Saturday, September 6, 2008

Men and Women. Life and Love.

How can it be that a country, a culture, is so violent? So macho? How is it, that over coffee today a neighbour told me that of her circle of friends of women about 60 years old, only one of them had not experienced violence against her in her life? How can it be that this same neighbour can tell me of almost being killed by her former husband? But really, how?

How can it be so: That it's not unheard of for a mexican woman to think that her husband doesn't love her anymore because he hasn't beaten her in 2 weeks?

How can it be that 13,000 women in mexico each year die at the hands of their partners?

How can it be that men can beat their wives and then retreat into regret over their actions, tequila and a pathetic ranchero song whose lyrics speak to the immaturity of the phenomenon of maschimso, lamenting "take me back my love, I need you, I am nothing without you"...... yeah, great self esteem on both the part of women and men there.

I suppose it's what happens when the foundation of a country and a culture is based on rape. The pattern is repeated, over and over and over again.

This all may sound too extreme, and it is not all like this. And violence does happen everywhere, australia, finland, not just in mexico. I know some of the most gorgeous mexican couples that love each other in the most beautiful way.

There are days when I just get so angry about the culture of violence, machismo, complete corruption and impunity that I think it is insurmoutable. The fact that even teachers are corrupt and buy their way into jobs and cheat on teaching exams, and that 80 per cent of kids in 9th grade dont have basic literacy skills, and that the lack of a strong education system is stuffing the whole thing up, and that the amount of deaths in mexico in june from drug-trafficking related violence was practically at a par at the deaths in Iraq. And that we´re up to 5,000 deaths in 18 months.

How can it be, how is it, that when the young man at my local shop stares in my eyes with a grin and asks me, "so do you live alone, or with friends?", that I should conceive that question as a form of violence? That I feel like shouting back at him and saying "it´s none of your bloody business man!!" - why do I feel vulnerable? Why does the taxi driver turn his rearview mirror so he can look straight at me? why do people even feel scared to drop you off even just a block from your house, and instead will make a massive bottleneck turn just to drop you at your door? Why the hell is there no phrase to say "I am embarrassed" and the literal translation is "It causes me pain" ("me da pena") - what in god's name is going on with phrases that contain such a lack of self belief and a need to keep in form and in line with appearances? Why did I feel like sharply replying to my friend today when he commented on my unmade bed on a lazy saturday morning and I thought "so what, I'm not fulfilling a woman´s role then?" what on earth provokes such thoughts? Such anger and heightened sensitivity to things that before I wouldn't have cared about? Such conflict?

Where the hell did love go? How did it become grabbing each other, asking the girl where she has been, who she has been with, pulling her hair firmly, pushing her, .... these are the realities of relationships in mexico, that often start with these signs in younger years between boyfriends and girlfriends, and then when life gets more serious and pressured between husband and wife, with kids, it becomes insults, shouts, beatings and even deaths.

I felt sick about all this walking home today, and then out of no-where the song "where is love, does it comes from skies above, is it underneath a willow tree, that I´ve been dreaming of".. -from the musical Oliver - came into my head.

Really, it makes me sad.

Where is the love of lying on the grass and laughing in the summertime, of talking about favourite songs and sharing music, of staying awake just to hear someone's voice, of talking of dreams and ambitions and who we are as people and what gives us joy, of tenderness, a childish excitement, a real respect, true love?

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