Sweet and sour. The taste of the amber beer fills my head while the smoke clouds the smell of the fermented beverage. Sour clouds like the red tears of the woman dehumanised under the hammer of the executioner, that pounds. A bell [sic.] that echoes: murderer… murderer… murderer.
Walking towards the sunset the streets get narrower. A bit of history in every corner, blood on every stone.
The story of humankind is a story of struggle, a tale of unrest. The search for freedom is essential (if anything is) to human nature. Step by step the struggle of so many women from every age and every part of the world to get small conquests, small parts of the kingdom of freedom was a fact even before the true arise of the ideological and social revolutions of the sixties.
In 1909, in Barcelona, Francesca Bonnemaison created the Biblioteca de la Dona, which a year later became the Institut de cultura i biblioteca popular de la Dona.
Nowadays, that iniciative has widened its scope and the institution has become a center for the culture of women. A battlefront that fights for real women with real problems. Far from any intellectual digression their war is down to earth.
The megalithical reconstruction and redefinition of our culture as human beings took a run up during the sixties, and is still on. Nowadays the war is fought at two different fronts. On the one hand an immediate fight for the rights of women. A legal and educational effort to provide effective equality and to correct the faultlines of the system.
On the other hand, the ideological fight intends to redefine roles and identities.
During the late XXth century a bookshop in Barcelona, La Sal, contributed to the effort of creating a culture of the woman and for the woman. La Sal was in Lladó street. A small street in the old part of Barcelona. This position of concealment was not an obstacle for those who disagreed with the method and the objective. Up to four times was the shop set on fire. The harsh survival conditions were unbearable, and La Sal ended up closing its doors forever not before moving to another place. In 1991 a bookshop named Pròleg took over from the efforts of La Sal.
My steps take me now to Dagueria street where in its number 13th one can find the only bookshop in Barcelona entirely devoted to women. Literary workshops, seminars, presentation of books, conferences, debate groups and literary gatherings take place in a cosy environment. –it is a matter of providing women (and those men who want to come) with a comfortable place to share experiences, a place they can feel their own- tells me the woman in charge of the place. The name of the shop seems providential to me. She confirms my feeling explaining why they chose Pròleg for the name.
Pròleg, a foreword, is like a new beginning. The shop wants to be the threshold of a new way of seeing life. As the foreword in a book that appeals to you, so does the bookshop.
To create an identity for oneself, a notion of woman not universal but constructed from each one’s experiences, feelings and needs.
Ultimate freedom should come from self-conscience and self-definition. It is not a matter of finding and redefining the role of women as a universal need, as a universal experience. For they are not universal. It is a matter of finding a role for every person.
Women, must fight together. Strength in numbers.
Let’s rephrase it. People. People should fight together against any form of oppression. To be free means to be what you choose (be it the housewife or the entrepreneur).
I hope for the moment when an article like this would have never been written. When man and woman remain as mere descriptions, not definitions. When each and everyone of us would be a collage of hopes and thoughts and needs. Not a victim of a self-designated superior power. The moment of true equivalence. Call me Utopian if you like, for I may be one. I prefer, dreaming, even in vain, than despair.
CENTRE FRANCESCA BONNEMAISON
C/ Sant Pere més baix, 7 (08003) BARCELONA
Tlf. 934 022 762 www.diba.es/dona
C/ Dagueria, 13 (08002) BARCELONA
Tlf. 933 192 425 www.mallorcaweb.net/proleg