Tomorrow it’s International Women’s Day.
As theofficial website states, it is “a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future” and in some countries it is a national holiday.
I’ve decided to seize the occasion and talk about something closely related to women – gender equality. It may also explain why we need a day to celebrate all the female figures worldwide.
Lately, we’ve been hearing these two words a lot. Let’s just go back to the latest Oscars ceremony: Patricia Arquette, winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role inBoyhood, dedicated her speech to women and wage equality, gaining approval from the audience – including two enthusiastic and cheerful Jennifer Lopez and Meryl Streep.
But this isn’t enough. Many female celebrities are starting to stand out to support the cause, like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Emma Watson with her HeForShe campaign (Emma, by the way, will host a conference in London on Sunday, 5 pm London time – you can see the livestream on Facebook here).
But why is this happening in 2015? Aren’t women fine with their positions, rights and conquers? Clearly, we’re not.
Going into detail would be impossible: there are many fields that can be discussed (wages, empowerment, jobs, maternity and paternity rights, LGBQT communities, feminism and so on).
Though, you can get a general idea of the situation by taking a look at the Gender Inequality Index, that reflects inequality in achievements between women and men by combining the data of reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market – it will show you that a small but tangible gap is still present almost everywhere.
But what does gender (in)equality really mean? Is it something abstract or people can experience it in their everyday life?
I’ve found two comics that explain this pretty well – and guess what? Gender equality is about men, too.
This was just a tiny example, but it makes you think about all those little things and prejudices that we (mostly unaware) apply to genders. We start from creating specific kind of toys for boys and girls to differentiating wages basing on what’s under someone’s underwear.
Sounds still unconvincing? Let’s move to Middle East and North Africa countries, for example. Here women are forced to submit to extreme gender-based discrimination: in certain cases they are forbidden to drive, have very limited rights when it comes to divorce and education, can be prevented from travelling, are victims of infanticides. And I won’t even start with the physical and sexual violence.
The sad thing is that gender inequality often mixes up with other kinds of discrimination, like racism or homo/transphobia. Fighting gender inequality means also fighting all those assumptions that prevent us from living in a world that puts each human being on the same level regardless of their sexuality, gender, skin color and so on. Sounds familiar? To me, this recalls basic human rights.
This is really a complex topic as you can see, and it’s also quite delicate. Here are some useful sites you can visit if you want to know more:
I also want to leave you with a good food for thought, a quote I’ve found via thegirlthatcriedwolf. I hope it will make you all think!
Comments and thoughts are very welcome!
“I’m a man.
When I was born my grandfather congratulated my dad for having a son, and thanked my mother for giving my father a son. I got my grandfather’s name.
When I was a child, I could play with LEGO, because “Lego is a boy thing” and that helped my creativity. My ability to solve problems was stimulated. I got HotWheels car-washes and gas stations. I also got a box of plastic tools, to assemble and disassemble toy cars and trucks. That also stimulated my creativity and developed my logic capability, which is good for every child.
In my school day, the girls wore skirts and my friends lifted their skirts. It was a mess, So they were forbidden to wear skirts. I never saw a boy actually get punished for it though, after all “Boys are just like that. Took after his father this menace” – is what I usually heard.
At home, with my family, I liked to play house with a younger cousin. We were around eight. I was the dad, she was the mom and the dolls were our children. While playing, when i carried the dolls in my arms my mother would get mad: “Let go of that doll boy, that’s a girl thing”. And my little cousin’s father, when he saw us playing, wouldn’t let her do it either. He said boys play with boys and girls play with girls because “boys are very stupid, and worse, very forward”. I did not consider myself stupid, and did not understand what he meant by “forward”, but I still did as I was told.
At Christmas, my sister got a Barbie and I got a beyblade. She cried a bit because my toy was much cooler than hers, but every year my mother made the same mistake, and got her a doll, a toy stove, a toy fridge, a blender, everything pink, once mom got her an iron.
When I turned 15 and started dating, my father bought me some condoms
During my teenage years, no one criticized me for kissing lots of girls. Nowadays, that still stands. My father does not get mad at me when I don’t come home for the night, he does not say I need to be a “family boy”. He never slapped me in the face for thinking I’d spent the night at a motel.No one lectures me saying I need to be reserved and play hard to get.
No one judges me when I want to be with a girl and take initiative.
No one cares about my clothes; no one says I have to preserve myself.
No one says I have to preserve myself because “women only think about sex”. No one think my girlfriends were only with me for sex.
No one thinks that, when I have sex, that I’m submitting to the wishes of my partner. No one demonizes my orgasms. I was never judged for carrying condoms in my backpack or in my wallet. I never had to hide my condoms from my parents. I was never told to marry a virgin because I was a man.
I was never told that “men have to value themselves” or that I had to “give myself the respect”. Apparently, my gender already makes me worthy of respect.
