1st goberndadorA

When the relationship between gender and Mexico is mentioned you may think of machismo, the degradation of women, the testosterone levels in the men, and the perpetual enforcement of a heterosexual, marriage-based society that favors traditionalism over modernism. I'm hooooping that at least one of the entries I have written has shed a little bit of the light of the deeper extent of this relationship in general. But now I find that there was something else right in front of my face that I have yet to address that screams gender from every angle.

The structure of the Mexican government is slightly different from the one that is in place in the United States but they generally have the same characters. There is a president (which, surprise, surprise, has never been female or of indigenous background), there are senators, governors, representatives, and what we would consider "mayors" of each town or city. The responsibilities of each role are generally similar to those that you already know in the states with slight changes due to things like the economic state of the country, the history of its development, and the unfortunate presence of various forms of corruption around every corner.

Here in Zacatecas, they are experiencing something very contemporary not only for the city and the state, but for the country. They are in the third year of a six year term held by the first female governor in the history of the state. She is only the fifth in the history of the country to be elected. She won the popular vote by being what many considered the "lesser of two evils" in the elections held in July of 2004. After taking her place in September, her support was widespread and the people were generally enthusiastic about her presence and the energy she brought to the city and the state. By the time I arrived here in July of 2006, much of the hope had already greatly diminished and people were claiming that she had done nothing for the people, had not followed through with any of her promises, and did not care at all about the welfare of the Zacatecans. Now this doesn't sound very far from the description we could use for many a politician these days, but the difference comes in when people start relating their personal opinion of her governing skills to the equipment she carries between her legs.

Being a female politician anywhere in the world ain't easy, honey. Of that we are well aware. But in a country where it is a brand new idea, not one that we have had a few decades to get used to, things are a lot heavier. Not only are people already saying, only halfway through her term, that "this is what happens when you put a woman in charge" (something I have trouble thinking would only be said in Mexico, especially during the current debates going on in the States), but there are lots of smaller details that have larger effects. For example, to anyone and everyone in Zacatecas, she is known as "Amalia". Call her Governor Garcia (I had to stop and think about what her last name is, I might add) and no one will even know who you are talking about. Now, when was the last time we referred to the lord almighty himself "George"? Then I keep thinking and right in front of us we have who…McCain, Dean, Obama and…Hillary. Hmm. Interesting. So our good friend, Amalia, is always impeccably dressed in her pants suit, occasionally fitted with a skirt, but most often with pants. She always has her hair perfectly styled and her pearly earrings shining through. Now these comments wouldn’t be necessary if she were a man but then again, a tie is a tie and a comb-over is a comb-over, isn't it?

Amalia has one daughter. The father? Mysteriously, he is not in the picture. She is not married which did surprise me when I first found out. In a state that is considered 98% Catholic, being a female governor is one thing but an unmarried one? I found out today that the supposed truth is that she is a widow but the common opinion is that she is divorced. Opinion based on fact or on a desired implication?

In terms of what I know of what Amalia has achieved, I can't lie, I haven't heard of or seen much. A lot of people do chock that up to being female which inevitably leads to being a bad politician. They overlook the fact that other female candidates in the past have faced violence, attacks, and even one that was murdered before her name could be put on the ballot for mayor. I tend to point out that maybe it isn't that she doesn't want to get things through the government, but more that they just ain't lettin' her in, folks. It's one thing to let her in the governor's office it's another to actually let her have a voice in the national government.

Personally, I was excited to arrive at the beginning of such a new and interesting political term. I have been very disappointed in her lack of influence not only on Zacatecas' politics but also on the importance placed on women's rights. Despite her claims that she would be focusing on their needs and wants, the only thing I've seen to show for it is a billboard or two with the faces of four woman, two children (beautiful and light-skinned), an indigenous woman, and the governor herself with the statement "Nuestras mujeres merecen ser respetadas" (Our women deserve to be respected). That'll show those misogynistic wife-beaters. Yo go, girl.

I'm still not sure what my personal opinion is on Amalia. I know that the majority, if not all, of the people I have spoken with have one that is almost 100% negative. I am also conscious of the fact that we shouldn't be defending her just for being a woman. The fact is, she could just be a dishonest, crappy politician like so many of the others out there. It's just so hard to not want to be behind her in a situation in which no one else is. Where do we draw the line? There are those in the States who look at the ballot and simply choose every female candidate. There's a lot to be said in using a technique like that. So in a country where having any woman on the ballot is a huge achievement, should we follow that same thought process? Even if we know she sucks?

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