#VivasNosQueremos We want us alive


A British friend asked me if it’s true what he reads in Twitter about violence against women in Mexico, if it’s real that women suffer so much harassment on a daily basis. I have to tell him that it is, there’s no sugar-coating it. A great majority of women have gone through a situation of harassment at least once. But how bad is it?, he asks. What has happened to you? I’ve been grabbed while riding the subway, someone chased me down the street at night, a man locked me inside a storage room but a friend came and got me out. Estarás tan buena (Roughly:You are not that good looking) is the answer one sometimes gets when speaking about this, both from men and women. It has nothing to do with looks.  My friend can’t believe his ears. I wish, for a moment, that I lived where he does and found these stories so alien. He wants to know the details, to write about them, to understand #MiPrimerAcoso (My first harassment) and #VivasNosQueremos (We want us alive).


I tell him one story. Just a single one. One of my own. 


It was the year the Zapatist Liberation Army came to Mexico City for the first time. My partner, a photographer, and myself, arrived at the Zocalo at dawn to document the arrival of the police force, the attendants and finally the Zapatist Army. By midday the place was packed and we were surrounded by a slowly shifting sea of people. We could hardly lift an elbow. There were so many people that someone fainted next to me and had to be removed held high above everyone’s head like in a 70’s rock concert. While Commander Ramona was giving her speech I felt a fluttering movement right against my back. I looked around. 4 or 5 men were right behind me and they were all listening, or pretending to listen, to the speech. I thought: My mistake. We were there to listen to a proposal of a different way to conduct our country, or so I thought back then. We were among equals, like-minded people, friends, even. Then I felt it once more followed by an unmistakeable moisture dripping down my lower back. This can’t be happening, not here, not now while I’m surrounded by people. I was stunned, couldn’t move a muscle for a while, long enough for whomever did it to vanish. When I looked around there were other people behind me. I told my partner. He was furious. Why didn’t you say something? Why, indeed? When the people around us grasped what had happened they tried to identify who had done it. I think he was long gone by then. Or I hope he was. Someone handed me a black tshirt with a drawing of a Zapatist woman that read: Women for dignity. I took off my soiled shirt and stood there half naked while my partner helped me put the black tshirt on. We were so far into the sea of people that we couldn’t leave. Needless to say I can’t remember the rest of the speech. I was in my early twenties. 


It’s been more than a decade since that happened to me and I have to say that things have not improved, if anything they have gotten worse. I have a daughter now and I’m not sure how to go about teaching her to defend herself. I guess I don’t want to. She shouldn’t have to. That’s why today she walks with me.


I write this in English because my friend asked me to. There is a forest of testimonies like mine, in Spanish, moving through the Internet today. I’m sorry for that. I wish it wasn’t so. But if you can read Spanish go ahead and read them. These voices need to be heard. 


#VivasNosQueremos WeWantUsAlive


 Paulette Jonguitud es autora del libro Moho, publicado en inglés por CB EDITIONS y en en español por FETA/CONACULTA, así como del libro para niños El loco del martinete, publicado en México y España por la editorial EDEBÉ. Ha sido artista en residencia en la MacDowell Colony y becaria de la Fundación para las Letras Mexicanas y del FONCA en su programa Jóvenes Creadores.

Paulette Jonguitud is the author of Mildew, published in English by CB EDITIONS and in Spanish by FETA/CONACULTA. She has also written  El loco del martinete, a children’s book published in Mexico and Spain by Grupo  EDEBÉ. She has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony and a fellow of Fundación para las Letras Mexicanas and FONCA in its Program for Young Creators.


JUNIO, 2015                   JUNE, 2015

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‘This extraordinary tale of sex and death … Mildew, by a gifted new Latin American writer, has weight, yet is told with a lightness Calvino would have admired.’

– Beverley  Bie Brahic.

‘It’s a novel that creeps through you, rather like the mildew that begins growing on its narrator Constanza’s body on the day before her daughter’s weddding. I didn’t realise until I started thinking back on the novel just how much it had infected my thoughts.’
– David Hebblethwaite

  ‘A strong, slim book on the inabilities of women to speak openly about what they are to each other, and to themselves.’
– Joanna Walsh,
 The National.

`An entire history condensed into a single day, an entire family and their respective pasts brought out in quick but vivid portraits. At only 91 pages Midlew is a deceptively simple book. It’s brevity and relatively unadorned prose belie what is more layered and difficult. This is a novel with a psychological and emotional intensity that invites careful reading and re-reading, and resists immediate interpretation.’

-Michelle Bailat-Jones.

`This is a book which exists on its own terms and uses its own voice. The meshing of form with theme is uniquely well-realised, and the level of control over plot, character and dialogue is astonishingly well done. In my view Jonguitud achieves what only the best writers are capable of. She tells a local story on the smallest of canvases, but with such skill, precision and depth of honesty that the story acquires the enduring and immovable power of fable.´

-Amy McCauley.  New Welsh Review.


An unusual short novel and with huge scope, Mildew, by Mexican writer Paulette Jonguitud (CB Editions, 2015) elegantly translated from the Spanish by the author is an astonishing, mythical tale of a very strange manifestation of one woman’s ‘out, damned spot!’ increasing guilt and intense rage provoked by a relationship with another woman/daughter figure.

  • Valerie Sirr. Wales Arts Review


Mildew. By Paulette Jonguitud. Amy McCauley. New Welsh Review.

Woman’s metamorphosis grows with silence in Paulette Jonguitud’s Mildew.  Joanna Walsh. The National. 

Paulette Jonguitud’s Mildew. David Hebblethwaite. 

Mildew, by Paulette Jonguitud. Michelle Bailat-Jones.

Cultural Highlights of the year. Valerie Sirr. Wales Arts Review


Antología de Narrativa Mexicana compilada por David Miklos. Descarga gratuita en Libros Malaletra.

Anthology of Mexican Fiction compiled by David Miklos. Free download at Libros Malaletra.


República de los lobos. Antología de cuento Mexicano Reciente compilada por José Manuel García Gil. España.

Republic of the wolves. Anthology of recent Mexican short stories, compiled by José Manuel García Gil. Spain.

@_paulette__                                  Portable MacDowell                           Grupo Edebé                CB editions