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Women in Europe...
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-06-15 09:13:47
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I have been reading a lot about gender equality lately, and two particular cases got my attention; the European Women's Lobby for Democracy 50/50 (www.5050campaign.wordpress.com), and of course the criminalization in Sweden of men purchasing sex services from prostitutes and in general the overall effort to ban prostitution completely.

I absolutely support and agree with the 50/50 European Women's Lobby effort. I think it is about time women saw their role in the society we live in as a more active and influential, rather than a passive one. Women have been manipulated and silenced for centuries, and their role was seen only as a mother and a home keeper. This role was enforced on them funny enough by religion; both Christianity and Islam inherited the rather conservative southern Greco-Roman mentality on the role of women in a society. While other European tribes and pagan religions treated more equally males and females (perhaps because of the harsh climate and living conditions in places like central and northern Europe- everybody was relying on everybody), the Mediterranean cultures were predominantly male dominated with few exceptions of the priestesses and queens.

Free thinking women were hunted down by the Church as witches. Women were blocked from any education, inheritance, political and social rights and this situation lasted until only a few decades ago. Their struggle is still on in most parts of the World. But only now we see a movement not only to allow women the right to vote, but to also have an opinion and be active in the political life of a nation. I applaud. In the pagan traditions perfection and balance are achieved by the unity of the male and female, either in the physical or the mental and emotional nature of human beings, either between them or within them. So perhaps if we want to have a balanced society we will have to allow women to have an equal voice with men in politics.

But that does not mean what many so called feminists are seeing it; take power from men. Because simply then we have the same situation but reversed. In fact I think modern women suffer from what all previous suppressed communities suffer from, like the gay and black people; a loss of direction in their struggle for total equality. Just like the gay people who after so many decades of discrimination and suppression now feel that being gay is to be "out and proud" following the role models that our media and society are portraying of gay people; behave in a certain way, listen to certain type of music, like certain type of things and have a certain type of lifestyle. When we look back at history and we see some of the greatest writers, composers, poets, painters, dancers, athletes, thinkers and artists being homosexuals, do we really think that being gay is to listen to Madonna, wear pink and parade your sexuality once a year in the city center? Vengeance towards the former oppressors does not better your situation in a society; freedom, equality and respect is.

I realize that especially young people need some role models, someone to look up to, someone to be inspired from, so young girls and gay or black youths look at popular stereotypes that the media promote. What if we show the life of Tchaikovsky (a homosexual and one of the greatest composers) instead of certain TV presenters as a gay role model, Marie Curie (a woman scientist) instead of any glamour model in reality TV as a role model for young girls? So is the problem perhaps us, the media or the Governments of this world that want certain groups to behave in a certain way in a society and keep the status quo?

Women have a lot to offer but first they need to change themselves. Feminism is not trying to make men do women's jobs or tasks first! It is rather women prove that they can do men's jobs as well as them. In fact not even that! It is to show to women themselves that they can be as good and as useful as men in a society. Empower them. I was working in a hotel as a receptionist once, and most of my colleagues were female. While they expected me to do "women's tasks" like decorating, hoovering, dusting the reception and washing the cups we were using, when it came to go up in a room and check what was wrong with the electrics or the plumbing, it was always me who had to go; as if because I was born a man, I was given with my birth certificate an electrician's and a plumber's diploma! I wonder what the women during WW2 would think of them. They had to do men's jobs in industries since all men where fighting in battles all over Europe. It is the women in most cases who raise their kids with this stereotype of the girls staying with mama and do what she does, while boys follow their dads in their activities. And that is true for most modern families in most countries.

So how do women expect that they deserve full equality, when it is themselves that need to re-examine their role in a society and become active? I would love to see more women in any national Parliament or indeed the European Parliament, but then again when I talk with most women about politics they are rather indifferent. No my ladies politics are not just like foot-ball! It affects you directly and you have a lot to say and give in them! Also, most women that already are in politics or other male dominated professions think that they must behave like their male counterparts to succeed. They become equally aggressive and competitive. Perhaps they are right; but then what is the point of having a woman who behaves like a man in politics? What we need is more femininity in our politics, more creativity, less aggression, more nurturing and care for the people!

The other thing that strikes me is that there is a movement especially in Northern Europe to ban prostitution. That is a noble pursue but they seem to be interested only in the poorer and deprived street prostitutes. What about the professional escorts of the rich class? They claim that women are forced into this shameful act by the brutality and abuse of men, often by a family member and it is degrading to women. Well if you see it this way of course it is! But if you take into consideration that prostitution always existed (it is called often the most ancient profession on Earth) and it is not only a female activity but there are a lot of male prostitutes (gigolos) offering their "services" to rich women (and men) then why no one is trying to protect them? Why do they think that being immoral is only a male trait? That girls who end up in prostitution are always victims of male brutality and abuse, and they are emotional unstable. What about the so many young men who were equally abused when they were young either by their mother or father and they have developed a disturbed sexuality that can be only satisfied by a prostitute, simply because no woman will tolerate such sex acts in a formal sexual relationship!

