Sometimes people are jerks: Ode to the hemeroteca

This summer, my adviser contracted me to do some research in Mexican archives and libraries. Now that I am back in Mexico I have done some more research for her. Today I went to the newspaper and magazine library at the UNAM (Hemeroteca) and it went so much more quickly than last time. It seems that the person in charge of photography and photocopying decided to tell me to do about 5 extra steps in May, which added approximately 5 hours of work, costing my adviser some of her grant money, and some of my sanity.

It is possible that I misunderstood her instruction for me to go the University’s Patrimonio area, and get permission to reproduce journal articles, but since I am fluent in Spanish, and familiar with its Mexican variation, I doubt that. Someone wanted me to do extra work, for some unknown reason. In Mexico, I have noticed people with little power, such as security guards and low-level bureaucrats, impose rules at random over people, who, in the grand scheme of things, earn more money, and have a better social location (this would be me vs. someone working at the UNAM). I have experienced this in particular with women. Those of you who know me and who know about my experiences in Mexico should know that on the whole, Mexican men veer from friendly, to too friendly, to sexual harassment, and I am likely to experience all three things in a single day. When I have to do paperwork, however, I can use this to my advantage (even if I feel slightly badly afterwards). If I smile and look foreign. Since I don’t look Mexican, because of cultural mannerisms I will never grasp, and because I think it is important to be polite when asking questions to others, this is not difficult. With women, however, it is a different story. Some women seem to feel threatened by me, and so they make my life more difficult. I want to tell them that I am not like a person in a movie, I have morals, but I don’t really want to go telling them I’m Mennonite because then they just get confused. I also want to tell them that I did not come to their country to “steal” “their” men, their resources or their anything else. I just want to do research, talk about it and write it down. Other older women treat me like a child. Frankly, I prefer the second. But wouldn’t it be better if we stuck by each other and confronted unjust systems of gender relations head on?

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