Chilean author talks fiction, feminism as guest speaker

The Geneseo Latin American studies program welcomed Chilean feminist, author and composer of internationally known anthology ENOUGH!: 100+ Women against Gender Bias Pía Barros to campus on Tuesday Feb. 24. In Chile, this anthology recently celebrated the publication of its fourth edition––the first to be published in Spanish and English.

The book is a compilation of “flash fiction” stories that do not fit into the mainstream market for literature in Chile, mainly because the authors are female. Barros spoke of her childhood and how it shaped her current belief system and values. “I have been a feminist since I was five years old,” she said. When she was younger, Barros explained that she constantly sought to be like her older brother; “I learned how to box, I learned how to fight,” she said. “I could lift up to 160 pounds just like my brother and they still never listened.”

It was this frustration that spurred her to become a writer. “When I write, they are forced to listen,” Barros added.

Growing up in Chile at the time of a coup d’état, Barros became involved in the underground publication of poetry and literary magazines. It is from this involvement that sprung the creation of “Asterion,” a non-for-profit group that got its name from the half-man half-bull Greek mythological creature. “We believe that should infuse society with ideals,” Barros said. In its beginning, the group was unable to receive support or funds from any benefactor. But then––literally by chance––Barros got lucky at a Chilean casino and won enough money to begin publication through the group.

Barros spoke of how she began using social media to attract female writers to have their works published, a huge milestone due to the dominance of males in the published spectrum of Chilean literary works. This led to the publication of the first edition of ENOUGH!: 100+ Women against Gender Bias.

Today, the movement has begun to go global with publication of country-specific editions already in existence in Peru, Venezuela and Columbia.

“I recently spoke to woman in Brazil who intends on organizing an anthology in her country,” Barros said. “The Mexican version has recently been sent to the press.” She also spoke of how people can expect the release of the United States version in the near future.

This anthology coincides with a new era of recognition for women and children’s rights in Chile. The country recently appointed their first female president, and according to Barros, this has brought about large amounts of social and political change. There is now a department in the government that deals specifically with the defense of children’s rights and many laws have been enacted against the abuse of women.

Barros’s hopes for change extend far outside the borders of Chile. “Our goal is that each country will be able to express its own issues, its own voice and the views of its own writers,” she said. “We believe that creativity combats violence.”

The writers that contribute their stories to the anthology receive no financial compensation. “Honestly we have lost more money than we have made,” Barros said. “But we all feel that this is the most beautiful thing that we have accomplished in our lives.”