For a long time I have been concerned with gender questions. Is the world fair? Clearly not. Over the years, my thinking has evolved. I went from an upset “Why doesn’t everybody see it and get upset too? Why doesn’t anyone care?” via the moral high ground of academic work on the subject and even a non-profit project, to finally accepting that I can’t change the world. I can’t even nudge it in the right direction.
All that happened while I was not really suffering from the ongoing sexism and discrimination. It was happening to me, sure, but I was culturally blind, as you are with something you’ve been taught to believe is right from the youngest age. After hitting the wall of indifference for many years, I decided to stop fighting. I still have all my deep knowledge of the subject, but I’m not an activist anymore.
That’s when the discrimination started to hurt me even more and became increasingly obvious. The pay gap. OK well there’s nothing that can be done about that, unless I fight for it (without being labeled a b****? Ha! There’s that catch again). And then, I was being persecuted at work while pregnant and had to resign to preserve the health of my baby. Can you believe that I had the nerve to ask for a settlement because the law was in my favour? What a joke! That’s when it became uncompromisingly clear that whatever the law says, it’s at best a feel-good lip-service paid by the overwhelmingly pale male ruling class to the abused minorities. Because while the law may be on your side, you still have to fight for it. And there’s this thing about abused minorities: they are less strong than their abusers, otherwise they wouldn’t be abused, now, would they? So I couldn’t actually fight – for the very same health reasons that this employer shamelessly used to bully me out of this organisation: unhealthy stress level for the baby and the mother. The injustice of it all has kept me awake many nights.
But life goes on, and like millions of women before me, I’ve moved on.
However, I will claim something for myself. All these painful experiences have made me a much better human being than all those privileged powerful boys in that closed boys club that is leadership. Because you see, I have compassion, I have understanding and I have empathy for others who are abused (and most are in one way or another). I have respect for my fellow human beings, and I have the ability not to be blinded by difference, never to be stuck in an us-and-them perspective.
And what I see now in those men is not their position of power anymore. What I see is the sad illusion of righteousness. The fear of losing what they have, the need for praise and reward, the permanent slavery of competition and the short-sightedness of those who never look in another direction than upwards. And sometimes I feel sorry for them, because having gone through so many subjective complexities of human relationships, I see us as one big, somewhat tragic species.
Today, I have wisdom, I have peace and I have an infinite amount of love to give to all those I can reach, starting with my children. So sure, I may not be able to change the world with activism, but I know I can nudge it in the right direction with love, one little soul at a time.