One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
“Nunca he hecho amor con una mujer canadiense.”
The man tapped his unlit cigarette on his knee, moving a little closer to me on the concrete bench.
I rolled my eyes.
Walking around Guatemala City today, I just wanted a break. I wanted to sit and watch people move around me. I chose to relax in the park that lies in front of the Palacio de Gobierno, the federal government buildings.
Alas, like many other spaces in this country – and anywhere for that matter – women are not free from unwanted advances.
Everywhere I go, I see and feel eyes on my breast, legs and ass.
There’s no escape. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing dresses, pants, nasty old sweatpants or men’s clothing – the whistles and jeers are everywhere.
* * *
I recently went to the bar with some friends in San Cristobal de las Casas. You might remember this from my last post. Let me go into more detail.
That night, I was dancing. I love dancing, whether by myself or with people. That night, I danced with some men and by myself.
Then, a woman started dancing with me. Closely. She started making moves, and while I did not stop her, the men nearby tried to.
They looked. They gasped. They laughed. They pointed. They grabbed my hand, and tried to make me dance with them. To me, it almost seemed like they were saying, “Don’t worry – you don’t have to dance with her! We’re here, and we’ll take you!”
Later on, a fellow whom I had scorned – indeed, a fellow with whom I argued for other reasons – sent me a message, noting that it was laugh-worthy that I left the men for a woman.
I understand that the GLBT community in Mexico is not quite as accepted as in Canada. But, perhaps naively, I was still taken aback.
No one said, “Hey, no same-sex dancing here.”
Instead, they just started grabbing and jeering. The looks and touches.
* * *
One day, my boyfriend and I were walking in the Zócalo in Oaxaca when a man walked up and asked if we wanted to buy drugs. We said no. My partner continued the conversation, but I refused to talk to the man after that.
The stranger asked what my problem was. I just continued walking, staring forward. He then went into a tirade about how women were nothing but trouble. Women were sluts. He was sure I was the same.
* * *
After interviewing the mayor of Juchitán in Mexico, my fellow female reporter dealt with seemingly-endless touches from the mayor’s hands and the more-than-occasional “Blank-aaaaaah…” escaping fom his lips.
At one point, after showing us the in-town fair, the mayor put his arm around me. He asked if my partner took care of me. Off guard, I nodded vigorously and said, “Si. Absolutemente si.”
In retrospect, this was wrong answer. Certainly, I love my partner, and we take care of each other. But I don’t need him to take care of me, nor do I expect this. I can provide for myself, as he can for himself.
* * *
As my good Slovakian friend told me, “Repetition is the mother of wisdom.”
Let’s go back to the park in front of the Guatemalan government buildings, where the man is tapping his cigarette on his knee, eyes expectantly grazing my body. This time, I was prepared with an alternative response when he asked why I was turning his offer down.
“Soy una mujer independiente. No necesito un hombre.”
I’m an independent woman. I don’t need a man.
He didn’t respond.