New York, thank you.

About 5 years ago I was at a dive bar with a friend who has having some personal struggles. She was going through something that not only did I relate to; I’d been through the same more than once.  She vented with me about a city that offers every opportunity to make every life experience much harder than it needs to be. We fantasized about what it would have been like to have never left home. To stay where it was familiar. Where there was unconditional support and the future felt somewhat drafted. We were complaining about living in New York City.

“New York is a place that eats you up and spits you out, over and over and over again.” My friend said.

“Yes”, I agreed.

I took a moment from our conversation and stared at the bar.

“Think of it this way,” I said. “Some have the choice between a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of vodka. We have an entire bar. It’s better because there are more options. But it’s also worse because there’s more risk. You may get stuck with a bad cocktail”

As sophisticated and classy as my analogy was, it stuck with me. From then on, I would need to remember those words now and again. People always complain about how difficult it is to live in New York; but this was something else.

It will be 8 years this July since I first moved to NYC. July will also be the month I move back home.

When you’ve moved to NYC from elsewhere, people always want to put an expiration date on your stay. They want to decide if you were made to live in NY forever or if you’re a passing tourist who got distracted by something shiny for a year or two. I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to establish a timeline. How could I?

I was 19 years old when I first arrived. I was shy, innocent, wide-eyed and delusional about what my experience in New York would be. I’m 27 years old now and my time in New York is not explained by school, a job, a person, an age, or a phase. But rather defined by an interlace of bits and pieces I now put together to form one non-linear experience.

People always ask me, “Are you excited to go home?”, “Are you sad to leave New York?” I never have a “yes” or “no” answer. It would be deceitful to pretend that I know what this new road entails. I would be lying to say that I don’t have doubts about leaving New York and fears about going home. Doubts about staying in New York versus trying something new.

That is what this is. I’m going home; but what home? I was 19 and I’m now 27. I’m not who I was nor is everyone else, who they were. This to me, is a new experience.

New York is not where I attended college; grad school, took my first job, went through relationships, made friends, met mentors, lost my direction, learned to pay bills, learned to not want to pay bills, learned to play the guitar, encountered the drunk and the homeless, the funny and the hilarious. Put up with the disgusting smell of the subway, the heart-stopping cold when you need a cigarette, the dingy smell of the best bar you’ll ever go to. Saw the most beautiful humans to walk this earth, the ugliest, the nicest and the meanest. Got yelled at by strangers, was comforted by them when I couldn’t hide my tears. Where I learned to speak up and out and see what I’m capable of. Where I sat at restaurants, cafes, and bars alone; sat at restaurants, cafes and bars with friends. Learned the meaning of loneliness, learned the meaning of family.  Where I mastered the art of properly using my MTA pass without it saying “swipe again”. Found my love for art, found my love for social issues, found my love for truth, and found my love for knowledge. Quit smoking. Yelled at cab drivers and was yelled at by them. Where I dated up and dated down; smoked pot for the first and the last time. Where I found Seamless and quinoa, and my addiction to coffee. Where I realized I’ll always be the first to arrive for a restaurant reservation but will find someone to chat with, all while being relentlessly impatient with a beer in hand.

New York is the city I grew up in.

Those girls in the dive bar complaining about New York City, chose to live in New York City. That’s how it goes. While many choose to live here, New York feels more like its happening to you. You don’t do New York, it does you. It takes everything about you and augments every character flaw, strength and quirk you have. Everything about you is pushed to an extreme; tested to see what you are made of. New York can see every pretense and every lie. Every crack in every sentence. It’s the best place to play any role you want and the worst place to try to. It’s not about making it in New York. It’s about realizing what you are made of.

When I think about going home there’s a sort of numbness I feel. I’m not sad or panicked (at least not yet); I’m curious and interested. I want to see what me does somewhere else. I want to test what makes me me in a (relatively) new environment. I want to enjoy and have fun during my last couple of months and breath in the gross dirty smell of Manhattan, while I can. I’m excited to see old friends and indebted to my newer friends. I look forward to mountains but will miss walking anywhere I need to go. I’ll miss encountering every type of human and the diversity of this melting-pot. I’ll miss having my nerves shot because the train won’t move. I’ll miss meeting strangers everyday, because why not. I’ll miss wondering if my neighbors like me or hate me. I’ll miss speaking English and being Mexican among hundreds of nationalities. I’ll miss my routine and my space. I’ll miss my apartment and my bed. I’ll miss getting excited about fall, winter and summer. I’ll miss hating winter. I’ll miss how socially acceptable it is to have a drink past 12PM and I’ll miss having ten restaurants at a 2 min walking distance. I’ll miss having the deli open at 5AM in case I need to take a walk and a coffee shop literally downstairs from my home. Most of all, I’ll miss knowing that I am not the only one who feels this way. If anything, I’ll miss the collective that is New York City. A city that happens to us.

