases, especially non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease among others and the impact they have on sexuality, not only because of the disease itself, but also because of all the stigmas and prejudices of the patient himself, the couple, the team of professionals and society, mostly due to the lack of knowledge or undervaluation of these issues and the impact they have on the welfare of people regardless of the disease they have.
For ten years I have been the president of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES), one of its multiple lines of research is precisely gender violence.
In recent years I have also participated in counseling for women in situations of gender violence, where the implications are very marked in their sexuality, self-esteem and well-being, among others. In other words, for me it is an area of knowledge of great need and sensitivity and that, in our culture, since it is considered by the majority of the population as a private matter, people delay a lot in asking for help and in some cases do not do it at all.
-Where and when did you start as a communicator?
I started in 2000 on TV in CHTV, in its magazine, with the session Sexuality and daily life, with journalist Dianik Flores, a session that I later continued in Canal Habana, since its foundation 15 years ago, together with a group of prestigious directors and hosts such as Sandra, Magdiel and the entire production team, which has allowed me to grow as a person and as a professional and a systematic dialogue with viewers, because I keep a space within the session to answer them, based on the questions of the topics presented in the space. This exchange has been very enriching and I have been given alternatives of help or orientation to different services in the cases I require. Hearing, analyzing and learning from other colleagues whom I admire and who also have their section in the Magazine, has been very useful for me.
I have participated in other TV programs, such as El triángulo de la confianza, De tarde en casa, Entre tú y yo and Pasaje a lo desconocido, among others.
In addition, since 2005 and for several years, I developed in the newspaper Trabajadores a digital consultation on sexuality in their health page. The session was called “Let’s talk about sexuality”, which for years was a very interesting experience, receiving various questions from people of different ages, marital status, schooling, even from other countries, which allowed me to get feedback on the issues that most often concerned the population about sexuality and life as a couple and that many did not dare to raise, neither to their own partners, nor in the space of consultation, so we could see the usefulness of this space. I would like to acknowledge the collaboration of the journalist Carmen Alfonso, in charge of this health page.
I have seen the importance of communication on these issues in the media, since it allows a large group in the population to become aware, reflect and learn. At the same time, as a specialist, it has helped me to be aware of what concerns the population the most, in order to be able to offer help alternatives.
-Have you taken a speech course?
In 2008-2009, together with other specialists in charge of sessions at Canal Habana and a group of journalists, I took a speech course, which was very useful and a necessary learning experience.
-How long did you prepare for this job?
I was invited to be the host or moderator of the panels of specialists of the magazine Miradas sin excusas, before the presentation of the chapters of the serial Rompiendo el silencio. Although the preparation time was short, we had the necessary and deep table work, both with its director and screenwriter Elena Palacios, Altair Reyes, the head of production and advisor Karina Paz, magnificent professionals, with whom we developed an excellent teamwork.
In addition, for some years, I have had an approach from the research with the problems related to gender violence, I was one of the coordinators of the Consensus of Gender Violence, organized in 2018 by SOCUMES and in the meetings of researchers in gender violence, organized by the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Center. For the last 5 years, we have jointly organized a colloquium on this topic. For three years I have been part of the counseling team for women in situations of gender violence in this institution. All this has made it easier for me to raise awareness and deepen my knowledge of these issues.
-What topics will be discussed?
It is a specialized magazine of analysis of the different expressions of gender violence, which will serve as a framework for the two seasons of the series Breaking the Silence. It tells the stories of women and girls in situations of violence, in its different forms of presentation, from the most recognized and obvious, such as physical violence and sexual abuse, to the more subtle, but no less serious, such as psychological and other types of violence. In its second season, it expands and diversifies to other forms of violence, such as violence against men. There is a representation of the different contexts where it can occur, such as the family, the couple, school, work, among others.
Its first season was intentionally broadcast in early December 2016, in the framework of the Day for Non-Violence against Women and Girls. For the first time, a national teleseries addressed this issue of gender violence as a central axis, which continues in its second season as a common thread.
The themes of this second season are related to:
Sexual violence against girls, adolescents and adult women in its different forms of expression.
The consequences of gender violence affect the main victims (women), but also the rest of the family members and the perpetrators themselves.
One of the consequences of GBV is the reproduction of violence, particularly for women in the double condition of victim-victimizer.
Symbolic violence that uses women’s bodies to exercise control.
