Mexico’s largest university is advertising a feminism conference, and yet, all of the participating panelists are men.
Confused? So is everyone else.
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.
Marta Lamas por sí sola es infumable, ahora súmenle once hombres masticando el feminismo. Mejor me clavo un tenedor de sien a sien, gracias.— romina (@rominoshka) October 2, 2017
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.
Espero que quienes se sorprenden del evento de Marta Lamas con XY por fin comprendan que ella no es feminista.— Farías (@inconsistente) October 2, 2017
Translation: I hope all those who are surprised about Marta Lamas' event finally learn that she's not a feminist.
Alguien no investigó que es un homenaje que hacen hombres aliados al trabajo de Marta Lamas. https://t.co/CzGSg1l6NW— Darío Ramírez (@dariomrs) October 3, 2017
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