Why it isn’t just about good people VS bad people


by Mariana Celedon, United World College Maastricht
8th March, 2020


On February 15th, a 7-year-old called Fatima was found dead, wrapped in a trash bag in Mexico City after being raped and tortured. The man who kidnapped her said he just wanted a small girlfriend. A few days before Fatima’s disappearance, on February 9th, another woman was found dead, murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Her name was Ingrid, and photos of her dismembered body were published in national newspapers with headlines such as “it was cupid’s fault” and “fleshless”.
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After the inaction from the Mexican government regarding the 265 femicides occurred so far this year, feminist collectives carried out a protest in the city centre of the capital on February 14th. Hundreds of women flooded the main streets, screaming the names of women they never met, hand to hand with women they had never talked to before. Mainly focusing on the newspaper agencies that spread Ingrid’s dead body images, feminists sprayed protest slogans in the walls, and even burned the entrance of the National Palace. All this in order to be heard by the very same government whose duty is to protect them.
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Now, the reason for me writing this article is not just creating awareness about the alarming femicide situation in Mexico. It is the one of discussing the reaction people had to the protests and the notorious effort of women to visibilize Mexico and Latin America as a deadly territory for them. Shortly after the protests, friends and relatives started expressing their opinions through social media. Contrary to the abundance of comments, the variety of opinions was quite limited. It was either you supported it or you were against it.
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Among the many arguments against the protests and the existence of gender violence itself, there was this phrase many of my acquaintances posted in social media: “It is not a matter of women vs men. It is about good people vs bad people. Coherence please”. Now, this is not something I only heard from fellow Mexicans. It is an attitude people have been replicating all around the world. From Chinese social censorship to the Afghan government’s disregard of gender struggle.
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Yes, not all men are murderers and rapists; but there are enough of those for women to be afraid to walk alone late at night. Saying violence has no gender is like saying it has no color or not sexual orientation. It is undeniable that certain groups are targets, stigmatized and attacked without much reaction from the government which often perpetuates the systemic brutality. Violence has a direction and we cannot deny the struggle of a group merely because pointing out a cause makes some feel uncomfortable. Empathy also implies comprehending it is not our time to be the protagonist in the fight. So next time before asking “Why is it feminism? Why not egalitarianism?” remember who are the ones being sexually harassed in the streets, who are the ones who are thrown acid to, who are the ones being forced to marry. In these situations it is clearly not just a matter of good people VS bad people.
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As women’s day is approaching, feminist collectives in Mexico launched a new initiative for protesting. Since many people including politicians, complained about the aggressiveness of the previous demonstrations, the collectives decided to advocate through more silent means. They called for a “Day Without Women”. March 9 would be the day in which no women would go to work, to school, to get a haircut. We would all be gone, just like the girls that couldn’t make it out the dark alley. This was proposed in order to visualize the importance of women in the Mexican economy and the in spaces they occupy in society.
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As usual from a country where patriarchy is embedded to the core, arguments against it spread through all the internet, questioning the need to do so. Claiming (again) that violence affected everybody, some even called for a Day Without Men. Certainly, they did not realize this was not the worst women could hear. “Living a day without carrying a taser in my bag, wearing my favorite spring dress, going to a party without being paranoid the whole time, thinking they would put something in my drink, doesn’t sound that bad”. That’s exactly what I thought, that’s what my friend thought, that’s what her friend thought, and that’s what 64 million Mexican women thought.
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On the other side, there were men expressing through social media their desire to support the feminist movement. However, that does not imply marching with women at a protest. Why? Because feminism is a movement that aims to empower women, to make them the protagonist of their own story. If men aim to support the movement, there are many ways they can do so. Do so by not watching porn where the women starring are probably coerced to perform. Stop sharing nudes with your friends in a group chat. Because what’s the point of having allies that wouldn’t denounce their friends?
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So, for the people thinking feminism hates men, people thinking violence has no gender. I hope now you have a clearer answer. It isn’t just about good people VS bad people. It is indeed about women and their struggle to take over their own lives.
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P.D. Happy Women’s Day!

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