Gender violence towards homosexual men, homophobia, transphobia, paternity and homosexuality.
Rape within the family.
Violence between men.
Stories of characters with their conflicts, limited situations and responses to them are presented, with the aim of provoking recognition, analysis and awareness of this phenomenon of gender violence.
-Could you comment on the specialists?
The panels were composed of specialists from different fields of knowledge, who had two characteristics in common:
They were experts in their fields of knowledge and in issues related to GBV.
They are very sensitive to these issues.
We had 58 appearances, according to the characteristics of the topics, there were experts who participated in more than one panel on several occasions. Psychologists, Sociologists, Jurists, Journalists, Anthropologists, Pedagogues, Doctors, Historians, Filmmakers, Communicators and Photography Professionals, among others, were represented. Teamwork was achieved and the most important thing, in my opinion, is that we sought to enlighten the population on these issues, to see the signs of GBV, its causes, repercussions in the family, society, the different alternatives to face it and where to find turning points in the different situations that arise, in order not to reproduce violence and, most importantly, to prevent it.
-Any recommendations for viewers?
Not to be alarmed by these issues, since the important thing is to recognize the different forms of GBV, and that this is a social problem of such importance, that to stop at the number, or if it is more or less frequent, is not the essential thing, but if a single woman, girl or any person is in these situations, it deserves all our effort and attention. The most important thing is to PREVENT, so that GBV and any form of violence does not become naturalized. Hence the political will of our country and its institutions to achieve an effective, comprehensive and integrated response. This magazine is part of this effort, of the many that are needed.
The FMC, together with other institutions, is leading this strategy, which is already showing signs such as the helpline and the Women’s Advancement Program, among others.
-Is there anything I haven’t asked you or anything you’d also like to say?
Finally, I would like to thank once again the entire team of the magazine and Ms. Mareleen Díaz Tenorio, with whom we had a systematic exchange during the entire filming process, since she was the capable advisor of the series Breaking the Silence.
(Taken from TVC’s website)
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Author: Ernesto Estévez Rams | firstname.lastname@example.org
February 3, 2021 00:02:34 AM
She confessed to me several times that she danced rock ‘n’ roll. The white variant, which was the one that became popular in Cuba, that of Elvis Presley. When she told me that she danced rock ‘n’ roll, she meant that she used to get her hair disheveled dancing to that devil’s music. She spun around, jumped, was lifted up and thrown to land again to the rhythm of the music. A neighborhood policeman, intolerant and arrogant, came with a lemon in his hand, and made the men drop the lemon inside their pants to see if it would roll down one of their legs. If you didn’t fall, you were in trouble. For the ladies, a tape measure with a visible red mark. Measuring the length of the skirt above the knee, if it was below the scarlet line, you were in trouble. Those were times when you couldn’t talk much with the police.
At that time, she sewed with her mother and sisters to earn a living and took a course in interior design as a way to improve her skills. She was the face in the ECLO of an American food brand. Standing up, smiling, she showed the products and offered samples for consumers to taste the wonders of what was advertised. Her luck wasn’t the worst either. If she had been black, she was useless as an image. For those of black complexion, their lucky destiny was to be a maid, or a servant, whatever you prefer to call them.
Then the Revolution triumphed. She enlisted as a volunteer teacher and was a compañero of Conrado Benítez. Despite her youth and inexperience, she was put in charge of several boarding schools. They were entire neighborhoods converted into schools, once run by the bourgeoisie or their cronies. Now, a school for poor women, peasant women, urban women, humble women.
Her sister also enlisted as a literacy volunteer and became a literacy teacher. The other sister, the eldest, the same luck, and what luck! They became teachers, they taught. They learned. She, the director of the school, knew all of La Lisa, La Coronela, Playa. The houses of the officers of the defeated army became schools, she became the teacher of other women. In the photos, the microphone higher than her physical stature. Speaking, guiding, directing, raising her arm in harangue, waving her hand.
She was a delegate, president of the CDR, militia member, company leader, Party militant. She was white, she married a black man from Guantanamo. A black man who fought in the underground, a black man who became a university student. A black man who is still by her side today. He was a teacher, a cane cutter, a company leader, founder of the Party. And along the way, at some point, they had time to have children. They, the two of them, neighbors to anyone, not unlike so many others in the same place, in the same circumstances.
