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. 

 

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Admitamos Nuestras Fallas

Estoy segura que ya casi todos han participado en la conversación de una manera u otra. Sale hasta por las orejas. Ha sido el tema más discutido (que no sea Donald Trump)  desde que surgió lo de Harvey Weinstein en Octubre del 2017 cuando Ronan Farrow, hijo de Woody Allen y Mia Farrow, reportó sobre él a través de The New York Times con varios exposées detallando los múltiples incidentes donde actrices se vieron lidiando con una situación cual no debería de ser permitida en cualquier ámbito profesional, público, y/o privado. Pero la conversación no es sencilla; no es blanca y negra.

Desde que surgió el tema sobre el acoso y abuso sexual en Hollywood, han habido todo tipo de respuestas en las redes sociales, en las cenas familiares, en las fiestas entre amigos, y hasta en el trabajo. Es un tema que muchos traemos en la lengua y es uno que no tendrá resolución tan pronto como debería.

Por un lado está el movimiento #MeToo, similar al de #MiPrimerAcoso en México, que a través de las redes sociales se busca atraer atención a lo predominante y común que es el acoso sexual hacia la mujer. Trata sobre solidaridad y sobre hacer dar cuenta que a casi todas las mujeres, definitivamente a muchos hombres también, pero especialmente a las mujeres les ha sucedido algo en algún punto de sus vidas que se pueda sencillamente clasificar como “acoso” si es que no es “abuso”. Aquellas que dirán, “A mi no.” Si, es posible que a ti no. Pero no lo más probable y regresaré a este punto.

Esta aquellos que no entienden o rechazan la idea de que esas actrices que denunciaron a Weinstein puedan llamarlo acoso cuando ellas mismas entraron a la habitación de hotel de Weinstein sabiendo muy bien sobre su reputación ¿Por qué alguien aceptaría una junta en un hotel con la persona más poderosa de la industria en la cual buscan trabajar y quién probablemente decidirá si serán exitosas o no?

Esta el Weinstein effect que ha causado que más voces salgan de las oscuras y denuncien a ellos en poder que han abusado de su posición social, económica, y política con fin de aprovecharse de alguien por una sola noche.

Esta la voz de la actriz francesa Catherine Deneuve quien rechaza al movimiento como un puritanismo en el tema de sexo y una amenaza al romance cotidiano que observamos en las películas de cine, en nuestros sueños cuando esperamos que nuestra pareja nos sorprenda, o hasta en nuestros secretos cuando fantaseamos sobre el vecino, el compañero de trabajo o el chico sentado del otro lado de la barra. Hay que dejar algo claro, el acoso no es romance y el romance no es acoso. Es importante saber esa distinción. 

Están aquellos que dicen que el tema merece un cierto balance; como si decir que el tema de acoso y abuso sexual necesita un lado que defiende …. ¿al acosador?

Luego hay historias como la que acaba de surgir donde una joven fotógrafa reclamó ser víctima del comediante Aziz Ansari. Alguien famoso, recientemente ganador de un premio Golden Globe y al cual se le reconoce por sus opiniones progresistas y liberales. Ella describe lo que parece haber sido una situación donde el actor se aprovechó de ella y él respondió con lo que se ve ser una respuesta genuina y honesta. Conclusivamente parece más como un cita que sencillamente no fue buena. Un encuentro entre dos, donde la comunicación falló y la poca actividad sexual que ocurrió fue incómoda e innecesaria.

Aquí es donde surgen las miles de preguntas que se han hecho desde de Octubre para los que siguen las noticias y desde mucho más antes para quienes conocen el tema: ¿Que debe de suceder para que uno pueda clasificar algo como acoso? ¿Quién decide que es acoso y que no? ¿Como se debe de lidiar con las emociones y sentimientos con aquello que sucede físicamente y verbalmente? ¿Cuales son las rayas negras y cuales las grises? ¿Hay rayas grises? ¿Como lidiamos con las diferencias culturales, sociales, y emocionales que surgen cuando tratamos el tema de sexo? ¿Quien exagera y quien no? ¿Porque a ella/el se le cree y ella/el no? ¿Como se debe de discutir el tema en público? ¿Como de debe discutir en privado? ¿Cuales son y donde caen las responsabilidades de algo que sucede en la sociedad general?

