Social Movements and Burnout: 8 de Marzo
By Maia R. Becerra
Emotional burnout as a consequence of social movements has become a topic of discussion over the past decade. The acknowledgement for the emotional toil it takes on people to deal with the violence, frustration, and disappointment consequential to the search for progress has grown into a topic of discussion amongst activist circles. Having grown up as a woman in Mexico, the consequences of the systemic gendered violence throughout the country are not unknown. Living in a nation where reproductive rights are still being debated, and there are an estimated 1004 femicides per year (Forbes 2022), the dangers faced by women and female-presenting people are latent. Since the year started, 357 women have gone missing according to the Registro Nacional de Personas Desaparecidas (National Registry for Disappearances), and in January alone 292 women were killed (75 cases are being investigated as femicides) (García 2022). Regardless, our government refuses to acknowledge the demands of feminist collectives throughout the country and bastardizes the fight by joining the protestors and being blatant examples of performative activism. This has become the norm on the 8 de Marzo (March 8th) protests over the past three years, where women protest on the streets due to the aforementioned condition of gender violence in the country.
I became involved with organizing protests at the school-level scale, and joined a few intersectional feminist discussions and collectives in my hometown. I quickly realized how exhausting it is to be involved in social movements, particularly those that require massive cultural shifts in order to be “solved,” and how these solutions are simply smaller parts of a much bigger systemic problem that seems too overbearing to even fathom. Being surrounded by other eager and angry 16 and 17-year-olds in high school, we felt like our anger was insignificant: for no matter how much we rallied and protested, no immediate change would follow. In addition to that, our fight seemed minimal in comparison to all the women we would see rallying in Mexico City, tagging government buildings and throwing Molotov cocktails at statues. Meanwhile, we would only be getting into fights with misogynistic teenage boys and trying to stop our posters from being ripped off the school walls by people who didn’t agree with the protest. I felt like I was playing-pretend at being an activist until I was old enough to go to the protests myself. Regardless, it never felt like I was fighting hard enough.
The past week has brought back those very same feelings of insignificance because of the yearly nationwide protest throughout Mexico. Every year, on March 8th, a mass feminist demonstration is carried out throughout every state in the country. Prompted by different feminist collectives throughout the nation, women and misogyny-affected people of all ages rally on the streets to demand systemic change, reproductive rights, and governmental attention towards the stark number of femicides that take place in the country every day. Yet, this year felt different: mainly because I am away from home and unable to join the protest in person and feel like I’m actually doing something, but also because I realized that many of the spaces I used to be a part of were no longer aligned with my ideals. I talked to some of the people I used to protest with and found out they were feeling the same way. Upon discussing the tiredness, sadness and frustration that comes along with protesting, we talked about the emotional toil it takes on young people to feel responsible for social causes.
Furthermore, I began to consider this tiredness as burnout; as young, privileged people we felt obligated to carry the weight of those who were constantly diminished by the system, yet, I was only 14 when I began protesting. At 19 years of age now, I am tired. I am exhausted, and I am frustrated by the bastardizing of a movement that is meant to protect all women and people affected by gendered violence in Mexico. I am tired of seeing companies profit off the colours of our movement, of artists releasing content related to the movement as a way to gain traction, of politicians protesting alongside us when they have the power to ensure change yet decide not to do it due to their interests. I am tired of fighting in a country where no one listens to our demands, but everyone feels the need to voice their opinions on a fight that is not theirs to claim.
Forbes Staff (2022) Ola de feminicidios en México continúa imparable: 1004 muertes en 2021. In Forbes
Garcia, J. (2022) Las Mexicanas gritan un masivo “basta ya.” In El País.