University Under Fire For Excluding Women From Feminism Panel

One of Mexico's most famous and accomplished feminists is behind this particular event, so why is she only having men participate and talk about feminism?

Close-up of eminist demonstrator.

Mexico’s largest university is advertising a feminism conference, and yet, all of the participating panelists are men.

Confused? So is everyone else.

According to The Independent, the conference on feminism will be celebrating Marta Lamas, Mexico’s most well-known feminists and founder of the now-defunct feminist magazine Fem.

For Lamas’ 70th birthday, the humanities department of the National Autonomous University of Mexico decided to organize “Marta Lamas in Dialogue with XY,” an event on feminism with Lamas as the moderator. However, instead of inviting women to be part of the conference, organizers decided to only invite men.

The decision provoked an immediate backlash, with people questioning the event’s purpose.

On Twitter, many users attacked Lamas for being part of such an event, while others defended the conference, saying that there’s a reason why only men were invited.

Translation: Marta Lamas alone is unpalatable, now she's letting eleven men chew on feminism. I'll rather stay in my temple and digest it on my own, thanks.

 Translation: I hope all those who are surprised about Marta Lamas' event finally learn that she's not a feminist.

Translation: It seems as if people didn't understand that the men in the event are allied and are paying a tribute to Marta Lamas' work.

As an anthropologist, Lamas wrote several books on issues often championed by feminists, such as abortion and gender discrimination. As an advocate for gender equality, Lamas was also instrumental in the effort to decriminalize abortion in the country.

But now that the event celebrating her birthday has no women involved, it appears that she may be deviating from her own philosophy.

Despite the outcry, the lack of women panelists wasn't meant to be a drawback.

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

“I am trying to change the world for men, too,” she added

Lamas actually helped choose who was going to participate, knowing that she was going to have to handle a great deal of backlash for her decisions.

Still, she said, she wasn’t totally prepared for how online users have reacted.

In Mexico, where women often suffer because of under-representation, the fact an event about feminism will only host male panelists is obviously going to prompt many people to ask Lamas whether she’s being honest about her efforts to bring an end to gender inequality.

Perhaps, the debate this particular event raises will actually help others realize just how important it is to include women in public debates. Still, as a veteran feminist with years of work for gender equality under her belt, Lamas should have known not to exclude women completely from any event, especially one that is entirely about women's rights.

Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr, Secretaría de Cultura Ciudad de México

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