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Ultimate mansplaining? Outrage greets Mexican feminism panel with 11 participants – all of them male

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 10:09am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 8:33pm

When a pink flier promoting a feminism conference at Mexico’s biggest university was posted on social media this week, it did not take long before people noticed something was amiss.

The line-up featured two panels with 11 participants – and all of them were male. It was, as one woman tweeted, the graphic description of “mansplaining”.

The lopsided line-up provoked outrage on Twitter, reigniting debate about the representation of women in Mexican society and the role of men in feminist movements in a deeply machista country where seven women are murdered every day.

“What’s next? A conference on racism with only white people?” asked another Twitter user.

Organised by the humanities department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Unam), the October 11 conference appears to be intended as a homage to the feminist scholar Marta Lamas, who will host the event and debate the 11 men. The university did not immediately respond to queries about the event.

Many feminists saw the format as an insult or an act of provocation.

“Feminism for dummies: we don’t have a single representative, there are many of us and we’re very diverse. Invite many women to your debates,” tweeted the feminist blogger Ana González.

The under-representation of women in Mexican society spurred a group of feminists to found Con Nosotras, an initiative that encourages public speakers to boycott all-male forums.

“It’s good that this has created debate about the issue,” said co-founder Susana Ochoa. “I think their intention was good but it wasn’t communicated appropriately. ”

Ochoa said the incident could prompt Mexicans to consider the importance of including women in public debate. “Women have not been represented in this country for a long time,” she said.

The conference comes at a sensitive time in the debate over the male participation in the feminist movement. Last month activists pushed and berated the journalist Jenaro Villamil for wading into the female-only section at the front of a march in Mexico City to protest the murder of a 19-year-old woman. Villamil, who is among the panellists at the conference, declined to comment when contacted by the Guardian.

For many, the incident illustrated a frequent problem related to male involvement. “Feminists don’t hate men,” González said. “We just want them to stop being protagonists everywhere.”