MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president posed a question Wednesday that nobody was really asking: why, if a woman criticizes him, he isn’t considered victim of gender violence.
Mexico has strict political regulations that forbid questioning someone’s competence based on their gender.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador fell afoul of those rules when he suggested last month that opposition presidential hopeful Xochitl Gálvez was a puppet manipulated by powerful men.
An electoral court decided on Aug. 2 that fit the definition of “gender violence,” and ordered López Obrador to stop it.
But López Obrador — and surprisingly, his feminist wife — questioned the fairness of that, saying Gálvez has criticized the president, but he hasn’t been considered a victim of gender violence.
“Everything that they say to me, isn’t that gender violence?” López Obrador said at his morning media briefing. “Or is gender only about women?”
That ignored a couple of facts: Gálvez has never suggested López Obrador is wrong because he is a man, or that he is manipulated by women.
It also ignores the overwhelming evidence over millennia that saying someone isn’t capable of something because of their gender is a tactic that has been used almost exclusively against women.
López Obrador claims, perhaps rightly, that he never said specifically that Gálvez had been promoted and manipulated by powerful men. He did call her a “puppet” who had been “imposed” by a group of men whose names he mentioned.
It would all seem like a strange thing to fight about — the president speaks off the cuff for about two hours per day at his media briefings, and has occasionally made some seemingly unsupported statements — but then, as has become usual, his supporters doubled down in their defense of the president.
His wife Beatríz Gutiérrez Muller — herself an academic specializing in literature and other themes, who has asked not be referred to as first lady — came out on her Facebook page to ask whether the president might be right.
“Gender-based political violence is only punished when it is men against women? When it is men against men, or women against men, can’t you consider it gender-based political violence? This is a serious question,” she wrote.
Political analyst Denise Dresser wrote in a tweet, “he has no idea what gender violence is.”