Category Archives: Patriarchy

The old, angry, white male is at it again.

So Beyoncé delivers yet another gob-smacking performance for the power, the beauty and the genuineness of which I have ran out of superlatives to describe. Guiliani, on the other hand, has not: “shame”. Why? Because he has saved more black lives than she did.

…What?… (And yes, I had to read the Daily Mail…)

Lemonade is about women resilience. Black women resilience from the heart of their home to the most outside world. The album is crystal clear about it. It tells the story of all black women who were, have been and will be comforted to being considered as the lowest citizen of the American society, from the white people in power to the deceiving males of the same blood. It’s about black women having to scrap a living on their own because their male peers are in prison or dead. It’s about their journey towards independence from the words of their father to the lessons they learnt through experiencing life and hurt on their own.

Lemonade puts the spotlight on the black American woman: the most neglected, disrespected, forgotten and overlooked person in the society and their struggle. The black man is not even the centre of the narrative, he’s such a trigger, a reason, a consequence but their feelings, their excuses, their reasons are irrelevant. The black woman is everything.

Lemonade does what it says on the tin: turning the sourness of countless lemons that hindered the path of your life into lemonade to keep yourself refreshed and strong. And her performance at the MTV VMA was exactly that. She sang the black women’s sadness, their anger, their desperation and eagerness at being simply respected. She screamed the raging lioness in each of them, one they have been taught to tame and keep quiet, as a warning to all men that women are not to be contained.

And somehow, out of all of that, out of all the clear lyrics she sang about betrayal, the obvious feminism, out of the Venus Cross at the end, Giuliani took one thing: she is questioning him and his tenure as a mayor of New York.

His whole intervention on Trump TV…Sorry, Fox News was to champion his own achievement as a mayor of NYC fifteen years ago. He has made New York a better place, he has revived Harlem…Okay but what does it have to do with Beyoncé performance? Well, at the beginning, she is surrounded by women in white halos who fall on the floor covered in red light. These women are the black people killed by the police. She even mentioned it later when she asked about funerals.

So not only had Guiliani not understood the performance at all, he also has no idea what Lemonade is about. He’s stuck on outrage-mode after her performance at the super bowl, the Black Panther outfits et al. Giuliani reminds me of those christian fundamentalist parents whose children killed themselves under the weight of beliefs that were more important to their parents than they were themselves. But then who went on to blame some rock bands for the death of their offspring, claiming you can hear the devil or some encouragement to kill yourself if you played the vinyl backwards…

Alike these parents who refuse to see the impact of their actions and would find any excuse to blame someone else while praising their own hard work, Giuliani sees Beyoncé as a problem because in his eyes when she questions the whole society and the terrible consequences of centuries of bad policies, she questions him personally. He cannot fathom that maybe she is touching issues bigger than him because there is nothing bigger than him. It’s all about him. So he feels it is necessary to defend himself when no one has attacked.

The problem is that he talks about it as if it was high time black people realised they owe more to someone like him (a proud supporter of Trump) as a former mayor of NYC than they do to a black singer from Houston but the two don’t compare.

Beyoncé is not an elected representative, she is an artist who decides to express herself, shows her understanding of the world and fights for causes through her art. It’s her job and she is being rewarded for that job exactly. She had not received some of Humanitarian Worker of the Year award for service to the nation so why is Giuliani opposing his record to her art?

She is being political.

Yes. Everything is, nowadays. It’s her choice to address societal issues that are eventually political, to choose a battle and let her music and art speak for it. Why just feminism? Because she’s a woman and talks from experience. Why just black people? Because she’s black and talks from experience. And she can do it, she can decide to pick some battles before others because she is an artist. No one has elected her and she doesn’t have the responsibility to represent and serve even the ones who disagree with her or voted against her during some elections.

