“I am Ana from Lisbon. I would like to know how can we put an end to sexism and to the prevailing social differences between men and women which is an ongoing problem in the world?”
To answer Ana’s question U-talk asked Belgian feminist and member of the ‘Dare to be feminist’ collective Laure Juteau to comment:
“Sexism is all about putting people in boxes as soon as we meet them, labelled either ‘man’ or ‘woman’. As soon as they deviate from that, even a little, they are quickly reminded to get back into line and play their role.
“For example, a woman is the technical director of some sort in an organisation, yet whenever she meets someone their reaction is ‘Ah, you must be the director’s assistant’. Of course it’s not possible that a woman could run anything technical.
“It’s also a man who chooses to be a nurse, but who no-one trusts because they find it strange he’s doing a ‘woman’s’ job.
“When you think about it, it’s completely ridiculous to assign social behaviour according to a person’s gender; in fact, anything could have been chosen.
It could be hair colour; we could have decided that blondes, because they are more fragile in bright sunlight, should only stay indoors and look after the children at home, and that brunettes could do outdoor work, or that redheads with their striking looks would make good diplomats. We could have organised society like that, why not?
“Expressed in this way it is so obviously ridiculous, but that’s the way men and women are categorised, and it is so rooted in us that it seems logical, justified.
“If we don’t make the effort to deconstruct these sexist stereotypes, and say instead individuals are independent and make their choices freely without consideration of what they have or don’t have between their legs, well… if we don’t make this effort, starting with ourselves, then sexism will be always be a part of daily life.
“It all starts at childhood, and that’s where we have to start, too, and with the teaching profession. Sexism needs to be understood, and eradicated, with special classes, workshops, and playgroups, and not just with the children, but with the adults, too, so that these attitudes can be deconstructed and then applied every day.”
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