Saturday, 14 March 2015

X or Y

March the 8th came and went.
So what? Many others did before it and many will do after, but what will change?
Alas, nothing, I fear. I might count myself lucky if they don't get worse in the coming years (outlook not very positive right now).
I am lucky I know. I'm privileged, somehow spoiled, I'm well too aware of that.
I live in a 1st world country and have the luck of working in a company that is making some genuine efforts to embrace differences and to make sure gender equality is not just some words on paper. It's something I utterly enjoy, because for a part of my average day I can live with the notion I'm valued for who I am and for my work, not for my gender.
Yet, sometimes I am painfully reminided of how my working hours are merely a bubble and that reality is way different. Sexism is alive and kicking and on Friday I had once more to listen to such stupid "jokes" from people I otherwise considered very smart and sensible. Even worse, the other colleagues (all male, ça va sans ddire) laughed heartily at the jokes. I couldn't even get angry: I just felt once more disillusioned and sad.
The disappointment I felt was so great that I couldn't find my voice to reply. I got so emotional, I just choked 2 or 3 sentences, look extremely cross and the reaction as usual is: "Oh you got upset! You shouldn't, I'm just joking, you know that!"
More than a day has passed alrea and, on top of all the other feelings, I am extremely upset and angry. First of all against myself, because I still haven't learned how to reply in this scenarios without looking like a fool.
If I werent such a fool that's what I would have said:
"Oh, a joke! How stupid of me to not have realized it. Could it cause I'm a woman or because, guess what?!?, it's not just a joke. When you make such a joke in this environment, aside disappointing me and downgrading my opinion of you, you're bringing the ugly world outside in the office and you make me doubt how you'd behave outside.
If you think it's a joke, and that things like inequality, viiolence and sexualization of young girls are something that hasn't happened since the 60s, I need to take into account the possibility you live in a parallel world that comes in touch with mine by chance, due to a weird overlap in the time and space fabric of the universe.
Probably in your Italy, your sister never had to deal with being groped on public transportation, harassed or catcalled in the street. In your world, women have same rights, enjoy the same chances of their male counterparts.
If that's the case, well, it's awesome. But let me give you a quick outlook of what it'd be like to live here, in Italy in 2015.
If you were to live here, your sister would probably have to teach your cherished nieces how to watch out on the bus to school: elbows out, shout if you get groped and get away quickly. My mum also added the "knee in the groin if chance allows it" bit, but that depends on your sister defence technique.
If you were to live here and you happened to be a woman, you would have to get used from a very young age to deal with disappointment of being overlooked, in spite of your abilities and skills, just because of your chromosome asset. You'd have to grow up with boys and later on men being given chances and opportunities they didn't deserve one bit while you work hard for them, just because of, guess what?, their chromosome asset. Oh, and don't even get me started on those pitiful excuse of doctors that use their so called conscience to deny a woman her own right to choose what to do with her body and how to deal with unwanted prengnancy.
The difference between an X and an Y in our DNA sequences doesn't (or at least shouldn't) allow you to make such jokes without feeling like a total tosser; and it does have nothing to say with the ability to empatize with other people. You don't need to wear high heels to understand how tough it is to take a walk in one woman's shoes.
And, since we're at it, I'm fucking tired of having to resort to show you how upsetting your "jokes" can be by turning them against your female relatives: am I really to believe that you're able to understand how horrible, sick, hurtful your words are only if I apply them to your mother, sister or grandmother? Is this the only way you're able to relate to the issue and struggles of people different from you???"
But I didn't say any of those words. March the 8th came and went by and all I'm left with is the memory of yet another smile that has turned sour in my memory.

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