Which is what Giuliani had to do as a mayor: be there for the ones who supported you but also be selfless enough to understand that you have a mission to serve everyone, even the 45-49% who voted against you. And maybe he’s absolutely right when he says he was a great mayor, maybe he did his job perfectly. He was knighted by the queen after all. So was Beckham…or Fred Goodwin…Maybe he did save more black lives than Beyoncé but as far as I know, no one is pretending otherwise.

She is? How?

She came with Eric Garner’s mother and he was killed in NYC. Yes, but he was killed in 2014 and Giuliani was a mayor until 2001 so nothing to do with him. The other mothers? Well, they were the ones of Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida, Michael Brown killed in Saint-Louis and Oscar Grant III murdered in Oakland, California. So what has anything Beyoncé did that night got to do with Giuliani?

Nothing.

Beyoncé has decided enough was enough and let her art kick doors open so the US face a problem that’s been lingering and rotting its core since its birth: race. But she does it with a twist of feminism that makes the narrative even more complicated to fathom, I agree, although reading the lyrics and listening to her makes it frankly easy to grasp the message. It’s obvious that in her quest for change, she will encounter the usual when it comes to fighting sexism and racism: a cohort of angry white males who cannot understand a world that doesn’t revolve around them so they feel feminism and the mention of race is a personal attack. Which is exactly what Guiliani has proved.

Guiliani has become a poster to the typical and what Fox News and Trump are begging for: a male blast from the past who will take any opportunity to bring the spotlight back on them to remind us that they are the main actors in the world and should be praised as such.

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Le burkini: Messieurs, fermez-la!

Il y avait une blague au Royaume-Uni, au temps de Bush et Ben Laden. Un sondage avait révélé que l’Américain moyen voulait un leader pro-armes, anti-féministe et anti-gay, un leader qui soit véritablement religieux et qui soit prêt à se battre pour faire le monde à l’image de sa religion. On disait alors : « Voici votre homme » et on montrait une photo de Ben Laden. J’ai toujours beaucoup aimé cette blague parce qu’elle disait en substance que  l’Amerique de George W Bush n’était pas l’inverse de l’Al Quaida de Ben Laden mais son complétement. Comme le Yin et Yang se complètent, les puritains et autres fondamentalistes chrétiens vont de pair avec les fondamentalistes musulmans.

Aujourd’hui, la France voulant devenir l’inverse de Daesh et exposer des valeurs inverses à ceux des islamistes ne devient que le complétement de ces mêmes valeurs. Elle ne devient que le penchant occidental de cette mouvance.  Nous avons aujourd’hui des fondamentalistes islamistes contre des fondamentalistes républicains ou laïcistes. Pas laïcs, je précise. La plupart des figures qui crient « laïcité » au visage des musulmans sont eux-mêmes des catholiques pratiquants qui continuent à pousser pour que le Vatican retrouve une place centrale dans la vie du pays.

Dans les deux cas, aucun n’a compris les textes qu’ils utilisent comme fondement de leur pensée et de leurs actions. Dans les deux cas, ils détournent le pouvoir de l’Etat (qu’ils ont parfois créé de toutes pièces à ces mêmes fins) pour proclamer et s’assurer de la légalité de leurs actions qui donc « ne peuvent pas être critiquées ». Et dans les deux cas, les femmes sont les premières à souffrir.

Je ne suis pas là pour me prononcer sur le port du burkini en lui-même. Tout d’abord, je suis un homme et je ne suis pas concerné (on verra quand ils commenceront à mesurer les barbes) mais surtout  je n’ai en pas assez entendu des sources essentielles (les musulmanes qui le portent et celles qui ne le portent pas) pour pouvoir tirer des conclusions sures car informées. Personnellement, mon problème se situe une fois de plus dans le fait que les femmes sont prises entre deux feux qu’elles n’ont pas souhaités être tirés.

On est arrivés à une situation où, des hommes principalement, ont estimé que si une femme est sur une plage et qu’elle ne montre pas ses cheveux, son décolleté, ses cuisses, son dos, ses bras, ses jambes, c’est qu’il y a quelque chose qui ne va pas et qui s’apparente à du terrorisme. Ces pensées aussi ridicules que radicales ont été mises dans des décrets de lois applicables et appliqués par la police.

