Marginalia - Mexico

Bárbara Foulkes

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Marginalia #90: An enormous force caresses us

Bárbara Foulkes

For some time now, Mexico has been transformed by the waves of the feminist tsunami. Every year during the 8M, the current discussion and difficult situation that inhabits the street of Mexico can be felt. This 2023, I celebrate fifteen years becoming Mexican, years in which the world has given 360 degrees Taekwondo kick that has left me dizzy, relocated and set in motion a line of thought that changed my views when trying to understand power. From denunciation to enunciation, from silence to shouting, from imposed certainties to the urgency of doubting everything.

On March 8, 2023, I marched with the fortune of having my friends nearby. I saw a plural march, inhabited by different branches of the same tree; different ideologies, bodies and generations. In this text I want to share with you something that happened during that march that breathed life into a fire in which the resounding “FUIMOS TODAS1 was the protagonist.

We were walking down Avenida 5 de Mayo, the Zócalo of Mexico City was pulsating. We were surrounded by the lines of police that contained the entire street. Suddenly, we were shaken by shouting and pushing, I grabbed Nayla’s hand tightly when Nadia let out her loud voice saying “calm down, calm down, girls”, something calmed down with her words and immediately fists began to be raised in the air. Do you remember the collective gesture that signified silence during the search for people in the rubble of the earthquake of September 19, 2017? That gesture reappeared and immediately all of us were raised our fist in the air and, without stopping, walking silence became the best response. After a few steps, I realized that our collective body surrounded a hooded girl who, like a school standard bearer, carried a three and a half meter solid steel bar in her hands.

The choreography was clear: narrow street, police corps in line with shields in hand, stealthy shoal of women marching, fists raised, resounding silence, and in the center a clear ME CUIDAN MIS AMIGAS, NO LA POLICIA [My girlfriends protect me, not the police] translated into a spontaneous and intelligent organization; with a steel bar ready to symbolically break and throw away the actions that we no longer want to live.

This whole situation awakened in me the deep love I have for the idea of resignifying violence and force. How does one experience violence when it is understood as part of oneself? What beauty does it contain? What if I invite it to dance? The excavator in Cómo siendo peces podemos ver el agua [How as fish can see the water] is an extension of our bodies that represents the exploited desires of a patriarchal culture that wants to possess and use everything to its advantage, regardless of present or future consequences. What happens if I let that machine of meanings caress my cheek? When I see the image of the machinic claw (monkey’s hand) caressing me, I think that this is how I feel every day walking the streets of the city I chose to belong to. I think my work is a way of looking for ways to think about strength and power from vulnerability. A visceral way of talking about a painful and turbulent present, as strong as King Kong’s hand, as powerful as that girl with a stick in her hand. A present that also translates into the decomposition of the earth on which Thelma and I wallow, that arm that extends from the industrial revolution to the present day.

A few years ago, on the 8M of 2021, I wrote a sign that said: Fragile and Strong are forever synonyms; today that phrase continues to whisper in my ears and I exchange the word forever for constant, since it reminds me of something that is moving. It makes more sense to think that this world smells funny because it is digging itself and not falling or being thrown away, but decaying.


  1. This phrase has become a representative of the feminist movement in Latin America when referring to the grafitti and destroyed monuments. It translates to: There is not one “guilty” person, it was all of us


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