Thank you New York City, everyone and everything in it, for making me be me.

What The Hell Are We Fighting For?: Mexico and “the Family Unit”

I’m incredibly privileged and sometimes I forget.

I’m not sure whom I’m directing myself towards. To write this as an attempt to have it speak to the people of Mexico seems futile. To write this in English…well maybe it can be more widely read. After all, we are a country that sends its best.

I’ve been living in New York City for seven years. I went to a very liberal university for both undergraduate and graduate school. I have surrounded myself with inspiring hard working friends. I have insurmountable support from my family in Mexico and I want for nothing except what I, only, could get myself in the way of. But sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I forget the environment I stepped out of. One in where the social structures in place prevent others, different from me, from forgetting where they find themselves.

Yesterday, one of several marchas, or protests, nationwide, took place in Mexico calling for the “protection” of “the family unit”.  This was a large protest. A protest for the family unit based on one father, one mother, and however many children they may want to produce.

When I speak of forgetting, I’m referring to my position as a Mexican living in a highly democratic society in which most of the time, not always but most the time, the basic fundamentals of democracy do win.

The president of Mexico, the same guy that just offensively invited Donald Trump to our country, just signed an initiative to make same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Go figure he’d get something right. Unfortunately, this has caused an uproar.

What I forget is that Mexico is still a very confused country. As a developing nation that suffers from a corrupt government, corrupt policing, a corrupt economy, a corrupt public education system, and bases its aspirations mostly on ideology rather than fact; manipulation seems to be the only way to mobilize its people.

We are a people that either extort or are victims of extortion. We allow the powers that be to stand on our shoulders as long as we can go through the day without being bothered. We have, to a large degree, become an apathetic people who, instead of fighting for what we deserve, rather accept and wish for the best.

And then yesterday happened.

I sometimes forget that my country does have a fire in it. A powerful passion that is rarely used. One that is incomparable to that of the country I find myself in. We are a country of happiness. A country that has offered the world Nobel Prize winners. A country that has offered medical, scientific, and manufacturing advancements that compete at a global level. Not to mention, a country that has given you the best food, beer, and tequila you’ll ever have.

We are a people that want to sit down with you, have a beer, and have a good laugh. But we are also a people that sends its best because our own country fails us often.

But what the hell are we fighting for now?

As a progressive feminist Mexican in NY, I am comfortable where I am. If I speak, I speak to the choir. I may have a debate, but its a healthy one. No one leaves offended and its all fair game. This is not the case in Mexico. That is what I forget and that is a privilege.

When I speak of an equalitarian society in Mexico, I’m often welcomed with a rolling of the eyes, a pat on the back, and a dismissive “oh well” attitude. If it doesn’t affect them, its not an issue. This is an example of the general attitude I receive when visiting the country I call home.

But if I scroll on Facebook to posts about women or the LGBT community in Mexico, the comment section is dominated by replies that refer to christian traditional values. I go through them and in a seconds time become flustered with confusion, anger, and a feeling of powerlessness. The only thought that goes through my mind is: How?

How are we the country that looks to feel accepted out of it and yet can’t even accept our own within it?

With all of our problems, yesterday, the people of Mexico stood up for an imaginary problem. Imaginary because the wood and smoke used to ignite that fire was based on nothing more than old age tradition. A tradition which is looked to be imposed over actual democracy.

Yesterday, we were not our best. We were our petty, scared, and self-manipulated selves. The ones that fear to be told our truths rather than face our own reality. The ones that stick our heads in the ground rather than stick it above the water and fight for ourselves. The ones that shiver at the thought of change. Change that may allow us to be that which we aspire. Change that may allow us to move into the future and let go of the past. Very unfortunate aspects of who we are. Aspects that we take for granted at times but get in the way of our own success as a country.