Quand j’étais petit, et même aujourd’hui, la France était la première à dénoncer ce genre d’abus par les pays arabes. Un des moments dont je me souviens le plus, c’est l’outrage mi-scandalisé mi-désobligeant dont la France a fait preuve quand le billet de 100 Francs, sur lequel figurait La Liberté guidant le peuple de Delacroix, fut interdit en Iran parce que l’allégorie a les seins nus. Cette poitrine allait à l’encontre les lois de décences de la République Islamique alors bien sûr, on trouvait ça « ridicule », « pathétique », « scandaleux », « misogyne », « digne d’un régime d’un autre temps dominé par des hommes polygames à longue barbe » et bien sûr, on a beaucoup réfléchit, écrit, reporté – et à juste raison – sur ce que ça signifiait pour les femmes iraniennes au quotidien, des femmes qu’on nous décrivaient comme étant démaquillées au papier de verre.

Aujourd’hui, au nom de la laïcité, je vois la même chose. Je vois des femmes innocentes qui vont sur la plage avec leurs enfants, pas forcément pour se baigner elle-même, et qui sont publiquement humiliées par la police du Pays des Lumières et qui doivent se déshabiller correctement pour une plage ou la quitter tout court, après une amende, bien sûr. Du moment qu’elles sont sur le trottoir, leur tenue est réglementaire mais la seconde où leur pied touche le sable, elles sont soumises à l’indécence laïciste et ce qu’elle porte est illégal. Pas (encore) au niveau de l’Etat même si le Premier Ministre se réjouit, mais au moins sur les plages extrêmement fréquentés et donc traditionnellement les plus conservatrices et xénophobes de France.

Le fait que la France ait des lois vestimentaires (au secours !) qui varient de la plage à la rue n’est pas nouveau : on n’a pas le droit de se balader torse nu, même avec un haut de bikini, dans les rues d’une ville ou un espace public. Un restaurant, un café, un hôtel aura le droit sans appel de vous mettre dehors. C’est une tenue réservée à la plage et éventuellement la Promenade car du moment que vous êtes dans la ville, vous entrez dans « le monde civilisé » et vous mettez un haut qui couvre au moins le buste.

C’est une loi qui m’a toujours procuré beaucoup de plaisir parce que les Britanniques ne comprennent pas. Les Londoniens, ou les habitants des Midlands ou du Black Country, oui, parce qu’ils sont loin de la mer et ne se baignent pas mais des gens de Brighton, Blackpool, Bristol, Bournemouth, Birkenhead (je voulais réviser mes B), ne comprennent pas. Shopping, course, resto, pub…il est normal pour eux de voir en été des hommes sont torse nus et des femmes avec un petit quelque chose qui cache leurs seins. A tel point que les supermarchés sont obligés d’afficher des règles vestimentaires parce que ça commence à faire mauvais genre. Surtout auprès des Européens et autres touristes qui affluent de plus en plus.

Ca m’amuse parce que je dois leur expliquer qu’il s’agit de se couvrir quand on est en société, de ne pas exposer les enfants au corps d’inconnus, de « décence » et je me retrouve à parler comme un ayatollah sur des codes vestimentaires qui sont des valeurs culturelles inexplicables. Néanmoins, personne n’est forcé de mettre un pull ou un blouson. Les choix sont multiples et un petit haut qui cache le nombril satisfera tout le monde.

Cette fois, il s’agit de forcer des femmes à se déshabiller après les avoir fait payer au nom de la lutte contre le terrorisme. Je ne vois pas le rapport mais bon, je ne fais aussi pas dans le populisme de bas étage.

