Some of my thoughts on Feminism

Before you start reading this post in my Blog, I would like to underline that these are just some of my points of view on feminism and although I completely believe and defend this perspective I also respect other points of view on feminism that are different than mine.

A few weeks ago someone from the PNR (a Portuguese far right party) commented on my last Blog post (On Dating a Socialist Man) the following:

“Your ideology smells like shit, go back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich, you understand fuck all about politics”

(free translation – It was written in Portuguese)

I have never been insulted like this in all my life. Actually what really offended me was not the idea that my ideology is not good, I also think that their ideology is awful. What really hurts me is the idea that in 2015, in Portugal, there still are people that think it is ok to send a woman back to the kitchen to make them a sandwich.

To be honest I was very shocked because I am lucky enough to say that I don’t suffer from sexism that often. Since a young age that I haven’t conformed with the girly-girl stereotype and I can’t say that it has a struggle for me. I quit my ballet classes and started doing Karate with my father when I was 10, I always prefered blue to pink and jeans to dresses and skirts, I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis and I really hate shopping and I definitely prefer action movies to romantic comedies. I do believe that there are women who self identify with the girly-girl stereotype and are better advocates of feminism than I am, so please don’t misread me. What I mean is that, although I have made different choices than most girls I know, luckily I can’t say that I have been judged or mistreated because of it. Unfortunately, I know that a lot of girls suffer from a different fate.

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I believe that we are reaching a very delicate point regarding feminism movements in which we should be careful to not overstep the line of the fair and necessary fight for our rights. In my opinion, if our movement wants to be taken seriously and be seen as fair and right, we should not demand a kind of treatment superior than the one we provide men. It is true that for many years (even centuries) women have been mistreated and denied their place in society, but to wish that for men today is not a payback, it is being unfair. I believe that this way of thinking feminism (to wish for women to have more power and more rights than men to over-compensate our past history) is hurting the overall movement and turning some men that could be our allies into our enemies.

In my opinion, men also suffer from sexism and their support to the feminist cause is not only necessary, but it is also their right. Expressions like “Man up” or “Grow some balls” are also said in an offensive way to men, as they also feel pressure to be as manly as they can because they are also afraid of not fitting the role that a sexist society believe is the one they should play.  It is important to have safe spaces for women to share their experiences and feel free to speak about their daily struggles on a sexist society, but it is also important to create moments in which men are welcome to join our fight. Movements like the #heforshe are a step in the right direction and welcoming men in our fight will only make it stronger and fairer.

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However, I feel that there are still a lot of men that don’t understand the struggles of women in a sexist society. Concepts like sexual harassment, emotional violence or even the overall concept of sexism are way too often unclear to both men and women. As I said before, some men also suffer from these issues, and, as the women that suffer from it, they usually don’t report it because they feel ashamed for being victims of something that is associated with “women problems”. Nevertheless, I truly think that part of the solution is a true discussion of these concepts and stronger legislation that protects both women and men.


*I intend to write a second post about this subject to share my opinion on how I think the current position of women in politics.*

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On Dating a Socialist Man

All that I am about to write is the truth about my relationship with a socialist boyfriend or my thoughts about it, but it doesn’t make it truth for all of the socialist boyfriends that there is or even every socialists men.

The best way to get to know a socialist man is in a party or dinner of a socialist party. I met Miguel for the first time at the 40th anniversary of Partido Socialista (PS) at the party’s headquarters. Such a cliché, I know. We took a picture together with some other common friends and the PS leader at the time.

As Miguel is studying in England (I know, very “socialist” of him… but I think we can forgive him if he choses to apply his knowledge into the right cause), we didn’t talk for over a year. One tricky part of getting to know a socialist man is that the political man is polite, and a socialist man is polite equally to everyone. So how can a girl know if he is being polite as usual, or an unusual-I-want-to-date-you kind of polite? About that I can only advice you socialist guys reading this: make your interest clear, or you will be running in circles for months.

