We know who are we are; do you?

I genuinely believe Americans are having an identity crisis.

When I first arrived in New York in 2009, I distinctly remember going to games at Yankee Stadium and having to stand up to the American anthem thinking, “Are we playing another country?” We Mexicans only sing the anthem when rivaled by a foreign nation; we conjure up our nationality only when being confronted by another flag. So the situation seemed odd to me.

My upbringing was very much Americanized. I grew up to envision myself in an American future of pompons and a Hollywodesque-cinderella kind of love. Of course, none of that actually came to be true when I moved to New York as an adult and went to art school. But something from childhood and watching those Hollywood movies did stay with me…

I knew from watching American movies that the American flag and being “American” was particularly special to my friends at the north in a way that my own country’s flag and nationality wasn’t. The USA anthem was sung at schools every day; people wore the American flag on their bodies as swimsuits or headbands, they would hang the flag outside their homes as if advising outsiders to beware, and they would yell “USA” at events that seemed to have a purely American public anyway.

This hammering of nationalism seemed odd to me at the time but now, it allows me to understand my friends in the north. Their national identity is very much linked to their identity as human beings.

It is not an uncommon trait in any country that an individual of it holds their entire identity to the borders of the nation they were born in. Yet the degree to which this is done may be held as questionable. When does a person’s identity, or that of a collective, pertain to borders rather than ideas or concepts?

As a Mexican, I see the flag of my country a handful amount of times a year: maybe at an international football game, a special national event (once or twice a year), etc. Granted, there is a large flag that overlooks the city I grew up in and currently live in but it’s not venerated for its symbolism as it is recognized as a tourist attraction.

My point is: my identity as a Mexican is only relevant when confronted with another nationalism but for Americans, it’s a constant state of being.

I can say this: I love my country. But loving my country means I accept everything it is. I accept its worst and its best. I understand that it is susceptible to corruption as it is susceptible to the most generous acts. I understand it is full of poverty whilst corruptly holding the world’s richest riches. I know cartels control the government and the government controls companies. I have no qualms or idealisms about my country…

But I do have faith. I have faith in our people and our innovations. We know how to laugh about our own struggles like it’s no one’s business. We can create memes and make fun of ourselves in one second of any event and apologize to no one. Even in the most idyllic of situations we find comedy and relief because we bow to no one. The difference is that at our worst, we know who we are and where we stand. At yours, I’m not so sure you do.

So we ask of you: at your worst, do you know who you are?

Sin contexto, no hay dialogo – Without context, there is no dialogue (esp-ingl)

My politics on gender are often belittled by those that often prompt me to discuss them. I’m often characterized as being to stubborn, harsh, dramatic, and hard-lined. But I was recently thinking about how I myself have begun to get tired of the subject. It’s a juggling act between not wanting to fight anymore but being pushed to do so.

Mis políticas sobre género son seguidamente criticadas por aquellos quienes me impulsan a discutirlas. Seguido se me caracteriza como necia, densa, dramática, o dura. Pero recientemente estaba pensando sobre como yo misma me encuentro algo cansada del tema. Se ha convertido en un juego de malabares entre el no querer pelear más y el ser empujada a hacerlo. 

After a year and a half of moving back home, I’ve come to realize that the only reason I find myself feeling the need to defend my feminist stance so often is due to the very environment I find myself in. It hasn’t even been about discussing feminism at all actually, but rather having to fire back at comments and discussions that, at this point in time, shock and puzzle me.

A un año y medio de haber regresado a casa, me he dado cuenta que la única razón por la que me encuentro teniendo que defender mi postura feminista es por el mismo contexto en el que me encuentro. No ha ni tratado sobre feminismo como tal, si no sobre tener que responder a comentarios y discusiones que, a este punto en nuestra historia, me sacuden y confunden.

It was in New York where my politics were molded. The irony with that lies in the fact that rarely was gender ever a topic of discussion outside of my academic surroundings, the news, or the state of politics. Granted, New York is a liberal bubble. It’s vastly diverse population makes discriminating a moronic act itself. One would have to be an idiot to attack someone different from them as there is an army behind each and every one of its citizens. It is not to say that gender discrimination, or any kind of discrimination, doesn’t exist – that would be a gross mischaracterization. I was a participant in the 2016 Women’s March in NY. But in my 8 years living there, was it never as palpable as it is in my current life. It was rarely a topic of discussion in my social life except when we discussed the differences in our treatment between our lives there and the ones back home.

