Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nogales 2008

This year when Summer I ended, friends suggested we celebrate by taking a day trip to Nogales. I think we started a tradition.

Bearing passports, snacks, comfortable shoes, water and cameras, we headed for the border. This was the first time I had ever gone to Nogales with a group of girls, and the experience was pretty hilarious.

We had lunch and margaritas at La Roca where we were waited on hand and foot by several waiters. It was expensive, so I think it was a fair deal. I've always loved that place. As a matter of fact, we hired the Trio Hermanos Estrada that regularly plays there for our wedding ceremony and reception. They were 100% worth it.

Then we went shopping, and every shop owner tried to lour us in with catch phrases. Their favorites were "Hey ladies, I'm single!" and "Come into my shop. If you don't look you'll never know..."

At one point I bought a Cuban cigar from the shop owner pictured above. He personally escorted us to the despensa pictured above where we bought water. He was delighted to show off his newly acquired harem of güeritas. And us four hard-core feminists went along with it. Well, we also study performance theory so maybe we felt obliged to perform the role that was expected of us. Why not? How often do we get to giggle about being shamelessly hit in our ivory tower? There's something refreshing about passes when our everyday roles require us to be practically asexual teacher/scholars.

At one point I decided to go back to a curio alley to buy a yellow fruit bowl I had seen earlier in the day, but I couldn't remember exactly what store it was in. Suddenly, all the shop owners realized I was back and this time they knew I was going to buy something. So they all asked me what I was looking for, and simultaneously produced yellow fruit bowls, trying to convince me that theirs was the one. The funny part is that none of them were. I eventually found the one I was looking for. I felt bad that I had gotten all their hopes up and caused them to scramble so wildly. I really like my yellow fruit bowl tho. It's the center piece of my living room.

I also have an even greater appreciation for Nogales after seeing Riley Merline's presentation, "A Century of Border Fence Construction and Community Transformation: Ambos Nogales, 1898-1998" at the RMCLAS conference this year. I thought about all the old pictures and all the history of this town when it used to be fused with Nogales, Arizona in a seamless, transnational community. It made me nostalgic for some pre-militarized border that I've never experienced.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Why didn't the mainstream media jump all over McCain calling his wife a cunt?

I generally leave the political blogging to those who are solely dedicated to it, but this does involve one of Arizona's very own and it's really not so much about politics as it is about feminism. I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about this question:

Why didn't the mainstream media jump all over McCain calling his wife a cunt?

The following excerpt is from The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter:

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

The reason why I think this story may be true, is because McCain was confronted about it by a Baptist minister on tape at an Iowa town hall forum in May and he didn't deny it. Here's a link to The Huffington Post piece on the subject and a video of McCain being asked the question and his reaction.

But my concern is not really with the truth or McCain. My concern is with a double-standard. Why is it that the mainstream media will engage so gleefully in other types of smear campaigns, (“We live now in an era where everything and everyone is fair game,” recently stated Douglas E. Schoen, who was a pollster and adviser to former President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000.) Yet when it comes to something so damaging to women, nearly everyone is willing to look the other way? As far as I know, the Cunt Incident hasn't been touched in television, radio or mainstream print media. It was surprising to me to stumble onto the story online.

On one hand we could respond to this question as did a good friend of mine who is also an excellent journalist: "No mainstream media can write about it because they can't confirm it; these are anonymous sources and the material is too inflammatory to print without people willing to put their names behind it." But to give a specific example of the double standard I'm perceiving, consider that CBS news is reporting about Michelle Obama "allegedly" using a derogatory term for white people ("whitey") but no one so mainstream can be found mentioning McCain "allegedly" calling his wife a "cunt".

No one jumped on McCain for calling his own wife the most derogatory of slanders against women? Really? Why didn't anyone play Arnold Assgrabber's video above (and other similar clips) more often when he was seeking office? Does the mainstream media assume that this brand of sexism is perceived as irrelevant by the public? Is it? Or is the mainstream media afraid that they will come under fire for reporting in "bad taste"? Isn't that a guise for skirting the issue? (No pun intended)...

Story on The Migrant Walk - KUAZ 4th of July

Image from

I first became aware of the Migrant Walk when I went to see a screening of Jason Aragón's PRESENTE: inside the migrant trail walk. Aragón's film conveys "a reflective look into the Migrant Trail Walk of 2005. The 7 day/75 mile walk from Sásabe, Sonora, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona, USA that raised awareness about the deadly journey to the U.S., the tragic cost of border militarization, and also an opportunity to walk in solidarity with migrants."

Maisa Taha, a great friend of mine from anthropology did the walk this year and wrote a personal essay about it. I read it. It's honest and excellently written. It's level-headed without being dismissive and raw without being preachy. It's airing on Arizona Spotlight tomorrow at 9:30 am and 6:00 pm and you can't miss it.

She invited me to welcome her back into Tucson as the march returned home. I had been traveling to see friends, going to BBQs, lounging poolside. That's what summer means to me. When I saw the marchers with their white crosses, I was reminded that for some, summer is seared in their minds as the most deadly season.

When I saw them march in, I was hot from just standing around. I couldn't fathom what the trip had been like for them. They were dirty, sunburned, sweaty, dried up and exhausted. Some people burst into tears spontaneously. Many hugged and cried, hugged and cried in the midst of all those white crosses. I cried too, because this is what I saw in their faces: "I'm so fucking exhausted I want to collapse, but the only reason we're here is because of those who didn't make it. My walk ended in a picnic, their walk ended in a grave. And the only real difference between us is which side of the border we happened to be born on."

How could you not cry?

POSTDATA: Missed the show? Listen to the July 4, 2008 Edition of Arizona Spotlight online by clicking here.