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University Announces Feminism Conference Featuring 11 Men and One Woman

"What's next? A conference on racism with only white people?"

Sirin Kale

Sirin Kale

Photo by Juan Moyano via Stocksy

When the humanities department of National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) posted pink publicity flyers advertising the lineup for a feminism conference, it didn't take long before people sat up and took notice. Held at the university's Mexico City campus, the conference featured a panel discussion on feminism with 11 participants—all of them male.

The conference was hosted by Marta Lamas, a noted Mexican feminist who edits prominent Latin American journal Debate Feminist. She planned to interview 11 men for the event, which was called "Marta Lamas in dialogue with XY" (XY is the symbol for the male chromosome). According to the flyer, topics up for discussion included "feminism and rights" and "feminism and the market."

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The conference was scheduled to take place in celebration of Lamas' 70th birthday, and would have been held throughout the day on October 11. But feminist groups reacted with anger when the program was launched on October 2, accusing Lamas of amplifying men's voices when women's are already missing from the public discourse.

"Mansplaining—graphic description," one woman captioned the flyer, in a widely recirculated tweet. "What's next? A conference on racism with only white people?" wrote another. Others have gone for a more visual approach and mocked up publicity images featuring an all white and all male lineup in suits.

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Feminist blogger Ana G. González told Broadly, "I respect Marta Lamas, she's an institution. But I do think that that all of the communication of this panel was very unfortunate. It isn't clear that the 'dialogue' is with her. It uses XY interchangeable to refer to 'men' as a gender, when XY refers to male sex. It is hot pink, because obviously, it's about women so it has to be pink."

"I think that if this was a joke it is a very unfortunate one," she adds. "In Mexico we still have all-male panels in every discipline out there."

Lamas defended the all-male lineup to the BBC. "I have spent 48 years discussing feminism on panels only with women," she said. "And this time I thought, 'OK, let's see what men have to say.'"

The BBC also reports that male journalist Jenaro Villamil has already pulled out of the panel. "I didn't organize it and it doesn't interest me to take part in this game of hate," he said.

The issue of all-male panel lineups is a contentious one in Mexico. In 2016, a Guadalajara-based organization called Con Nosotras was launched, asking Mexican men not to participate in panels of conferences without any women speakers. A similar initiative exists in Chile, and the Finland-based site allmalepanels.tumblr.com has collated and called out all-male panels around the world since 2015.

Broadly has reached out to the National Autonomous University for comment and will update this post with their response..