Reality is the result of a consensus from which you can only exclude yourself in exchange for paying the corresponding price and which, depending on the time or the issue, can go from prison to hanging, passing through fines, exile, isolation, public scorn or uprooting, and so on.
Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment for dissenting from geocentrism, which was the dominant idea of the years that he had to live. It is an example, but history is dotted with people who, out of unconsciousness or principles, insisted on taking the opposite of the competent authority and suffered for it.
Just 20 years ago, if you were a Hipercor cashier and your children’s bread depended on it, you had to let your bosses touch your ass. I’m not saying it, the chief prosecutor of León said it, that is, a representative of the consensual reality of the moment, one of the most respected members of our community, a man with studies, with power, with a tie, with prosopopeia or packaging , with ethics and authority: in short, with everything you have to have to make that statement publicly, in the middle of a trial with stenographers, journalists and curious unemployed people.
According to this representative of the public ministry, it was normal for men with power to touch the ass of their subordinates. It was part of the social contract. Hence, perhaps the women preferred not to be Hipercor cashiers or cashiers in general.
At that time, and thanks to the prevailing historical agreements, the mayor of the PP of a city like Ponferrada could sexually, sentimentally and labor harassing one of his councilors without the victim being able to defend himself unless he was willing to break the consensus about what was and was not reality and to pay the price that this rupture entailed.
Such was the case of Nevenka Fernández , responsible, at the time, of the Department of Finance of the city of Leon mentioned above. In 2001, after a serious depression for which she was discharged, Nevenka Fernández denounced Ismael Álvarez, her stalker, first in court and then at a press conference that caused a general stupor because he broke with the established rules of the game.
That woman had dared to say that reality was not as they told us.
Hence the title of my book on the case , There is something that is not as they tell me, a phrase he pronounced in one of our first meetings:
—I noticed, since I was little, that there was something that was not as they told me.
-For example? I asked.
—In my environment, homosexuals had always been spoken of as the devil. But when I went to study in Madrid, one of my best friends was homosexual and it turned out that he was a very good person.
The subtitle of the book ( The case of Nevenka Fernández against reality ) is also given by this circumstance. Nevenka, by denouncing Ismael Álvarez, was turning upside down all the architecture of the world to which he had belonged and for which he would be immediately repudiated because the concept of dominant reality was that represented by Ismael Álvarez, a true mayor, and by García Ancos, a true prosecutor (the one with the ass of the Hipercor cashiers).
How dare that 26-year-old girl denounce the double standards of those to whom she owed her job, her salary, her status and almost, almost, they would think, her existence?
The truth is that he dared and that he paid the high price of dissent for it. If their own (the political right, for simplifying) repudiated it, the others (the left, for continuing with the simplification) treated the matter as an internal problem of a conservative political party:
“But that woman has been the victim of brutal harassment,” you were trying to explain.
“Well, fuck it, it hadn’t been on the right,” they came to tell you.
Nor were there any feminist associations that echoed the case, that offered their help. Nevenka, in short, had everything against it: she was right-wing, she was intelligent, she was unmanageable, she was pretty, she had brilliantly attended a university degree… Too many good things to adopt as a victim.
That role, according to the norms imposed by custom, was reserved for the poor stalker, whose life was destroyed by that kind of femme fatale . Look in the newspaper archives for the words of unwavering adhesion with which Ana Botella, José María Aznar’s wife, supported him, to cite just one right-wing moral reference of the moment.
After the press conference in which, together with his lawyer, Adolfo Barreda, he made the public complaint, Nevenka literally disappeared from the map. That wouldn’t work in your favor either. In theory, it should have become the meat of entertainment or reality shows.
He should have cashed in on his suffering, for which he received very, very substantial offers. That would have cost her some criticism, of course, although it would have been at the same time a form of submission for which she might have been forgiven.
But no: he had broken ties with reality and from that moment until the trial began, but also throughout it, he went through some hellish months that would last even after fighting the legal battle, which he won on points, although he would lose by KO the social one.
He had a brilliant resume that companies read with admiration until they recognized in that young economist the same woman who had dared to disagree with the instituted truth. Over time, after being aware of the general rejection it caused, he decided to pack his suitcase and leave Spain.
His stalker, meanwhile, walked triumphantly through Ponferrada , drank wines here and there, his manhood, his misogyny, his machismo were celebrated, to the point that a few years later, in 2011, he returned to the municipal elections. His newly created party won enough votes to become the third political force. There were still six or seven years before the Me Too movement would move the foundations of the status quo a little .
I started writing when I realized that there was something that was not what they told me. Writing helped me to articulate what I heard with what my eyes saw, which did not usually coincide either. He circumvented the contradictions between the spoken reality and the reality perpetrated on the basis of syntax.
Hence my identification with the strangeness in which Nevenka felt immersed, who, seeing how her own reacted to the complaint, seemed to wonder: how could I have been one of them?
There is something that is not as they say to me , it was born, then, from the encounter between those two strangers, yours and mine. But there was in his a liberating rebellion that I had repressed in mine. In fact, on many occasions, while taking note of the incidents that he told me about his life, and that affected people in his own family badly, he raised his head from the notebook and said:
“Are you sure you’re going to let me post this?”
“You put it in, write it down,” she said.
And I wrote it fearing that he would go back when the time came for the book to be published, fearing that it would never see the light of day, fearing that all those hours and hours of work would go down the drain of his life and mine like the water down the sink drain.
And as I was writing it, it was not uncommon for the Nevenka affair to come up in the conversation at a dinner party with coworkers, friends or just acquaintances. Then, when I revealed that I was working on the case, and on the side of the real victim, they exclaimed:
“But that girl …
“But that girl, what.”
“That girl was the mayor’s lover.”
“And one day,” I answered, “he decided to stop being one, which was intolerable to the mayor and to the Ponferradina society.”
Sometimes the discussion dragged on with the reactionary arguments of a lifetime, which are not worth enumerating. Sometimes the discussion would end at that point and then they would look at me with pity as if I too had been the victim of the entanglements of that Mata Hari who thrived at the cost of destroying idiots.
The book came out exactly as it was written. It was a book against the current, a book dislodged with respect to its historical moment, so it was neither good nor bad nor quite the opposite. It remained there, like a remnant of insubordination from which I received neither too good nor too bad news.
“Finally”, said the character of a novel in which I do not fall now, “everything leads to a middle ground in which neither happiness is excessive nor unbearable misery. These days, thanks to the Netflix miniseries, I have seen on the networks (then they did not exist) testimonies of people who apparently then read it with passion (with the passion, I reckon, with which it is read in hiding).