Alors comment sort-on de là-dedans ? Parlez aux femmes ! « Mon dieu, quelle horreur ! »  je sais, mais que ce soit ce qu’elles portent, comment elles parlent, qui elles fréquent et épousent, comment elles gèrent leur utérus, il est temps de parler aux femmes pour savoir quelles sont les motivations derrière ce qu’elles font. Forcément, ça prend du temps donc pas de gain politique immédiat dans un discours aussi trompeur que dystopiste. Mais surtout, la difficulté est d’enlever l’opinion de gens qui ne sont pas concerné et ça enlève tout d’abord les hommes en tant qu’acteurs principaux.

Je ne dis pas que si les femmes étaient les actrices principales du débat, il n’y aurait donc plus de burkini, je sais juste que dans le débat actuel, ce sont les hommes qui définissent les termes : les hommes islamistes qui appellent au port de la burka contre les hommes laïcistes qui appellent à l’interdiction du burkini (qui n’est même pas prôné par des hommes qui refuseraient volontiers aux femmes l’accès à tout loisir). Et au milieu ? Les femmes qui n’ont pas leur mot à dire doivent suivre les recommandations des uns ou des autres qui parlent et décident pour elles.

S’il y avait une véritable volonté de vivre ensemble, on aurait déjà mis les oreilles aux portes des endroits anodins et souvent ignorés où les femmes sont entre elles et peuvent parler librement. On aurait déjà découvert que tout n’est pas blanc ou noir, pour ou contre, victoire ou défaite, comme le monde forgé par les hommes laisse paraître.

Ecoutez, comme j’aime le faire, les femmes parler de leur quotidien, de la pression qu’elles ont d’être, d’agir, de vivre, de penser souvent de telle ou telle façon. Demandez-leur pourquoi elles font ces choses, et pas seulement aux femmes voilées mais aussi aux Becky with the good hair de tous les jours : celles qui disent détester se maquiller mais qui passent dix minutes sur leur eye-liner tous les matins. Mais faites-les parler d’elles-mêmes, pas de leurs consœurs. Ne laissez pas d’autre prendre leur parole, faites-leur la prendre elles-mêmes pour elles qu’on puisse vraiment savoir à quoi s’en tenir et faire évoluer les choses. C’est alors fascinant ce qu’on apprend.

Vous allez voir que du hijab au burkini, du maquillage au botox en passant par le fer à lisser les cheveux, des exégèses erronés des livres saints aux innombrables articles, reportages, pubs sur ‘Comment faire disparaître la cellulite avant l’été pour un corps parfait en bikini ?’, vous aurez de tout. Des femmes fortes et indépendantes qui le font (ou pas) parce qu’elles en ont envie, parce que ça rend leur vie plus simple ou plus sûres, plus agréables – ces femmes sont d’ailleurs généralement méprisées, ignorées ou ridiculisées. Des femmes plus soumises qui ont intériorisé les attentes religieuses et sociétales (par essence conflictuelles en France) et ne comprennent pas pourquoi elles sont victimes de contradictions dont elles ne sont pas responsables. Et puis, vous aurez la majorité des femmes qui font preuve d’une volonté de fer de continuer à vivre et survivre au jour le jour dans des sociétés dans lesquelles elles ne se reconnaissent pas. Ces femmes, vous allez voir, sont tiraillées entre le ras-le-bol d’être toujours victimes de l’autre et accusées de tout, de ne pas avoir de véritable voix, de devoir se contenter du moins pire, d’un côté, et de la bonne éducation qui les instruit de se taire et d’être polies, de l’autre.

Burkini ou pas, ce n’est pas ma question et je n’ai pas d’avis car je me fous de ce que pensent les hommes sur le sujet, ils ne le portent pas, et les femmes sont partagées. Je ne peux donc pas avoir d’avis informé.

