• Vigilance

Feeling & Thinking: the Month of International Women’s Day.

Updated: Apr 13

By Victoria Equihua

English Translation by Habacuc Morales and Karen Moe





Photo by Victoria Equihua





Introduction:

There is a feminist revolution happening in Mexico. The women will not remain silent anymore.


In Mexico City, in July and August 2019, three women were raped by police officers: on July 10th, a 27-year-old homeless woman was raped by two police officers; on August 3rd, a 17-year-old woman was gang-raped by four policemen in a police car; on August 8th, a minor was assaulted by a police officer in Museo Archivo de la Fotografía in México City. Nothing was done. There was absolute impunity for the police officer-cum-rapists. They didn’t even lose their jobs.


On August 16th, 2019, for the first time in Mexican history, the women of Mexico rose up en masse against not only these recent rapes by the police and the continued impunity, but also because of the conservative estimate of 3835 femicides in Mexico in 2019 [1] with an average of 10 women murdered per day in 2021. To add to these horrifying statistics, it is estimated that only 10% of femicides are reported, resulting in numbers that are nothing short of a gender-cide and the government does little to nothing about it. Impunity for the rapists and murderers of Mexican women reigns. [2]

And rapes? Well forget about it. When I asked some Mexican women if there were rape kits, they didn’t know what I was talking about. And the typical patriarchal, misogynist proclamation of “She asked for it! It’s all her fault” that women are sometimes (now) able to overturn in Canada and the US is the institutionalized ‘truth’ in Mexico when yet another woman is sexually assaulted.


In response, the women of Mexico have taken to the streets, vandalizing monuments and covering all of the surfaces they come across with spray painted slogans that express their anger and irreverence in order to try and make the government hear them. Tragically, regardless of the outcry, the women’s calls for justice are still not being heard. But the women don’t care. They keep doing it. Even when the majority of Mexican citizens are brain-washed by the machismo media that the women are violent and pay no attention to the underlying reason for the rage, the women won’t be stopped. However, this article by Mexican feminist and activist Victoria Equihua tells us how, despite the escalated violence against women in the country since the pandemic, despite the fact that the government continues to disregard the violence waged against them and acknowledge their activism as legitimate, there is also joy and triumph amongst women of all ages who, even if not all of them proclaim themselves as feminist, are now one political voice. The women of Mexico are refusing to take it anymore. Basta! ¡Ni una más! (Enough! Not on more!)


Karen Moe, editor.



Photo by Karen Moe




The 8th of March, feminism and contingency

I write this from the perspective of what I have lived and shared with other women. I write this knowing that by my side walk thousands of women, girls, teenagers, grandmothers, sisters, mothers, and daughters. I write this thanks to everything I have learned from my sisters who struggle. I write this for you and I.


This is a love letter for all women.



Balaclavas, fire, anger and love

I remember the very first feminist march I went on. I do not live in Mexico City and I had always wanted to join in other protests, not necessarily feminist ones; however, because of the long distance, I would have had to travel a long way and also my work schedule wouldn't allow it, so I never did. The first time I joined a march in Mexico City, I felt embraced, my heart was full and I could not stop smiling and crying. I was deeply moved when I realized that there were so many women who come together to confront fear, anger, pain and sorrow against the patriarchy, the capital of Mexico and the state. Maybe there were only a few of us when compared to the current protests, but the slogans still echo inside of me like a chant of millions of voices, voices that accompany me every day.


March 8th is always an anticipated day in Mexico because the Women’s Day march is one of the biggest feminist protests in the country. There are many other very important dates and protests that happen throughout the year in different spaces and parts of the Mexico, but March 8th is the one where the largest number of women gather. The marches visibilize the community of women who feel the same way, who have had the same experiences of daily fear and systemic violence and who all share the same political position.


I am a high school teacher and my students have asked me to debate in Ethics and Civility class about feminism, abortion and the marches. It has been revealing to me to see that this movement is inter-generational thanks to its visibility and importance in the country. Girls and teenagers live with feminism; walls are painted with feminist slogans and their mothers join with them in the struggle. Back in my high school days, feminist ideas and activism were not a part of our lives.



