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Bitter Laughter: a get together, to reflect with humor

On November 11, at 3:00pm, ViceVersa Magazine and The Cooper Union will present a second edition of Bitter Laughter. Last year’s central theme was: Political satire and its consequences for cartoonists in those countries where press freedom is threatened.

This second edition is dedicated to women-cartoonists from Latin America and Spain; to feminine, sharp, transparent humor; because women are in general more used to laughing at themselves than men are.

Rayma Suprani, a Venezuelan caricaturist who also participated in the event last year, will be the one leading the conversations with Ana von Rebeur, from Argentina; Nani Mosquera, from Colombia; Mar Barragán, from Mexico; and Flavita Banana, from Spain. Four heavyweight caricaturists, of a female hand each. They have all used humor to denounce, not only gender problems, but the multiple aspects of social and political life in their countries, and the world in general.

Satire irritates, because it stirs feelings and emotions, it connects with our deepest self, provoking reflections and changes. It represents a threat to power, whatever it may be, inside the house, in church, in government, at the office.

Being a woman caricaturist is not easy. Many men, even some of them disguised as “feminists”, swallow bitterly in front of a woman who ridicules them, exposing the incongruities of society, power, everyday life. They consider subversive this kind of humor, because of the effect it has on women who see themselves reflected in these vignettes; who understand that they are not alone, and that another kind of life is possible. Even more so, because the cartoonist is deeply free, and defends that freedom no matter how violent the attacks trying to silence her —sometimes, forever.

We are living difficult, stormy times. These days however we also see encouraging, positive signs. Finally, sexual harassment in all its forms -from the vulgar compliment in the street, to the tampering in the Public transport, and the blackmailing at work- has been denounced with such forcefulness that no one can turn their face away and go unpunished.

We have always suffered, and tried to denounce, this type of attitude; we have fought, for years, to reduce domestic violence and femicides, which, in spite of everything, continue to increase.

“Men are hunters and women are prey.” How many times have we heard phrases like this one being repeated? Assertions that take for granted that a woman in the street can be the object of lascivious looks and annoying comments; let alone, if she wants to wear a miniskirt, a lycra —which are considered immoral by even United Airlines. (Who knows what a feminine roundness might come to cause in an airplane?)-, or any other outfit judged sufficiently sexy as deserving colorful vulgarities, and that, in case of rape, may even constitute a justification for the rapist.

Finally, thanks to the denunciations made by women that the Big and the Small screens have turned “famous”, machismo is a little bit more scared; and the submissive acceptance of women, in the face of what seemed an inevitable due, to be paid for being a female, starts to break. Of little use is the acid irony of the one who tries, once more, to blame women by saying -in a more or less sly manner- that the accusations are coming too late and that, in the end, these “agreements” were positive for all. The chorus of voices becomes louder and more determined every day, reaching unsuspected places. An example for all was the Miss Peru pageant, during which we heard phrases like: “My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the Department of Lima. My measures are 2,202 feminicide cases reported in the last nine years in my country. “

This year, the five guests of Bitter Laughter are at the forefront in denouncing the “inevitable” evils of machismo; and not only that: with the stroke of their line, with the humor they pour into their cartoons, they know how to laugh at the world and about themselves, about men and women, about power and submission.

Rayma Suprani, Ana von Rebeur, Nani Mosquera, Mar Barragán and Flavita Banana, our panelists —as Rayma rightly puts it in her interview—, are pure dynamite. Get ready therefore for the coven they will put together!

“Si usted no tiene libertad de pensamiento, la libertad de expresión no tiene ningún valor.” - José Luis Sampedro

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