My mother asks me, after reading something someone posted, what is this feminism. I explain. She, 80 years old, looks at me, and before getting up from the armchair, she tells me in a casual tone: Son, here, since 1959, we call it Revolution.
Published: Tuesday 12 January 2021 | 08:41:40 pm
Author: Mileyda Menéndez Dávila
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
When talking about the Middle Ages and Antiquity in Europe and its nearby territories, it seems that women were always subject to male power, without the right to participate or manipulated in government debates, relegated to the role of feeding themselves, excluded from war, science or other basic functions for the human group to which they belonged.
This is what those who consider the concept of equity as a recent “invention” say, and how they describe matriarchy as a system of male slavery and humiliation.
Recent archaeological findings and new readings of ancient texts from a feminist perspective agree that, although misogyny and patriarchy were widespread in many regions with similar expressions, there were civilizations in which women lived alongside men and played important social roles.
Supposedly barbaric and backward cultures, such as that of the Vikings and the one that inhabited India before the Aryan invasions, left evidence of a respectful and even venerable treatment of women and people of non-binary gender in their beliefs, traditions and social structure.
Preserved manuscripts from those times and legends that have survived orally indicate that in addition to respecting the right of women to decide about their bodies and to choose partners of any caste, an infinite number of tribes and clans validated non-heterosexual practices (common among warriors and priestesses), and ambivalent gender identities, visible in graphic representations of everyday life and of their gods and goddesses, which also abounded.
In the case of the Vikings, the journal Economics and Human Biology published a study that correlates the nutritional health of the Scandinavian population between ten and 15 centuries ago with the social values that intended equity by gender and age.
Biochemical tests confirm, by the quality and development of the bones found in several settlements, that women were free and active, and from birth they ate at the same time as adult men, not at the end.
Many were trained for war, fishing and hunting, led groups and inherited positions and properties. The most revered were the Valkyries: large women who collected dying and dead bodies in battle to help them move, according to their traditions, into the eternal and sacred world they called Valhalla.
Those customs of the Nordic “savages” were a shock for the descendants of the Greco-Latin culture, who built palaces and roads, dominated the arts and agriculture, but in their cultured cities women had no right to study or own property, did not talk to other men and could be given away as servants by their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.
The legislations of the current Nordic countries, heirs to the Viking culture, guarantee effective and palpable justice without gender discrimination, while many states born of the Judeo-Christian forge cling to a patriarchal hierarchy in homes and social spaces that has unleashed many wars and justified discrimination for hundreds of generations.
Other archaeological findings of the mid-twentieth century in well-preserved ancient cities, but hidden by nature, confirmed the respect for women as a source of life in the Indus civilization, without such deference to represent for men an economic or social disadvantage, as told in the book Tantra, the cult of the feminine, which we can provide to our readers by digital means.
That tradition of honoring the Mother as a social being (not only as a producer of labor) disappeared with the caste system imposed after the northern invasions, when girls and women became, along with the cattle, a resource to be exploited by the conquerors to survive in hostile terrain and to adapt genetically to the climate.
Also in pre-Columbian America and the original African societies there were stages and cultures in which women flourished alongside their male counterparts. As in other processes of conquest throughout the world, were the hosts “civilizing” which established the male hierarchy to control the lines of inheritance in the territories razed.
By (re)knowing these versions of common history, humanity is better able to write its present and place dignity as the essential value promoted by the Magna Carta of almost all nations.
Cuba will review more than 50 laws, as soon as the commissions are created for each of them, to decide whether to create a comprehensive law to address violence against women or to include it in other laws, said Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, President of the National Center for Sex Education, in an interview with the Cubasí website.
By We Editor
December 2, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Cuba will review more than 50 laws, as soon as the commissions are created for each one of them, to decide whether to create a comprehensive law for the attention to violence against women or to include it in other laws, declared in an interview with the Cubasí portal Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, President of the National Center for Sexual Education (Cenesex).
Cenesex, in recent times, joins more institutions and organizations of civil society and the State to advance campaigns and concrete actions that help to take better the policy of protection to the woman to the legislative changes that arise from the constitutional change and that it has contemplated to attend this reality, pointed out the specialist.
Castro Espín pointed out that the Cuban State deals with this issue, as evidenced by the fact that during the 1st International Symposium against Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Tourism, Human Trafficking and Prostitution, it was agreed that within the National Program of Education and Sexual Health, the Program of attention to all forms of violence would be addressed.
