“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” –Virginia Woolf
I could not help but rather be amused by his ignorant commentary. He refused to believe machismo culture was a reality, overshadowing it with the opinion that males have more leadership than women do -as if it was a fact. I had asked him the question, “A woman and a man with equal levels of capability and education are competing for one job position, who do you think will most likely get the job?” as a way to make him visualize the reality of prejudice against women now a days. His unapologetic response went as followed, “the man, for men have more leadership than women do.” In other words, he stated that all men, as part of their nature, are born with more leadership abilities than women –perhaps genetically? With no factual evidence to support his statement, my classmate was a victim of the “think manager-think male” mentality, created by phycologist Virginia Schein to provide a simple explanation for the association between leadership and masculinity. I must, however, demonstrate the falsity of his judgement. In a study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology, “Gender and perceptions of leadership effectiveness: A meta-analysis of contextual moderators,” co-workers from different jobs rated the effectiveness of their peers and bosses, whom were both women and men. In the study, women’s ratings came out higher, which meant that they were significantly more effective than men in their work area. The opinion of my classmate was idiotic, given that the origins of his evidence were gender stereotypes; nevertheless, it also served as a saddening revelation of the unprogressive mindset that still exists in the twenty-first century, and of all the work that the feminist movement is still missing in order to eradicate this third-world outlook on gender. My classmate’s response was enough for me to prove my point: the existence of micro-machismo, or micro acts of sexism that mainly involve prejudice against women.
Society expects males to be leaders, let that be in their homes, work areas, or even in their country. Nevertheless, the fundamentals behind this expectation is nothing more but tradition, a tradition in which women were held captive by their stoves, cooking pans, broom sticks, mops, or whatever object that prevented them from exploring their capabilities. Of course, men have created many of today’s greatest inventions, such as the computer, and the WiFi. Nonetheless, it is the lack of women acknowledgement throughout history that causes most people to be unaware of the fact that the foundations for these inventions were made by women. Initially, the computer algorithm was invented by Ada Lovelace, who worked next to Charles Babbage. Despite this, Babbage most commonly receives sole recognition for inventing the computer. In addition, Hedy Lamarr’s invention of a communications system in World War II, were the bases for the invention of the WiFi, which is mostly accredited to five men: John O’ Sullivan, Terence Percival, Diethelm Ostry, Graham Daniels, and John Deane. This lack of recognition towards women’s input in today’s world contributes to the type of attitude that lies in the roles many believe women should uphold in our society.
Now, feminism is a word that is gradually obtaining more resonance as the years go by; it is also a word that seems to irritate many oblivious-frustrated men from the past decade. For them feminism is a movement that lacks grounding, for they believe that equality has ultimately been reached by both sexes. However, it is not legal equality that women are seeking for –this has mostly been a success- but rather the social equality that implicitly constrains us, for example, from seeking jobs in the male-dominated STEM fields, as CEOs in a company where 80% of its employees are men, or even in automobile repair shops where the owner would prefer hiring a man to fix a car battery over a woman. It is also the lack of behavioral consciousness in society that frustrates a woman when she listens to phrases such as this one, “what a bad driver; it must be a woman then,” or “you look nice, come here with me,” says a man who has never seen me before yet calls me out as if I was an unsentimental sexual animal. The previous examples of micro-machismo are the reason why feminism is still not an utter reality today. They are also the reason why I must continue to partly criticize the male establishment of my country, where if the female-counterpart of a marriage earns more than the male-counterpart it is seen as a mistake, or where a man weights his behavior towards a woman depending on her physique. It is these small acts of injustices –that almost go unnoticed– that make me passionate about not only making them visible, but also socially wrong for once.
I long to watch a man, for instance, criticize another man for concluding that a bad driver must be a woman. I long to exterminate the invisibility in everyday sexism. I long to stroll through the streets without feeling uncomfortable given how often one gets “cat-called.” The feminist war has still not ended, though Gettysburg and Stalingrad are over, there are still more battles lying ahead of us. It is now, hence, were women empowerment should be at its culmination, for that is our major weapon. It is not to make women superior to men, but to make people visualize them as equal, for that is the base of feminism, understanding that the essence of a woman is worth as much as the essence of anyone else.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” –Charlote Brontë in perhaps one of the most feminist novels of Victorian literature, Jane Eyre.