Resistance to change is always strong when it is about giving up a privileged position. The tension to achieve a new power balance requires standing up to abuse, or ignorance if the target isn’t even aware of their advantage. Reactionaries, fools and morons fill the ranks of an army of men and women who either enjoy their own privileges or accept a lazy submission, thus perpetuating inequality for pleasure or for fear of a social transformation that, despite a centuries-old inertia, seems pretty inevitable.
If there is one global revolution today, it is the struggle for women’s rights. And it is no small battle because it affects every aspect of life. The struggle involves, above all, respecting one another and acknowledging and accepting each other as free entities. We are waging a battle for individual freedom that has a knock-on effect on our collective and individual lifestyle. In the words of the marquess of amazon-style feminism, it is obvious that women in Spain have progressed in leaps and bounds over the last few decades; but it is not enough. It is true that nowadays women no longer rely on their father or husband to apply for a passport or open a bank account and that they have secured a spot at some decision-making levels. But equality is still a distant goal and there is a underlying layer of muck that we should scrape off for the sake of the future generations.
Sexism is but the wish to dominate and subjugate your opposite number. The attempt to subjugate is still ongoing in many shapes and forms within the private and public spheres. In the latter —especially in a country where meritocracy is not quite a prominent value— women still need to fight for the right to be heard, for their authority and knowledge to be recognised, to enjoy the same career opportunities, to not be vilified when they do not meet certain beauty standards, for the right to be mediocre and not have to be brave or heroic. In their private lives, women still bear the brunt of looking after their children and parents. They are the ones who go part-time and give up career opportunities —and, therefore, better wages and retirement pensions— to bring together their families. Their efforts to maintain family cohesion are not acknowledged.
These days the rise against domination in the West also reaches the private sphere and many women are living a new sexual revolution that expresses itself through the vindication of pleasure and their ability to obtain it either on their own or with company. Women who are aware of their sexual capacity transform many private relationships and, in that regard, their sex life will also be different from their grandmother’s, for whom sex was all too often a synonym of submission and procreation, above all.
The rise against male rape gangs is a worldwide fight against violence, a battle that pits freedom against submission. It is a revolt where one must take sides and act accordingly, everywhere and at all times.
Who fell in the trap?
In the week ahead of March 8 there is typically much discussion about the sort of things women go through all year round. In a meeting with women realtors, lawyers, architects and economists I hear them complain about men’s management style, which a top female executive refers to as “hair gel testosterone”, and they ponder about how to be efficient, non-predatory managers with authority and credibility. At a different get-together, a pioneering woman film-maker tells me about how Hollywood’s iconography has imposed “the deceit of romantic love” and she concludes by quipping: “What a joke! Movies end with a kiss and a burst of passion, and that’s exactly when trouble kicks off!”
At work and in their private lives new women also harbour prejudices and operate within the boundaries of imposed ceilings and limitations they have set upon themselves. The new feminist revolution is not the crusade of a novel puritanism, but it is about calling out the abuse and questioning the authority that has been imposed for reasons of gender. It is the silence that follows a man’s voice after he has spoken, even when he has merely repeated what a woman’s voice had already said earlier.
Relating to one another on equal terms is not merely a benefit for women, but an emergency for men. The princess trap is also a trap for the poor prince, who is expected to act as a protector and show gallantry. It is a trap laid by those who have understood nothing and aim to impose their primitive sexuality by force.
We are living in a time of change: in the economy, technology and access to knowledge, as well as in the role of women who are willing to live as free individuals. These women are asking for confederates, not competitors. Ultimately, they are asking for respect.