Fue en Nueva York donde mis políticas se moldearon. La ironía cae en el hecho de que con rareza fue el tema de género uno de discusión fuera de mi ambiente académico, las noticias, y el estado politico en el que nos encontrábamos. Seguro, Nueva York es una burbuja liberal. Su población extremadamente diversa hace que el acto de discriminar sea uno imbécil. Uno tendría que ser un idiota para atacar a alguien opuesto a el ya que en esta, Nueva York, cada uno de sus ciudadanos tendrá una armada que lo apoye. No es decir que la discriminación de género, o cualquier otra, no existe- sería una caracterización errónea. Yo misma fui participante en la Marcha de las Mujeres en el 2016 en NY. Pero en mis 8 años ahi, nunca fue tan palpitante como lo es ahora en mi vida. Rara vez fue tema de discusión en mi vida social salvo a cuando discutíamos las diferencias en nuestro trato entre Mexico y Nueva York. 

Now that I’ve settled back in Monterrey, I notice that the topic of women and men as different beings is too often brought up. Not as a back and forth discussion where different points of view are offered to further the gender equality discussion, but rather antiquated behaviours and attitudes socially attributed to either men and women are often brought up in random conversation.

Ahora que ya estoy en Monterrey, he notado que el tema de mujeres y hombres como seres distintos es común en conversación. No un viene y va sobre diferentes puntos de vista sobre como combatir la discriminación de genero, sino los comportamientos y actitudes anticuadas que se le atribuyen a los hombres y mujeres seguido son utilizadas aleatoriamente en conversaciones. 

In my hometown of San Pedro, the socially created dividing line between men and women is a constant living breathing aspect of life. In the past decade, never had I been reminded so often that I am a woman, and not in a good way. I am not here to say that no differences lie between men and women. But I find myself asking why it’s a punch line in every conversation that I seem to be involved in. This has become excruciatingly exhausting.

En mi ciudad natal, San Pedro, la socialmente creada linea divisoria entre hombres y mujeres es un aspecto viviente en la vida cotidiana. En la última década, jamás se me había recordado con tanta frecuencia que soy mujer, y no de una buena manera. No estoy aquí para decir que no existen diferencias entre hombres y mujeres. Pero seguido me encuentro preguntándome porque es que es un punto de argumento utilizado tan seguidamente dentro de las conversaciones en las que me encuentro participando. Esto se ha vuelto enloquecedoramente agotante. 

Behind every social act, there exists the background noise of gender differentiation. Every social gathering takes into account gender. Whether it’s game night, movie night, going out, or lounging around, who will be in attendance? Are girlfriends/wives invited? Boyfriends/Husbands? If so, is it then only couples night? Maybe only men so they can talk about the things women can’t be privy to. They aren’t always comfortable being themselves around women. Which pegs the question…

Detrás de cada acto social, existe el ruido de diferenciación de género. Cada reunión social toma en consideración género. Ya sea noche de juegos, de cine, de salir a la fiesta, or tirar flojera, se considera: ¿quién participara?¿Van novias/esposas?¿Novios/Esposos? Y si sí, ¿entonces es noche de parejas? Capaz y solo hombres para que puedan hablar de las cosas que no pueden decir enfrente de mujeres. No siempre están cómodos siendo ellos mismos frente a ellas. Cual hace uno cuestionar…

Parenting is a big one. It is one of the most common points of conversation in every social circle as it continues to be one of the main driving forces, if not the main one, of life in my hometown. Parenting: it’s for women and any man that does anything parent related is often mocked for being “whipped”. As a topic, I’m down. Even if I’m not a parent myself, I have no issue against discussing parenthood. But the issue lies in the details. How the role of either parent takes shape and what is socially accepted and expected from either of them.

