Today we have a dispatch from Mexico City on the massive protests against violence against women. Real quick though this piece on commuting and being forced back into the office from last year seems newly relevant.
It speaks to the prevalence of the violence they face
by Madeleine Wattenbarger
In the Mexico City plaza where women gather before the International Women’s Day march the atmosphere feels like a mix of preparing for war and getting ready for a party. They pull balaclavas over their faces and line their friends’ eyes with green pigment. They adjust bandanas around their wrists and necks. They write their personal information across their arms with sharpies in case of arrest: name, emergency contact, blood type. They test out their stencils and spray paint, tattooing pink slogans across the pavement. Some carry Molotov cocktails and hammers in their backpacks.
In the days leading up to the March 8 protest, for the last few years the date of the largest annual demonstrations in cities across the country, the president has warned of vandals staining the name of the movement. A movement that he says is, yes, of course, a just cause. We are all for the elimination of violence of all kinds, he says, and that includes violence against women. In accordance with that commitment the authorities have deployed not only Mexico City’s all-female police force, known as the Athenas, but also the Marines and the National Guard to monitor the march.
This March 8 is an unseasonably hot day. The women are expecting tear gas and aggression from police and still they are fiercely jubilant.
A peculiar kind of pop feminism has taken hold in Mexico in the last few years. It takes as its symbols Molotov cocktails and black balaclavas, its slogans the names of femicide victims. Not everyone shows up prepared for direct action, but those who do make up a significant number, and it speaks to the prevalence of the violence they face. In fact every day ten women in the country become victims of femicide according to a 2021 study from Amnesty International titled Justice On Trial. Authorities routinely dismiss and mock the cases that are brought. The killers of women often remain free.
“Mexico is continuing to fail to fulfil its duty to investigate and, therefore, its duty to guarantee the rights to life and personal integrity of the victims, as well as to prevent violence against women,” the report reads.
“Feminicidal violence and the failings in investigation and prevention in northern Mexico are not anecdotal, but rather form part of a broader reality in the country.”
A lot of young women had to be killed for so many of them to reason that setting fire to government buildings is one of the only remaining logical responses. And yet a lot of them have been and now a lot of them do.