Certaines en rêvent pour pouvoir aller se baigner sans être reluquées et se faire siffler par les hommes, ou ne plus avoir honte de leurs seins qui « ne sont pas fermes » ou de leur « cellulite dégoûtante ». Certaines ne vont juste plus à la plage pour les raisons précédentes donc la question ne se pose pas. Certaines se foutent des gros moches et alcoolisés qui osent les siffler mais elles sont religieuses donc elles le mettent mais pourquoi ? Je n’ai pas eu de réponse à ça. D’autres ont bien compris que le Coran ne mentionne rien de tel donc elles ne le mettraient pas mais elles comprennent que des femmes veuillent le mettre. D’autres savent faire preuve d’empathie et n’ont pas vraiment d’avis, ça ne les dérange pas, elles veulent juste qu’on laisse les femmes tranquilles. D’autres ne savent pas se mettre à la place de l’inconnu et ne raisonnent qu’en fonction de leurs valeurs et sont hostiles. Toutes aimeraient que ce soit un choix. Toutes. Sans exception. Même les conservatrices. On arrive à leur faire dire que ce serait bien que les femmes aient le choix dans leur religion ou la société.

Pour moi, la honte est que la France reste une société dans laquelle les femmes n’ont toujours pas le choix et ce sont toujours celles qui prennent les coups entre les hommes qui font ces choix.

What is it going to take for us to tackle women’s rights issues seriously?

We were meeting with my local Amnesty International group, discussing the main lines of action for next year: the official ones and the ones we would also like to tackle. My mother brought up women’s rights and she said she wanted the group to also focus on the slow but certain erosion of these very rights and the plight of women.

It was met with a certain level of agreement but no exactly the concern I was expecting. Nor my mother. It was then commented by one of the member, a retired teacher, a woman, who said she did not want to discuss the issue more than three times. Why there should be a status of limitation when it comes to women’s rights, who know?

I know what my mother did “wrong”. The examples she gave to justify this focus were all happening in France. Nothing about the Third World, about women living in slums or deserts or small villages in a savage, undemocratic world waiting to be civilised by us.

And that was the key problem for this member as she is the typical Westerner when it comes to making the world a better place: she thinks the world should become us, basically. She is fine denouncing every single country as long as they don’t belong to the First World. She cringes and always finds excuses every single time when we try to bring the focus on what our governments and institutions are doing to our freedom or how they abuse poorer countries. She says there are bigger issues, I say she doesn’t understand that charity begins with yourself and one should clean up before their own door before complaining that the neighbour’s should be addressed.

My point is, she felt it was not necessary to dwell of the rights of women, especially in our country. We should focus on what she called “actual problems in our countries”, like the refugees crisis because that is a real problem. People die, you know!

What is it going to take for her and the rest of the world to take women’s rights issues seriously?

Women represent 52% of the world population.

If they are a minority in China and soon in India, due to their short-sighted birth policies, there are countries like Russia or Brazil where they are a strong majority. And yet, their daily burden is worsening. As shown, for instance, by today’s news of men, not only gang-raping a 16-year old girl for wearing “the wrong length of skirt”, but proudly posting pictures of themselves and their crime all over social media, to the glee of hundreds of other men who liked and shared the pictures.

Women are responsible for 70% of the world’s production yet earn only 10% of the total income and own 0.9% of the world’s property.

There are 196 countries in the world and only 15 elected heads of state are women.

About 300 million girls are deprived of the very basic education, which means they cannot even write their names rendering them at the complete mercy of the educated males around them.

And going to school is not always a charm when 60 million girls are sexually assaulted on their way to school every single year.

In Nigeria, when a student gets raped by four other students, including her boyfriend, we only focus on why the woman was alone with four boys to begin with.

India is at a breaking point after decades, if not centuries, of women serfdom and abuse. It is only because Westerners were attacked that we really talked about it.

You think it’s all about shaming the Third World? Let’s have a look at our “civilised” societies then.

In Europe, most monarchies still apply the agnatic-cognatic primogeniture rule, which means that a man will always comes first when it comes to accessing the throne, not matter how many older sisters he has. And in case of strict sorority, the first sister who has a son will become the first in line to the throne, only because she has given birth to the next potential king. What a great message to send if you consider that these dynasties claim they are chosen by God.

