Imagine you are sitting at the table, enjoying your breakfast with a nice cup of strong coffee and some incredible sourdough bread with marmalade, until you suddenly realize that your very own opinion letter got published in that morning’s newspaper.
Your initial reaction: Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God! I’m in the newspaper!
Your second reaction once you’ve read through your letter and notice that they have LEFT OUT half of it and just printed some vague resemblance to what originally was one hell of an opinion piece:
*&%?*#£}**$&%%$*** (The profanity that come out of my mouth is not suitable for publication)
Yes, that is what I experienced yesterday. There I was, first over the moon with delight that the paper thought my opinion letter was good enough for print, until I realized that they had cut out the most brilliant *coughs modestly* sentences and paragraphs. Admittedly, it might have been a bit too long and it is not like they started altering or re-writing my own sentences (thank God for that!), but for someone with a degree in Languages, who loves spending hours searching for exactly the right wordplay, expressions and linguistic examples of pure beauty, it is incredibly frustrating when they leave out exactly that.
It felt as if they had cut out my core identity. Sure, the message still remains, but what’s the point of writing an opinion piece if you can’t even add some linguistic frivolity?
So out of utter frustration that said newspaper (out of respect, I will not mention which paper)did not publish all of it, I decided to quickly translate it into English and share it with all y’all. (Because at least you guys appreciate my linguistic pompousness!)
So here it is:
#Feminism is more than just a few hashtags
Feminism seems to be everywhere. Emma Watson talks about it. Sheryl Sandberg writes about it. Beyoncé sings about it. Even Karl Lagerfeld – but you can call him Kaiser Karl – sends his models onto the runway with feminist banners. Conclusion? Feminism had become a fashion trend. At least, that was the conclusion newspaper X made in one of its editorials yesterday. As much as I would love to disagree with the author, reality forces me to concur with his views. To put it in fashion terms, feminism is like an It-bag: fun for one season, but after a while you just get sick of it, throw it onto a pile of unattractive stuff to be ignored for the rest of its sad closet life.
Because the fashion and showbizz industry are trying so hard to lay claim on the entire concept of feminism, the problem of gender inequality is slowly losing its credibility. Didn’t Lagerfeld once open a Twitter account for his own spoiled cat? And didn’t Beyoncé go on tour as “Mrs. Carter”? If the former believes that even his cat has something interesting to share with the public, and if the latter decided to tour the world with a name that more resembles a submissive suburban housewife from the fifties than a modern-day feminist, their call for more women’s rights sounds rather laughable.
However, gender inequality is anything but a joke. Yes, even in Belgium. Marianne Thyssen (a Belgian female politician) may have been appointed as euro commissioner, the amount of women in top corporate jobs remains alarmingly low. And even if they do manage to break through the glass ceiling, they are still often judged on their appearance, rather than their intellectual capacities. Belgium is definitely not the only country that is lagging behind, every Western country still has quite a long way to go.
The perfect way to illustrate this Western hypocrisy towards women’s rights, is to look at George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin’s wedding from last weekend. The wedding of Hollywood’s most obstinate bachelor was all over the news, but what I found all the more striking was how one-dimensional the media reported about the event. One of the only articles that reported about the wedding from a totally different perspective was the internet website thebusinesswomanmedia.com, which topped their article with the following head: “ Internationally acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin marries an actor”
Somehow, that just made me giggle. But what was I giggling at? Why is this head so funny? Isn’t the article just stating the truth? The fact that the article’s head was generally seen as an example of the site’s great sense of humor clearly indicates once again how problematic the issue of gender inequality still is. Every single media outlet most of the time talked about Clooney. Of course, the guy is super famous, so in a way it is only “natural” for the media to spend a lot of time covering a superstar, but why is it also “natural” to describe Alamuddin as a “beautiful humanist”, whilst there are plenty of other character traits about her that are probably more interesting? But no, apparently the only newsworthy thing was the fact that she wore an Oscar de la Renta wedding dress.
I’m to blame as well. Because even I, a self-proclaimed modern feminist, felt a slight hint of jealousy when I saw her fabulous, sun-kissed, reaching-into-the-sky legs. Whereas her fabulous brain should have aroused as much –or even greater- jealousy than her looks. The problem, hence, does not only lie with men, but also with us, women. Because we also find it difficult to step away from the rooted assumptions about the relationship between a man and a woman.
To improve this relationship and to –eventually- reach that dreamed state of gender equality, men as much as women need to concern themselves with this problem. “Gender equality is men’s issue too”, said actress Emma Watson in her speech in front of the United Nations. After her eloquent speech, plenty of male actors supported her campaign by tweeting pictures of themselves holding a piece of paper with the message #HeforShe written on it. Tom Hiddleston, David Tennant, Eddie Redmayne,… their support definitely gives women’s rights more attention, but I am not naïve and I do realize that much more is needed to really bring about change. Change won’t happen with a couple of hashtags on Twitter. Indeed, Watson’s speech may have gone viral on the internet, but immediately after her speech some wacko hacker also threatened to put some nude pictures of her online.
Needless to say, we’ve still got some work to do. People like Beyoncé and Emma Watson may poke us in the right direction, as long as we don’t realize that feminism is more than a high amount of likes on Facebook, #genderequality will always remain nothing more than a trending topic.