When I go out into the streets no one tells me I’m “delicious”.
No unknown woman shouts “smoking hot” my way.
I can walk down the streets having an ice cream cone at ease, because I know I won’t hear things like “drop that and come suck me”. I can even walk down the streets eating a banana. I never had to cross a street, even though it was out of my way, to avoid a group of women in a bar, who will probably catcall me when I pass, embarrassing meI never had to walk in sweatpants, because my shorts leave my legs exposed, and that could be dangerous.
I never heard someone say I was “shameless” because I went out without a shirt. No one regulates my work out clothes.
No one cares about my clothes period.
I was never followed by a woman in a car when I was walking back homeI can catch a crowded subway everyday and surely no woman will rub against me, to record it and throw it on some porn website. No one ever had to create a subway wagon that was “just for men”.
I never heard of someone of my gender being raped by a crowd. I can get on a bus by myself in the middle of the night.
When I’m not carrying anything valuable, I no longer feel threatened, because I don’t fear getting raped at any moment, at every corner. That risk does not exist in the minds of the people of my gender.When I go out at night I can wear whatever clothes I want.
If I suffer any kind of violence, no one blames me for being drunk, or for wearing certain clothes.
If, one day, I was raped, no one would say it was my fault; that I was somewhere inadequate, that I had on a revealing outfit.
No one would try to justify the rape based on my behavior.
I would be treated as a VICTIM and that would be it.
No one thinks I’m vulgar because when it’s cold, my nipples show through my shirt. When I have sex with a woman on the first date I practically get a standing ovation. No one calls me a “tramp”, or “easy” or a “whore” because I have casual sex sometimes. 99% of porn websites are made to please me and men in general. No one is shocked when I say I watch porn. No one judges me if I say I love sex. No one cares if I read erotic literature.
No one is surprised to hear I masturbate. No mother-in-law will tell her daughter not to marry me because I’m not a virgin.
No one criticizes me for investing in my career. When I have the same job position as a woman, my salary is never inferior to hers. If I am promoted, no one says it’s because I slept with my boss. People believe in my merit.
If I have to travel for work and leave my kids with their mother for a few days no one calls me irresponsible. No one finds it strange that, at thirty years old, I still don’t have kids.
No one guesses my sexual orientation based on the length of my hair.
When my hair starts to grey, people will find it sexy, not think I’m letting go of myself.
Society does not see my virginity as a prize. 90% of military services are destined to people of my gender, even the higher jobs, in which the official only deals with paperwork and management.
If I go out with a certain outfit no one says I’m “asking for it”. If I’m at club and a woman performs oral sex on me, I’m not the “whore” or the “tramp”, she is.
If a video of me having sex with a woman gets leaked, no one will call me names, criticize me, stone me. I won’t be the “disgusting little bitch” I won’t be “trash” or “used” or “cheap”. I’d just be the man, fulfilling my alpha guy position in society.
If I lead a promiscuous lifestyle and then fall in love with just one woman, people think its beautiful. No one judges me based on my past.
No one says it’s disgusting if I don’t shave myself. No one would judge me for being a single dad. On the contrary, I’d be seen as a hero. I’ll never be stopped from occupying a higher position in the Catholic Church for being a man.
I was never beaten up for being a man.
I was never obligated to do housework for being a man.
I never had the obligation to learn how to cook for being a man.
No one tells me my place is in the kitchen for being a man. No one says I can’t curse for being a man.
No one says I can’t drink for being a man. No one stares at my plate if I put a lot of food in it. No one justifies my foul mood by blaming it on hormones.
No one has ever made jokes that undermined my intelligence for being a man. When I sometimes mess up in traffic no one says “It had to be a man”. When I’m polite to a woman she doesn’t automatically assume I’m hitting on her. The term “tramp stamp” did not come into existence because men were seen as cheap. No one treats my body as just a tool for giving pleasure to the opposite sex.
No one thinks I’ll have to be submissive to a future wife. I was never judged for drinking beer at table in which I was the only man. I’m never the target audience for house cleaning products ads.
I’m the target audience for beer ads. No one’s ever asked me if my girlfriend lets me cut my hair. I cut it when I want to and people understand that.There isn’t haze at USP (a university) that promotes my humiliation and objectification. Society doesn’t split my gender in “to marry” and “to whore”.
When I say “no” no one thinks I’m just playing hard to get. No is no .I don’t have to dress a certain way to avoid having women falling into temptation. People of my gender were not raped each 40 minutes in São Paulo last year.
People of my gender don’t get raped every 12 seconds in Brazil.
People of my gender didn’t get raped by a crowd during protests in Egypt.
I’m not a man. But if you are, it’s fundamental to admit that society AS A WHOLE needs feminism.
Don’t underestimate suffering that you don’t understand.”