In the US, girls are submitted to insane school “decency rules” regarding what they can and cannot wear whereas boys can just walk in wearing…clothes. The opening remark of this video is everything.

In the US, whether it is the Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate, none of these prestigious institutions shaping the most powerful country in the world can managed more than 20% of women.

In our society, when men are free to be and do whatever they want, women can never win: whatever they do, they say, they look like, it’s never right.

In France, if a woman wears too much, she is frigid or a Muslim (cue derogatory tone) and if she wears too little, she is a whore craving for men to fill her every holes.

The French former ministre de l’économie openly sexually harassed a journalist during a Davos conference prompting female journalists from all over Northern Europe to specifically ask not to be sent to France for the harassment of women has become unbearable. The French female journalists and politicians are now in rebellion against the inherent misogyny of the French masculine elite. A behaviour, these old perverts like to call the “French sauciness” as if it were something we were all born with, should be proud of and nurture.

Every single woman I know has a story of abuse.

My mother who was fondled by older classmates when she was at school. She slapped them just to be told 35 years later than showing some cleavage when you are a HR manager is inappropriate. That happened in France…as we lecture Iran.

My grand-mother who was offered an after-school ride by one of her father’s business partner. A man who then wanted her to show some kind of gratitude. She went out of the car before anything happened, thank God!

A friend of mine who has been living in fear for the past two years after she broke the vicious circle and left a violent man who was cheating on her and abusing her physically and psychologically. He went all the way to punching her boss, causing damage to her and her parents’ properties, threatening her friends to the complete inaction of the police.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to official statistics, 25% of women have, are and will experience domestic abuse in the hands of the one they love. Every minute, in the UK, the police receive a phone call dealing with domestic violence and 81% of the victims are women. On average, a woman was assaulted 35 times before she finds the courage to call the police.

The overview of Europe is pretty much the same. Some countries look bad because they actually consider these numbers when others still stubbornly refuse to acknowledge them.

One in 10 women have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 15, while one in 20 has been raped.

One in five women have experienced some form of stalking since the age of 15, with 5% having experienced it in the 12 months preceding the survey. However, three out of four stalking cases reported in the survey never come to the attention of the police. And having a name for yourself will not make the police be any more understanding or professional.

Of women in the survey who indicate they have been raped by their current partner, about one third (31%) say they have experienced six or more incidents of rape by their partner.

Just over one in 10 women experienced some form of sexual violence by an adult before they were 15.

These numbers will only tell a partial story as they rely on women’s courage to break the circle of abuse and speak up. Like all these girls and women who don’t exist because they cannot sign their own name, how much abuse “doesn’t exist” because women cannot put words on what they suffer everyday?

On average, in Europe, in every single country, every three days a woman is killed by a current or former partner. If you consider the whole of the UE, that’s 9 women killed every single day.

Every day.

Every. Day.

Remember that, as you are working, eating, walking, cooking, playing or listening to music…As you are living your daily life, 9 woman are suffering, agonising and eventually die of domestic violence. In their own house. By someone they once trusted and loved.

Nine woman. Every day. In the European Union.

As Amnesty International, we are campaigning against oppression, violence, abuse and death penalty. Why, then, can’t we spent more than three days discussing the fate of the people who suffer the most from it?

How many more will have to die for us to finally consider that women are indeed fighting an everyday war and need our help?

Men and their unsolicited…everything.

Need to rant.

What is it with men and their need to always force themselves on everyone? Whether it’s an advice on how to live our lives, taking over what someone is doing in the name of being “helpful”, or just plainly believing that their needs should be everyone’s priority…why are they like this?

Let’s start with an example: I am at the gym “reinforcing” as they say after some cardio. The gym I go to is specifically designed so there is no bench-pressing area, just some machines on which everyone can go more freely without having to put up with douche-bags with a penis and/or a brain the size of a bean. The motto is “health not showing off”.

