Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Day After World Women's Day

Since World Women's Day is over (and I happily accepted my red carnation at the grocery store), it's time to look behind the campaigns and band mottos and focus on what we all want: true equality between men and women.

At this point I don't want to focus on the plight of women in Africa, South-East Asia, or the Middle East. We all know about the horrors of female genital mutilation (FGM), girls being married of to men decades their senior or women being locked in at home and denied the most basic freedoms such as holding jobs, driving a car, or leaving their homes without a male relative. We all have read or watched the recent reports of women being mutilated or killed for not obeying their husbands or demanding fundamental rights such as an education for themselves. These topics are in the focus, documentaries are being filmed and donations collected.

While I definitely agree that all these issues have to be brought in the open and discussed by the public, we must not forget the home front. How can it be that in our society, women still earn less than their male counterparts for the same job. Why do women more often than not have to decide whether to have children or a career? Why are women, who actually manage to rise up the ranks, not accepted in this world of men, instead bullied, and harrassed? And how can it be that the public still justifies so-called jokes when a high-ranking politician responds to a female journalist's serious questions with "I bet you look good in a short skirt"?

"The Gentlemen's Joke" (source:
In Germany, a so-called female manager quota in large companies has been discussed by the government and the houses for quite a wihle. All large companies are supposed to be mandated to have 30% female high-ranking managers; otherwise, they face penalties. But is this equality? Is that not another way to humiliate highly-qualified and successful women? Sad is that this quota might be necessary to allow women to be hired for these positions that they are qualified for but not wanted by men, who want to preserve their "gentlemen's clubs". Women, however, do not want to be hired for positions just because they are women. An "anonymous" hiring process is being discussed, where the applications arrive without any personal information such as gender, race, or marital status. This might help women or people from minorities scoring interviews, but once the face-to-face interview happens, the "natural selection" is going to happen.

When looking at the difficulties women face in our society, we must also consider the situation of many men. How can we justify a society where many fathers often have little or no chance to demand their rights when it comes to a separation from the mother. Where boys are still raised to be "men" (don't ask how I react to the phrase "boys will be boys" to justify utter misbehavior and lack of parenting); honestly: how many boy moms out there let their boys play with dolls? A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a picture of her son "baby-wearing" two of his sister's dolls on FB; it was heart-warming and the little guy looked so happy!

In order to improve the situation of women in this world, we need to start re-evaluating the men's situation as well. We cannot raise girls with the notion of having all opportunities in the world and, if needed, to stand up for themselves without focussing more on the sensitive side of our boys. Teaching them respect and to allow them to acknowledge their feelings instead of pushing them into the mold of the strong 1950s-style man.As a society, we need to learn to respect all sorts of ways of living, whether it is women who decide to focus on career and do not want to have a family or men who gladly give up their career to take care of their kids at home.


  1. Stephanie, I really enjoyed this post. I think you brought up a very valid point.We do need to teach our boys that it's okay to "feel". Bravo.