First Manifesto of the Ma(g)dalena International Network:
A Network in Movement
“Over the years… I have transformed myself,
I have been… a saint, a witch, a whore,
and I did not stay silent,
I did not stay silent,
I’m strong, I’m a warrior… Am I.
and I did not stay silent, I did not stay silent!”1
We, artists-activists and practitioners of the Feminist Theatre of the Oppressed, who form the Ma(g)dalena International Network, strive to overcome the idea that as women we are alone, we are fragile and inferior, that we have to justify our progress and hold the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are fighting to overcome the diverse and numerous oppressions that are a constant presence in all spaces we occupy, and which limit and impede our dignity and possibilities for growth and development, freedom and happiness. We wish to transform our world collectively, through solidarity and the strength that comes from loving. We have developed our own inclusive aesthetic, our principal tool in our artistic investigation, creation, and production, which we use to transform our current oppressive reality.
Together we wish to make our dream of a society based on justice, free from the capitalist ideology of individual competition, from the exploitation of humanity and nature, a reality. A world without racism, sexism, hate against LGBTQIA+ people, without strict and stereotyped social mandates. A world free from patriarchal domination, where it is possible to reinvent, rethink, multiply, and diversify spaces of power and those who hold power.
We work towards overcoming the idea that gender is the defining factor in the enjoyment of rights and the limits of social spaces and social functions. We investigate the diverse ways of understanding ourselves as women – as a strength that can mobilize and create a feeling of belonging – taking into account and valuing the cultural practices that each one of us would like to question. Among us there are multiple cultures, ethnicities and races, social classes, sexual orientations, gender self perception… Our movement is based on the recognition of and respect for these specificities. We strongly believe in the idea of collective action as a means of creating our own empowerment through love, strength, struggle, and expression.
Through a dialectic and dialogical process, which recognises the diversities across and between our territories, we situate our lived experiences in multiple and intersecting patterns of oppression such as class, race, gender and sexuality. In recognizing the symbolic power of the body, the songs, the dances, and the original and ancestral elements of each space, we align ourselves with the popular aesthetics and reject the dominant aesthetics. We are immersed in constant reflexion and ‘self-awareness,’ so as to ensure we do not reproduce stereotyped images of womanhood, and we strive to destroy any thought or action that would hold us in subordination, whether in our own spaces or in the wider world.
Our aesthetic invites a diversity of interpretations and a multiplicity of viewpoints. We are not looking to create a ‘gender-focused theatre’ made by women, rather we are working towards the expression of a feminist ‘Ma(g)dalena’ aesthetic. We aim to write our own history on behalf of our ancestors, ourselves, and those generations who have yet to come.
There is no revolution without feminism!
We reject the position of submission, worthlessness and confinement that society has forced upon us. We refuse to reproduce these ‘naturalized’ oppressions and strive to create an empowering space based on the principals of freedom and autonomy so we can come together, recognize each other, and strengthen our struggles.
- We fight against all forms of oppression, through the re-appropriation of artistic media and concrete and continued socio-political actions.
- We strive to conquer our sexual and (non-) reproductive rights
- We strive to break hetero-patriarchal stereotypes
- We strive to end privilege and to be free, but also to recognize our own privileges and to work towards transforming them
- We strive to create new forms of relating to each other based on the principal of sisterhood, always respecting individual and group processes.
Our political conviction comes from the diverse feminisms through which we recognise our differences. We know ourselves to be capable of a joyful rebellion, which gives us the strength to decolonize our bodies, our relationships, and the spaces we occupy.
- We are committed to constant reflection and questioning of our daily actions in order to transform our own practices that reinforce the patriarchy.
- We are committed to involving ourselves in the communities where we live and their social movements; strengthening, multiplying and articulating transformational processes by and for oppressed women.
- We reject elite practices and we work to create alliances for ourselves and for other women.
Ma(g)dalena International Network
January 2016, Matagalpa, Nicaragua
1 Lines from one of the Ma(g)dalena’s songs.