Outcry over male-dominated feminism event

Outcry over male-dominated feminism event

A debate on feminism has caused online outrage in Mexico because the panel is made up solely of men.

But leading Mexican feminist Marta Lamas – who inspired the event – has defended the idea, saying she thinks it is “different and provocative”.

The topics the 11 men will discuss are “feminism and rights” and “feminism and the market”. Ms Lamas will take a central role.

However, critics say men dominate discussions in Mexico enough already.

The event is called “Marta Lamas in dialogue with XY”, referring to the male chromosome.

Mexican media first reported that no women would be on stage, but Ms Lamas told the BBC she would be hosting the day-long event, which will be held at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City on 11 October.

She said it had been arranged to honour her forthcoming 70th birthday, and she had been involved in inviting the participants.

“I have spent 48 years discussing feminism on panels only with women,” she said. “And this time I thought, ‘OK, let’s see what men have to say’.”

She said she expected some people not to like it, but she did not anticipate the extent of criticism received. “I am trying to change the world for men too,” she said.

“The UNAM is saying: Women, sit down and we will invite 11 men to teach you what feminism means,” read one typical tweet.

After the programme was launched on Monday, one of participants, journalist Jenaro Villamil pulled out, saying on Twitter: “I didn’t organise it and it doesn’t interest me to take part in this game of hate”.

Last month, Mr Villamil turned up at a march for Mara Castilla – a teenage girl murdered after using a taxi app – but he was set upon by a group of participants who did not want to see him there.

It sparked a debate in the country about how men participate in feminism.

Some defended his right to take part. Others said he should have moved back and questioned his reasons for being there.

He said he was attending as a journalist and an ally.

Ms Lamas said no other participants had spoken to her about pulling out.

Last year a group of women in Guadalajara launched a manifesto calling on men to step down from speaking engagements if there was an imbalance of female participation.

The manifesto written by Con Nosotras, meaning With Us (women), said: “To take into account only a male viewpoint on issues that concern us all, abuses, discriminates and perpetuates inequality”.

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