My Great Conflict

When I was 15, I decided I wanted a tattoo. I didn’t know what to get. I knew I didn’t want something I could possibly get sick of. I didn’t want something cheesy, something devoid of meaning, nor something that could eventually lose all meaning. Some ten years later, it came to me.

I’ve grown up with what I call “my great conflict”. A conflict between what is my physical self and what you could describe as my character or personality. Whenever I went to my therapist, whenever I had a moment alone late at night in my bedroom, or after long evenings whenever I drank so much wine I lost all inhibitions, I would ask myself, “Who would you have been with a different body?” I would then often cry, belittle and blame myself for feeling so pathetic.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this is not an unusual question or situation. I would bet that many have asked themselves a similar question. Who would I be if I could hear; if I could walk, If I could see, if I could lose weight, if I were taller, shorter, if I were a man, if I were a woman, if I had darker skin or lighter skin? So many things we are spectacular at being displeased with.

In my experience, this question has come up as a way of often rejecting who I am because of a physical attribute I so whole heartedly refuse to accept as part of me. It has meant questioning the strength of my character which would often seem to balance delicately on the fact that something had happened to me which was out of my control.

Am I me because my home life informed my behaviour and genetics predisposed me to have certain personality traits? Or am I me because these personal experiences I dislike and am tormented by, molded me into behaving in certain ways I struggle to come to terms with?

My former therapist, I believe like any other therapist, would say I was a mix of both. But the thing is, there was a lot of myself that I simply didn’t like which then prompted the question. I was so angry at what I hadn’t had control over that I therefore relinquished power of the one thing I actually did have control over, my choices. For the longest time I have been living with that oxymoron.

I quite often did things I knew I wasn’t pleased with. Things that put me in danger and hurt those around me. Things that I knew I would have to carry with me for the rest of my life. Things that allowed me to indulge in the anger I was experiencing over the one thing I felt I had been cheated with, my body.

Instead of dealing with what I was feeling, I decided that I was better off throwing my hands up in the air than actually working on what was really going on. Therefore my body was one thing, my mind was another. My body was an object and my principals, thoughts, and beliefs were something else entirely and I became really good at tricking myself into believing  I was separating them both.

There was a certain pride that came with feeling like I was able to detach myself in that way. It made me feel superior to all the other silly people that cling to their body as if their persons were based on what I considered to be the frailty of something that will eventually cease to exist. No. I was above the silliness of the physical world. I was my convictions and principles. I was what I spoke up about and defended and studied. I was not a mere mortal. I knew my body was a temporary vessel for what was the greater goal, leaving a mark that would live past the working brain and beating heart.

This duality became a coping mechanism. It became a way of detaching from the physical world and letting me get lost from the reality I was trying so hard to get away from. Like a drug addict, I needed ways of crawling out of my skin so I could forget that I actually couldn’t get away from who I was no matter how hard I tried.

More therapy, more crying, more yelling, a not so nice boyfriend, and long discussions with friends and family have ensued. And a tattoo. A circle on my ankle that is half filled and half unfilled. Half filled with everything my body had been through and half unfilled with everything I’d thought about the world and my place in it. The circle was my long life struggle to accept that I was one whole piece and I had no choice but to accept it no matter how many times I tried to get around the subject.

The tattoo was not about the end to my great conflict. It served as a self admittance that the conflict was even there to begin with. It served as a way of owning up to what I had been through, what I had put myself through, and what I was working towards. It continues to be a symbol of all of that as I keep working to make sure that the circle remains a circle.

For now, all I can say is that: while I wish much of what is real, wasn’t; I accept that it is and I am only a mere mortal.

 

 

 

 

Hablando de Apariencias

 

Este video lo grabe antes de mi último post. Quería explorar lo que sería hacer un vlog, pero al momento de prender la cámara me tuve que detener a mí misma. Cada vez que he tratado de hacer un proyecto donde me grabo a mí misma, no lo hago, termino en lágrimas. Se me olvida que no me veo como yo pienso que me veo y ese engaño puede ser doloroso. Es por eso que hice este video como manera de enfrentar ese miedo.

