Why a feminist?

She gets into her dark closet, tries to cover her ears while wishing she wouldn’t have to hear those loud arguments out in the living room.

“It is my dad and mom always fighting at home.”

She wishes she wouldn’t be on the car while her mother drives crying because her dad got drunk and screamed at her in front of other people at the party.

“It was my mom driving late at night after a party.”

She always asked herself why her dad was always so serious and authoritarian to her, why did he never let her go out with friends unless she pleaded for hours for permission.

It was my dad saying words he should have never said to me. It was my dad calling me a pendeja the time I dared to step up to him. It was my dad telling me that if I stood up to my mom or him and if they suddenly passed away because of an argument with me then it would all be my fault.

She was taught to be silent, to not stand up to what was harming her or to even disagree on something.

“It wasn’t easy to  understand why my mother went through so many miscarriages and risked her health just because it was his dream to have a son.”

She  started a countdown chart at the age of thirteen of when she was going to turn eighteen and be allowed to leave the house. It was never clear to her why fear was used as synonym for respect in the family.

“Five years later, exactly a month and one day after turning eighteen I grabbed by luggages and crossed the border to México.”

She had to go through the difficulties of being undocumented in what she believed was her country but it was even harder for her to have grown up with so much violence that it was inevitable for her to leave.

“I had to escape that violence and start my life at a very young age, I was forced to mature early in life and to start my life when I was only a teenager who thought of herself as an adult.”

For some reason my brain decided that it was best for me to block all those memories of when I was growing up with my parents. Since the day I turned eighteen years I have become an independent woman who has had no choice but to stay away from family. I have never understood my mother and her decisions just the same way that I don’t agree with my father’s parenting. The moment I crossed that international border from the United States to México in 2008 I was also crossing that invisible line that existed between my family and I.

As an adult now, it has been really hard to deal with these flashbacks from my teenage years. It is painful to go through all these memories. I have been avoiding them for as long as I could because now that they are here they aren’t going anywhere unless I lie to myself.

As part of the deported and returned community in México, and specially after opening our doors in Poch@ House along with other amazing people it has become clear that a space will never be a safe space if we (women) don’t feel safe in it.  It has been disappointing to see that many of the men in my community do not even have the capacity to listen to us, to acknowledge that when they invalidate our struggle they are letting their machismo out on us. They are part of this patriarchal system. The fact that they feel like they aren’t “like those men” is exactly what is getting women killed, disappeared, harassed, intimidated and of course sexually, emotionally, economically and physically abused. We are always being reminded that we are worthless, that we should say quite, that we are weak, that we are different and that no matter what it will always be our fault.

I am convinced of the power of our stories, of the power of coming out as an undocumented, as a deportee or as a returnee because by putting our stories out there we have the power to eventually transform our reality. This is why after a seventeen year process and specially after realizing that it doesn’t matter if I want to add or take away labels to myself, but what really matters is that I continue to stand up to my beliefs. It is essential to keep using my voice along with the voices of others to keep fighting for not only our human rights but also for the the right to stay alive.

I understand the importance of claiming our multiple identities. I understand the impact that is has to publicly name and position ourselves as political agents. This is why after today I am positioning myself not only as a returnee, a pocha, a woman, a human rights activist but also as a feminist , a feminist in my own way because I want all of us to one day feel truly safe, with equal rights and specially I want us all alive.

As I have said before our life is always a journey, it is always a process and we are always identifying and redefining ourselves based on our personal and collective growth.

I also want to take this moment to make sure I am clear with everyone who is taking the time to read these pages that I hope my words and my experience can be of any help to you as a woman. If you’re a man and are not willing to even listen or have a conversation with respect please just unfriend me in the virtual and in the real world too.

Finally, after months and weeks of crying a lot as I do this blog I have come to an inner peace with my parents, with my past and most importantly with the woman I am today.

I also have to end by appreciating the many people that have crossed my life, specially the many amazing, strong and chingonas mujeres that have not only contributed to my process but also keep inspiring me to continue this intersectional, complex, dynamic and diverse struggle.

Much love,

Maggie Loredo