Good! So I am lifting a bit and hating every second of it but the loud music in my ears and not wearing my glasses help me go through. They also make me blind and deaf to the world, which is a plus frankly. Suddenly, a shape is in front of me and I somehow manage to distinguish that its lips are moving. I stop, take my glasses, put them on, take off my headphones and face a complete stranger with a smirk. He has said something.

“Pardon me? I say.
-So…how much?
-What?” He bends over and sees I am lifting 15kg so he carries on with a smile.
“Come on…30…”, he winks.  I stare at him for a second and understand that he is that type of guy, the one who thinks he must help me aim higher…despite knowing fuck all about my life, what.so.ever!

I compose myself. “If I needed you, I’d have come with a lead…” On the headphones, off the machine and I leave this part of the gym. He has not understood. Poodles never do.

I have some ideas on the reasons of his behaviour: the meddling, the butting-in when no one has ever asked. Like most of men, he has grown to understand it is his duty. We all have the need to show we know better but as a man raised by a woman, I don’t have this need to interfere in strangers’ lives whereas my gender is on some kind of a constant mission to save the world, basically. “The man is stronger and he decides because he knows better” is the mantra for boys. They like to see themselves as wise and enlightened when they’re nothing but dogs who think it’s friendly to jump on you, lick your face and shag your leg – to say the least. They never see how much we  just want to kick them until they stop….to say the least!

When I talk about that moment with women, they are all with me. They know exactly what I am talking about and it’s usually the starter of hours of countless stories and anecdotes where the male stranger was here to grant us with its inherent knowledge and wisdom.

-The one who tells a woman he doesn’t know, as she is looking at a dress, that “it won’t look good on you, try that one instead” *Coy smile*

-The colleague you barely know yet says “You should try typing with all fingers, it’s less tiring.” *wink wink*

-The  one who says “You should go to the automatic cashier, it would be quicker.” *head tilt*

-The one who tells you “You should report that, that’s so sexist. Can’t you see?” *concerned face*

-The one who tells you about which brands to buy when shopping. *knowledgeable douche*

-The male stranger who told a friend of mine which tampons to buy! *the-I-choose-for-my-girlfriend-and-she-says-she-has-never-been-happier smirk*

These examples come on top of men who constantly feel like they ought to tell you how you should feel, act and react in virtually all aspects of your life. The truth is that the first thing that comes to our minds is “I know you’re terribly lonely and your mates don’t listen to you because they are too busy saving the rest of the world but please, do bugger off.”

When I mention this to other men, they all tell me we are being spiteful bitches. They are right! I was a right bitch to that gym toddler because like all other insufferable devil’s spawns, he was trying to force himself on me at a moment when I was not in any way in the mood or any disposition to have a anyone forcing themselves on me. Can’t they see that?!

“Yes but…”

Yes?! Wait a minute! You’re not blind, then?! You are totally aware than we are not always open to you barging in our personal space and life thinking you can fix what needn’t be fixed in the first place and yet, you come anyway?! Why?

“You don’t get it!”, I am told. I am being antisocial because, yes it was maybe not the right moment, but I should have made an effort because “he was just being friendly, helpful, caring and I reacted like a girl.” No wonder…

“Helpful”, that’s it. He saw me there, minding my own business and he thought I desperately needed his meddling I am asked to acknowledge as selfless help. And, unlike him, I should have made an effort to go with what he wanted and let him in because he was acting out of kindness. As should the rest of the world who obviously cannot go through life without the caring yet unsolicited help of a man. Sorry, “a gentleman” as men called themselves in that situation.

In a nutshell for those who still don’t get it: if one needs help, one asks for it. if not, leave people live their life without forcing yourself on anybody. If you have the urge to do so, refrain it. Then, if indeed asked for help, quit sulking because you were told off before and come and help, like any decent human being would.

One quota for one ubiquity

In our minds, the word quota is associated with restrictions and therefore the idea that what is subjected to a quota is somehow negative.

