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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 Ten: Ella(s): Resisting Victimhood, Unveiling Institutional Violence in Docufiction (Vera Burgos-Hernández)


chapter ten


Resisting Victimhood, Unveiling Institutional Violence in Docufiction

Vera Burgos-Hernández

The film Ella(s) (David Baute, Spain-Mexico-Uruguay, 2010) deals with the subject of gender violence focusing on the Spanish writer Mercedes Pinto (La Laguna, Tenerife, 12 October 1883—Mexico City, 21 October 1976) and her defence of women’s rights through her controversial lecture “Divorce as a Hygienic Measure” (Universidad Central de Madrid, 1923).1 Following a circular narrative, which starts and ends with the lecture mentioned, Ella(s) is a docufiction film in which the boundaries between fictional characters and real testimonies appear blurred. Regarding the fictional characters, it is through the interconnected stories of three women that the film covers the major stages of Pinto’s life. The first character is a PhD student (Paola Bontempi) from La Laguna in the Canary Islands, who starts researching on Mercedes Pinto as part of her thesis on gender violence. The second is a journalist (Silvia Munt) who lives in Madrid, and discovers the writer when researching about the “express divorce”.2 The third is Marta Aura, who is the real Mercedes Pinto’s daughter-in-law and plays herself as well as the fictional role of an actress and writer who lives in Mexico and writes a play based on Mercedes Pinto. In parallel, Ella(s) introduces a number of real interviews with an expert in the Spanish writer, two victims of gender violence, several representatives of institutions handling gender violence in Spain,...

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