Julieta Paredes Carvajal is an Aymara woman, communitarian lesbian feminist, co-founder of Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) and the Community of women creating community as well as the Communitarian Feminist Assembly. She lives in La Paz, Bolivia, land where a political change process is underway. She is anti-patriarchal feminist activist, writer, singer, author and poet, and has been involved in feminist training with indigenous and working class women throughout Bolivia and in other parts of Latin America.
I went to her lecture last night. I felt like my grandmothers and my aunts and my very own mami was speaking to me about their struggle as indigenous women under Western patriarchy for many generations. Throughout the lecture, I felt moved by Julieta’s thorough theoretical talk about Communitarian feminism and how it differs from other feminisms. In a nutshell, she summarized how feminism in Bolivia has changed before and after 1492. Before Christopher Columbus’ arrival, most indigenous women used to have full autonomy and power in traditional societies. Women used to control the land, hold political roles, and determined the well-being of the community. But that does not exclude the fact that indigenous patriarchal societies also existed in Latin America. However, in 1492, European colonists brought an oppressive institution that determined the tragic fate of indigenous women in Latin America: machismo. Indigenous women were negatively impacted by two forms of patriarchy: Western and Indigenous.
Her talk consisted on how women AND men should work together to fight all forms of oppressive institution. She used a metaphor: the human body. She said that the left side of the body is male and the right side is female. And if they don’t work together, one side of the body will suffer. The other side of the body will carry the weight of the burden. That is to say, as a community, we should care for each other even if we do not know the person. If a person is sick, we should help them. If a person is in trouble, we should give a hand. We are a community of people who should love each other. That was the best part of the talk.