How many of us know the original feminist manifesto written by Mina Loy? And how many of us know the many waves of feminism there have been and how they’re distinct? Theory may be available, but isn’t necessarily accessible and more importantly, it takes time to study and understand. But does knowing the theoretical basis and origins of the movement make someone a feminist? Is there more to being a feminist than understanding its tenets? Is it essentially more about implementing a certain value system that aims at establishing grounds of equality than about being informed about certain moral statements? Shouldn’t it be about practicing the principles than about knowing them verbatim? These are questions that are born naturally as a response to the surge in allies. Are they involved because they really care or is it just that they feel left out and are effectively misappropriating? That’s one of the major questions La Loca Y El Feminista asks.
Staged as a conversation between a woman, Pilar, and her husband, Iñaki, La Loca Y El Feminista starts with Pilar asking Iñaki to stop claiming he’s a feminist in front of their friends. They’re sitting at a café or some eatery, outdoors, and essentially have an argument throughout the film. Iñaki is offended that Pilar finds it offensive when he calls himself a feminist because he believes he is one. Written by Pilar Gómez who plays Pilar in the film, this dialogue between husband and wife confronts us with the question of what feminist ally-ship should look like. Being a feminist isn’t about being in a club or having a cool membership, and definitely not about an aesthetic. It involves practicing what you preach and actually putting in the work to level the ground. It’s also about getting voices heard. The title serves as an effective irony of what the film is holding under a microscope—the patriarchal narrative of the woman being crazy and the man being feminist.
The phenomenon of misappropriating feminism by men often manifests as mansplaining, and I love the way it’s been portrayed in the film. Firstly, Iñaki is the defendant here, and not a participant in the conversation by his own design. He chooses not to interact, but to wait for arguments and counter. So, he cleverly sets up Pilar as an attacker and then adopts a victim-sort of voice to counter her claims about his lack of involvement in domestic matters. Throughout the conversation, Iñaki never adopts a genuinely apologetic tone for even a moment. He could feel like his contributions are being unseen, but he refuses to budge from his prejudiced notion of “bitches be crazy” and never really tries to listen to what she’s saying. Claiming you don’t do enough, and claiming you do nothing is widely different. Purposeful misunderstanding of the former to respond to the latter because that has a strong response is classic mansplaining. What’s more, Pilar even cites an example where Iñaki had taken over a past conversation with a woman because he felt like he knew about it more and had effectively stolen away her agency.
As an investigative look at what feminism means in today’s world, La Loca Y El Feminista does a solid job of exposing flaws in thought processes. I like that the conversation is designed as a tribunal. It sets us up to explore the very common phenomenon of victim blaming, which is one of the most powerful tools of the patriarchy. Pilar is essentially set up as the judge and Iñaki as the defendant, but essentially, it’s she who is on trial for having attacked Iñaki’s fragile male ego. She has to justify why she doesn’t believe he’s a feminist, instead of him having to justify his choice to claim he is one. However, where La Loca Y El Feminista really makes an impact is in the writing of Iñaki in the last two minutes or so. He actually gives solid examples of how he isn’t an absent father and husband and how he feels like he does actually practice the feminism he claims to be living by. In fact, you can hear it in his voice (Iñaki Ardanaz delivers a compelling performance as him) that he isn’t claiming this, but actually believes this. By many standards, he even qualifies as a genuine ally based on his actions, except for the part where he believes that those actions earn him his entitlement. This basically points the finger at the actual responsible party—the patriarchal society. He feels since he’s more involved than his father, that he’s a true feminist and well, society does reward that behavior in that way, so he isn’t wrong in his perspective. Pilar replies by saying that he could have learned from his mother.
That’s it right there. Eventually, an ally can only be an ally—an outsider hoping to do right. Iñaki will never actually see the woman’s perspective because he isn’t one. Vice versa too, of course. But that’s precisely why this debate is never-ending. I think this is where La Loca Y El Feminista becomes a perfect piece of short filmmaking—it doesn’t try to end the debate. Agreeing half-heartedly because you’re tired of defending your values against someone who refuses to, or rather is incapable of, ever truly understanding your side of the story is a very identifiable end to an argument and I think many people who are in a situation like Pilar will relate to her and the impressive ending. I generally don’t believe that the ending is the biggest part of a film because that seems reductive to all the aspects of the art of filmmaking. But, La Loca Y El Feminista is an example of how an ending done right can make a film even more memorable than you’d expect based on the buildup. And of course, Iñaki Ardanaz and Pilar Gómez’s chemistry makes the whole affair an emotional journey instead of just commentary. It’s clearly personal and that’s why it leaves a mark.