Last week, a video about a session of massive coordinated group abuse from an all-male Madrid college towards an an all-female college became viral.
Shortly afterwards, some of the girls from the all-female boarding school submitted a press release stating that things were getting out of hand, that they didn't feel offended and that it was just a tradition between both schools.
Unsurprisingly, people were upset about this, and the usual claims of "women are as bad if not worse than men in regards of sexism" started.
Wait a minute. No, women are not as bad. Even the women that defend grotesque things like these are not as bad. How can we think they are as bad (if not worse!) than those who actually did the shouting and abusing in the first place.
We urgently need to reframe the way we articulate things and how we divide responsabilities in matters of mysogyny:
- Are women needed to uphold the patriarchy? Yes, they are.
- Do women have internalised mysogynistic beliefs and behaviours and do they defend them in a patriarchal society that asks them to do so? Yes, of course they do
- Does it make them bad? It makes them part of the problem, even when they are the biggest sufferers of the consequences of that problem.
- Does it make them worse? Definetely not. 100% not. NO.
It makes me really angry when I hear the cheap argument that we are our worst enemies. That we are jealous of each other, that we are always bitching behind each other's back.
Women are not raping women. Killing them. Catcalling them. Intimidating them. Patronising them, sexualising them or displaying a disregard and entitlement to their unpaid and invisible work. Men are inequivocally the worst enemy of women.
Women are taught, from insanely early years, that they matter less. That the potential of men is sacred. We are told that boys will be boys. That they mature after than us and we need to be patient. They tell us that men are goofy and simpler and they can’t figure out how to do the bare minimum at home, yet at the same time that they are obviously smarter, and we need to respect their over representation in leadership. We are told that their attention and approval is the golden ticket to an easier life. We are told not to piss them off. We are demanded to protect their feelings at all cost.
We see women disliking each other everywhere, from jokes, to books, to videos. We repeat over and over how much women dislike women. We have all said at some point “I am not like the other women” because the idea that they have sold us of what a woman is doesn’t represent any of us.
We see that there is, at the very most, one space for women at the table and they make us believe that we are competing for that one seat. Nobody tells us that it is time for the other seats to be up for grabs as well.
We are told to fight for the crumbs, but also to keep smiling because nobody likes an angry woman. So we fight behind the smiles, a fight that we shouldn't be fighting in the first place. A fight that distracts us from grabbing more room at the table for all of us.
They constantly compare us to each other. They make our worth tied to the worth of the others and then they say that women are jealous when we can't help but make the wrong maths that their loss is my win.
They tell us to be caring and protect everyone's feelings and not to come across as mean (bitch), assertive (bossy), or direct (demanding). They show us how to protect our fragile likeabily in a world where being an unliked women is too expensive. Then they tell us that we are fake to each other when we follow this rule even with people that we don't like.
So no, allow me to stop the argument that claims that we are the worst. Allow me to give some context to the different realities and explain the feelings they provoke in me.
It angers me, deeply, those men who shouted abuse. It angers me to see that young men today still believe that this is funny, that it’s ok, that it’s a way to bond with each other. Their entitlement and commitment to mantain awful traditions. Their loud determination to maintain sexism.
It saddens me, deeply, those women who excuse the abuse. Sadness to see that young women believe that it is ok to be called some of those awful things in the name of banter. Sadness that they too cling on the word tradition, that they don’t see how traditions tend to perpetuate the worst in the society, all the while protected from common sense and critical thinking.
It saddens me to see that these women feel responsible for those men, their brothers, their friends; responsible to protect their potential at the expense of their dignity, afraid of what consequences for their actions might mean for them. It saddens me that they put themselves out there with the press release because to them the opinion of those men about them is more valuable that the opinion of all of us that put our arms around them and said "you don't deserve it. Nobody does. This is not ok".
Next time we talk about how some women are worse, we need to zoom out. Obviously this is just regarding mysogynysm, I do not intend to exonorate women from racism, ableism, classism... where they hold privilege.
Always, in every situation where there is a party who holds privilege and one that doesn’t, it is very important to put the responsability and accountability where it belongs. It is important to ask ourselves who is benefiting from this narrative. How obviously wrong it would sound if we said “ victims are as bad, if not worse’.
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