You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? If not, what about “grow a pair”, “I’m not like other girls”, “you play like a girl”, “men don’t cry”, “ man up”, “ why are you acting like a girl”, “when girls say no they mean yes”, “oh, she certainly wears the pants in the relationship” or , despite none of them is in fact worse than the others, the most hideous of it all for me: “ with that dress she’s asking for it”
These are some of the misogynistic phrases we use or we heard other people use everyday without saying absolutely nothing. We don’t always realise how degrading they can be for everybody because we don’t think about them, we just accept them the way they are and we don’t question ourselves. Indeed we should ask ourselves “Am I offending anyone by saying it? What’s the history behind it?”
There, sure is a history behind them and it’s a history of SEXISM and MISOGYNY. Those are such big words but their meaning is simple. I think a good definition of misogyny is given to us by the sociologist Allan G. Johnson. “It is a cultural attitude of hartred of females just because they are females”. So a question seems spontaneous. What does misogyny look like?
It definitely isn’t an easy question to answer. Also “the New York Times”, which is one of the most popular journal in the USA made an article about it. Misogyny looks like all of us, it’s everywhere, from the south to the north, from the east to the west, in developing countries and in developed ones. The society we live in is misogynistic: politics, history, cinema industry and many more other aspects of our lives, are all male-dominated. We live under patriarchy, no matter how many times we repeat ourselves that women nowadays are equal to man because they can work and they can vote. A patriarchal society and a misogynistic mind cause multiple problems, which are of any sort. From the ones that can be considerate “small” from the ones that are universally considered “big”. They go from FGM (female genital mutilation) to sexual violence, to unequal treatment at work, to the objectification of women’s body. Literally EVERYTHING we could think of, from the public sphere to the private one, is affected by sexism. I don’t expect you to trust me, but let me show you some data you can easily find on the internet. According to the report of the Women business and the law by the World Bank in 2020 only 8 countries in the world have achieved gender equality (at least from a legal perspective) : Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, Luxemburg, Sweden, Canada and Iceland. 15 million girls around the world are married before the age of 18 ( 1 every two seconds!), ¼ of girls in the developing world do not attend school and in 18 countries like Bolivia, Congo or Qatar husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
If you are thinking that this is not your problem, because you don’t live in one of these countries, let me tell you that also in developed countries women, but not only, pay the price of gender inequality.
For instance, gender pay gap ranges from less than 3% in Luxembourg to more than 20% in Romania. Looking for other examples we can just turn on the TV and realize the lack of female representation in the government, and even if women are present they are often regarded as “second class politicians”. In 2008 the prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, said: “People will vote for Daniela Santanchè because she is a beautiful babe”. That’s a clear representation of how women are treated in a male dominated society, connecting her with beauty, that isn’t connected to politic, he wanted to make her appear weak and unfortunately it isn’t an unusual way of treating women. As a matter of fact, he still managed to achieve important places in the Italian government, through his career. Even what we think are “unimportant things”, MATTER, they are issues we can resolve. So I wrote this article as an invitation for everyone to be a FEMINIST.
People are often scared by the word “feminism”, when, in fact, there is nothing to be afraid of. It simply is the belief in social, economic and political EQUALITY of sexes. In my opinion people fear it just because of the term itself, which seems to suggest superiority of women. Another reason may be the association often made by media with the images of angry, strong women who seem crazy but in reality are just fighting for equality!
Like the “pussy riot” in Russia (which fights against everything the president Putin can’t stand: women’s right, LGBTQ+ community’s rights, of expression).
Feminism is such a wonderful thing and so is its history. Its history can be divided into 4 waves. The first one is the most famous, it can be placed in the late 19th century. It’s focused on women’s legal rights: like the right to vote, and their main characters are the famous “suffragette”.
Then, around the 1960s, with the slogan “The personal is political”, feminists reappear on the scene, this time more focused on issues of equality and discrimination.
The third wave began around the 1990s. That is the wave of “riot girl”, the famous punk song of Bikini Kills, and it was focused on the failures of the second wave. It challenged some of the ideas of the second wave, because of the excessive focus on the white middle-class women’s experiences and the lack of other kind of women’s story. This wave examine issues related to women’s lives on an international basis, despite race, ethnicity, religion, class.
Lastly we have the fourth wave of feminism, which is the most recent and the one we are living in. It began in 2012, thanks to the #Metoo movement and it is focused on rape culture, sexual harassment, body shaming and the use of internet and it is centered on INTERSECTIONALITY.
Intersectional feminism doesn’t want anybody to be left behind. It is concerned with the needs of everybody, no matter the gender, caste, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, disability, physical appearance, and height. It wants to break all the discriminations and the privileges.
It means that anybody could be a feminist and everybody should be. Let’s break the chain of prejudice and let everybody be themselves. We definitely don’t want a society in which girls who are determined are called “bossy”, “calculative”, in which girls hate each other for no reason, boys are called clowns for dressing in skirts and dresses and are always supposed to show more strength than women and forced to hide their emotions.
I would like a world full of free, happy people and I believe feminism is the way. If being feminist equals being radical I’m glad to be a radical and I invite everyone to be one!