If you want to spot a socialist guy in a room you may find this information useful. The normal conversation topics, especially if besides being a socialist guy he is also a true intellectual (not the wanna be kind, please), are the economy, the daily news, foreign policy, usually they will use a lot of acronyms that you may never heard about, they will say a lot of names of people that you feel like you should know but you don’t (usually names of their buddies that you will eventually meet and you will figure it out that it was just stupid to assume that you should have known their names before)… and obviously, they will talk about politics. A lot.on a conference

The clothes vary a lot, so I won’t dare to enter that territory, but the body language usually tells you that they are confident in themselves (even if they are not, please go along with the role play), that you should know their names, that they have been reading a lot and not sleeping at all and that they know the secret to the salvation of mankind: socialism.

Once you are dating a socialist man, most of your days together will be on the road from conference to conference, from campaign to campaign, from meeting to meeting or from dinner to dinner. You will get to know people from all over the country, from young boys and girls to elderly people from whom you can always count on a kind word on your beauty or intelligence (sadly, mostly beauty) and how lucky your socialist boyfriend is to have you. I have to admit that I love it. I love always running for the next big thing and to get to know amazing people.10649956_735187556528966_4607777230461422771_n

To date a socialist man is to wake up at the sound of “The Internationale” every morning because that is his alarm clock sound and to have a “Socialist Youth” flag above the bed (where people used to hang some religious symbol). To date a socialist boyfriend is to go to conferences on post-Keynesian economics just because he is part of the organization or on the Socialists Parties around Europe because he is the speaker (not complaining, knowledge is always good). It is to move to England and realising that all of your girl friends (that he introduces you to) are from the “Ladies of Labour” and that they are amazing…

The list goes on and on. But I want to give you two pieces of advices as well.

  • Just because you may be dating a strong-minded socialist man, don’t let yourself be his shadow. You deserve to have a strong voice of your own, and I know it is very hard when you are next to someone like him, but instead of “behind every great man there is a great woman”, I believe in “Next to a great woman there should be a great man”.
  • A socialist man can be that “great man” and it may be hard for them to put their egos aside and take the risk to ask you out, so give them some strength or be the one that makes the first move.

The Heroism of Being Party Political

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I don’t usually write about politics and I guess you already want to stop reading this post after finding out that I wrote about it this time, but, please, give me a shot.

 

I bet that if I ask a bunch of children what they thought is a “heroic” job, most of them would say “fireman” or “police officer”. They are right. If I ask them why, they would probably say: “because they try to make the world a better place”. Correct answer once again. However, aren’t there plenty of other professions with the same goal? Like teachers, scientists or even politicians? I might sound naïve to you, but give me one more chance to make may point.

 

I believe that some people see politics as something external; something that has serious implications on their lives but that seems to exist in a remote and untouchable reality. Politicians are just characters of that reality, who, just like those in a movie, appear on our TVs once in a while. Who are they? What are their motivations? Why do they do what they do?

 

I can’t answer all the questions, but as in any other profession (if politics should or not be a profession is a discussion for another day) there are different people with different motivations in politics. It seems really logical to say so. However, when I say that I’m in a political party, people often answer something like “Oh god! Why? You are such a good person!”. Since when is being a bad person a pre-requisite to have a political life? And what can we call a “bad person” in politics? Sure, I don’t always agree with everything that happens on a political level in Portugal. Actually, I disagree most of the time. But do I think that everyone involved with it is a “bad person”? Couldn’t we all just be good people trying to make “the world a better place” but with different ideas of what a “better place” is like? Ok, I admit I may be being naïve in this point once again, but even so, wouldn’t it be a good reason to try to make it differently instead of just complaining about what I don’t agree with? I think so.

 

I find it very difficult nowadays to find a teenager interested in politics. I can guess why. Every dinner they hear their parents complaining to the TV as if the prime-minister (let’s say) could hear them that way. “These politicians are all the same”, “I can’t believe someone voted for this clown” and “We are all doomed with these people in control of our country”… I can hear it as well. But I also can ask myself “What would I do differently in their position?”, “What is my opinion about this topic?”, “How can I make my voice heard, instead of screaming towards the TV?”. My answer was: Instead of seeing political parties as something distant and external to me, I will see them as the platform to make my voice heard and my opinion count.

 

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Sometimes I think I am just a dreamer – a “good girl” who wants to play someone’s else game without understanding the rules – but when that happens, I like to think that some of most influential people in the world were also called “dreamers” at some point in their lives. So I will keep on trying to making “this world a better place”, in volunteer work, in associations and social projects, and, yes, in politics.