Ladies in White

Female Caricature / Yoani Sanchez
Posted on August 23, 2014

14yMEDIO, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 22 August 2014 – A woman on national
television said that her husband “helps” her with some household chores.
To many, the phrase may sound like the highest aspiration of every
woman. Another lady asserts that her husband behaves like a “Federated
man,” an allusion to the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), which today is
celebrating its 54th anniversary. As for me, on this side of the screen,
I feel sorry for them in the face of such meekness. Instead of the
urgent demands they should mention, all I hear is this appreciation
directed to a power as manly as it is deaf.

It’s not about “helping” to wash a plate or watch the kids, nor tiny
illusory gender quotas that hide so much discrimination like a slap. The
problem is that economic and political power remains mainly in masculine
hands. What percentage of car owners are women? How many acres of land
are owned or leased by women. How many Cuban ambassadors on missions
abroad wear skirts? Can anyone recite the number of men who request
paternity leave to take care of their newborns? How many young men are
stopped by the police each day to warn them they can’t walk with a
tourist? Who mostly attends the parent meetings at the schools?

Please, don’t try to “put us to sleep” with figures in the style of,
“65% of our cadres and 50% of our grassroots leaders are women.” The
only thing this statistic means is that more responsibility falls on our
shoulders, which means neither a high decision-making level nor greater
rights. At least such a triumphalist phrase clarifies that there are
“grassroots leaders,” because we know that decisions at the highest
level are made by men who grew up under the precepts that we women are
beautiful ornaments to have at hand…always and as long as we keep our
mouths shut.

I feel sorry for the docile and timid feminist movement that exists in
my country. Ashamed for those ladies with their ridiculous necklaces and
abundant makeup who appear in the official media to tell us that “the
Cuban woman has been the greatest ally of the Revolution.” Words spoken
at the same moment when a company director is sexually harassing his
secretary, when a beaten woman can’t get a restraining order against her
abusive husband, when a policeman tells the victim of a sexual assault,
“Well, with that skirt you’re wearing…” and the government recruits
shock troops for an act of repudiation against the Ladies in White.

Women are the sector of the population that has the most reason to shout
their displeasure. Because half a century after the founding of the
caricature of an organization that is the Federation of Cuban Women, we
are neither more free, nor more powerful, nor even more independent.

Source: Female Caricature / Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba –
http://translatingcuba.com/female-caricature-yoani-sanchez/

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