I love my country; but I often feel ashamed of it.

We laugh at our neighboring country, the one I currently live in. But it is a country where mistakes are observed and fixed, not regurgitated and repeated.

After the Orlando shooting happened, an incident where many of the queer community died, I posed the question: What kind of country does America want to be? Now, I ask my home, my country, my people: What kind of country does Mexico want to be?

The Four Horsemen In Conversation: on philosophy, discourse, and the seeming infallibility of religion

This is a great video of great minds in discussion. In an in depth conversation of religion, philosophy, and the struggle for their cause; Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens open up earnestly about their work, their critics, and how they understand each other. It’s quite long and no action, so I suggest it as a podcast while you work, clean, cook, or do whatever you do.

I grew up in a spiritually Catholic environment and stopped practicing in my early teens. Before that, I already had begun to question my faith which caused me much trouble. When I moved to New York, I picked up Dawkins’ The God Delusion and every doubt I had was confirmed and reaffirmed. I never looked back. From there I began my research and since then, have engulfed myself in religious debate. This video is different in mood and context of which these men are known to present themselves. They are having an earnest and challenging conversation with each other. Often established as offensive and arrogant by pundits, this video honestly demonstrates the men behind the headlines.

I’ve been a long time fan of these men. Not because I hold similar ideas and convictions, I’ve become admirable to their intellectual tenacity and fearlessness towards being debated. Even if you are a believer of a specific organized religion or hold yourself to be an agnostic, I suggest you look at their work for the mere concept of being emotionally and intellectually stimulated in one capacity or another.

 

 

 

Feminism: Mexico’s Dirty Word

Actress Emma Watson sat down to interview Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai, about her recent documentary, “He Named Me Malala”. During the interview, both women, activists for equal rights of women, discussed the misrepresentations often placed on the word feminism. Malala explained to Watson how she initially was uneasy about adopting the label of ‘feminist’ due to the negative connotations that often trail it’s meaning. As they discussed the term, Watson was moved to learn that it was her speech at the United Nations about her work with HeforShe which made Malala reconsider her association to the word. Watson was the reason as to why Malala now refers to herself as a feminist. But the activist’s uneasiness towards the term ‘feminist’ is not out of the ordinary.

Mexicans know the term machismo well. Recently, in conversation with friends, it was expressed that they view both labels as extremists. But that, there, is the problem. It is a misunderstanding to pit both words, machismo and feminism, against each other. It is important to not confuse these terms as antonyms. Machismo has as a definition: the flaunting of what is masculine and domination over women. The term reflects a patriarchal history where women have suffered second class citizenship. It reflects statistics that demonstrate inequalities with employment, homemaking decisions, income, sexual and emotional abuse. It is a term which describes an ingrained character within our culture based on antiquated and tired social rules. Feminism is not its opposite but its end.

Feminism is not the domination of man, but its equalizer. Feminism is not a dirty word, but an eraser of a past in which women has systematically feared making choices for themselves. Choices which encompass her home life, her finances, her opinions, and her body. Simply put: feminism is the advocacy for women’s equal rights to man on the political, the financial, and social.

The importance of making clear what this term, feminism, means, is a responsibility towards the wellbeing of our communities. As women we must not fear the term itself, but our uneasy attitude towards its misinterpretations. Being a feminist is not going against man, but along with him. Being a feminist is not shutting up man, but communicating with him. Being a feminist is not raising arms and entering a war of the sexes. Being a feminist is the belief that as human, you deserve the same rights that are given to man.

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), published statistics in 2008, which demonstrate the gender disparities in the various public and private sectors of the state of Nuevo Leon. In their publication, they express:

“El desarrollo humano de un país no puede alcanzarse si no se tiene en cuenta a la mitad de la población, es decir, a las mujeres.”

A country’s human development cannot unfold itself you do not take half of the population insto account. That’s to say, women.

