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mexico
Analysis
Educational exposure of ideas, assumptions or hypotheses, based on proven facts" (which need not be strictly current affairs) Value in judgments are excluded, and the text comes close to an opinion article, without judging or making forecasts , just formulating hypotheses, giving motivated explanations and bringing together a variety of data

Miniskirts on Mexico’s Maya Train

Attendants in sexist uniforms staff the recently opened railway that connects beach resorts and archaeological sites in the country’s southeast

Azafatas del Tren Maya en Campeche
Uniformed attendants for Mexico's Maya Train prepare to board passengers in Campeche; December 15, 2023..Gobierno de Quintana Roo
Carmen Morán Breña

The Maya Train is finally rolling. Soon it will transport more and more passengers on captivating journeys between the beautiful beach resorts and Mayan archaeological sites in Mexico’s southeastern region. But plan ahead and buy your tickets or you’ll miss out on this popular train ride. The increase in tourism will undoubtedly bring substantial economic benefit, and over time, similar railways will extend throughout other parts of Mexico.

Human beings are unable to predict the future, so we often rely on past experience to anticipate what’s ahead. Let’s take a look at one example from Spain. In 1992, a high-speed train linking Madrid with Seville was inaugurated, similar to the Maya Train. During construction, there was intense criticism and doubt about the need and expense of this railway. Some argued connecting the capital with the south instead of the more industrialized north was foolish. Allegations arose of corruption and favoritism towards the south (President Felipe González is from Seville). The opposition predicted its failure, but half of Spain can now be reached via high-speed trains, and every single government has taken credit during inaugurations of various segments.

There is always something to learn from others, regardless of who they are. So, what haven’t we learned this time? Well, here’s an example. From 2000 to 2004, a right-wing majority in the Spanish legislature mandated that female attendants on Spain’s high-speed trains wear skirts no shorter than two centimeters below the knee. Male attendants were allowed to wear pants, of course. This sexist regulation was quickly challenged, and a later change in government ideology allowed female attendants to wear pants too. The change made it more comfortable to serve passengers in narrow train aisles and kept the attendants warmer on cold train platforms in the winter.

The Maya Train inauguration produced some amazing photos, but some were decidedly old-fashioned. We saw photos of female attendants wearing miniskirts and tight-fitting uniforms — proper young ladies, as they say in Mexico. When we asked who designed the uniforms, the answer was: “The Maya Train company requested a sensible yet elegant uniform, like the ones worn by flight attendants.” Sensible, perhaps. Elegant? That depends on your taste. They are indeed similar to flight attendant uniforms, but that’s a questionable standard to begin with. But they are undeniable uncomfortable and sexist. Try bending down to get a can of juice from the service cart wearing a short (above the knee) and tight skirt. Male attendants certainly don’t need to make such contortions.

There is not much more to say other than repeat the same old refrain — have we learned nothing from past experience? Twenty years have passed since the controversy in Spain over train attendant uniforms. The Maya Train company is a state-owned entity managed by the Mexican Army and the Ministry of Defense. Can you imagine military women going on a mission in tight skirts? But they will surely say this is about receiving and serving people with proper decorum (one defined by military men). The clothing and equipment department of the Mexican Army is responsible for designing and manufacturing the helmets used by soldiers. Perhaps the Maya Train uniforms came from that factory. The aesthetics of the female attendant uniforms aren’t the big issue here. It’s that they don’t meet 21st century requirements, the same requirements used to design the new railway. Maybe the Mexican Army needs a gender department. Somebody please tell them.

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