You could say that Edurne Portela (Santurce, 1974) has proposed to delve into all the daily underworlds of violence. In 2016, he left Spain for the anonymity of American academic life that he had built for nearly two decades with an essay, The echo of the shots, that he put the scalpel in his memory of young vascto that it has normalized the violence generated by ETA. Part of those wicks helped him to hatch his first novel, Better the absence, where other intimidations already emerged in addition to the policies.
Now go back to fiction with Ways to be far (Gutenberg Galaxy), a book that explores gender violence, an issue that feminism pulled from the bedroom years ago and is now consolidated in literature. But an issue, still, integrated into many homes as part of the routines. "It is not simply the outburst of a man against a woman, it is part of a system of political, structural thinking. I do not know if it has to do with the society in which I grew up, where it was a tremendous presence, but violence is a constant concern for me, "he reflected. the writer and columnist of EL PAIS in Madrid last week, days before the publication of the book, scheduled for Wednesday 6.
Alicia, her protagonist, a Basque woman with shared origins with her creator, begins in parallel a love relationship and a professional career in the US. The first is sinking into a swamp of scorn, while the second march determined to success. She is a cultured, intellectual woman with a certain sentimental baggage. It does not have much to do with Prudencia, the protagonist that Dulce Chacón built in 1996 in Some love that does not kill, an avant-garde of literature to the social tide that would come around the abuse and that was uncovered as a flood after the murder of the Granada-born Ana Orantes, in 1997.
Unlike them, Alicia's wounds are internal, only visible in the personal sinking. And none of the weapons he possesses prevent her from avoiding a dangerous story or protecting her from the loss of her own identity. A protagonist that can be found in dozens of real stories, which confirm that gender violence is not related to money or intelligence. How is it possible that the fictional Alice - and the real ones - fall into that trap? "It's a complex process. On the one hand it has to do with her personality, which is very strong, with a solid intellectual capacity, but at the same time tends to introspection. He has come to live in a place where that propensity for loneliness is accentuated by the social context, which he does not know and which is extremely hostile to him. There many intelligent women seek a certain protection of the couple and create an idea of what love should be that sometimes arises from a desire and a need that does not correspond with who this other person really is. That's when you enter the dynamics of saying that you control me or are jealous because you love me too much, "Portela says.
"Many times we are in relationships where we can not point to where the violence is, but we feel it. And we can not because those behaviors are normalized
Part of the problem lies in the myth of romantic love, that construction sustained and entrenched, with or without consciousness, with the complicity of numerous women. "It is a perverse ideal in which to look at oneself, which is part of the patriarchal structure of thought where the woman has to fulfill certain roles to reach that kind of love; if not, it fails ".
By not punching, Matty, Alicia's husband, can reassure her conscience. He is an abuser who does not believe he is. "He has an expectation of what a woman should be when she commits and marries that Alicia does not comply. He begins to lose control of his emotions and tries to control it with forms that are not admissible, "explains Portela.
In that isolated atmosphere in which they live, all possible controls are deployed: economic, social, sexual. Again the normalized violence, the intimidation buried. "Many times we are in relationships where we can not point to where the violence is, but we feel it. And we can not because those behaviors are normalized. I was interested in exploring how that is denting and decomposing Alicia. "
Some politicians would say that it is a novel based on gender ideology. Portela laughs at the comment, although he does not see the risk that a political reaction can dismantle the fight against ill-treatment. "What happened in Andalusia to ask for those lists [de empleados públicos del área de violencia de género de la Junta, solicitadas por Vox] it is already an action against the law. There is a real danger and we have to be aware that the battle starts now. We can not wait for this attempt to enter the institutions to continue dynamiting what has been achieved so far. "
There is no linear history or irreversible advances. There are indications of this in Portela's novel, who takes advantage of his experience on American campuses - he spent 18 years there - to portray atmospheres loaded with sexism and racism. Student rapes at fraternity parties receive public attention not long ago. But they were there before Me Too and on campus it was known. "In the universities where I was teaching the teachers tried to do away with the fraternities, but we were powerless against the technocrats who protect them. They are tremendous spaces of power, you only have to see the genealogies of the presidents, they have all belonged to this type of fraternity. "
Under the name of Rosalind B. Penfold hides a Canadian businesswoman who shared a decade with a man who harassed her on all fronts: psychological, physical, economic and sexual. In those days he made a graphic journal, which he hid in the basement and which, when he managed to separate, became the comic Love me well (Astiberri). The bookstores have also recently arrived Cárdeno ornament (Peripheral), where Katharina Winkler addresses the abuse. A violence with old roots that in 1996 Dulce Chacón tried in Some love that does not kill and, much earlier, Emilia Pardo Bazán in numerous stories, grouped in The broken lace (Password).