SANTIAGO – Since its first performance on Nov. 20, “A rapist on your way,” the chant by feminist collective LasTesis, has gone viral. The two-minute performance is a rebellious stand against sexism and sexual violence, and was soon adopted and adapted in numerous countries. The enthusiasm with which it has spread demonstrates its worldwide audience.
“And the fault was not mine, not where I was, nor what I wore!” is a chant feminists worldwide adapted. It comes from the performance “A rapist on your way,” created by the Chilean collective LasTesis, and first performed in Valparaíso on Nov. 20 as a way to raise awareness about systematic sexism and sexual violence. The song, accompanied by a simple choreography, soon went viral.
LasTesis is a feminist collective formed and led by four 31-year-old women: Daffne Valdés and Sibila Sotomayor from the scenic arts field, Paula Cometa Stange leading design and history, and garment designer Lea Cáceres. The artists work to translate feminist theses into artistic performances to reach wider audiences in simple and catchy ways.
— Benjamin Alvarez (@BenjAlvarez1) November 30, 2019
A Global Song Against Sexism and Sexual Violence.
The performance was created and first performed in Valparaíso, but on November 25, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, the performance took place in public squares, main streets, and in front of government buildings nationwide. Then, in the days that followed, the chant went viral.
So far, the performance has been repeated in numerous locations around the world, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, Germany, France, and Mexico. Adapted, translated, and reinvented, each country has found ways to sing against the sexism and sexual violence they encounter in their own societies.
|The original lyrics of the song, tweaked and adapted according to each community’s reality, are as follows:
“The patriarchy is a judge
Who judges us by birth,
And our punishment
Is the violence you do not see. (x2)
It is femicide.
Impunity for my killer.
It is disappearance.
It is rape.
And the fault was not mine, not where I was, nor what I wore. (x4)
The rapist was you.
The rapist is you.
It is the cops,
The oppressive state is a macho rapist. (x2)
‘Sleep well, innocent girl,
Do not worry about the bandit,
Your sweet and smiling sleep
Is taken care of by your loving Carabinero.’
The rapist is you. (x4)”
The chant uses a verse from the Chilean police hymn, referring to the role of the Carabinero, which is the name of the Chilean police for their usual use of rifles (carabines) in the past. The title “A rapist on your way” is dark twist of the police slogan “A friend on your way” – a phrase that becomes dissonant with at least 508 complaints filed against the Chilean police during the social movement, as reported by the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) on Nov. 30.
A message against sexual violence
The creators, according to Interferencia, developed the performance to shed light on what they say is the impunity of rape in Chile, using the work of feminist activist Rita Segato. Sotomayor told women’s publication Biut La Tercera that LasTesis “[wanted to] demistify rape as a personal problem, or just the blame of the man who rapes; we also want to show it as a [wider] social problem.”
Hence, the collective points to responsibilities of institutions: “Only 8% of rape cases in Chile end in any kind of punishment, so clearly there is a problem at a systematic level, where public policies are not working properly,” says Sotomayor in Interferencia. “[Also] the mass media, when they blame the victim, providing space to say she deserved it: to point out what she was wearing, or that she was drunk, or suffering from mental health issues,” Sotomayor adds.
The popularity of the chant shows that it struck a raw nerve and that women worldwide are no longer willing to silently accept sexism and sexual violence.
Muy emocionante. Plaza de la dignidad feminista!
Lucha histórica en la q queda mucho por hacer. Hoy tenemos la oportunidad de avanzar. Tener una constituyente paritaria para que dejemos de regirnos por reglas escritas por hombres! #NuncaMásSinNosotras#LasTesis pic.twitter.com/cFX4bEX6gQ
— Josefina Amenabar (@joseamenabar) November 30, 2019
Camila Huecho is a journalism student at Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, currently interning at Chile Today. As a freelance illustrator and Fellow at the Melton Foundation, she works to bring information and cultures together through communications and art.