“In September we submitted to the Ministry of Public Health the proposal for a comprehensive education policy on sexuality and sexual rights.
However, she denounced the fact that there are attacks to discredit our institutions. Specific people based on the distortion of her words and efforts on the issue “and begin unfair attacks, without foundation, with a deep ignorance and ignorance, which do not help us move forward on the issue,” she said.
She also denounced the fact that “There is a lot of money, especially from the United States government, towards five main evangelical churches, which are trying to sabotage many initiatives. They are using this term gender ideology, which was created by a Catholic bishop in the 60s, precisely to discredit the international advances in the field of women’s rights and the thought of Marxist origin in relation to this issue. And our Revolution, as Fidel said, has the right to defend itself, it has the right to defend its social conquests, the rights that have been achieved in the Constitution and in the whole legislative system that is already being changed since the constitutional change”.
As a message to Cuban women, Mariela Castro sent the request that “we study, that we prepare ourselves well, because there are many people who fall into the traps of campaigns to discredit our efforts”.
She also called for not acting in isolation: “we have to unite, make alliances, because every time we make alliances and unite, we achieve effectiveness, we really achieve changes, so we do not play into the hands of the enemies of the Revolution, we unite among the organizations and institutions that are really working and that are open to all the ideas that are truly sincere and committed to revolutionary work.
In the middle of the National Day Against Violence Against Women and Girls, Mariela Castro Espín, about the origins of this social problem, said that it comes from centuries and has been expressed from a place of power. She also emphasized the role of the Catholic Church and how it has promoted nine centuries of persecution against women.
Today, she said, there are countries where women are totally enslaved and suffer greatly. Already in the 1970s, she explained, more specific terms emerged, such as femicide, which mainly alludes, from the work that Mexican anthropologist Marcela Lagarde has developed, to the irresponsibility and abandonment of the state in the face of the problem. There are studies that differentiate what is a homicide from a femicide and characterize them.
The director of CENESEX reminds us that the struggles for women’s rights around the world, the feminist movements, and women’s organizations linked to scientific study, have been contributing ways of thinking and acting on these issues, and proposals for laws have been emerging.
(With information from Cubasí)
By Mailenys Oliva Ferrales and Eduardo Palomares Calderón
August 23, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
United by the Sierra Maestra mountain range and the waters of the Cauto River, in the struggles marked by Mariana Grajales, Canducha “la Abanderada”, and more recently by Celia Sánchez and Vilma Espín, the women of Santiago and Granma are now united in this beautiful story woven by the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), in the 60 years they observed this August 23.
It was to Vilma Espín Guillois, a brave and sensitive woman from Santiago, that Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz entrusted the creation and strengthening of the organization destined to work for full gender equality in the new society. This is why the FMC women of her territory made a firm commitment this time to dedicate the Vanguard flag and the national act for the date.
“For all the FMC women of the country it has been a year of intense work -considers Elena Castillo Rodríguez, secretary-general of the FMC in Santiago de Cuba-, first because we started it under the incentive of such an important anniversary, and then because the appearance of the pandemic changed the life of all Cubans and, of course, it imposed the reorientation of our work.
“Based on the Party’s motto in the territory: “With the effort of all, we will win!”, we did the same intensity of work from the Guantanamo border of Yerba de Guinea to the Granmense of Baire, and that allowed us to declare all the municipalities (9) as Vanguards, and to seal that result at the level of the country.
Based on the solid tradition that has kept it in the vanguard in recent years, Granma was very close, achieving vanguard status in ten of its 13 municipalities. It wa, a challenge that, according to the Secretary General, María Elena Hechavarría Carralero, was focused on strengthening its grassroots structures and community action.
“We are one of the links that the enemy imagines with weaknesses to try to distort the reality of the Island, but, considered by Fidel as well as by Raúl and Díaz-Canel, as bastions in each project undertaken, we have taken all the spaces to demonstrate that women are an essential force in the sovereignty of the Nation”.
THE VITAL HEARTBEAT OF SOCIETY
For most of the 412,500 FMCers in Santiago and the 325,000 in Granma, one of the most important, humane and beautiful activities of recent times has been the challenge taken on from the COVID-19 pandemic, because not only was it to make thousands of nasobucos, but they also provided the fabric and thread, and then went to donate them in the neighborhoods, squares and workplaces.