La ley se impone con el fin de proteger a aquellos que se encuentran más vulnerables ante una amenaza. Mientras en teoría la ley debe de apoyar en solucionar esta clase amenaza social, la realidad es que apenas y funciona a su mínimo potencial. Por un lado, la mayoría de las mujeres no denuncian contra sus acosadores porque ellas mismas no creen que lo que les sucede es valido como acoso o abuso. Esto es por muchas razones que incluyen amenazas por el acosador, la mujer pensando que ese trato no vale como acoso, no vale ella lo suficiente para denunciar, que fue su culpa, o se ha normalizado tanto ese abuso que no hace diferencia denunciar o no.

Es importante reconocer que mucho de esta mentalidad se le enseña a la mujer sistemáticamente. De la misma manera en que cuando sí se logra hacer una denuncia, automáticamente suelen cuestionarle lo que traía puesto, con quién estaba, que tomó, y otras ene Miles de cosas que se tratan de verificar por su lado antes de imaginar que exista un acosador.

Y por otro lado, el sistema burocrático no es de gran apoyo a víctimas y también de manera sistemática, le falla a quienes más lo necesitan cuando no los protegen de quienes les causa daño. Esto se ve reflejado cuando en muchos de los casos, las mismas autoridades también buscan culpar a la víctima por aquello que le sucedió.

Entonces, si ya sabemos que la misma institución que debe de protegernos de estos incidentes falla tan catastróficamente, mi pregunta es ¿porque a la sociedad en general se le hace tan complicado o difícil de pensar que existe la posibilidad de que estas cosas suceden con tanta frecuencia y con tan poca atención? ¿Por qué se nos hace tan difícil pensar en la posibilidad de que exista esta falla dentro de nuestra vida cotidiana con todas las otras fallas que suceden al mismo tiempo y que reconocemos con facilidad? ¿Por qué esta falla social no tiene credibilidad y todas las otras sí? ¿Por qué la corrupción sí? ¿Por qué el robo, sí? ¿Por qué el homicidio, sí? ¿Por qué la necesidad de mentir, de juzgar, de hacer trampa, sí tienen lugar y valor sentimental, legal, y ético dentro de nuestra sociedad pero la falla en que tratamos a los sexos de manera distinta y de manera anticuada, abusiva, injusta, y efectivamente dañina, no? Con todas las tonteras que hacemos como humanos diariamente, ¿porque a esta falla no se le da credibilidad? 

No pretendo saber cuales son las respuestas para cada caso que se presenta en los medios ni el entendimiento a las muchas complejidades de lo que es ser un humano hoy en día. Lo que propongo es que tengamos como sociedad la humildad de no asumir saber exactamente cuales son las experiencias de otros porque nosotros creemos que nuestras propias experiencias son lo suficiente para determinar las de los demás. 

Si en cualquier momento has sentido que nadie te entiende, que estas solo en tu experiencia, que si fueras a murmurar tus pensamientos al mundo, ese se caería encima de ti; tu tarea es tratar de tener la mínima compasión y dar a los demás el mismo beneficio de duda que tu quieres que los demás tengan contigo.

No somos una sociedad ciega ni inútil.  Entendemos que el hombre y la mujer tienen pasados muy distintos en la historia que compartimos y entendemos que en el pasado los hombres y las mujeres han tenido distintos papeles dentro de la sociedad. Entendemos que ha la mujer se le otorgó el derecho a votar en México en solo 1953. Es decir, antes de ese año la mujer no tenía el derecho ni de expresar su opinión y decidir por sí misma que clase de vida privada y pública quería llevar acabo. Es decir, mi propia abuela todavía no tenía el derecho de votar el año que mi padre nació. Eso es un hecho.

Pero ese hecho no garantiza el trato equitativo dentro de la sociedad. No garantiza que el jefe vea a su compañera como su igual. No garantiza que un marido permita a su mujer o hija atender a la escuela. No garantiza que a tu secretaria no le vaya a pegar su esposo por llegar tarde del trabajo. No garantiza que a la jefa no la tomen en serio para asistir a juntas donde los hombres salen a comer y a beber juntos para hablar de cosas que “no son para mujeres”. No garantiza que le crean a tu amiga cuando platique que alguien se la violo mientras caminaba a su casa. No garantiza que tomen todo esto en serio porque hay ciertas cosas que definitivamente no han cambiado.

Existe una falla en nuestra sociedad cuando ahora que sale este tema al aire, uno que es serio y que refleja una crisis existencial sobre que clase de sociedad y humanos queremos ser, tan fácilmente se le cuestiona su credibilidad. Tan incomodo el tema y tan cómodos están ahora, que el pavor a la posibilidad de que las cosas cambien hace que prefieran hacerse los ciegos y los negados que enfrentar uno de los retos más importantes en nuestra historia: admitir la falla y permitir que la otra mitad de la población, es decir, la mujer, pueda tener la voz independiente que tanto se le dice haber otorgado hace ya tiempo. Pero basta del habla y permítanse escuchar.

