Listen to this episode at the Talking People Podcast, dedicated to feminists all over the world, with gratitude and spontaneously written in 2008, after learning more about women in Congo.
Thanks so much, dear feminists!
It’s taken over 20 centuries for us as societies to start questioning the gender system – those ideas, shaping feelings and attitudes, and ways to relate to each other and organize life within our society which establish that there is a difference in terms of rights and worth between men and women, this is, that there are two kinds of human beings, and that women are second-class people.
Traditions (always based on religious dogmas!) insist on that, cruelly, unfairly, irrationally, contradicting the most precious achievement of human understanding: human rights. They exert constant pressure on us so we won’t allow the system to change. But as a species, we’re beginning to realize it’s a system we don’t want, because it is unfair and we could do better designing our lives and our interaction.
The gender system encourages violence against women because that is part of its foundation, and violence here should be taken in its complex sense, including more than physical violence and the violence society exerts when it ostracizes people just because their ideas or identity do not comply to the mentality prevailing in society. So it’s violent…
to force people to be what they don’t want to be (e.g. a woman is…, a man is…),
to force people to lead a lifestyle they don’t want to lead (e.g. being forced to have children or to die because reproductive rights are established by machista people, who do not value women’s lives; or having to fight for your own and other people’s survival, with no recognition ever, subject to rape and other forms of torture, all just because a bunch of immoral and cruel people are taking all the resources and consider other people are there just to be abused in every way), [Sorry, I'm thinking about Africa - heartbreaking]
to force people to relate in their private lives to whom they don’t want to relate (e.g. serving as sexual slaves or maids in the home, or being the punch bag for men who think they have the right to beat up women; or being subject to social pressure on their sexual life because machismo does not respect women’s choices in this matter),
to force people to do what they don’t want to do (e.g. not be able to study, not to have actual access to certain paid work and be forced to take up certain other jobs),
to call people what they don’t want to be called (in Spain, for instance, in spite of the fact that last year a bill was passed on this – check this out -- some people refuse to use the feminine suffix when they address women. Their violent refusal points to the fact of how important language is for our conceptual system and for how we relate to people. Naming implies existence. And if women have started to exist, to be visible in society beyond the roles they were forced into by the gender system, language needs to make that visible).
We should support the development of solving problems through the use of our intelligence, not through violence. But the world we live in bombs us with images of violence so that we never give intelligence a chance, so that we consider violence unavoidable. Women have fought, and some people in the world have fought, without using violence. Violence is not unavoidable. That’s a primitive idea, based on the conviction that violence is better than using our intelligence. Are we really so little intelligent? The human rights movement, including feminism, which is a human rights movement focused on overcoming gender discrimination, has been the most successful nonviolent social transformation so far, but its work, its impact, though greater than ever, is far from being safe, understood by all.
It is amazing how feminism is still perceived by many as something negative, when there is overwhelming evidence of how negative it is what feminism fights against, and how constructive or nonviolent it is the ways in which feminism fights for what should be.
Today, March 8, International Women’s Day, I’d like to say thank you to all feminists, my deepest thank you, my deepest respect – feminists are despised, ignored, attacked, constantly, and when society benefits from their struggle, they get no recognition, and they don’t care, but it’s unfair they are never acknowledged as what they are: people contributing to building a truly civilized world. I’d also like to say thank you to all those people who, not considering themselves feminists, do support in their daily attitudes, words, ideas, and actions a world where discrimination for reasons of sex is rejected.
Women have been forced to transmit the words that would educate children in perpetuating the gender system. If they didn’t, they were ostracized, tortured in various ways and killed (and that’s never been recorded in History books). So it is not surprising that women have contributed to maintaining the gender system, a system which is full of violence towards women, and also towards men who do not comply with their gendered role.
Women have been excluded from being listened to. It’s not that there haven’t been women thinkers, artists, activists... Women’s brains are human brains. It’s that they haven’t been welcome, and that they have been severely repressed, punished. Nothing has encouraged women to perform certain activities and everything has been traditionally against women performing certain activities. Human kind needs to listen to women, too. There’s lots to catch up in terms of listening to women! We people need to listen to men and women who are criticizing all the violence in our systems, because building a better world cannot be done through the use of violence (aren’t you absolutely saturated with all this violence?). It can only be done through the use of intelligence. Even if it’s a minority understanding this idea, it’s possible to get our message through, because even though we’ve been trained to see what we believe in, and not what is there, our mind is capable of seeing what is there.
Here is the link to the webpage on TP devoted to March 8.
A warm and grateful thank you to all those people who fought -- and were harmed and killed – to make this world a better place to live.
A warm and grateful thank you to all those women who are carrying the heaviest burden of a sexist gender system that forces on them the survival of all giving them nothing in exchange, not even recognition.
A warm and grateful thank you to those men who understand the points raised by feminism and actually support it, by working with feminist groups or ideas, or in their daily lives by not accepting their “privilege” to beat and rape women, or consider them inferior.
Happy March 8. Take care. Keep safe. We’re products of our culture, so it’s hard to be transformative. Don’t let confusion lead your way. Communicate. Rational caring dialogue helps us think better. Let’s make the most of our lives by using intelligent freedom, and tender solidarity. All human beings should have the chance to be happy. Use it if you have it, and support other people may have it too.
Listen to women for a change
Feminism spoken here
Bread Not Bombs
Men assault 1 in 4 women
Ask, listen, respect
Rape is Torture Not Sex
My Body Is Not Yours!
Keep Your Laws Off My Body
Don't Force Your Morality
Every Child, a Wanted Child
Pro-Choice = Pro-Children & Pro-Women - They're Also Human Beings
A chance: Microcredits
Grafitti by Mujeres Creando, Bolivia