In both territories, they also went voluntarily to the health control points, to the sanitation and hygienization of public areas, to the house-to-house investigation and, without thinking twice, not a few young people took the step to contribute in what was necessary in the red zone of hospitals and centers of isolation of suspects.
Perhaps there is something more emotional,” says Castillo Rodriguez, “than seeing a girl with a pharmacy card or a warehouse notebook buying medicine and food products for a vulnerable person, or for the members of the Federation who took care of the old man who lives alone and brought him the same food prepared for the family.
Our women have grown up during the confrontation with COVID-19,” says Hechavarría Carralero, “because they did not wait to be called, they began to spontaneously deploy initiatives and we generalized and brought them together so that their impact would be greater, and all this has had the moral recognition that contributes to new efforts.
Within this complex situation, both leaders agreed that the scourge of gender violence that has wounded the world so much, has not been an embarrassing problem for their respective territories, since the Women’s and Family Orientation Centers work preventively, and a differentiated work has been done in dysfunctional nuclei.
Through specialists, talks have taken place aimed at promoting family unity and curbing the tendency to burden women with domestic tasks. At the same time, through dozens of training programs, the FMC has held training courses in socially useful activities for women and men who are not working.
In this way, including in recent days, some of the so-called “choleras” received job offers in the state sector or on their own account, ranging from pharmacy and commerce clerks, technical services, gastronomy, barbers and other trades that reintegrate them with dignity.
IN FRONT OF THE FURROW
According to Castillo Rodríguez, “Hot spots” in her province are the fronts for food production that women share today. This is not because of the complexity of the work, but because of its importance. In addition to facing the pandemic, they moved to gardens and patios to plant short-cycle crops and medicinal plants, which are already bearing fruit.
A lot has been said about the initiative of the food production areas in Santiago,” he explains, “and those structures are already in all the municipalities, where, if in the agricultural ones there is parity between men and women, in the industrial ones the majority of the women are making bread, cookies, candies, preserves and dozens of assorted products.
Currently, the strategy concluded in the Second Front and that goes through the Third Front, is sealing each municipality with the patios incorporated into urban agriculture, and the creation of agreements for pigs, sheep and poultry, attended purely by women or jointly with the family, which provides them with meat, food, grains and vegetables.
The women of Granma also contribute to these forms of agri-food production, their presence in the mobilizations called for, and the empowerment achieved in the labor area, where they make up 67% of the technical force, and assume key management positions, from the base up to all levels.
VALIDITY OF VILMA
Although the Commander-in-Chief considered the full incorporation of women as a Revolution within the Revolution, among the greatest teachings bequeathed by Vilma Espín is the defense of rights and the work she has conquered. This is why Santiagueras and Granmenses are now equally focused on confronting social indiscipline.
Her actions in the face of coleros, resellers and hoarders range from preventive work with people characterized by that anti-social behavior in the community, which has made it possible to detect soluble dysfunctional problems and the incorporation of 12 cases to work in Santiago de Cuba, to the support to order in the lines [in from of] commercial establishments.
Elena Castillo and María Elena Hechavaría emphasize the enthusiasm with which the FMCers have received the respective recognitions as vanguard and outstanding women. There is in a 60th anniversary celebrated in all the municipalities, in centers such as hospitals and of textile clothing, with high presence of women, and of course in the base.
In a special way, the Vilma Espín Memorial, located in the house where she lived and matured as a revolutionary, by turning it into a meeting point and even a staff for young clandestine fighters, once again hosted the Vilma en la memoria workshop, with the presentation of 28 research papers from the provinces of Granma and Santiago de Cuba, on the extraordinary woman.
Coinciding with the date and in view of the impossibility, due to the COVID-19, of the desired mass mobilization, a representation of the municipality of Segundo Frente paid homage to the eternal President of the FMC, Vilma Espín Guillois, in the name of Cuban woman, and before the rock monument that in the mausoleum to the heroes and martyrs of the II Eastern Front receives its ashes.
By Mileyda Menéndez Dávila
June 9, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In the past century, obstetricians and gynecologists from various countries have defended the hypothesis that an important function of pleasure in its maximum physical expression is to prepare women physiologically for the intensity of childbirth.
Although there are few studies available on the subject, it has been scientifically proven that orgasms can occur during labor. This phenomenon has been called a myth for centuries because in Western culture childbirth is associated with heroic pain and orgasm with pleasure of external origin (even if it is self-provoked), therefore, it is not acceptable that both concur in the same act without degrading stigmas.
