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Gender and Violence in Spanish Culture

From Vulnerability to Accountability


Edited By María José Gámez Fuentes and Rebeca Maseda García

For the true exercise of citizenship to occur, gender violence must be eradicated, as it is not an interpersonal problem, but an attack on the very concept of democracy. Despite increasing social awareness and legal measures taken to fight gender violence, it is still prevalent worldwide. Even in a country such as Spain, praised in the UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women (2010) for its advanced approach on gender violence, the legal framework has proved insufficient and deeper sociocultural changes are needed. This book presents, in this respect, groundbreaking investigations in the realm of politics, activism, and cultural production that offer both a complex picture of the agents involved in its transformation and a nuanced panorama of initiatives that subvert the normative framework of recognition of victims of gender violence. As a result, the book chapters articulate a construction of the victim as a subject that reflects and acts upon his/her experience and vulnerability, and also adopt perspectives that frame accountability within the representational tradition, the community, and the state.

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Chapter Nine: Homophobia, Ethical Witnessing, and the Matrix of Gendered Violence: Issues of Intersectionality in Luppi/Hornos’s Pasos (Alfredo Martínez-Expósito)


chapter nine

Homophobia, Ethical Witnessing, and the Matrix of Gendered Violence

Issues of Intersectionality in Luppi/Hornos’s Pasos

Alfredo Martínez-Expósito

This chapter addresses representational regimes of gendered violence from an historical witnessing perspective in contemporary Spain. Axiomatically, “gendered violence” refers to any expression of power and control over individuals or groups based on their gender or sexuality; “historical witnessing” denotes a situated historical dimension of the key notion of ethical witnessing (Oliver 2004). Noting the persistence of heteronormativity and systemic homophobia in egalitarian-marriage Spain as its opening argument, this chapter seeks to (i) locate violence against LGBT groups and individuals within the wider context of gendered violence; (ii) describe such wider context as an intersectional matrix of violence, using Patricia Collins’s “matrix of oppression” as a suitable epistemological metaphor (Collins 1990); (iii) frame the matrix of gendered violence in a specific historical perspective; and (iv) put forward a provisional hypothesis about the empowering and liberating potential of ethical witnessing.

The Spanish film Pasos, written by Susana Hornos and directed by Federico Luppi, provides an appropriate textual grounding for a discussion of the above set of issues. Released in 2005, at a time of historical legislative changes that brought about marriage equality in Spain, the film is set in 1981, following the aborted coup d’état that for many historians was the last episode in the country’s long transition to democracy. The film’s title alludes to the baby steps of...

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