Bravo, you work like a man! by Kaoutar Chahbane, Morocco

Note: This is not a generalization, nor it is a hate letter.. 
This is a reflection on a reality, a reality that we cannot deny.

The issue I want to talk about today happens everyday in our world. It’s not just ’in my city’ nor ’in my country’… Oh no, it is universal.

In the 21st century, one will think that we overcame the issue of not appreciating women, of not seeing women as equal human to ’the man’. But no, we’re still having those thoughts. You see, they are kind of ’norms’.

In our world, we often deal with a woman who works hard and who is succeful by comparing her to a man, any man, the MAN. We do not appreciate her work. We are often amazed by her achievements, surprised even.

In our world, we often think of women as incapable, with less brain and no strength to “compete” with men. I don’t understand how this is logical for some people, because for me it is insanely illogical.

This has been happening for so many centuries. We can just open our history books and see. What we will find might be fascinating. Oh sorry, the wrong word, not ’fascinating’ but ’disappointing’, very much disappointing . That’s right, go and open your text books and let play a little game. Let’s count how many women are mentioned in that book, and compare that to the number of men mentioned in the 1/4 of that book. Just try it. It won’t take long, I promise.

Did you do it?

Yep, I told you.

Thankfully, I grow up in a family that didn’t think of me as unequal to my brother. My mother dealth with us similarly. My father always encouraged me and they both believed in every thing I decided to do. But nevertheless, I saw that in so many other aspects of life.

I dealt with this many times in my lifetime. School is a common example of this. When someone of my classmates hears me or another female student giving smart remarks or answering a difficult question, they look at us with an amazement (not a positive one though). They give us the look that says ” Em, even though she’s a girl, she can…”. Sometimes, they say this verbally.

It is also found in the news. Headlines of newspapers and magazines often refer to the achievement of a particular female celebrity with a tone similar to that of my classmates, a tone of surprise, I call it ” the ’even though’ tone”.

This affects the way we treat women in schools, work environments , and streets… This makes us label them as “inferior”. This is one of the reasons of sexual harassment, low work payment, and less rewarding.

This is dangerous, because it doesn’t just make men think that way, but women as well. This is what makes girls drop out of school too early. This can spread ignorance. This can make the country less developed. This can make the world more dangerous.

As I said before, this is not a hate letter to men. You may doubt that since I start this with showing my dislike of comparing a woman who does good job to a man. What’s wrong with that, right? Nothing, right? Well, if it is so positive to compare her to a man, why not the opposite? Why is it so negative to compare a man to a woman? Why is it considered an insult?

How to change that?

Well, I can say that a simple article won’t do it. But, you can, we can.

I was asked a similar question by a classmate whom I know has the same point of view of underestimating women, but without showing too much of it. My answer was simple, it starts with the individual, it starts with the family.

You cannot depend on a celebrity or TV show to change that. It starts with how we look at the girls in the family. It starts with the fathers, the respect they show, and the morals they teach.

It starts with the mothers. When I think of women, their strength, their power, I think of my mom. She made a difference. She makes my sisters, my brother, and myself respect women, and appreciate them, appreciate ourselves .

The way we raise our children makes a huge difference. It makes us see them as independent human beings that do not need to be compared to a different human to prove they are worth it, to prove their “quality”.

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