I think I speak for many right now when I say, “What the hell, AMLO?”
I say this as a fan, and with not a little concern. I would have voted for him had I been a citizen myself, and though I’d have reservations today, I probably still would. But his response to the crisis of femicides has been so tone deaf that it has me wondering if he’s going senile. Where are his handlers?
You’d think by this point someone would have given him something to just read.
Especially unbecoming was the embarrassing sight of his wife initially supporting the women’s strike set to take place on March 9, and then, hours later, issuing a turnaround encouraging women not to strike.
We want the government to respond. But how can it do so? Do any of us really have a plan? With a justice system that is barely even symbolic, let alone effective, in this country, is it possible to fix a piece of it without fixing the whole of it? Believe me, I want all of it fixed. This particular issue of extreme gender violence just happens to be the one that horrifies me the most.
Recent news of child abuse (girls, of course) that horrifyingly falls into this category has me wondering how it is that history has such a sick way of repeating itself. This hatred is a sickness, but where does it come from? Is it psychological or sociological?
Back in the 1950s and 60s, when my mother was a child, she was physically and sexually abused until she finally managed to leave home at 18 and move to another city. Her abuse wasn’t a secret. She told everyone she could, trying to get help: teachers, other family members, people at church. While most people no doubt felt sorry for her, everyone opted to stay out of it, as it was a “private family issue.”
The memories of my mother’s stories came rolling back to me as I read about Kimberly, 8, who’d been killed by her father and stepmother just as her mother had finally been awarded custody. The mother only found out about her daughter’s death when she arrived to pick her up from court.
Neighbors said they were aware of the girl being beaten on a regular basis. Did anyone even try to help her? As long as there is so little faith in the justice system that regular citizens are afraid to speak out even when faced with the obvious abuse of a minor, we’re going to continue going down this awful path.
In the meantime, AMLO seems to be the modern equivalent of those who told my mother, “Look, that’s very sad, but it’s a personal family issue and we’ve got bigger fish to fry, OK? Come now, let the grownups work.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as many times as necessary: femicides are not just “regular homicides” in which the victims just happen to be female. Femicides are crimes in which they are killed because they are women. Men are not killed for being men. That’s what makes them different.
Women aren’t being dramatic, and we’re not panicking over nothing. We’re not making this stuff up. We’re screaming and yelling, and the only thing that seems to get anyone’s attention is mass petty crime like spray painting some monuments or vandalizing a courthouse. Now that is something that gets some attention and condemnation!
I’ve seen the smirks. I’ve seen the contempt. I’ve seen the flashes of anger at being challenged. Hell, I read them in the comments section of my own articles every week (special shout-out to my haters who disparage my writing yet read every. single. one. of. my. columns.).
What will a strike do? I have no idea. Will it move anyone, or just make them hunker down further in their own views? Will it make the haters resent us and hold us in contempt even more?
Women have tried por las buenas. We’ve asked nicely. We’ve asked peacefully. We’ve participated in programs to help women even as their funding has been cut. It didn’t work. So fine. Por las malas.
You don’t like women marching and destroying things? Well we don’t like getting killed. Guess we’ll have to figure something out.
Sarah DeVries writes from her home in Xalapa, Veracruz.