El tema de crianza también es uno grande. Es una de las conversaciones más comunes dentro de los círculos sociales ya que continúa siendo uno de los aspectos, si no el más, importante de la vida en nuestra comunidad. La crianza: es para mujeres y cualquier hombre que hace cualquier cosa relacionado con eso, se ridiculiza por “dejarse”. Como tema, estoy puesta. Aun cuando no soy madre, no tengo ni un problema discutiendo el tema. Pero el problema cae en los detalles. Como los roles se forman y que es socialmente aceptado y esperado de cada uno de ellos. 

Another huge, fat, big one, is the conversation of personality. Yes, it is often that the misogynistic views of the hysterical, stubborn, bossy woman are brought up; also is it common that unflattering adjectives often attributed to women are used as a way of talking about them by men and women. Whatever conversation you may be having, you can always depend on that one person who will make the dividing statement about how women are one way and men are another way. As you read that, I’m sure you can think of a few examples yourself; it’s engrained in our social consciousness.

Otro enorme, gordo, grande tema es el de personalidad. Sí, seguido es que escucho la típica descripción machista de la mujer histérica, necia, mandona; también son comunes los adjetivos dañinos que se le atribuyen a la mujer como manera de tener un conversación sobre ellas por parte de los hombre y mujeres. Cual sea la conversación que estés teniendo, siempre se puede depender en esa persona que hará el comentario sobre como las mujeres son de una manera y los hombres de otra. Seguro se te ocurren algunos ejemplos al leer eso; esta grabado en nuestra conciencia social.

With this, one realizes that social life is then not about just people but rather always about roles. This has become an actual part of my life. Constantly listening to jokes about women, being spoken to or told to behave a certain way because I’m a woman, and walking around with the label of “woman” tattooed on my forehead while then being reprimanded for having anything to say about it. I have received props in the past for my opinions and articles on the subject, but it almost feels meaningless when in life, the fruits of my labor become null.

Con esto, uno se da cuenta que la vida social no trata sobre solo personas sino siempre sobre roles. Esto se ha convertido un aspecto real de mi vida. El tener que escuchar bromas sobre mujeres, el que se me dirijan o me digan que me debo comportar de cierta manera porque soy mujer, y el caminar con la etiqueta de “mujer” tatuado sobre mi frente y el ser hostigada por tener algo que decir de ello. Me han dado halagos en el pasado por mis opiniones y artículos sobre el tema, pero casi se siente insignificante cuando en vida, el fruto de mi labor se vuelve nulo. 

Those close to me, know my stance pretty well. They therefore know I’m an easy target for jokes and insults about women and they, mostly poking fun, take advantage of it. And while I can have a sense of humour about it, I’ve also reached a point where all I want to say is, “GET OVER IT!” If they are tired of hearing about feminism, then why make it an issue at all?

Quienes me conocen, conocen mi postura bien. Por ende saben que soy vulnerable a bromas e insultos sobre mujeres y ellos, casi siempre como broma, toman provecho de ello. Mientras puedo tener un sentido del humor, también he llegado a un punto donde solo quiero responder, “¡SUPÉRENLO!” ¿Si están cansados de escuchar sobre feminismo, entonces para que lo hacen tema?

I know that, even though part of myself is ready to give up, I will forever be ready to argue for the equal treatment of all. It’s wired into me. But I found it necessary to explain that it is the context in which I find myself the very thing which brings me to do so, not the other way around. It is not my intention to bring it up every chance I get. I wish I didn’t have to at all! However, it is my intention to make people check themselves when what they say, believe, or imply about gender differentiation is misguided, dangerous, and consequential to the very community they belong to.

Yo sé, aunque parte di mí ya se quiere dar por vencida, que siempre estaré armada con argumentos a favor del trato equitativo de todos. Corre por mi sangre. Pero sentí necesario explicar que es el mismo contexto en el que me encuentro el que me hace hacerlo, no al revés. No es mi intención sacar el tema cada vez que surja la oportunidad ¡Quisiera no tener que hacerlo! Sin embargo, sí es mi intención hacer que la gente se cuestione cuando dicen, piensan, o presuponen diferenciaciones de género que nacen de un lugar mal guiado, son peligrosas y consecuentes a la misma comunidad a la que pertenecen.