Aren't there women that become prostitutes by choice? Aren't there "immoral" women at all, that do this profession out of pleasure or the need of money? Then why in a move in South Korea to ban prostitution recently it was the prostitutes who protested against such laws? Perhaps it is time to stop seeing prostitution as something immoral and shameful? How many young men first had sex with a prostitute? How many emotional unstable young men found refuge in a "relationship" with a prostitute? How many physically unattractive men are forced to have sex with prostitutes simply because few women will chose to be their lovers? How many men in a sex deprived marriage (either because of illness of their wife or simply a marriage that is held together because of the children, property, family or other "obligations") are finding sexual pleasure with a prostitute? Why do we care more about "unstable" and "abused" women in our societies than equally unstable and abused men?

Isn't it a fact that the majority of homeless young people are young men? Simply because our social welfare services give priority to single mothers, families and older people while they think that a young man should be able to fend for himself; while it is ok for a young woman to have a child and rely on a man for their welfare. The opposite is just laughable! So you see the problem are the different stereotypes that we ourselves have put there for the two genders and other minorities. If the women want men to understand them and respect them, they should do the same for them too. Men possibly need sex more than women, or it is simply another taboo that a strong and a successful man is the one with many women or with a very active sex life. Or perhaps as some women with emotional issues end up in prostitution as they claim in Sweden, the same goes for men that seek perverted and kinky sex and only with prostitutes; maybe because they lack the confidence to find a real female lover? Human sexuality is not just black and white. It has all shades of grey and we should not dismiss anything.

In Sweden they claim that  their new laws are highly successful and prostitution fell dramatically when compared with other Scandinavian countries. In fact in Finland are thinking of introducing similar laws. Prosecute the men that pay for sex, while prostitution remains legal and prostitutes are not convicted. I wonder if they take in consideration the rape rates and other violence in formal heterosexual relationships. As many of the Sweden's prostitutes have admitted, the "decent" customers now stay away and they have to deal with the "rougher" perverted ones and often they are forced to have sex without condoms. Thus a rise in HIV cases. The girls sadly need to take those "customers" simply because they need the money. Most of them are drug addicts so perhaps there is the real problem? And what will happen to the rest of the "decent" male customers, how will they relief their sexual tensions, if they can't have sex with either a female lover or a prostitute? Will we have more rapes in the future, I wonder.

Another more realistic root to the problem of prostitution is poverty, inequality and illegal immigration. I can not accept that a girl that is trafficked illegally from a poor country by a man that she barely knows, thinks that he has her best interests in his consideration. Desperation, poverty and perhaps problems at home, drive those girls to choose a risky path in knowledge that they may have to get sexually involved with the man who promised them a better future, or work somewhere like in a bar; only to find themselves in a vicious underworld. It is not just girls that are victims: how about young boys, drug addicts that become dealers to earn money for their next dose exactly as many female addicts end up in prostitution. Don't they get violently physically abused, beaten up or even killed? The problem is not male violence against women here. It is drug and poverty related. End up poverty and you solve many problems!

Prostitution should be legalized and regulated by the state, police and doctors appointed by the state. I do not think it will ever go away unless we end poverty in the world and change our point of view on human sexuality, sexual relationships and marriage! I do not see this happening anytime soon. If you ban it or impose sanctions on the individuals involved, it will simply go underground and who will control it? What annoys me is that the so called "high-class" escorts that most certainly do this profession by choice and for the financial benefits that it brings sleeping with the rich and powerful of this world, are not mentioned in the Swedish "research".

One last thing I want to mention, is the role of the migrant women in Europe, especially those coming from a Islamic background! They must be equal to all other women in the continent, and their rights secured. But with such strong Islamic influence and male dominated culture how do they feel about their position in our societies? No, being a modern European woman does not mean that you have to bear all! But certainly not hide yourself behind a veil or be submissive to your husband's, father's or brother's will! Interested to see how they will position themselves in a modern European society!

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Emanuel Paparella2011-06-15 13:56:15
The above point bears some reflection: indeed, the achieving of equality with men by women is only a penultimate step. The ultimate step is that of offering a valid ethical alternative to the power-grabbing bullying tactics of men. In other words, if the price of achieving equality is to use bad means to arrive at the goal of equality and continue doing what men have been doing all along, then it is not worth the candle. The end does not justify the means. Despite Machiavelli, when the means employed are bad, the goal is ultimately corrupted too.

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