The Rapist Is You: The Chilean Performance That Has Become a Worldwide Battle Cry Against Gender Violence

BELatina lastesis

For those who believed that the #MeToo movement was a thing of the past, Latin American women have some news. Tired of normalized violence and the patriarchal system deeply rooted in the continent, a Chilean feminist group created a powerful performance that has been replicated in more than ten countries around the world.

The collective “LASTESIS” presented their work for the first time in late November in Valparaiso, and repeated it in the Chilean capital with around 10,000 women who, blindfolded, pointed their accusing fingers against those who have allowed the normalization of gender-based violence.

lastesis Belatina
Photo Credit IG @ lastesis

“And it wasn’t my fault, or where I was, or how I dressed,” the women say in unison. “The rapist is you.”

Today, the performance entitled “A Rapist in Your Path” has become the official anthem against the sexual violence suffered by women worldwide, and is yet another example of the determination and strength of the feminist movement.

Written by Daffne Valdés, Sibila Sotomayor, Paula Cometa, and Lea Cáceres, “A Rapist in Your Path” is a choreographed piece, approximately five minutes long and reminiscent of a flash mob, that initially took advantage of the momentum of social unrest in Chile to put on the table one of the most severe public health crises in Latin America.

Pretty soon, other groups were singing along in Colombia and Argentina. Through this phenomenon, women around the world have been able to realize with sadness that we all have a story of aggression to tell. 

“It is healing to say it and not to feel like you’re the only one; we realize that we are not alone,” said the authors in an interview with BBC News Mundo, sharing the process of unification and reflection that their work has provoked.

A few weeks later, thousands of women of all ages have taken to the streets blindfolded from Barcelona to New Delhi, singing in their own language, to show that violence does not distinguish geographies.

The name “LASTESIS” was born out of research into several feminist and gender theories distilled into 15-minute performances to evidence the double standard in the judicial system and in the collective unconscious when it comes to talking about violence.

“We’ve been working since April, May of last year to bring feminist authors’ theses to the stage,” the creators explained. “At first we worked with Silvia Federici’s ‘Kabylan and the Witch’, and then we took Rita Segato’s thesis on the rape mandate and the demystification of the rapist as a subject who exercises the action of raping for sexual pleasure.”

In 2018 alone, eat least 3,287 women were victims of femicide in Latin America, and a recent United Nations report found that one-third of all women and girls experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime.

“Half of the women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family, and violence perpetrated against women is as common a cause of death and incapacity for those of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than road accidents and malaria combined,” the report adds.

That’s why, along with LASTESIS, it’s time to say: “Enough is enough!”