Letter from Mexico: Women fight violence

From the November-December 2019 issue of News & Letters

by J.G.F. Héctor

In August, thousands of women from feminist organizations and students demonstrated in Mexico City against the increasing gender violence in the country’s capital. The protest was triggered by the decision by the local police to allow four officers back on the job despite being accused of raping a 17-year-old girl.

Some women demanded implementation of the “gender alert” in the city, a legal measure that is supposed to compel the government to direct more economic and logistic resources to make women’s human rights respected. Others demanded the resignation of the female city mayor. Still others, enraged by all the violence—individual and state—against them, painted and destroyed official monuments and buildings, including a police station.

WOMEN, NOT POLICE, CALLED VIOLENT

The government and press focused all their attention on the “violence” of the protest and in punishing the ones responsible for the “destruction,” while paying lip service to the question of stopping gender violence, if not ignoring it altogether.

Official institutions are proving incapable of solving the alarming violence against women in Mexico. Indeed, they seem to increase it by trying to address security issues with more and more police officers. And this, in a supposed “Left” administration.

By going beyond “peaceful channels of protest”—making demands to the government, which doesn’t listen and can’t do anything—women are expressing implicitly that the current system, with all its institutions, should be destroyed if we are to uproot sexism and patriarchy from this world.

After this destruction, however, a second moment should be achieved: the construction of the new. By keeping together this double rhythm of revolution—the negation of the old, from which the positive then arises and develops—we can give birth to a truly new non-classist, non-sexist, non-racist human society. This is both a practical and philosophical task, and it can be fulfilled by the actions and thoughts of the subjects from below—women, workers, peasants, etc.—in conjunction with a full-blown philosophy of human liberation.

IF WOMEN NO LONGER WERE OBJECTS

The women who demonstrated against the escalating gender violence in the city are aiming for a society where being a woman would no longer mean being an object that can be raped or have her human rights negated by individuals and state institutions.

To make such a society a reality, a new view of the Man/Woman relationship—the most fundamental of all relationships, according to Marx—should be developed and concretized. This necessarily implies a critique of the alienated labor relationships in capitalist society, as well as the recognition of the need to overcome them.

A philosophy of human liberation encompasses this. It is, therefore, an anti-capitalistic and anti-patriarchal view of the future. One cannot fully destroy one without destroying the other. While having women at its “front, center, back and side, so that others don’t deviate,” as the Zapatista Indigenous women put it, such a view needs the joint action of men and women, workers, peasants, students and all the other revolutionary subjects with the common aim of burning down the perverse capitalist relationships and of building in their place a new human society.

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