Feminist groups in Mexico have organized a peaceful, personal protest called, “A Day Without Women”, to be set in motion on Monday March 9th. They aim to demonstrate what the country would look like without women. The goal is to see NO women in offices or schools. NO women in restaurants or stores. NO women on public transportation, in cars or on the street. A country without women, for one day.
Violence against women has to stop. Most of us have experienced strangers gesturing lewdly, shouting out vulgar names, groping and touching inappropriately. Sometimes the creeps expose themselves, make obscene phone calls and now, there’s cyber bullying – Even these “minor incidents” are frustrating and demeaning. Abuse is abuse.
And worst of all, violence begets violence. Twice I saw I could retaliate, and without thinking, I did. Once when a guy on the street tried to grab me, I noticed he had a case hanging off his shoulder; I lunged at him, pulled it off, and threw it into the speeding traffic. Boy, was he ever mad! Another time, while walking with my sister, we passed a man and he tried to fondle her. Before he knew what hit him, we’d pushed him to the ground, and we repeatedly kicked him “where it hurts”, until he begged us to stop.
Both times I felt shocked. Retaliation seemed crazy, but I got so angry.
Worse yet, I’m aware that I am one of the “lucky women.” I have never been abducted, beaten, raped, or feared for my life . I know women who have – this happened to some of them as children, to others as young women, and to many during their marriages – just because they are female, their assailants figured they had the right to dominate and torture them.
Violence against women has been around since the days of cavemen. Physical strength was the deciding factor at that time, and today some brutes believe this is still the case. But now they pack a gun or other weapon to make sure they get what they want.
I have never been to Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico, but I have seen photos of the almost 2 thousand pink crosses that scar the streets and desert hillsides — each one of them represents a life – a life that ended in extreme violence. The first documented case was that of Alma Chavira Farel; she was just 13 years old when her life was stolen from her, and from the family who loved her.
What has happened to our society — gang violence, serial killers, drug cartels, and indifference to women – could it be because our fear is holding us back from DEFENDING our rights as residents of Mexico. These criminals don’t even make up 1% of our population and yet they hold the rest of us hostage. We need to stand up.
Right here in Merida, I know of a mother and her daughter who did just that. A small-time extortionist tried to get them to pay for his “protection” of their small business; they got a picture of him, and denounced him. This was not easy, but they did it. In my book, these women are heroes.
“A Day Without Women” has gained momentum in the public and private sectors. It is supported by civic groups, religious leaders and most women. The support cuts across the boundaries of class, ethnicity, wealth and politics that have fractured Mexico. Organizers hope that this modest but wide-spread action will spawn more of the same and that it will ignite social change.
Instead of occupying public spaces in protest; this movement stages an action that simulates women’s disappearance. For participants in the strike on March 9, the instructions are straightforward: Stay home.
International womn who are in Mexico on March 9th should see this action as a way they can show solidarity with Mexican women. It is forbidden for foreigners to gather and protest, but the actions of this protest are carried out in privacy, not in public. There is NO prohibition against such action.
The organizers hope that the strike will inspire long-overdue conversations and start change across Mexican society. I hope so too. In my mind’s eye is the image of Rosa Parks, refusing to give her seat to a white man. A small, firm, defiant action that brought about HUGE change.
Might “One Day Without Women” have a similar result? I dare say that depends on the participation and commitment of ALL women in Mexico.
Changes in our Lives? Oh yeah!
PS. This post has been cited in an English-language online paper, the Mexico Tribune, a publication that focuses on Mexican national news. Here’s the link: https://mexicotribune.com/following-gender-violence-monday-will-be-a-day-without-women-in-mexico/