“La discriminación, la violencia y la amenaza de la violencia que padecen las mujeres por el hecho de serlo, en prácticamente todos los ámbitos de sus vidas, las frenan en el desarrollo de sus capacidades, inhiben el ejercicio de sus libertades y, en consecuencia, se violentan sus derechos fundamentales. Atender la discriminación y la violencia en la entidad es un imperativo urgente si se quieren alcanzar mejores niveles de desarrollo que abarquen el ejercicio de la ciudadanía plena de las mujeres.”
The discrimination, the violence, and the threat of violence which women suffer for being women, in practically in every aspect of their lives, stops in its tracks their development of their capacities. They hold back the practice of their liberties and, consequently, violate their fundamental rights. Attending to the discrimination and violation is an urgent imperative if we want to reach the best levels of development of women’s full practice of citizenship.

Personally, I have women in my life whom have succeeded in an incomparable way to our predecessors. I am a feminist because my mother has, for 35 years, owned her own business. I am a feminist because I have a sister who is an architect and another one who is a fashion designer. I am a feminist because my father recognizes my place, my voice, and my vote. I’m a feminist because I observe women around me, continually break down barriers which continue to limit our advancement. More importantly, I am a feminist because there are women who live in silence. Women who fear having a voice. Women who continuously feel defeated out of fear of their own survival. Feminism isn’t a dirty word as is machismo. Feminism is our rights.


Watch Emma Watson and Malala’s great interview here

Feminismo: La Palabra Sucia de México

El 4 de noviembre, la actriz Emma Watson se sentó en Londres a entrevistar a la activista Pakistani, Malala Yousafzai, sobre su reciente documental “Él Me Llamó Malala”. Durante la entrevista, ambas mujeres, luchadoras por la igualdad de la mujer, discutieron la confusión sobre el significado de la palabra feminismo. Malala expresó que cuando escucho la palabra por primera vez, sintió una inquietud por adoptar la etiqueta dado a las connotaciones negativas y malas interpretaciones que tienden a perseguir su significado. Durante su conversación, Watson se conmovió al aprender que fue su discurso a las Naciones Unidas cual causó que Malala reconsiderara su asociación a la palabra. Fue el discurso de Watson la razón por la cual Malala ahora se refiere a si misma como feminista. Esa inquietud hacia el término feminismo que sintió la mujer que se desvive por los derechos a la educación de niñas, no es fuera de serie.

El mexicano conoce bien el término machismo. Recientemente, en discusión con amigos, se expresó que observan ambas etiquetas como extremistas. Pero he ahí el problema. Es un mal entendimiento observar ambas palabras, machismo y feminismo, a la par. Es importante no confundir estas palabras como antónimas. El machismo tiene como definición el alardear lo masculino y la dominación total de la mujer. El término refleja una historia patriarcal en cual la mujer a sufrido un posición de ciudadanía de segunda clase. Refleja las cifras de desigualdad en empleo, toma de decisiones en el hogar, ganancias laborales, y abuso sexual y emocional hacia la mujer. Es un término que describe un character empedernido en nuestra cultura basada en reglas sociales antiguas y agotadas. El feminismo, no es su contrario pero su enfreno.

El feminismo no es la dominación del hombre, pero su equilibrador. El feminismo no es una palabra sucia. Es un borrador del pasado en el cual la mujer sistemáticamente a temido tomar decisiones por sí misma. Decisiones cuales abarcan su núcleo hogareño, sus finanzas, sus opiniones, y su cuerpo. Sencillamente, el feminismo es la defensa por la igualdad de la mujer al hombre en términos políticos, financieros, y sociales.

La relevancia de aclarar la realidad del término ‘feminismo’ es una responsabilidad hacia el bien de nuestras comunidades. Como mujeres tenemos que no temerle al término mismo, si no a nuestra inquietud a su malinterpretación. Ser feminista no es ir contra el hombre, si no a la par de él. Ser feminista no es callar al hombre, si no poderse comunicar con el. Ser feminista no es agarrar armas y entrar en una guerra de los sexos. Ser feminista es creer que mereces los mismos derechos que se le ceden al hombre como entidad humana.

El Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), publicó cifras en el 2008 que muestran los diferentes sectores públicos y privados en los cuales reflejan la disparidad entre géneros en el estado de Nuevo León. Expresan en su publicación:

“El desarrollo humano de un país no puede alcanzarse si no se tiene en cuenta a la mitad de la población, es decir, a las mujeres.”