(Cabe decir hay muchísimos bloggeros famosos que te van a decir como deberías de sentirte o que hacer para vivir tu vida a como los demás esperan que lo hagas, no hagan caso. La vida es complicada, nadie saben que onda, y todos tratamos de hacer lo mejor que podemos)

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.

My Face: When I look in the mirror

I’ve only written once about my personal experiences in terms of self-perception and body image. I dedicated it to my parents as an ode to them for what they’ve done for me. But this time around I thought I’d share a bit about what it actually feels to be me.

My experiences may seem in one way unique but I believe they transcend specificity and may have an affect on anyone that has, at any point, looked at themselves in the mirror and asked: is that really what I look like?

Everyday, I wake up, drink two cups of coffee while I watch the news, put on my gym clothes, and enjoy an hour of working out. Working out no only makes me happy, but confident. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while. As a self-admitted low self esteem girl, working out has done wonders for me.

I like my body. I eat well and feel good (despite my smoking) .

But while I am able to mold one thing, there’s another I cannot.

As a way to practice my guitar skills (or lack there of) I like to film myself and play it back. It allows me to see what I am doing wrong both on the guitar and vocally.

As I was just doing it now, I realized why I had not done it in a while.

Forget the guitar, forget the bad singing; I don’t like what I see. Who is that person? I don’t recognize her.

Out of my experiences from having had so much surgery and physical change, there is one thing that has had, and may always have, a strange and unfamiliar effect on me.

My face.

My face is not equilateral. This is due to my hemifacial microsomia.   This means that one side looks one way,  and the other looks another way. Anyone that knows me, knows this. I’m used to it. It’s part of me. It’s broken me. Made me. Completed me.

But what no one knows is that, because of it, reflections actually switch on me.

And that FUCKING sucks.

You know that thing where if your shirt says something, it switches when reflected on a mirror?

That, to me, is my face.

Imagine being used to your face looking one way; as reflected on a mirror. You’ve practiced talking, moving, even singing, in front of it. But then, you see yourself on a camera, or a photo, and the reflection has switched on you.

You don’t move like yourself. Your smile is crooked.  Your eyes are lopsided. One side of your face is stiff. And you can’t match the voice to the person presented. Everything seems out of place.

Well, that’s what happens to me.

When I look in the mirror; I see one thing. But when filmed or photographed, I see another.

What I’ve practiced and looked at for my 26 years of life becomes a deception when I am able to see through another’s eyes.

It’s not that I don’t like being filmed or photographed. It’s that the person that will live in that documentation is not recognizable to me. It’s about changing the whole composition of my face and how I perceive it. It’s about more than a trick of the camera. It’s a trick on myself.

I’ll admit something.

I work hard on my self  presentation. I do what I can to make my body look good. I use my style savvy to look confident and exceptional. I use my brain as a way to distract others from my insecurities. I love clothes as a form of self expression and use them to make myself look as good as I am able to feel.

But these are also masks. Masks to push back the fear of that reflection. The reflection I am so scared of confronting now and again. One I don’t recognize. One that reminds me that what I see, may not necessarily be what others see. It’s not a simple “love yourself” issue. It’s a trick of the brain that haunts me now and again whenever I see my self reflection.

But, hopefully, one I’ll eventually accept.

 

 

The Inconsistency Between ‘Respect’ and Religion

It was the beginning of April in 2013, a month away from my graduation thesis show. I plopped on the floor of my small but recently cleared out art studio at school as I stared at the large Gordon Paper I had tacked onto one of the walls. I got up, took a pen, and wrote ‘Respect’ in the middle of the intimidating brown space. I stared at it, sat back down, and stared some more.

Earlier that year I had recently completed Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and could not be stopped from bringing it up in mundane conversation. While I’m sure I annoyed many, religion became, and has been, paramount in my life. Not my adherence to a religion but my own removal from one.

It wasn’t that I had been taught something foreign to me and became fascinated. It was that every question and every doubt I had about the role of religion in my life and environment, became validated by a single piece of literature. I had to get it out.

