As Mexico’s National Football Team packs up to fly back, there is a ball of mixed emotions that is being passed between fans all over the country. Pride in the team. Fantastic memes of Coach Herrera and his enthusiasm. Anger at Robben and his spring board-worthy dive. Resentment at the same song and the pre-quarter finals bow-out playing on a broken record. Nationalism up to the eyeballs in the ever louder chant at the Mexico-Holland game. T-shirts printed with the famed chant.
While this chapter of World Cup history comes to a close, there is something that is still lingering. It is a smoldering frustration and a moment of being able to see as the dust settles. I say this after having been in a diner and witnessing a pair of women walking out, being followed by an older woman with her face covered in red salsa. Spluttering, she demanded how they could disrespect her. The younger women called her a crazy old lady, went to the register, paid their meal and went out.
I wasn’t curious enough to find out what had happened. It was enough to have seen the interaction. The country was entranced by the beauty of football and the dreams of glory. Of winning the World Cup. Of dreaming that incredible dream of being the hard-knock underdog with a heart of gold and the swift feet of Mercury.
They forgot that there was a country with a graveyard full of dreams under that veil.
And under that veil is a country bubbling with frustrations but that feels proud for having defied the powerful FIFA, who wanted to sanction their team for having fans who used that word. Which didn’t really mean what everyone thinks it means because it is all fun and games.
I have always believed that language is like the clothes you wear. They describe you and indicate what sort of person you are. And they can create open cages that can slowly close and keep you locked in. I bring this point up because allowing the use of the word in question in the fashion it was used means that there is an institutionalized repression, beginning with words. Introduced with a joke to laugh off the severity, take the edge off and slowly accompanying the word with steadily worse actions, slipping them right under everyone’s noses.
So you end up wearing clothes that maybe you didn’t agree with but now accept. Because hey, everyone else wears it? Why not?
Because I don’t want to have to punch someone in the throat the next time they laugh when a pair of stick-drop earrings are referred to as “violadores” (rapists).
Because my opinions should not be considered complaints that are solvable by a “good fuck.”
Because having an opinion is not enough of a classification for the term “feminist.”
Because although you try to explain that the chant is a superlative in the vein of “it is fucking cold,” surely referring to that word as a normally negative extreme must mean that you think it is the worst possible thing you can do.
Being gay is not anything close to that. But accepting the derogatory version of that word to mean exactly that, is.
So as the fans in Castelão Stadium shouted with evermore gusto that very particular word, I cringed. Not for me but for them. It was an in-your-face vengeful action that can only be likened to drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. In shouting it, I heard the cage close, locking them in with the beast called “Inhumanity.”