“La discriminación, la violencia y la amenaza de la violencia que padecen las mujeres por el hecho de serlo, en prácticamente todos los ámbitos de sus vidas, las frenan en el desarrollo de sus capacidades, inhiben el ejercicio de sus libertades y, en consecuencia, se violentan sus derechos fundamentales. Atender la discriminación y la violencia en la entidad es un imperativo urgente si se quieren alcanzar mejores niveles de desarrollo que abarquen el ejercicio de la ciudadanía plena de las mujeres.”

Personalmente, tengo mujeres en mi vida que han logrado un éxito incomparable a nuestras predecesoras. Soy feminista porque mi madre lleva 35 años trabajando dentro de su propia empresa. Soy feminista porque una de mis hermanas es arquitecta y la otra diseñadora de modas. Soy feminista porque mi padre me da mi lugar, mi voz, y mi voto. Soy feminista porque observó a mujeres de mi alrededor romper con las estructuras previas que continúan a limitar nuestro avance. Mas importante, soy feminista porque dentro de mi pais hay mujeres que viven en silencio. Mujeres con miedo de tener su propia voz. Mujeres continuamente derrotadas por el miedo a su propia supervivencia. Feminismo no es una palabra sucia a la par del machismo. Feminismo es nuestros derechos.


Vean la increíble entrevista de Watson y Malala aquí

A Response To Critics of My Last Post

I’ve been getting a lot of heat for my last post on racism in my home town. I fully accept all criticism and commentary over my lack of citations and lack of historical references. The post is meant to be an observation and not a full fledge academic essay. When I wrote the piece I had no idea the inmense spread it would have. It’s been read over 8 thousands times and I was not prepared for such a thing. I would like to thank the readers. While I realize it lacks scientific refrences, I do believe that its spread means something. It’s opened up the discourse on class relations and that is more than I could have asked for. Thank you for your comments and criticism.

Español:

He recibido bastante critica por mi ultimo post de racismo en mi comunidad de Monterrey. Acepto todas las criticas y comentarios sobre mi falta de citaciones y falta de uso de referencias históricas. El post trata de ser una observación y no un ensayo socio-científico histórico. Cuando lo escribí, jamas pensé que seria compartido tanto. Se ha leído mas de 8 mil veces y no estaba preparada para eso. Quiero agradecer a todos los lectores. Mientras reconozco la falta de citas, si creo que se a leído tanto por algo. Se han abierto las puertas a el tema de clasicismo/racismo y es mas de lo que pude haber pedido. Gracias por sus comentarios y criticas.

(si me español esta mal, es porque no he escrito en español en bastantes años y pido perdón por ello.)

Sources: CONAPRED , Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación

http://www.conapred.org.mx/

http://noticias.terra.com.mx/mexico/estados/monterrey-es-donde-mas-se-discrimina-en-mexico-conapred,553bdcb346cc7410VgnVCM10000098cceb0aRCRD.html

Monterrey: The Most Racist City in Mexico

cara-de-nopal

The U.S. has been going under construction over race relations since the rise of viral videos in which police men are seen unjustifiably arresting black men (and some women) and often killing them. President Obama has made this issue his last venture for the upcoming last months of his presidency. He has become the first president to visit a prison and has begun to be outspoken about the disparity between imprisoned Black and Hispanic men versus White men. Then there is Trump.

As a liberal-progressive Mexican in New York, I often find myself taking a specific role in social media. I have made it a thing to comment, share and write on social issues that I find pressing. In school, I am surrounded by similar-thinking minds with whom I discuss current events and theorize about their social implications. But there is an unfortunate thing happening: I am speaking to the choir.

As Mexicans, we know well who Donald Trump is. We are infuriated with the rhetoric and scared of its implications. Most of us, stand against him and what he stands for. We find those that support him ignoring the facts and dismissive of the role the U.S. has had in our country’s need to emigrate. But I find a similarity between the privileged progressive Americans and the privileged Mexican communities, like Monterrey, in our role of speaking out. African Americans talk about it all the time. It’s of the fact that white privilege is there and it has a major impact in the discourse of race relations. In Mexico we fail to do this. Much of it has to do with class relations. In fact, what we fail to do in Mexico is acknowledge that our understanding of skin color is correlated with our understanding of social class. I’ll let you into a little secret, Mexico is in fact a racist country.