In speaking of my newly found passion with friends and family, I came to realize that the conversation on religion always ended with one similar sentiment by those I spoke with: “You just need to respect others beliefs.”

But what was I saying that had anything to do with respect?

Frustrated by the way those conversations ended, I couldn’t stop wondering what people meant. Respect? Respect what exactly? What does that mean? Is it an action? An emotional stance?

While to many the answers to those questions may seem obvious,  I’d like to challenge that notion.

I couldn’t shake that word: Respect. I wanted a conversation about the role of religion in the social world, not advice on how I should personally deal with it.

Many of us, if not all, were taught that ‘respect’ is a sort of “live and let live” mantra which to live by. “You do you and I do me”. Therefore, on the superficial level, I was being told to “you need to……” What?!

I need to do what?! I need to hold esteem or regard for those beliefs? That is, after all, the definition of ‘respect’. To admire, hold regard, or esteem for someone or something. That’s when it hit me! Once you attempt to interchange the word ‘respect’ for one of its available synonyms, its imagined meaning completely changes. Here are some examples:

Therefore, when being told to ‘respect’ religious faiths, I was expected to have a sort of positive attitude towards those beliefs in spite of my own. And while I understand what is being said, it, in its entirety, dismisses and disregards what religion is.

I could go through the sociological approach towards outlining how, by its very premise, religion is not based on a “you and me” social relationship. Rather, it is an “us and them” situation. Religion, for much that one could look to argue for its spiritual value, is organized. There are places of worship, doctrines, hierarchies, and conflicting ideologies and interpretations. But there is enough literature out there by intellectuals to complete the task.

But because of horrific events occurring world wide with the rise of Islamic terrorism, I believe there is no better time to put into perspective what ‘respect’ means when we attempt to unwrap religion. Therefore, I will use Islam in my approach but will further expand with the Christian-Catholic faith.

The Orlando shooting last weekend, once more, stirred up the political conversation as to the role of Islam in the world. Whether or not it was the shooters motivator, it became part of the conversation.

On one side, there are the Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, and xenophobic. On the other, there are those that do not equate Islamic terrorism to Islam. Those that adhere to ISIS or Al Qaeda are a tiny, insignificant portion of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world.

Because the former attitude has gained mainstream status, the latter has come out in an attempt to point out that a small portion of something, does not make it everything. And while this is true, it does not make the latter all the better.

The liberal media and moderate Muslims in the West have come out in defense of their religion with fervor and passion. The phrase “It is a religion of peace” is often espoused by Muslims and liberals that speak out against those that look to demonize the religion. These are, more than not, Muslims that have become somewhat westernized and liberals who seem to want to pacify the debate on religion. And while they should do this, there is discrepancy between the used defense and the actual practice of Islam in Islamic based nations.

By basing the debate of the nature of Islam on terrorism, the conversation completely disregards the social and political practices of Islam. And while we should all be vocally against terrorism, we not need to agree with the religion itself in order to do so. As moderate Muslims put it, Islam is not about terrorism. But, I along with others say, Islam does not coincide with liberal, or even secular, thought either.

Now, this is not about demonizing Islam or feeding the Islamophobic, anti-immigration, xenophobic rhetoric. It is about accepting that there are absolute contradicting values between Islamic nations and their traditions, and the practice of separation of church and state in Europe and the United States, for example. The latter, isn’t even necessarily a liberal practice. It is a basic secular practice to ensure democracy within a State. A democratic principle that allows Muslims to practice their faith with the liberty to decide how to do so. A democratic principle which many Muslims around the world are afforded, BUT not most.

There are only a few outspoken Muslim activists who make this distinction, and even they suffer for it.

The problem with ‘democracy’ as understood by the West, is that it cannot be translated to many eastern countries. The world learned its lesson when the United States “wanted to bring democracy” to Afghanistan by the way of invasion only causing more social and political destabilization. When has imperialism ever brought about peace?

