I used to be one of those women who find all attempts to “celebrate women” to be anti feminist. My train of thought was the following: We don’t celebrate men’s day, why should we celebrate women’s day? The same goes for the very existence of the “ministry of women”. Why on earth do we need one if there isn’t a ministry for men? Would that make all the other ministries be mens’ by default? It used to drive me even more insane to see that the minister of women is always a woman. Like a man can run any ministry except for that one? Or is it that a women can’t run in a “decisive” or “technical” ministry but can deal with the problems of her kind?
That is what I used to think until not too long ago. Indeed, I recently started revising this belief mainly because I began to realize that representation is important. Our society seems to believe that just because something is, it is the way it should be. Let me give you an example: many people believe that if a majority of politicians are men, it must mean that women suck at politics. Obviously the logic is flawed. But this example shows that representation and positive discrimination are important. Inviting at least a few women in a political show every week is a damn good start to make people understand that women are in fact capable of being politicians. I know this sounds ridiculous. Of course women can be politicians… they can be anything they want. but let’s face it, not everyone knows that for a fact, not even all women. Most people, of both sexes still believe that the “weaker sex” has a maternity gene and another one for cooking…oh yes I almost forgot, we also have a gene for gossip and nail painting.
We need to implement change slowly but surely. Believing that men and women are equal doesn’t quite cut it. We must do our best to ensure that women catch up on all they’ve missed for generations. Perhaps a ministry dedicated for the issue is the best way to start. I am not yet entirely convinced but I would say that I’m making progress.
Any who, I think that’s enough background information to understand my reaction when I first saw this:
Fist, it took me a minute to get over the first line.”تحت اشراف سيادة رئيس الجمهورية” It was enough to make my blood boil. Are you serious? Do you even know what PR is? What were you thinking?
“Let’s remind people of the old regime!” “Let’s use the exact freaking words that represent the propaganda bullshit they’ve seen for 23 years! Maybe that will spark their interest. ”
Once I got past this rage, I had yet another battle to fight. My old self was screaming “This is bullshit. There should be no such thing. Why can’t we just have regular events where there are all kinds of people who present their creativity and it so happens that about half of them are women? Why can’t we just ignore people’s sex and focus on the people …” I could write all day about what my old self would call “fundamentally wrong” in this event but I will spare you my internal tug of war. I somehow managed to convince myself that in order to embrace my new representation/positive discrimination ideology, I must start appreciating such initiatives. “What a lovely event, I repeated to myself. Showcasing women’s success. Way to go!”
I wasn’t in Tunis so I couldn’t attend the event but I made sure to tune in and watch the news and see how it went.
And there I was completely speechless in front of the TV. I was just taken aback. I did not see it coming. I guess it was even more shocking because it was so different from my expectations.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear “creativity”, I don’t associate it solely with paintings, sculpture and art.
Especially if you pair the word “creativity” with “women” in the context of “celebrating women’s day”. The first thing that comes to my mind is all kinds of successful women in field as varied as business, engineering, science, arts, and technology who became successful thanks to their creativity (however it translated in their fields).
What the event turned out to be is just a bunch of women artists presenting their work in the Bardo Museum. Basically a showcase of women’s success in a field that is predominantly and traditionally feminine. Am I the only one to think that it just defeats the purpose. It’s basically saying “You think women like pretty things. Well you are right!”
I was expecting a showcase of women who made it in the “tough world of men”. Women like my mother whose grandpa told her not to go to engineering school because “she’s a girl and she’s gonna get married and have kinds anyway… so why bother?” A woman like our neighbor whose husband told her that she can’t be a taxi driver because “women dont know how to drive”.
I am not saying that women in Art have it easy. I understand that their work and achievements are worthy of our attention. But I am saying that if the ministry of women holds an event that reinforces a sexist stereotype than what is this whole thing about?