Mourning Women's History Month

Posted in The Gnovis Blog

I would like to encourage all of you to join me for a viewing of Senorita Extraviada: Missing Young Women Friday night at 8pm. Details here

The Georgetown Women’s Center is screening this award-winning documentary in recognition of Women’s History Month.  In it, Director Lourdes highlights the stories of just a few of the hundreds of women who have disappeared or been found brutally murdered in Juarez, Mexico. The documentary’s official website offers this description:

The documentary moves like the unsolved mystery it is, and the filmmaker poetically investigates the circumstances of the murders and the horror, fear and courage of the families whose children have been taken. Yet it is also the story of a city of the future; it is the story of the underbelly of our global economy.

Fellow CCTer Sara Upton first brought this tragic situation to my attention.  (See her blog on it from this Fall) Although the world and culture of Juarez and the world and culture I am from seem as seperate as two cultures can be, this film highlights the strong bonds connecting these cultures: primarily American drug consumption and corporate manufacturing.

Although escalating violence in the past months has brought increased levels of American media coverage to the situation, authorities are no closer to solving, or even stopping the femicide.  If anything, the drug war in the area will likely further absorb attention away from the  rape, mutilation, and murder of young poor women and girls in the area.

I am bringing these events to gnovis reader’s attention to point out a trend I have commonly noticed in events for Women’s History Month: this month often carries a tone of mourning and grief.

Why is this?  Shouldn’t this month be a celebration?  A dance in honor of women’s accomplishment?  A time to move women from the footnotes of history books to a place front and center?

The National Women’s History project cites various goals for this month in women’s honor:

Recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine – has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women.

By walking history’s pathways, we learn to step forward with confidence. The legacy of how others shaped society sparks our own longings to contribute. Everyone needs role models — footsteps enough like our own to inspire us.

Instead of a dance, often this month is a cry for help, a plea for attention.  For instance, yesterday morning on the Georgetown University’s lawn, Georgetown Women’s Center set up a commemoration site.

Hundreds of small wooden crosses, neatly placed in rows, stood a few inches from the ground. Around the perimeter of this commemorative site, signs reminded passers by of statistics on domestic violence and poverty among women. This commemoration site, as well as the film Senorita Extraviada, carry a sobering tone. They suggest that before women are moved from the margins of history, violence against women must be moved from the margins of the present.

First and foremost the Women’s History Project seeks to ‘write women back into history’. In the case of Juarez, we must first give these voices a place in the present, instead of unnamed unsolved and largely unnoticed mystereries.

But too often these reminders pass fleetingly through our consciousness.

By afternoon, the crosses on the lawn were gone. I played Frisbee in their former home, forgetting they were there at all.  So come out tomorrow. Get a frightening, yet very real, glimpse with me into this culture so different yet so connected to our own.


(Ironically, March also celebrates the 50th birthday the doll icon of un-real female body type suited to masculine fantasy — Barbie. After half a century warping girl’s body image before they even learn to read, you can now get a hipper version, complete with Ken’s name tattooed on her lower back. Awhhhh)