ILLUMINATION
Published in

ILLUMINATION

March 8th, One Year Later

And still…

Drone aerial view of a street full of women wearing purple, passing lots of purple jacaranda trees in Mexico City on March 6th, 2020
Photo by @Santiago_Arau on Twitter (with permission) March 8, 2020, Mexico City

The streets were covered with purple jacaranda flowers on the pavement and on the trees along the several kilometers of the march on International Women’s Day one year ago. We had been advised to wear purple, so the tight mass of us was uniformly that hue. That was not, however, the only thing unifying such an eclectic, heterogeneous river.

Women — 50 % of the world’s population, ironically the people that give birth to 100 % of all, men included — are still not respected and regarded equal, and instead are attacked, killed, raped (not necessarily with violence) beaten, abused, ridiculed, ignored and trafficked like things… dishonored as human beings.

It is painful that in 2021 things still have not evolved and become humane, simply. On the contrary. Women and girls are the ones who have suffered the most and been more tormented than ever during these 12 months of imprisonment, being forced to stay inside their prisons with the enemy, with no way out, literally.

The outside world did not treat women much better, either. Many more women have been fired, and many have just had to lose their jobs to be able to care for their offspring and/or for their parents, making them more vulnerable to poverty. For some unfair inexplicable reason, it is women who take on this kind of unpaid responsibility or are forced to.

Not having access to their own resources makes abused women dependant and powerless, their hands chained and their feet fettered. It’s the ultimate subjugation for many. That eventually breaks their spirits. Spiritless, they can’t dare to break free, staying paralyzed and captive, reproducing the next generation of abusive/abused people, who are watching; more so during this locked-down year.

The ills mentioned aren’t guesses but plain facts, whether one relates to any of them… or one is THE luckiest woman on the face of the earth.

In my country (like in many others) it is ironic that mothers — women — are the center of families, the matriarchs indeed. Mother’s Day is the celebration par excellence here. The Lady of Guadalupe — a woman — is the queen in the hearts of Mexicans, they say that even among non-Catholics. There are still some gentlemen, opening doors for you.

And yet, and yet…

The number of femicides and missing women is appalling (no justice found anywhere). The dichotomy of respect-disrespect towards us prevails. Because we now can vote, work, drive, have bank accounts, start businesses, study, earn money, live by ourselves, but all of that hasn’t brought us respect and equality, no.

Wait a minute! We are not supposed to gain them from men, right? Right?!

I really thought my generation had gotten farther; no, it was just an illusion. Because for many it’s still an everyday struggle to be careful and watchful to make sure that one is not abused at all somehow (I insist, not at all and somehow) even in the kindest of ways — so don’t ‘honey-me’, mister— on any given day. Abuse is not always evident, you see. Abuse and unfairness can be brutally visible, even deadly, or brutally subtle and invisible, undetectable.

Some people didn’t agree with the ways of some of the marchers, aggressive and disruptive, vandalizing monuments and shops — I myself ran away from those — but apart from some incidents (whether real or infiltrated) the otherwise peaceful and legitimate march was a free and reassuring exercise for all. Not that I endorse violent behavior, but I have no right or say in the way victims express themselves, and there must surely have been thousands with more horrifying abuse and injustice stories than mine.

So, I shut up.

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”
― Cheris Kramarae

Although the motives sadly remain, this year I didn’t march. To tell you the truth, I didn’t out of fear but also congruence: the pandemic is not over and there would be no social distancing in such a massive event, plus this time I wouldn't be able to run! But the solidarity and the concern are in my heart.

Not only in mine but also in those of the many men supporting feminism, because there are many, indeed. Feminism as opposite to macho-patriarch-rule-and-abuse, that is; not as hatred towards all men, no. Such a thing is just as bad as machism.

I wrote this for me and for all women — in the world, really, and in my life — because I am a woman.

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Bettina Villegas

Bettina Villegas

Mexican. Short stories writer. English teacher for almost 40 years now.

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