Day 7: The Wednesday hussle
So, yeah, I'm super late with this post. Such is the life of fieldwork and research - some things fall by wayside. I took copious notes and pictures, but I was too exhausted to write it up, not only on the day in question, but also the days that followed. In addition, writing up day 7 on day 9 felt like it would throw me off track of what I was doing; Saturday I tried to rest and have some family time; Sunday was the trip home. Do not miss key moments in your fieldwork. Set aside time to rest. Your brain will be fried, especially with something intense like what I did.
The shared custody seminar ended that morning and the deputy chairing the session was someone I wanted to interview. I had managed to speak with someone from her staff, but not her personally and she promptly agree to participate, on Thursday, because she had a flight home that day in order to participate in a seminar on LGBTQI issues. That means she arrived Tuesday afternoon, left Wednesday midday, and was back on Thursday. Seriously, that's energy. And commitment.
The seminar itself had some idiot on the panel who mansplained for 20 minutes about how shared custody was good for women. While wearing a "fight like a girl" T-shirt, after saying he had autism which, the women from the mother's group told me, he used as an excuse for having abused his ex-wife. Essentially, this man was telling victims of abuse, some of whom in trying to extricate their children from an abusive father, actually lost custody completely, that shared custody was good for them. Having balance on panels is supposed to happen, but to put this man as some sort of representative of good parenting and feminist ally was bad. It's worth noting that I have yet to see an effort from men and the right-wing in general to make more representative panels. One public hearing requeriment I saw had only three male pastors on the guest list for a discussion on "gender ideology".
After having my absolute fill, I got up to see if I could find some of the other deputies I still needed to speak with, no joy. There are so many committees, so many events, so many meetings, plus the plenary, that committee rooms are mostly empy. Except for the Committee for Constitution, Justice, and Citizenship, and the Budget Committee. After having a quick lunch, I tried to go the plenary gallery, but it's now closed to visitors except on special occasions. I wanted to see the special session that the Women's Caucus coordinator had managed to set up with the Speaker of the house and see if I could catch someone coming out. I sat in the Green Room (just a big room with green carpet) outside the plenary, with the journalists and watched it from my phone. I also tried again to get in touch with the office of the Women's Caucus coordinator, but they dismissed me.
On Wednesdays, sessions run long, so they can vote whatever is tabled. They weren't coming out. I took off. Oh, by the way, the day started with a lovely hymn (did you catch that irony?) and several people, including deputies, walking an image of the Holy Mother around the Chamber, out of the committees' hall and all the way to the plenary. Separation of church and state and all that. Below it's something I didn't know was there: all airlines that fly local are present within the Chamber, to make it easier to buy tickets. Another interesting thing is some people starting to recognize me and, in true political fashion, say hello while pretending to know me.