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SW/NE European Discrepancies
by Alexandra Pereira
2007-03-19 09:27:09
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Where is Europe after all? Inside our hearts? In Brussels, where the big debates and important decisions happen? One can ask this question several times a day, and still no valid nor satisfying answer will come to our minds.

A fragmented identity and common values, common principles, – a certain culture, that’s what it is all about – we seem to think, when we think in civilised terms. Of course, most of you might already be thinking: “What the hell does this have to do with tomorrow's Minna Canth Day?” It has. Let’s not be in a hurry…

In the first place, we could start thinking: “Why isn’t there a European Minna Canth’s Day?” This could be a start, an intriguing question. Are we all Europeans in the same sense? Of course not. In spite of this, there are no doubts about the merit and value of Minna Canth’s accomplishments, so why don’t we all celebrate them together? Sounds fair, at least.

Still, if we think (or know, or ever guessed) that a Portuguese native woman cannot simply walk through the streets of Lisbon with a quarter of the freedom and looseness which a Finnish native woman can evidence when walking around Helsinki, because of the humiliating male harassment to which she is daily exposed merely because of her gender, then we might begin to understand partially some of these discrepancies.

Northeast/Southwest discrepancies are, in fact, notorious (an euphemism for shocking, in this case…) because the invasion of individual space and the attacks to human dignity are, in my perspective, an equally shocking phenomena from North to South, from East to West, from Asia to Alaska.

We should, of course, count with the police negligent behaviour and judicial system connivance in such cases: no Portuguese woman can present dozens of charges a week with no material proof, not only because she would become an object of social mockery, but also because that type of harassment is considered “natural”, something that women must “bear” (in silence, preferentially), such crimes are not given the horrifying importance they truly have.

The news are: only “bears” think that one must bear. Such ideologies comprise, in fact, a great amount of primitiveness. Someone must give the example and have the courage to take the first step towards a more-than-necessary social change. I believe new generations will bring it, but the process must doubtlessly be accelerated. Social rupture is necessary to evolve, a radical one.

This is why European Minna Canth Days are urgent: because humiliation, attacks to human dignity, harassment and male chauvinism are not acceptable anymore inside the European borders (or they shouldn’t be).

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Sand2007-03-18 12:44:59
I wonder why Portugal is singled out as a center of female disdain. All through Africa, the Mediterranean countries, the Arab countries, South America and a good deal of North America and much or Asia women are treated badly. And even in Finland women's wages are traditionally less than men's for the same job.

Asa2007-03-18 13:16:57
I think the writer originates from there and is drawing upon experience. I think...

Alexandra2007-03-18 22:59:10
Dear Sand:

That's right: I can only write about my own experience and, although we all know how millions of women are treated throughout the world, my point was to compare countries inside the european union (two countries I know and I've lived in). Curiously, Finland is assumedly a "model" for portuguese politicians - but not in the most important matters, like this one, or like education. I also think there should be communitarian laws to stop this kind of barbarism.

Alexandra2007-03-18 23:10:38
Dear Sand:
ps - and the fact that millions of women are treated badly throughout the world doesn't turn it acceptable anywhere, of course.

Sand2007-03-19 10:11:07
I in no way meant to imply that treating women badly was acceptable. It just struck me curious that only Portugal was singled out.

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