This is the English translation of the 2011 Mexico Women’s Day talk I did not give.
Its context is Mexico, the wide-spread abuse of women, and the 300-600 unsolved murders of women in Ciudad Juárez durng in the last ten years, a plague which has spread to other cities in Mexico.
Women are not cows, nor mascots, nor toys to humiliate, dominate, and control.
You know this, but many men here do not.
Because some men don’t feel deserving, they have to rob and rape.
And not just adult women.
We know through Lydia Cacho about the extensive sexual exploitation of children as young as six years old.
Through Digna Ochoa (October 2001), we know that moral courage is extremely dangerous, and that many men do not tolerate a just and swift application of the law.
(Look up Digna Ochoa in Wikipedia. She was kidnapped several times and finally murdered, for her activities as a human rights lawyer. Amnesty International had celebrated her bravery with their Enduring Spirit Award. After a year of essentially non-investigation, Mexico City officials ruled her death was a suicide, even though a warning note had been attached to her body and forensics showed she could not have shot herself.)
We know that those who need impunity do not know how to love, neither others, nor themselves.
Through Atenco (May 2006), we know that the police – that is to say, men without much self-esteem – have to rob and humiliate. How would you otherwise explain their behavior?
‘He put his fingers in my mouth and vagina and forced me to give him oral sex. He spilled his sperm on my sweater, and then another policeman did the same thing and grabbed my breasts and said, this one’s suckling, the little bitch.’
Women are not cows.
Men, on the other hand, are frequently dogs.
But this incarnation is not obligatory.
In my opinion, we should not be celebrating Women’s Day, rather (celebrating) women themselves.
But how can we do this, if we men don’t even know how to celebrate ourselves?
My thirty years in men’s groups tells me that we do not really know who we could be.
We have learned just about two ways of relating to women, in moments of conflict.
By hitting them, or by going away pouting.
We don’t realize that the full range of emotions available to women is also available to us.
We haven’t learned how to talk to women. They are so much more skilled, tactically, in this area than we are – a skill they have learned in order to survive.
But we can learn to defend themselves, with words, and not have to feel panic and rage.
We can learn to feel (and distinguish) emotions.
We can gradually learn to recognize our disappointments, our anger, our fear, and deeply buried sadness for so many things. Sometimes, for the distant father, who may have learned distance and silence from his father.
We can learn to support other men, instead of competing with them. We can learn to talk with other men about what it means to be a man in this world.
And when we discover that we have emotions, and that we don’t have to feel shame because of them, then we can be less emotionally dependent on the women in our lives.
(Gradually) we can learn that there are no guarantees of loyalty, and that any form of domination or pressure, or presumption of loyalty makes a mature and satisfying love impossible.
And then, perhaps, we will learn that women are not cows, and that we are not dogs.”