Last week an episode of Door to door on the occasion of which, among the other topics dealt with, the emphasis was placed on why women are much more penalized at work than men. On the ledwall behind the handler Bruno Vespa, the message appears: Work – because women are penalized. In the studio, to tackle the age-old problem, three guests, all men. True, the show was not entirely focused on that theme; it is true, some of the guests were there to present a book or to discuss something else; it’s true, Vespa always invites many women and blah, blah, blah.
The fact remains that that frame, that looming image on the screen is emblematic, because it perfectly photographs the reality in which women live, again in 2021. Four men talk about women and above all how women should feel, they sit proud and composed with their starched collars and they argue animatedly on a subject completely unknown to them: the inequality of treatment at work. Not even the shadow of a woman who could bear her own testimony, so much to say. Besides, what good is it when there is a man who speaks for you? The female presence is usually an outline, pure decoration and when she happens to see her at the helm there is always someone to remind her that, somewhere, there is certainly a man to whom to say thank you.
I believe that this day, which is so important and fundamental, should remind us that physical violence is perpetrated on women it is nothing more than the result of an ancestral machismo rooted in the deepest layers of the human soul and which necessarily translates into the perennial tendency to belittle, stem, debase and underestimate women. Despite the progress made in the direction of a certain gender equality, the idea that women is somehow still persistent still persists. inferior to man and that his role should always be subordinate compared to that of her male colleague. And here is that in various contexts, if the man is assertive and determined, the woman is sour and pain in the ass; if he dispenses attention and devilish to his colleagues in the office he is a gallant, if he does it a woman is one who “wants to fuck”; if a man acts without thinking he is impulsive, if he does it a woman is emotionally unstable and therefore unreliable.
Among other things, there is still a very strong tendency to make it fall on women, much more than on men, responsibility for childcare. The term used to identify a man particularly devoted to children is emblematic: the mammo. A grotesque declination of the term mother that highlights how culturally rooted is the belief that the mother should take care of the offspring. Therefore man is not a father, but he only takes the place of his mother and this is not always frowned upon. The woman who does not fully fulfill the role of mother is an egoist who thinks only of herself and who takes on the man, already very busy with his work, of an additional burden. Therefore the one who devotes a lot of time to children is a model father, while a woman who spends 24 hours a day changing diapers and preparing baby food. it does nothing but its duty. In this sense, even our society would seem organized to make women with children who decide to work give up. Protections reduced to a minimum, gender discrimination in the workplace, inequality of economic treatment. It is a country of men and for men, in which the woman is forced to adapt and be satisfied with the crumbs.
Gender disparity is very evident, in fact, even during job interviews. If the candidate is a woman, the questions will mostly focus on the personal sphere: Are you married? Do you have children? Would you like to have some? How do you plan to balance work and family? What does your partner or husband think about your career choice? Do you think you can find yourself well in a team of male colleagues? What kind of clothing do you plan to choose for this type of occupation? And so on. All questions that, of course, would never be asked to a male candidate.
Not to mention of theatrical or cinematographic auditions, meetings with directors and producers, who most often see the actresses involved in ambiguous situations or even become the object of harassment or violence. In this sense, the #MeToo movement represented a turning point. But the world of entertainment has always been the scene – it must be said – of very serious gender discrimination, which often results in real violence against actresses or models, both during auditions and during meetings outside the working contexts.
In Italy, in recent years, a feminist collective made up of 28 theater actresses has founded Hamlet, an association that aims to denounce any gender discrimination within the world of theater. Through a mapping of more than one hundred Italian structures and about a thousand shows between 2017 and 2020, Amleta noted the fact that the percentage of male actors present on stage is significantly higher than that of women or transgender actresses (we are talking about 70 %, against 30%). In addition, out of 25 theaters surveyed only six are headed by women and none of these are national.
Over time, the association has received an avalanche of testimonies concerning abuse or harassment suffered during auditions or theatrical performances, by directors or producers, but also by male colleagues. It goes without saying that, in such a scenario, talking about violence against women only on a physical level is too simplistic. Women face a whole range of discrimination, abuse and every day humiliations which, in most cases, end up being tolerated or justified and even hidden, to the advantage of the male on duty who finds approval and protection in a society that is still too macho.
“He sought it” is the phrase that almost always accompanies a report of violence against women: even before understanding how it went, even before listening to his words, first of all there is the thought that, perhaps, it may be that, but are we really sure that she did not provoke? And this aberrant prejudice, this sick thought insinuates itself so deeply that even in the face of the first slap or the first push against the wall it is we women who think we are to blame for what happened, to think that maybe, if I hadn’t pissed him off after a bad day at work, maybe he would never have reacted like that. Basically I deserve it, I should be more careful about how I behave.
There is a line from the film Pretty Woman that has always stuck with me, far from the fairy tale and the American dream. Vivian (Julia Roberts) tells Edward (Richard Gere), how she ended up being a prostitute: “You know, it’s not one of the plans for the future, it’s not your childhood dream … They demean you to the point that you end up to believe it “. And so it is, the woman is debased to the point that she ends up believing that it is right to suffer, that it is right to succumb and that somehow he deserved that slap. But that slap is only the tip of the iceberg, it is the result of years and years of machismo, of a patriarchal culture deeply rooted in the social fabric of our country. That is why I believe it is important that the state take on this cultural and social problem, through a sentimental and sexual education right from primary school.
Men are not born monsters, they become monsters. This can and must be avoided as soon as possible.
The foundation of the Fatto Quotidiano, together with the non-profit organization Trama di Terre, funds autonomy grants to support women who have survived violence. Visit the site and find out how to help us: click here