The Pew Research Center has found that most Muslims, in nations where Islam is the dominating religion, in fact want Sharia Law to be enacted. That means the law of the land should be based on the religious doctrine of Islam; the divine law within the Quran. That means that both private and public life should be guided and led by the faith.

Some of these nations and their support for sharia law are:  Afghanistan (99%), Iraq (91%), Niger (86%), Malaysia (86%), Pakistan (84%), Morocco (83%), Bangladesh (82%), Egypt (74%), Indonesia (72%), Jordan (71%), Uganda (66%), Ethiopia (65%), Mali (63%), Ghana (58%), and Tunisia (56%).

While the practice of Sharia law varies within each nation, most Muslim countries make use of it in one way or another and their people are in favour of it.

Afghanistan, for example, legally enacts capital punishment for apostasy, purdah (segregation) on women, and imprisonment for homosexuality.

What does this mean? That the Pew Research Center uncovered how most Muslims in these nations approve of the state of affairs within their own countries.

In circling back to my concern with ‘respect’ and religion, do I really have to ask?

When I’m told that I must respect ones faith, I am not being told to respect a type of spirituality. I am being told that I need to respect social values and practices that go along with it. That I should respect values and practices which go against those that have been afforded to me. That I should respect values and practices of which I am not just opposed to, but which I’ve been both socially and intellectually taught to view as negative. Values and practices which have been statistically and scientifically proven to be detrimental to society as a whole.

BUT because these are religiously based, I am not allowed to say so.

Which takes me to my general point: Because I can understand a religion, does not mean I have to respect it.

Just to emphasize that I am not being bias, I have the same problem with the religion I myself grew up with; the christian-catholic faith.

While it has been found that Mexican Catholics are in a high opposition with the church, they are still morally and socially molded by their interpretation of the faith. With 81% of Mexicans identifying as catholic, women’s sexual health, including abortion, remains a heated debate nation wide, very much like, if not more so, the United States.

Unfortunately, Mexico City is the only place which fully grants women the right to abortions (under 12 weeks only) without being subject to a penalty. All while, in another 18 states, they could be subject to penalization. In the worst of cases, up to 30 years of imprisonment.

With epidemic-like rates of teen pregnancy and domestic abuse in poverty stricken communities, along the incompetence to provide proper sexual education and resources by the public education system, I cannot respect the faith based belief that women should not have access to an abortion clinic. Let alone, be punished for it. The social and economic impact of high rates of teen pregnancy in poverty, when they have not even concluded their secondary level education, is not only detrimental to them, but society as a whole.

Not only are women affected by the Catholic faith, but homosexuals are still viewed as morally corrupt by 55% of Mexicans.

It is one thing to ‘respect’ or “let live” another’s beliefs when they do not infringe on the basic rights and freedoms of others. When they do not intend to endanger one specific demographic. When they do not look to put one citizen or believer above another based on their adherence to the doctrine. If as an adult you still believe in Santa, that’s your prerogative. I’ll think your nuts and won’t respect it but, unless you harm someone for it, I don’t see the problem. I haven’t even touched the miracle/mystical side of religion.

But it is another thing entirely to ask me to respect beliefs that do those things.

I cannot respect a faith which does not respect those that leave it, but rather kills them for it. I cannot respect a faith that does not respect a women’s body, but rather asks her to cover it as a sign of ‘modesty’. I cannot respect a faith which does not respect women’s ability to control their health and ability to choose their future, but rather forces them to a life defined by one sperm and one egg. I cannot respect a faith  which does not respect an entire community’s nature, but rather asks for the restriction of their civil rights. I cannot respect a faith that would limit my own ability to have control over the direction of my life.

 

“So with all due respect”, I cannot, nor will I, respect that as it is in my absolute freedom to do so.

 

*For those curious as to my resulting artwork: my endevour to challenge the word ‘respect’ resulted in an installation where I represented in list significant events from the 20th and 21st Centuries in where literature had been burned for ideological or political reasons. From Harry Potter to the Christian Bible, I documented the process in which I recreated the act, cataloged the book covers, and jarred and planted the ashes in potted Hydrangea.

 

 

 

 

 

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