When quotas are mentioned, it’s mainly to remove or restrain something: we want quotas on migrants so the country can cope with the new arrivals and isn’t “submerged”, we have quotas on our food production in Europe because over-production is by definition waste and money thrown out of the window, we have quotas on the number of soldiers Germany or Japan can have so we never have to fight yet another World War “because of them”…Our mindset is that quotas are for the great and the good in that they limit something that could be potentially damaging.

No wonder in this mindset that even feminists or people fighting against racism and segregation see quotas as the wrong solution to making the plagues they are fighting disappear. They say they favour education rather than imposing something on the white man to end his dominance. And I agree but we need to do both.

Education is indeed the key: let’s make girls understand that there are not limits to what they can do and what they can be interested in, let’s teach to boys accept it. Let’s make people understand from a very young age that the colour of your skin has no bearing whatsoever on your personality, your ability, and that being a Christian does not make you any more tolerant or enlightened than belonging to other religion. Just to name a few examples.

Hackneyed clichés, yes, because most of us agree with them and we are working towards them. Towards tearing down the narrow sides of the boxes in which we put people so we have to make a an effort to actually get to know them for who they are rather than relying the shallowness of prejudice and making life-changing assumptions based on what we see.

I disagree in that we need quotas because we cannot afford to wait another 50 years for the narrow-minded white men currently in power to all wither away and finally get the new generations in. Also these new generations, these young girls and women, these people of different skin colour and religion need role models to look up to. Not just in fiction but in reality so they can see that everything is possible as long as you are a human being, not just a born white and male.

However, we need to change how we deal with quotas. As the LSE puts it in their last report after Ireland’s decision to impose certain quotas, we have been making a mistake with our discourse. We have used quotas to force women on men making women in power the issue when the problem we want to address is the over-representation of men.

Putting a quota on women forced the focus on the under-representation of women  but, in that way, it also pits against one another all the ‘minorities’ looking for fairer representation or share of power, because it’s not just women who are under-represented in Western countries. If we have a quota on women, we need a quota on black people, one on Asian people, one on gay people, one on Muslims, one on Jews, one on single parents, one on young people so our institutions, at least, do represent the society they have a duty to serve. So everyone gets a genuine voice: all the under-represented individuals of the Western societies who still have to rely on aloof, unconcerned white men when it comes to life changing laws and decisions.

I am not saying that all white men are unable to understand and serve greater purpose that the ones of their own kind but it does take a great amount of enlightenment and empathy to make selfless decisions that could possibly even trigger the end of your own privilege. And such men are few and far between, especially in Right-wing circles and increasingly an endangered species on the Left.

The economic plight of the young and single mothers, the half-baked solutions to fight racial prejudice, the constant questioning of abortion and women’s rights, the rise of Islamophobia and racism, and the ever-slow recognition of the gays as normal people all spring from the dominance of one group of people: the white, heterosexual, Christian male, old “enough to have experience”. That very male who has never been a majority when it comes to number but has been playing on dubious scientific and religious beliefs to impose and justify its privilege across the world.

All inequalities today find their source in the fact that people in position of responsibility have very little to no idea what it means to live with these prejudices and economic conditions they have created. Provided they actually care and are not completely blinded by their eagerness to ensure the order that favours them remains unscathed, which they unfortunately mostly are.

How many times was I told, as a gay man, that there were “more important things to deal with” than my right to marry? That may not be the focus of straight white males who like to make people think they have a duty as “a real man” to flee marriage like the plague but it does matter to me. And the fact that it’s not the mighty economy doesn’t make it any less important.

I am all for quotas but we need to use them in a constant manner: to contain a problem. And the problem is the ubiquity of white men in all public and private, national and International institutions and bodies.

What we need are not countless quotas to address the fair representation of women, each skin colour, each religion, each sexuality, each level of wealth but a quota on “males in power”. One quota limiting their presence. If we do, it will force us to genuinely look and prepare for viable alternatives for the present and the future.

The question is: will the white man be enlightened and selfless enough to dare put the spotlight on himself as a problem we need to solve?