The other day in class, we read an article titled “Los delincuentes de la mirada lasciva,” which I found to be very interesting. It opens up talking about a woman who is faced with stares and catcalls as she walks down the streets. Apparently, this is something that happens all the time in Mexico. Men see a beautiful woman on the street and they are not shy about letting her know, sometimes yelling out “piropos” or sometimes with a lascivious stare. This was old news to me. I knew stuff like this happened since I have family still living in Mexico. What did surprise me was that the government was trying to do something to stop it from occurring. A law has been passed that prohibits men from looking at a woman in such a manner under the argument that these looks can damage her emotional well-being. I think it’s great that they are trying to do something about this, because I’ve been the girl getting the stares before and it is something rather uncomfortable to deal with. I like that they are trying to ensure that women are respected and that they feel safe walking on the streets of Mexico.
What confuses me is how they are going to enforce such a law. How do you measure a lascivious stare? Or maybe a comment from a male that was intended to be innocent is misinterpreted for something inappropriate. How do you determine whether he should be charged or not? I suppose there could be interviews with the police, ect, but for a government official to do this every time something like this happens seems impossible and time wasting when they could be focused on other crimes. Men give lascivious stares every day, so how do you catch them all? Although I do love that they are doing something so that women feel safer in any environment, I don’t know that this is going to work well.
Another thing I want to mention is that I don’t generalize. When I say that I know this happens often in Mexico, I don’t mean to say that all Mexican men do it. I know many respectable men who don’t stare at women or hit on them on the street. I have had several, if not many, experiences with friends where someone honks at them from their car or someone yells out to them and they reply with some offensive statement like “probably a Mexican,” or “stupid Mexicans.” I cannot begin to describe the anger I feel when I hear statements like that. It hurts to think that my dad is being generalized by some ignorant people for something he is not, or that my brother may be generalized the same way. One thing that I have learned is that men from any country and race can behave in inappropriate ways. I am really hoping that I don’t go to Mexico generalizing the people based on stereotypes. I know how hurtful that can be and I want to give people a fair chance. I suppose there is a possibility I may have to deal with stares or “piropos” or whatever may happen, but I hope that doesn’t affect the way I see all men. I think it would really affect my experience and my research if I let that get to me.