First of all, it needs to be said: lighter-skinned communities tend to be much better off then darker-skinned communities. This is not arbitrary. It has everything to do with our history of European colonization. But because we see it as far in the past, it is now seen as a purely social class issue. But in daily discourse this comes out in a variety of ways. Last names matter, ethnic lineage matters, and location of current address matters. Worst of all, skin color matters. We take pride in our mixed history as if it were representative of who we are as individuals. I talk about this with my mother all the time. We discuss how our community of San Pedro, in its infinite wisdom, takes pride in family wealth which has trickled down as some sort of social entitlement. Who your family is defines who you are. It is not about what you’ve done but what your name represents.

A recent poll came out in which it demonstrated that lighter-skinned people are more likely to be hired and sustain a long lasting education. Anthropologist Regina Martinez Casas noted that it is the indigenous that suffered discrimination the most but, ironically, it is these lighter-skinned groups whom are the minority. Ricardo Bucio Mujica visited my home town of Monterrey and discovered that my place of origin holds the number one position as the city in Mexico to discriminate against indigenous, women, and homosexuals. This is upsetting, not only as a fact, but because I am not surprised.

I will never forget a moment in one of my trips home in which I learned the term “nopal en la cara”. I had never heard of it and asked for clarification. It means that a person proverbially wears a cactus on their face. I was shocked. They were talking about someone they knew. As a way of putting them down, they resorted to use that phrase. It basically implies that they are some how lesser because they have darker skin. My first thought was, “Well, what does that have to do with anything?” This is where we need to begin talking about this issue. This phrase and terminology demonstrates a deep rooted issue that is embedded in racial relations in my community. What does it mean to have darker skin? As Martinez Casas noted, lighter skinned individuals are the minority. Why is it derogatory to have darker skin in Mexico?

My own hypothesis is that is has to do, again, with social class. Because its so embedded in the structure of our daily lives, we assume darker skin means less education and lesser financial standing. It is so deeply rooted, we don’t even question it. But this is a problem. How can we root for our own people in a foreign country when we don’t even acknowledge them in our own? I find it ironic that we quickly call Trump a racist when we ourselves play into it in our own communities. When the movie “The Help” came out, I am not kidding, my friends and I found a lot of similarities between the movie and what occurs in our own homes. That was the 50’s; it’s 2015. I even once tried to make it a project in one of my classes. Bringing up the subject in a liberal-progressive institution was one of the most uncomfortable moments I’ve ever had. Not only could no one relate, no one could understand what the hell I was talking about. Why? Because it’s shocking. It’s shocking how we understand class relations in Monterrey; how we understand race relations, and how we approach it in our everyday life. It’s worth noting that it is easily visible in the service sector of our economy. I don’t know where to go from this, but I do believe it is worth bringing up. Particularly in my home town. The number one city with the most discrimination against the indigenous.

We should stand against Trump. He is creating a hostile environment for our emigrant friends. But I’d like to also put it on the table that we must start questioning what role we play as those that are better off. What do we do to help the situation? Who do we choose to give a job to? Who do we choose to invite to our homes? How do we treat those whom we’ve historically chosen to view as lesser? It’s time to talk about it. If I can suggest anything is; the next time you are in an expensive restaurant with friends or family, take a moment, look around, and think.

EDIT: For those who question my sources; look up CONAPRED, the institution which conducted the study.

http://www.conapred.org.mx/

http://noticias.terra.com.mx/mexico/estados/monterrey-es-donde-mas-se-discrimina-en-mexico-conapred,553bdcb346cc7410VgnVCM10000098cceb0aRCRD.html

A Vocabulary Lesson: The Real Meaning of ‘Zorra’

While on two separate dates in Mexico, with different men, they each found a moment in our conversations to point out how a woman they knew was a ‘zorra‘ (meaning slut). Immediately, I was turned off. First off, how is a woman’s sexual history of any interest to me? Second, how is a woman’s sexual history of any interest to them? And thirdly, why are they telling me? I didn’t ask. I’ve never been on a date and have, or even considered, pointing out to a guy and saying “hey, that guy is a slut”. But there is a reason why.

Personally, I don’t care. Life is difficult, relationships are complicated, and your body is yours to decide what to do with it. Sometimes we regret our use of it, but most of time, we own up to our own choices. But this concept of choice does not play similarly between men and women, or even those that straddle the gender binary. In conservative communities, like mine in Mexico, those distinctions are not only harder, but more explicit. There’s use of rhetoric familiar to all of us from there: Zorra (Slut) for women and Mujeriego (Womanizer) for men. The important thing to recognize is that those two terms both have significantly different meanings and significantly different repercussions. Let’s break them down.