In the biological field, things are not binary, as most conservative tendencies claim. In fact, since both processes are mediated by hormones and focus on the genital area (between the first and second chakra), there is reason to assume that the nervous system interprets painful signals according to very personal patterns, associated with the level of tolerance for physical pain, expectations with that pregnancy and the circumstances surrounding childbirth.
In the past century, gynecologists from various nations have defended the hypothesis that an important function of pleasure at its maximum physical expression is to prepare women physiologically for the intensity of childbirth.
In the 1970s, the Frenchman Michel Odent promoted actions to make birth a moment of joy, not of sacrifice or shame. Original cultures see it that way, and today new voices are raised in favor of the body acting according to its ancestral knowledge.
Adrenaline, oxytocin, dopamine… A whole cocktail of hormones is unleashed during labor, each at its own pace. And if the mind accepts the right to experience the act of giving life as pleasure, the sensations can be strong, but fluid, without panic,. That “permission” helps to interpret them without guilt, in some cases with similar enjoyment of what for that woman is the reference of an orgasm, as occurs in a sudden consensual sexual act.
Dr. Odent was also one of the driving forces behind breastfeeding in the baby’s first hour of life because of its health benefits for both of us.
Although formalized reports are rare, some mothers describe something like an orgasm when they breastfeed. Such is the case of a 32-year-old Matanzas reader, who suggested including it in the list of involuntary pleasures because on a physical level it is enjoyable, but she thinks “that morally it is not right”.
She says her breasts have always been very sensitive and her partner manages to bring her to a climax just by stimulating them.
Once again, it is cultural assumptions that prevent that woman from enjoying her own body in a natural, unintended sense with morbidity.
Broadly speaking, Dr. Elvia de Dios, a trained psychiatrist and therapist at CENESEX (National Center for Sex Education), explains that the baby’s suction triggers the production of oxytocin, and that hormone activates the functioning of essential glands. These incluse the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which in turn facilitate intense nerve discharges that stimulate the contractions of the uterus and help it return to its normal size and muscle tone.
The reader who consults is a privileged woman in the quality of her nervous reflexes, says the expert. It should not inhibit a reaction that is not associated with any sexual thought or call into question your motherhood.
For questions about orgasm and other issues of your sexuality or sexual identity, you can contact Dr. Elvia de Dios at the Cenesex telephone counseling service, which she provides Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 7638-8405.
“The leadership that the FMC has today to exalt women before themselves and society is focused on such purposes as: the conquest of women’s autonomy in all areas, the deconstruction of prejudices and stereotypes, against all forms of discrimination and oppression that restrict their development, their freedom and wound their dignity as human beings. This is a strength to fight and do, in an organized and committed way, for non-violence against women”.
Author: Dilbert Reyes Rodríguez | email@example.com
August 22, 2020 01:08:10
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Not even the largest catalogue of possible courtesies is enough to erase the trace of a single deliberate act of gender-based violence against a woman.
Calling such acts abhorrent does not accept a single minute of debate. It is more important to make better use of all the opportunities – highly potential – that we, as an organized country, and with a declared political and governmental will, have to proactively and speedily confront the scourge.
It is well known that there are cultural roots that complicate and prolong this war’, that there are different, concrete and subjective obstacles, and it is also well known that there are hunters of the naïve who are betting on taking advantage of these slopes in order to push Cubans against each other under the skin of sheep and in order to divide us.
President Díaz-Canel himself has repeated it: “In matters of law and society, they have not given up on the search for points of rupture in national unity, magnifying the possible dissent on sensitive issues such as egalitarian marriage, racism, violence against women, or the mistreatment of animals, to mention a few, in all of which we are working seriously to resolve centuries of debt that only the Revolution in power has faced with unquestionable progress.
There will be no lack of those who, once again, contract with the hackneyed accusation of “politicizing everything”, in order to distract the arguments that explain, clearly and from within, that the country is not sitting idly by on an issue as sensitive as violence against women. But since there are words that have their backing in deeds, Granma tackles the issue with Dr. Mayda Alvarez Suarez, director of the Center for Women’s Studies (CEM).
-How have actions been taken in recent years to reduce violence against women?
