“I have noticed the glass ceiling more for being a woman than for being working class”

The Henar Álvarez (Madrid, 1984), who sits in the Viennese café of the Casa Fuster hotel in Barcelona to attend to the journalist, puts aside the tongue-tied comedian that we hear in Estirando el chicle and Buenismo Bien to be left alone with the thoughtful woman who lives in it.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 10:24
5 Reads
“I have noticed the glass ceiling more for being a woman than for being working class”

The Henar Álvarez (Madrid, 1984), who sits in the Viennese café of the Casa Fuster hotel in Barcelona to attend to the journalist, puts aside the tongue-tied comedian that we hear in Estirando el chicle and Buenismo Bien to be left alone with the thoughtful woman who lives in it. She has a degree in Audiovisual Communication, she has been a scriptwriter for Las que missing, Hoy por hoy and Late motiv, among other spaces. In 2020 she published La mala leche, together with illustrator Ana Müshell, a graphic novel where motherhood and sexuality are treated from a feminist perspective, and now she presents Ansia (Planeta). Her first novel is a thuggish fiction, a thriller with dark humor about an impulsive woman who gives in to lust even more when she discovers how being on the active side of power excites her.

“The protagonist, Natalia Argüelles, is by no means my alter ego. On the contrary: I have put something of myself in all the characters, also the male ones, even the most detestable ones. I empathize with everyone, I understand what each person's pain and fear is and what makes them act the way they do: the reality is that we all make shitty decisions, but since I know where they come from and I know why They do it, I am able to understand them all.”

But the attentive reader will be able to detect what Henar has in his novel. For example, the fall of the gods meant becoming aware of how unfair it is to admire someone who despises you: “I really liked writers like Kerouac, Henry Miller, the Marquis de Sade, Houellebecq... When I read 'the bad boys of the lyrics' I wanted to be like them: write, indulge in bohemianism, drink, smoke, fuck and be welcomed with open arms. But there came a day when I opened my eyes. I didn't realize that these people wouldn't even think of me as anything other than a hole. They would despise me, for sure. When I turned 30 I realized that I had hardly read women and my emotional pillars collapsed. I started reading authors and my perception of everything changed radically.”

Being little more than a teenager, Natalia suffered a trauma from feeling used and over time she chose to be the one to use guys who were uglier than a pain. Being the best thing she had ever experienced in those poor devils' beds excited her uncontrollably. Henar explains that her character gallops in an extreme way to point out an archetype that we take for granted because we see it every day:

“That women have sexual and emotional relationships with people far from their physical range has a lot to do with patriarchy. They have put it in our heads that we are only worth young and pretty, so there comes a time when you start choosing a partner more to not be alone than for anything else. We are valued for youth and beauty and men for status; This is changing, but it has been behind us for too many years. I have written to Natalia several experiences, not only that trauma but also her relationship with her father to show a lot of violence that we experience and go completely unnoticed.

Álvarez believes that there is a feminine and a masculine humor. Beyond the universal and transversal success of Charles Chaplin's word games or stumbling scenes, there are situations that make men laugh more than them and vice versa. “And it's normal: humor is a public discourse and it is easier to empathize with your point of view if you have the same context. But it doesn't even have to do with men and women: it is also easier to empathize with the humor here than with what a man from the other side of the world tells me. Except for the American one, because we already know a lot about its codes, comedy does not travel.”

When asked if she has noticed the glass ceiling more times because she is working class or because she is a woman, she hesitates for a moment before reaching conviction as she speaks: “I wouldn't know how to separate it. And I think that being a woman is also a class; In fact, I think being a woman is lower on the scale. Things are moving forward, it is true, but there are still issues as serious as sexist violence, which is terrible, which does not diminish. At the work level we are making progress and although I will see increasingly larger cracks, I think I will not witness the roof break.”