Panel 5: “The Creative Force of Community” Questions and Answers

Prout Panel 5: “The Creative Force of Community"
Panel 5: “The Creative Force of Community: Women, Identity, Health and Consciousness.” Translation of questions and answers. Facilitator: Lelia Delgado, anthropologist, author. July 9, 2011. Listen to the audio file in English or audio file in Spanish. – Read the Spanish text.

Lelia Delgado: Let’s start with Didi: “What are the results and major findings from Centro Madre and how does Prout manifest there?”

Didi Ananda Sadhana: Well it sounds strange, but one of the outcomes or achievements that we have made is that after two floods, one in 2005 and another in 2010, an armed robbery, snake bites, and many other things, we’re still there. It seems, although it may sound strange, that to be there with the people, through the good and the bad, is an achievement. We are still there and we keep going. The farm is increasingly taking shape and we hope to be a support for the people, to create a network of producers. The children’s libraries are also an achievement, as is the network of people we know. We have good relationships with more and more people in the area.

Lelia Delgado: “What is the selection criteria for the stories that are read to children?”

Didi Ananda Sadhana: Well, racism. There should be children of color represented in the stories so that children can identify with the characters in the stories. It is not easy to find good stories with children of color or adults. This is a sign of the racism in the world in which we live. We also look for characters with different roles that avoid sexism, that are not in stereotypical roles, that represent different roles models. And we look for ecological values, values by which the heroes live, that they do not live from the exploitation of others. Fairy tales today are changing, they are not like before.

Anyone who is interested to volunteer at Centro Madre, please contact me about community service there. Thank you.

Lelia Delgado: Alba Carosio, I have a question that arises in many places and that I think it would be good to answer. Someone asked, “Aren’t women flagrantly responsible for the unfair treatment they receive from men?”

Alba Carosio: I wonder why this is still happening. Does someone ask whether slavery and racism were caused by people of African descent, or whether the flooding of the Caño Manamo was the fault of the Guarao people? We must never assign guilt to the victim. Yet people sometimes say, when someone is assaulted, “Why were you there at that time?” Or they say that a woman was raped because of what she was wearing. I think this is very much related. I must admit that each time this question is asked I get scared, because I think that it is bizarre that the victims are blamed.

This also has to do with Judeo-Christian religions that created a mythology that women are the origin of evil. The Bible says that Eve brought sin into the world, and the Greeks said that Pandora, the first woman, opened the box of wisdom and released all that is evil. Even some women remain convinced of this. In the same way, endoracism [feeling prejudice towards oneself and one’s culture] exists. Many African colleagues believe their beautiful curly hair is horrible when it is not, and that their skin color is ugly when it is really very pretty. Many of us women have learned the Judeo-Christian stories and consider ourselves the source of all that is evil, bad, dirty, menstruating, and who knows what else. These outrageous ideas are because endopatriarchy exists just as much as endoracism.

Lelia Delgado: Perhaps religious education has something to do with this.

Alba Carosio: To “dematernalize women” does not mean that we should have an artificial womb. It’s nice to give birth. The problem is that children seem to be solely the woman’s responsibility, and the father walks away. That’s a very serious social problem. We need to maternalize and create. For example, Chavez is a maternal president when he tells people to drive carefully and avoid accidents. Both men and women need the maternal instinct, not just women.

We in the Womens Studies Center of the Cenral Venezuela University are eco-feminists. Vandana Shiva writes about the relationship between women and land. Agriculture was discovered by women who cared for their children. They began to observe that under the earth seeds would germinate and the seedlings would sprout, and thus agriculture was created. This is important to recognize.

How do we apply the Womens Studies Center to the Caracas metropolitan area? Mostly through community service. And finally, if we could offer an issue of the Journal of Women’s Studies to publish these talks. With pleasure. We have three types of contributions: academic articles, experience reports and the place where we compile Latin American women information which has more of a creative nature. We are, of course, open to any contributions.

Lelia Delgado: Question for the organizers: “Is it possible to have the content of the papers?” Yes, the website will publish all the presentations. Then for Dr. Adalberto Barreto, “Is it possible to train people in community therapy and bring them here?”

Dr. Adalberto Barreto: Yes, but it depends on whether PROUT invites us and organizes this. I wanted to mention that we have some materials here, a wheel of community therapy with subtitles in Spanish and English, if anyone is interested.

[Translated by Claudia Ortega]