-There have been many debates over these years, with the aim of making the existence of violence against women in our country visible and understanding its causes, combating stereotypes and placing the issue in the development of essential policies. Important experiences of orientation, prevention, telephone help lines and protection programs have also been carried out in different territories; but we are far from feeling satisfied because we cannot forget that the phenomenon has deep roots in the patriarchy, in societies characterized for centuries by the existence of unequal, unequal and power-based relationships. It is still there, manifested in thought and relationships in couples, families, workplaces, public places, where it is not always perceived as such, nor confronted and attended to as it should and is necessary.
“Male chauvinist concepts, prejudices, sexist stereotypes persist and are reproduced in our society, anywhere and at any level, and although there have been changes in assessments and ideas about violence, which were found by the National Survey on Gender Equality – conducted in 2016 by CEM, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and the Centre for Population and Development Studies of the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) – we were also able to reveal which ones remain, continue to hinder further progress and are at the root of existing inequalities.
“At present, the vast majority of Cubans do not justify violence against women or men, nor do they blame women for acts of violence (mistreatment or rape) and reject the idea that women should bear it.
“However, in a part of the population there are still criteria that contribute to sustaining and perpetuating violence against women. The most entrenched are: alcohol consumption is the cause, the woman who endures the abuse is because she likes it, most women withdraw the complaint, and consider the violence a private matter. These criteria become justifications for not intervening or denouncing the acts of violence”.
-Are there results that allow us to characterize an effective advance in the reduction of violence against women?
-The First Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba, held in 2012, before the National Survey was carried out, had already declared that there was a confrontation with prejudices and discrimination of all kinds that still persist in the heart of society. In particular, in its objective No. 55, it explicitly states that it will “raise the level of rejection of gender and domestic violence and that which is manifested in the communities.
“Among the main achievements of the current phase, the new Constitution of the Republic stands out, which expands and strengthens the protection of rights, particularly those of women and girls.
“The recognition of the right to a life free of violence (Articles 43, 85 and 86), the commitment to address it, ratifies the importance of prevention and enhances the mandatory responsibility of the State in the implementation of legal standards, public policies and the improvement of protection mechanisms for victims. At present, a process is under way to harmonize the new articles of the Constitution with various legislations that will allow its effective implementation, for example, the modification and updating of the Family Code, which will be brought to a process of popular consultation and referendum. The Criminal Code is also being analysed and amendments are being suggested.
“The Standing Committee on Children’s and Youth Affairs and Women’s Rights of the National Assembly of People’s Power is an important ally in promoting compliance with the Cuban State’s agenda for the advancement of Cuban women and in monitoring its implementation.
“In order to assess the progress made in reducing violence against women, better records are needed of the acts of violence that are detected and dealt with, and of their follow-up and solution. Ongoing statistics are needed to make it possible to compare, over time, the increase or decrease in cases, the prevalence and incidence of violence in a given population, and its frequency and severity, among other indicators.
“There is also a need to carry out periodic surveys on violence against women, which would allow for its systematic evaluation in selected periods and data of international comparability”.
-How much more do you think can be done, under the current conditions, to accelerate the change of such behaviours in the country?
-Above all, it is urgent to perfect ways, procedures, mechanisms, protocols of action in the institutions involved and everything necessary to attend, immediately, with respect and without prejudice, to the victims of violence, and to apply the law rigorously to those who commit these acts.
“Improving the presence of the subject in the laws in force, which are currently in the process of being modified, is also very important. However, my personal opinion is that we would benefit from a specific and comprehensive law on violence against women, which contemplates all the measures and sanctions that already appear in existing laws, and others that need to be enacted.
“Regarding macho conceptions and stereotypes, everything that is done to generate transformations in subjectivity is key: creative communication products, adequately focused from a gender perspective, training courses, community and face-to-face debates, the use of social networks
“Essential is the training in gender and violence to decision makers and lawyers because of the importance of their role in this issue, the insertion in curricula, in the training of educators, communication specialists, among other actors.
“Exchanging experiences with other countries, both to research and to confront and address in practice these facts, adapting them to our context, is also very useful, since violence against women is a global problem.
“On the other hand, the FMC has valued the need to increase the confrontation to the facts of violence in the communities, from our base structures and, for that, to raise the level of training of our leaders and collaborators of the Women and Family Orientation Houses. From the fmc, we have always affirmed that the most important thing is not that there are many or few of them, but that whenever there is a woman who is violated, she is well cared for and her rights are defended.
-What strengths exist to confront this?