Zorra refers to a woman being an easy lay. Mujeriego refers to men as being untrustworthy and promiscuous. From experience, I believe zorra is thrown around more loosely than its counterpart. Men use it; women use it. I’d like to point out that I’ve heard of instances of women I know being called zorra even when they hadn’t even slept with anyone yet. This does not happen with men. A woman’s self respect and integrity is immediately put into question when it becomes known that she has a lot of male friends. This brings up a lot of issues: First, it brings up this issue of whether or not women and men can be around each other in a non-sexual context. If you argue that men always sexualize women and therefore will always think of them as a sexual objects, then that’s one problem. We don’t think of it that way when its one guy with several women. Many actually question the man’s sexuality because of it. Not only that, but as an outdated insult (god forbid you hang around estrogen). Second, what does a woman hanging around men have to do with self-respect? In a way, it actually portrays men negatively. If she is surrounded by them, does it mean she’s putting herself in harm’s way? Pegs the question. And thirdly, being surrounded by the opposite sex does not have to be about sex. To set that label on the situation from the outside actually means that you are responsible for doing so, not the woman. You don’t know what the situation is and by choosing to sexualize it…well, it says more about you than her. 

Firsty, there’s a difference between “an easy lay” and being promiscuous. ‘Easy Lay’ suggests that attempting to have sexual relations with a woman won’t be difficult. Promiscuous implies that a person is often looking for casual sex. But the word ‘easy’ implies that it is up to the man to make it happen. It happens to the woman and she lets it happen; she’s easy (god forbid she may actually want to have sex). By being promiscuous, well, you like casual sex and have a lot of it. True, zorra is also used as a way to describe promiscuous women. But it doesn’t work conversely for men. Therefore, it empowers men and desinfranchises women.

The next thing to look at is their social meanings. Zorra does not only mean that a woman is an easy lay. It means that, again, she has no self-respect. The link society gives between self-respect and sex, I believe, is one of the most catastrophic things  to ever happen to women. When a woman has consensual sex as a single, her integrity as both a woman and person is automatically questioned by both genders. For a mujeriego, he is noted as untrustworthy to women (not men), but, his having sex is not the problem as much as the lying connotation. I’m not saying men don’t suffer stereotyping but the results are different and the social response is damning. “She was supposed to wait for marriage”, “How does she just give it away?”, “No one is going to want her now.” “He’ll cheat on you.”, “He’ll hurt you.”, “He’s a boss.”, “He can get any girl he wants.” Women are viewed as unmarriageable used socks (a comparison abstinence programs actually use!) and men are viewed as untameable by women and heroes by men. This idea of self-respect chastises women and elevates men.

The way we use these words are dramatically different. Both men and woman use zorra to denigrate her person. Her whole being is automatically tarnished. In my experience, calling a man mujeriego is usually in the context of warning a woman about a man she may show interest in. We want to protect her from harm; worse, her reputation. But the problem is, her reputation should not be on the balance on the basis of her personal sex life. Times have changed. No longer do the rules of society keep women from depending on men. We no longer marry at 20 (well, many of us) and we no longer are deprived from joining the workforce. This has dramatically changed sex dynamics. We have had women in the past fight for our place in the world and retaining outdated use of language is not only a disservice to them, but to us.

My experience living in New York as a woman is significantly different from that of Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of misogyny here. Women get cat-called constantly, they’re objectified in the work place, and taken advantage of in plenty of social situations. But there’s a difference: I’ve never heard the term ‘slut’ in my social surroundings. I have never heard of a woman being chastised or reprimanded for being sexually active. I have never worried about what the opposite sex thinks or believes about my personal experiences. It doesn’t even cross my mind. Let me be clear: I’m not saying it doesn’t happen to some degree. But the degree in which it occurs in my country is shameful. The institution of traditional marriage is still held very tightly. And that’s fine. But we must adapt the changes that are occurring in society and quit chastising women for changing with the times. Times are changing and holding on to outdated conservative labels causes more harm than good. I’m not attempting to tell anyone when, how, or with whom they should be sleeping with. I’m simply saying that at this day and age, calling a woman a zorra, says more about you than it does about her.