Photo by Karen Moe



Marching is also an appropriation of public space. Every day, we, the girls and women of Mexico who are abducted and violated and harrassed on the steet now take the street; we make it ours, we decorate it, we destroy it and we build a new landscape: the streets are alive with rebellion.


The phrase “that is not the way” in opposition to and in condemnation of our feminist acts of taking, occupying and destroying—especially the colonial monuments of the men who represent the Mexican state that does not listen to us or value us—is an act of direct opposition to our struggle, to our fight for justice. This phrase has become a censure of our feminist protests; these are not only disapproving words, they are also repressive acts by the State. What are the right ways to ask to not be raped, to not be killed or not be kidnapped when we have never been listened to?


Photo by Karen Moe



This year on International Women's Day, because of COVID 19, there was a big question: to march or not to march? For some there was no doubt, the answer was clear: a pandemic could not prevent us from taking to the streets; for others it was very important to focus on the consideration of women who were infected with COVID, for the nurses and doctors who put their lives at risk every day. Both positions appealed to the priorities of collective care and self-care.


I fell ill with covid in September 2020. That month there were different protests in my city of Capulam, Michoacán. I remember that I felt sad for not being able to attend them. The truth is that my body and my emotions were not up for it, but that strange feeling of sadness when not attending made me realize that there are many practices that also confront the system and that can be called direct action too. Women are fighting from their homes, their jobs and their offices. From this multiplicity of positions, different protests were carried out across the country, because it is no longer just an event in the capital and in the cities; there is also activism happening on farms, in neighborhoods, in small communities and in rural spaces.


This year, there was police repression of Women’s Day. Barricades were put up to protect buildings, women were corralled and trapped by the police, there was tear gas and arrests. It is clear that so-called public disorder is more important to the authorities than violence against women. The state is not afraid of our balaclavas and spray paint because they can always repress the vandalism, but they cannot repress what lies behind the vandalism: women organizing for self defense—and the state is afraid.



Photo by Karen Moe



Photo by Karen Moe



Contingency and feminism

The pandemic has made it clear that violence against women does not stop, but neither does our rage. Since the quarantine began in Mexico, daily life has been modified as in other parts of the world and it has become clear that vulnerable populations are even more vulnerable. In Mexico, much of the population could not quarantine due to lack of space and the need to leave our homes to make money to feed ourselves and our families. Like everywhere in the world, there were also a lot of job losses. Continuing school was dependent on having the resources to do so. Domestic violence increased because many women and girls had to spend more time with their aggressors who are most often their boyfriends and husbands. During the passed year of the pandemic, not a single day has passed where there has not been reports of disappearances and femicides. There were an estimated six femicides a day in February 2020. Now, in 2021, there are ten to twelve. Every day.


The positions of the federal government have been that of evasion and denial, regardless of these statistics and the gender violence alerts all over Mexico. Tell us, Mr. President, how can you not acknowledge the daily war that women live? The response of feminist collectives is to remain firm, to continue networking and taking direct action in order to create a dignified life where we can all exist safely and freely.


For me it has been wonderful to see how, over the years, the feminist movement has grown in the country. There is a feminist in every area of trade, science, on every street, in every neighborhood, in every town, and in every community fighting patriarchal violence from the trenches of the every day lives of Mexican women.



Photo by Karen Moe



However, I must share with you that what discourages me the most is when I think about how big the enemy is, when I imagine him as that huge system that reproduces and feeds itself every day. When it overwhelms me and I feel that there is no way to fight it, I remember that I am not alone; all of my hope is in feminism, in women and in the revolution that they embody.