Y a mis amigas que dirán, “a mi no.” Les diré, que bueno por ustedes. Y sí, les creo, esa es la diferencia.

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?

Why Support a Woman’s Right to Choose

I often find pro-life posts on my Facebook News Feed. It’s not surprising to me since I come from a highly catholic and conservative environment, while I myself am a lapsed one. This is a response to the rhetoric I find coming from that environment.

  1. The God factor: Often people will use religion as a reason as to why they oppose abortion. The language goes from something like, “The sanctity of life” to “Man is not God.” The problem with this argument is that man creates man. Whether you believe in God or not, we as biological-rational beings, choose (or not, but do) to make more of us. People choose to have children, or people have sex which results in a child. We are conscious of this. We know unprotected sex (can) = child. It’s science, biology, the fact of life and how animal in general multiplies. Therefore, to say that it was God’s doing, well…sure, but that would mean that man then, is not responsible for reproducing, which we are and we are aware of this. There’s no immaculate conception, and if you believe this happens, you’ve got bigger problems. Therefore, abortion is much of man’s decision as it to procreate. We are responsible for who we put on Earth. Which takes me to my next point.
  2. Shouldn’t be doing it if not ready: Yes, teenagers are not ready to be parents. Some adults are not ready to be parents. But guess what. It happens. It’s biology, hormones, and the way the world works. Never in the history of humanity has the repression of sex worked. To use this as an argument is to live in la-la land. Furthermore, this argument belittles the realities of the social world. Low income communities with lack of resources to sexual education and contraceptives, are the ones that suffer the most. This is also in part the government’s doing when there is maldistribution of resources, particularly for women in vulnerable domestic situations. To place full on responsability over the shoulders of a young girl from a low-income household where she could possibly have suffered abuse from a relative (which is statistically the probability), is, to me, offensive, insane, and detrimental to the well being of not only her, but society as a whole. She, herself, probably didn’t choose her own situation and she should not be punished because of it. It’s easy to place the blame on women and call them murderers. First, it’s a two way street; takes two to tango. Second, having a child is a serious responsibility. Forgive me, but I rather have a child spared the possibility of terrible life than have them be subjected to situations they didn’t choose themselves. The situation is much larger than a one night discrepancy. It’s called reality. This takes me to my next argument…
  3. They are being selfish, the child didn’t have a say: Well, children don’t ask to be conceived either. The people having them do (or don’t). I’m also sure, the child won’t choose their name, their education, their religion, their family, their nationality, their family’s income, their clothing, their government, their food, and basically anything else, until much later. If a woman, or couple, doesn’t believe that bringing up a child is the right thing for that child, or them, they shouldn’t have to. There’s many young women who have unplanned pregnancies and decide that it is simply not the right thing for anyone. Maybe she doesn’t have money, she was abused, she didn’t have the proper education, “god-forbid” she’s 14; the reasons don’t really matter and they shouldn’t have to be in horrible situations to have to argue why it is the right thing for them. When you have the child, you are responsible for that child’s survival. It’s serious business. If someone doesn’t want to raise someone else, they shouldn’t be coerced into it and neither should the child. There’s enough abandoned and abused kids in the world.

Lastly and more importantly, women deserve a safe environment where they are able to discuss their options without secrecy or fear of being personally attacked or judged. Making abortion clinics inaccessible and pushing stigma over the issue does not deter abortions as a whole. THIS IS A FACT. For example, after a Texas law restricting clinic abortions was pushed, clinics have started to receive calls from women looking for tips as to how to have a home abortion. This devastating fact has actually caused Texan home abortions to rise dramatically. This is unsafe for women, psychologically devastating and simply…terrible. They are forced to do something that no one woman actually wants to go through. No one in fact wants an abortion, but they choose to because, to them, it is their best option as they see it. Furthermore, especially in highly religious and conservative communities, women will often secretly try to find information through people and online, often fearing the social stigma that comes along with it. They are shamed into pretending nothing is occurring and don’t look for the proper support they need in a time such as this one. Pushing stigma and fear on women for the sake of an ideology is far more harmful to that woman than anything else that can or could happen in a situation where they are considering to take this route.

When people support a woman’s right to choose, it’s not that we are supporting death. We support the choice of rationality over ideology and freedom over coercion. We support the choice of safety over danger and comfort over authority. We support education and resources when needed, not an idea. We support the choice of a bright future no matter what the decision. That is what we are supporting.

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

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.