-We have the political will of our Party and Government. The confrontation with violence is endorsed in the programmatic documents of the Party and in the Constitution. Instruments such as the Family Code, which was approved in 1975 and is in the process of being modified as I mentioned earlier. There’s also the National Plan of Action to follow up on the agreements of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1997, contain principles and actions to guarantee gender equality and non-violence.
“The educational and employment opportunities enjoyed by women, as well as access to free and universal health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, have placed Cuban women in a better position to achieve autonomy and independence, which weakens the chances of experiencing situations of dependence and having to endure, for that reason, situations of violence.
“The safety and protection of sons and daughters is also guaranteed. The State provides free education for the offspring, their food and systematic medical care, with no gender differences. Thus, for example, girls show as high percentages of education as boys. There are also institutional support mechanisms for low-income families, especially for single mothers.
“The leadership that the FMC has today to exalt women before itself and before society is focused on such purposes: the conquest of women’s autonomy in all areas, the deconstruction of prejudices and stereotypes, against all forms of discrimination and oppression that restrict their development, their freedom and wound their dignity as human beings. This is a strength for fighting and doing, in an organized and committed way, for non-violence against women”.
In keeping with these times, more than 130,000 women have joined the urban agriculture movement and the medical brigades that have gone out to fight the pandemic in other nations, 61% of whom are women.
By Yenia Silva Correa
August 5, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
From economic and productive work, continuation of the work to support the fight against the pandemic and stops to pay homage and recognition, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) is promoting a group of activities to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the organization, which will take place on August 23.
With strict adherence to the health measures required by the complex epidemiological situation caused by COVID-19, it was reported this Tuesday, through a press conference, that the program on the occasion of the event will have the communities as its setting.
Teresa Amarelle Boué, Secretary General of the organization and member of the Political Bureau, reminded [everyone] that the main challenge that the new coronavirus represents today does not diminish the protagonist [leading role, wl] of Cuban women in the other challenges they lead. These include “maintaining what has been conquered in terms of gender equality, that there are no setbacks in the midst of the new forms of economic management that the country is promoting, the situation of the aging population and how to perfect the protocols of action to confront gender violence in our country.”
JOY AT NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
Excited, after the news of being the vanguard of the country, the FMC of Santiago de Cuba dedicated to the FMC’s founder, Vilma Espín, the condition received.
“We could not go to Segundo Frente, to pay her any other tribute than this one, obtained in the midst of the current complexity”, declared Elena Castillo Rodríguez, provincial secretary.
In addition to the leading role played on the health front, she highlighted the massive incorporation of food production in agriculture and on industrial estates, the demand for discipline in public spaces, the active promotion of electricity saving, and the implementation of more than a hundred training programs for women who are not working.
By Rolando Pérez Betancourt
July 12, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
After 35 years of sustained triumphs in various films, French actress Juliette Binoche is once again shining in her latest film, which will soon be shown on Cubavisión.
I’m Not Who You Think (Safy Nebbou, 2019) is the story of a divorced, 50-year-old literature professor with two children who uses the tricks of Facebook to create a profile that turns her into an attractive 24-year-old blonde.
The causes and consequences of this change will be the main theme of this romantic drama with a thriller-like twist. It’s conceived in the midst of human relationships conditioned by technology and the masks that encourage so-called catfishing, or [creating a] non-existent identity in social networks with the aim of attracting unwary people.
In days of unbridled love passions on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, director Safy Nebbou waves the trump card of Binoche and squeezes it into the role of a middle-aged woman trapped in the obsession of feeling wanted. Why not fall in love with a young man much younger than she? And the protagonist embarks on the adventure, even if she ends up in the hands of a psychiatrist. This is a resource that is used from the beginning to weave the threads of the story in two stages and thus expose the intimate worlds of a woman who, after the divorce, was exposed to the risks of depression.
The film takes a critical look at the lies and manipulations of social networks and is a treat for viewers to reflect on issues such as the fear of growing old, the age difference when it comes to love, and whether it “looks good” for a mature woman to go crazy with love (and delude herself into madness), as she would have done in her twenties.
We will then see an exceptional Juliette Binoche fall silent, when a young lover tells her that she could well be her mother; chat in the solitude of her home, pretending to be the little girl she is not; fall into the chaos of uncertainty and moral collapse; shine like a sun and explode into childish euphoria when she feels wanted.
The film is all of her, and also a story of loneliness on days when it seems that everyone is connected.