For the first time since I became an entrepreneur, I did not attend, participate, or direct any event for March 8th. When I woke-up last Monday, my only thought was, “I just want to live in a world where there no need for an International Women’s Day- a world where people are people and girls are safe.”
This is not to say that I have given up or want to forget about March 8th. On the contrary, this year I was proud to see the work of various organizations. I was happy to read the articles and see the events while being slightly relieved that I did not have to beat the battle drums myself.
Then on Thursday, I woke-up to an email from Víctor Costa asking me to write an opinion piece for International Women’s Day with one of these two options:
1) An important role model in your life, explain why and reflect on feminism and equality.
2) A situation that you experienced gender discrimination, how did you faced it / what did you learned from it and reflect on feminism and equality.
My first thought was, “Between kids and work, I don’t have time to write anything.” But then I looked at the instructions again. “An important role model in your life?” I could write about my mother, that would be easy. Then a voice in my head asked, “But who will read this article, besides her?” Yeah, right, I thought, so I went on to the second option, “A situation that you experienced gender discrimination?” I immediately thought: only one situation? I could fill a book with examples and besides discrimination is only one part of the inequality. What about the sexual molestation, the harassment, the insults, and the fears, that we encounter just for being women?
Here, I thought, this my article. I will write something raw and real--the experiences that I and my girlfriends have kept in the dark but should be read because discrimination, inequality and “MeToo” is the story of all of us, not just some of us. My mind started gathering the details of happenings that had been locked away to put them in the article.
Then the voice in my head asked again , “But who will read this article?” I know from experience that the women, we know these stories and we do not always like to relive them. And men, they see the title skip the article all together, because it is a “girl thing.”
I returned to my first thought, “I don’t have time for this.” But I felt bad, because Víctor is a great guy and ViaEmpresa has always actively supported women and equal rights. So in the car on the way to the office, I tell my husband, “ViaEmpresa wants me to write something for International Women’s day” and he immediately response, “It needs to positive.”
I knew he was going to say that before he even said it. I knew it because that is what society wants from us. They want us to be positive, to look the other way, to not make a scene, to keep it to ourselves, to bite our tongues until they bleed, to forgive, to forget, to move on with our lives without disrupting the status quo, to be “women” but not “feminists” at least not in public spaces.
Then I tell my husband things that I have never told him before: Secrets that happened to me as child and a teenager. Things I had to do as a young woman to escape harm or simply to be heard. I told him secrets from my girlfriends- things that people want to think only happen in movies or in faraway, dark-places, but not here and not to someone you know.
He went silent and my eyes filled with tears, not as a victim, but from overwhelming weight of it all. He tells me to write the article. “But who will read it?” I ask. He thought for a moment, and said, “Maybe fathers of girls? Maybe you should write for them?”
But he and I know that even if these fathers glance through such an article, they will want to believe that these happenings are the exceptions and not the rule. These fathers will want to believe that society has gotten better, that females have equal rights, that their girls will be free and safe to do anything they want in life. They will want to believe that there are no glass ceilings or discriminations or sexual harassment, or abuse or threats of violence. They will not want to imagine anything like that happening to their princesses… so they will rather believe that there is no need for an International Women’s Day, or to read my article.
I wiped my tears and then my husband and I walked quietly into the office. I sent an email to Víctor saying I would write something. And this is it. I did not follow his instructions. There are loads of articles celebrating the inspirational work of women who have come before us or who are among us. Having me write another, will not make difference. As for discrimination, inequality, or violence that we, as women, have faced or continue to face, having me explain yet another story, will not make a difference.
What will make a difference? Fathers from around the globe who realize that the society they want to believe that exists for their daughters does not. They need to read the stories, understand the truth, because it is them, the fathers of the girls and of the boys, who need to work alongside of us woman to make this a world where people are people, girls are safe and there is no need for an International Women’s day.
They will make the difference. But will they read this article?