I have seen women organize to search on their own for their disappeared sons and daughters because these atrocities are not deemed important enough by the state to help them; I have seen women demand reforms to laws or the creation of new ones; I have seen women work for children so that they don’t have to work, can go to school and are not forced to join the cartels because there are no other opportunities; I have seen women fight for the rights of women workers, fight for their land and territory; I have seen women accompany other women to get abortions [3]; I have seen women be the only ones to say: “I believe you”; I have seen women raise resistant and free children; I have seen women dancing together at a party and getting up the next day to organize a protest in order to confront the state.


Photo by Karen Moe



I like to talk about feminism as a movement: as a body that moves, that inhales and exhales, a living body, a body that embraces, a body with wounds, a body that heals, a body of many bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies of different colors, sizes, languages and shapes. It is necessary for me to see it this way so as not to forget that behind the questions, the theory, the thought and the action there is a living body, a name, and a heart.


There are many practices carried out by women in several spaces (especially outside of the academy) that are combative and that confront the system and are not labelled feminist. It is important to name them because I believe that feminism in Mexico is largely linked to what we can learn from these revolutionary acts that do not come from feminist praxis and theory, practices that contribute to and strengthen the movement. Many women are not named and perhaps they will never be referred to as feminists for many reasons. It is often thought that feminism is accompanied by concepts and questions that not all of us have access to, but the struggles of these women are real and valuable.


Feminism is not a doctrine that seeks to impose itself on anyone; the ultimate goal is not that all women call themselves feminists. The ultimate goal is that the systems that oppress and violate women end so that we can all live with dignity and freedom. I think about my own process. Now, at twenty-five years old, I am a poet and I dedicate myself to my writing. And yet, it is very important for me to say: I am a poet, I am of the people, and I am a feminist. Feminism crosses not only into my acts of creation, but also into the way I conceive of poetry and life. A few years ago, I did not feel confident in positioning myself and my art as feminist; it took a time of questioning, of personal experiences and of accessing knowledge until I was able to face the world and call myself a feminist. Mine has been above all a process of experiences with the community of women. If it weren't for all of the women who have been in my life, I wouldn't be here today: speaking and writing.



Photo by Karen Moe





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Notes:


[1] See Karen Moe's article published in March 2020: https://www.vigilancemagazine.com/post/life-of-a-woman

[2] http://mapafeminicidios.blogspot.com/p/inicio.html

[3] Abortions are only legal in Mexico City.



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About the Writer:


Victoria Equihua, Capula Michoacán. Poet, feminist, member of the Calandria collective with whom she coordinates the Slam Poetry League for Morras in the city of Morelia. Winner of the national Slam MX 2019 (Mexico 2019), semi-finalist in the slam national et De la Coupe du Monde (Paris 2020), seamstress, salesperson and teacher, she believes in rebellion and self-management. She graduated with a degree in theater from the Popular Faculty of Fine Arts by the UMSNH. She has received several national awards for her poetry. She currently coordinates a literary workshop for women within the project “Made of Clay and Words”, a poetry project with women from Capula, Michoacán. https://avecessientoq.blogspot.com/ https://www.facebook.com/victoriaygarabato/ https://www.facebook.com/Slamdepoesiaparamorras

https://www.instagram.com/0victorias/


About the Translators:


Karen Moe is a writer, visual and performance artist and a feminist activist. She has been published in such magazines as Border Crossings, ArtSpace, WhiteHot and Revista 192. She is the editor and founder of the magazine Vigilance: Fierce Feminisms. Karen has exhibited and performed across Canada, in the US and in Mexico. Her first book, Victim A Manifesto, is being published in Fall 2021. Karen lives in British Columbia, Canada and in Mexico City.

http://www.karenmoe.net/; https://www.facebook.com/karen.moe.79/; https://www.instagram.com/karenmoeart/; https://www.instagram.com/vigilancemagazine/



Habacuc Morales is a teacher and translator of Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Nahuatl. Friend, writer, traveler. For language classes and translation, contact Habacuc at:

https://www.facebook.com/habacucmoralesh or https://www.instagram.com/habacuuc/




"Colima Intervention" photo by Victoria Equihua




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