Civic Imagination

Practice what you preach

Victoria Ocampo was an argentinian feminist writer and patron of the arts. She lived in the first half of the 20th century.Her family was vastly rich and extremely conservative. She wrote and fought for women and liberal rights even during General Peron's government, which restricted freedom of speech. She actually went to jail for oposing such administration. She founded the Sur magazine who promoted controvertial (at that time) writers such as Virginia Wolf and Federico Garcia Lorca in Argentina. She also defended the idea that women could get married and still have an active career but she actually got a legal separation in 1922, many years before divorced was actually aproved in argentina and mantained a long, non-marital relationship with another partner. She was the first argentinian lady to obtain a drivers license and founded the Womens argentinian union to fight for femenine rights such as sufragge and responsable motherhood.

The story of Victoria Ocampo inspires me. She came from a privileged background in where what she thought was considered radical and improper for a lady of her status. She defended female by living accordingly, setting an example for other women at that complicated time. She did act but in a cultural way, using the tools available to her. She inherited a big fortune and a huge villa where she would invite some of the most important cultural personalities from her era, even when they were not considered “proper” by argentinian high class. She founded Sur magazine in which she promoted writers such as Federico Garcia Lorca, discriminated (and actually asesinated by Franco’s government in Spain) for being homosexual. I found out about her story in highschool. I had a literature professor who wanted us to read her short stories and told us about her life. At that time I felt immediately attracted to her story because of the way of “cultural” batteling injustice, not only to women, but to anyone who was in an underprivileged position. She opposed General Peron’s government, which she considered antidemocratic and actually went to jail for 26 days but international pressure from Indias Prime Minister and chilenean Nobel Prize in Literature awarded, Gabriela Mistral, among others, got her out. Even then, as she was watched and controlled by the government, she did not live the country and continue to fight for what se believed in.

I still feel identified with her story. I am not as rich as she is or even as powerfull as she was back then but I have means to fight injustice. I have received an education and I have acces to technologies that can work towards a more fair world for women.
She is well known in Arentina but although she is considered one of the most important cultural figures of the 20th century in my country, she is often ignored and diminished in comparison to other male writers of her time.

This story can be a source of inspiration for women rights advocates in Argentina. Actually, for the past years there has been a huge movement in defense of women suffering domestic violence but her figure has not been brought up as a role model. She lived accordingly to what she preached, she practice feminism in her life and devoted her time to this cause not antagonizyng but looking for common grounds in which women could work along with men. It is relevant to argentinian society because womens rights are once again in the spotlight and the #NiUnaMenos (#NotOneLess) movement has gained a lot popularity in the past few years. (This movement is against gender violence). I have not shared this story but i believed is known in my country and her story can be a source of inspiration.

#Feminism #Freedom #WomenRights #HumanRights

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