Dear UNAM, what is feminism without women?

By Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor

10/11/17

The largest university in Mexico, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) held a conference on the topic of feminism on Oct. 11, which is a wonderful idea except for one detail:

All of the 11 participants were male.

This is like a panel of white people discussing the adversities of people of color. This is as absurd as billionaires explaining the hardships of the homeless. This is unacceptable mansplaining.

For those of you unfamiliar with the word “mansplaining,” it is a term that describes how a man assumes you have no idea what he’s talking about and condescendingly explains something to you.

For those of you who are thinking, “Oh, mansplaining can’t possibly be a thing,” it is, and it unfortunately happens to women constantly. Men have been talking down to us for so long that it has gotten to the point where they believe they can explain the fundamentals of feminism better than women.

Marta Lamas, the moderator of the event, told BBC: “I have spent 48 years discussing feminism on panels only with women. And this time I thought, ‘Okay, let’s see what men have to say.’ I am trying to change the world for men, too.”

Feminism includes men, this is true. But the basis of why feminism was created was to advocate for the equality of women — to bring us up to the same platform that men have been on for centuries.

Women are not treated as equally as men in our society. This is a fact. If you find yourself shaking your head at that statement, please do your own research and come back to my column after, because I do not have the time to go through the endless history of sexist oppression.

If you’re going to lead a panel discussing feminism, it would be beneficial to include some women — any woman on Earth — to talk about her experiences rather than a man whose experiences are entirely different. Yes, men experience sexism as well, but compared to how women are treated, it is not as frequent or drastic. To compare the two is simply flawed thinking.

Jenaro Villamil, one of the men listed to take part in the conference, has pulled out of the panel saying, “I didn’t organize it and it doesn’t interest me to take part in this game of hate,” reported the BBC.

Mexico needs a proper assessment of feminism for the public. If you take a look at Mexican laws, they do not properly protect women from domestic or sexual violence. The UN Women Gobal Database on Violence against Women reports that 63 percent of women aged 15 years and over have experienced some type of violence, and 47 percent have reported being assaulted by their current or recent partner. The Mexican state of Puebla has registered 83 femicides, or murders of women, since the beginning of this year.

If we truly want to advocate for feminism and take down the patriarchy, we are going to eventually need the help of men. Feminist activist Veronica Vidal Degiorgis said to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “If something good comes out of this, it’s how we can have more engagement on moving the agenda forward. (Men) also have the right to be involved in some point in how to dismantle the patriarchy, as they’re part of it.”

Fundamentally, improving the lives of women will take discussion from both men and women. However, the world — especially Mexico — does not need any more mansplaining. What we need is more women speaking out on these issues because having solely a male viewpoint will only cause further inequality and discrimination. Let’s amplify women’s voices in a man’s world because Mexican women deserve to be heard.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!