Today’s anti-femicide #VivasNosQueremos (We Want Us Alive) rally is scheduled to begin at 5 PM before the Congreso building in the City of Buenos Aires. (If you’re reading this from another city in Argentina, find out where sister marches are taking place).
You may have heard or read reports that last year’s #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) rally assembled some 300,000 individuals. If that number alone makes the introvert or claustrophobe in you shriek like a thousand banshees, or if you simply think your attendance won’t necessarily make a difference, here are a few reasons why we think you should still, in fact, go.
I won’t lie to you: there may be cringe-worthy performance art and plays and there will definitely be drum circles, flag waving, chanting and lots of enthusiastic jumping. This is an Argentine protest. If your Anglo/Nordic/Vulcan sensibilities don’t find those kinds of protest elements engaging or at least charming, well, you can always take comfort in a sizzling choripán, because there will probably be some of that too.
But that’s all artifice. If you’re more concerned by some organizations and politicians using the rally as a platform to promote their own personal agendas — some of which you might not agree with — yes, that will probably happen as well. Last year, activists clamoring for legal abortions stood shoulder to shoulder with dead-baby-picture carrying anti-choice militants. And many groups have already said they will speak out today against President Mauricio Macri’s austerity measures, which they see as endangering vulnerable populations — including many women — by putting them in more precarious situations still.
— Graciela Alvarado (@GraLaProdu) June 3, 2016
But whether you think Macri is a sweet cherub descended from the heavens or see him as Beelzebub’s long-lost twin, I strongly recommend you not let your politics stop you from attending.
The bottom line is that today is about raising the alarm on a fundamental lack of respect for women. Femicide may seem like a far and distant thing to many of us who have never personally known a victim of it, even if we’re routinely bombarded with news of women being murdered (another death, another headline, pass me the mate, please). But — and I won’t pontificate much longer, because I know you already know this — the underlying mentality that allows a man to kill a woman because she “cheated on him” or merely looked at another man is the same that lets some believe they can catcall you or put an unwanted hand on you at a party because “they’d been drinking.” It’s a failure to uphold women’s dignity and we’re all potential victims because of it.
So go out today out of solidarity with both women and men because you’re tired of walking down the street with your eyes cast on the ground because a sheer sign of recognition with a man might be taken as an invitation. One of the saddest things in a gendered society (I clunkily speak in terms of a binary for simplicity’s sake, here) is how women are made to band up as allies against the constant and pervasive threat posed by machismo while simultaneously competing against each other to make it in a man’s world (cue the song, pour yourself a glass of scotch). There shouldn’t be such divisions, not between men and women, and certainly not among women ourselves. If we all see each other with the same respect and dignity we deserve, maybe men will stop killing us.
Today, NGO La Casa del Encuentro revealed that according to its findings, 275 women were murdered between last year’s June 3rd march and today’s. That’s one woman every four days.
If for whatever reason, you can’t make it to Congreso today, consider taking a minute to simply write #NiUnaMenos on one of your hundreds of social media platforms or strike up a conversation about the issue with an acquaintance. We need government action and institutional change, but we can start with the basics. We have to.