I have never seen my grandmother, born in 1933, sit at the table before my grandfather. I haven’t seen her rest on the sofa right after dinner, making an expensive purchase without asking his permission, leaving the felt factory where he worked to devote himself to his true passion and try to turn it into a profession. Observing it I realized that he did not lack courage or tenacity but of possibility. It was embedded in a structure that trapped it in dynamics that it was not even able to grasp, and consequently to subvert.
They would be of little use with her – grew up with a mother with the same attitude, who in turn grew up with a mother who … (here she is, the chain of patriarchal culture difficult to break) – the exhortations from millions of likes “we can take it all” or “Are we creators of our destinyShe just wanted to feel good, to live in the system she knew by limiting the amount of annoyance and benefiting from the few things that, she thought, were granted to her. He had learned it in school, on the streets of his country, on television and in the newspapers: that was his place, his role. So they all said, so they all did.
My grandmother was insecure, but not biologically, not because she was born a woman and therefore predisposed to insecurity, but because she was born a woman in a society that did not trust women.
I was reminded of that tender insecurity immediately after reading a few lines of an interview given by Alessandro Barbero for La Stampa: “I risk saying something unpopular, I know, but it is worth asking whether there are structural differences between man and woman who make it more difficult for the latter to be successful in certain fields. Is it possible that on average, women lack the aggression, swagger, and self-confidence that help establish themselves?».
Obviously it was immediately controversial, as often happens in these cases.
It is controversy always, however, it is controversy everywhere.
“It’s controversy”: the most abused incipit of the last three years.
And after, after how does the story continue?
It often ends. It is born in controversy, in controversy it dies.
We don’t have time to ask ourselves if Barbero is right or wrong, the controversy absorbs all our hours, fills the minutes and sweeps away reflection. But what if so? If we women were really (appeared) more insecure? It is worth asking.
The fact is that it is impossible to answer if not with a survey with dystopian features, a microchip inserted in the ears of each of us that counts and counts all those times in which we have given up replying, we have not introduced ourselves in speeches, we have not tried to make a career.
So far so good. All good to think that we are more insecure, but the problem comes when we don’t ask ourselves why. It is there that Barbero’s statement becomes harmful and passes from personal, legitimate commentary to damage for the construction of a more inclusive culture. Because? is the question that revolutionaries should ask themselves. Those from social media, above all. Why are there those who consider us more insecure? Do we look like this?
It would be easy to close it with a slogan “It is yet another attempt to silence us” and it would be really nice to solve the gender gap with the same syntax used to sell a detergent. But then? Some of us are layered with ancestral insecurities that start where we can’t even look. In many, except in rare cases, we have great-great-grandmothers, great-grandmothers, grandmothers or even mothers grown and aged within a patriarchal system.
But do you think it is easier for us to acquire that security today? Silly those who answer yes, deluded those who think that things have drastically changed since my grandmother put on the moka every morning at 5.30, otherwise my grandfather gets annoyed.
In a room at the top we continue to be few. On the stages, with a microphone and an instrument, we are few. On the playing fields, few. To the Government, few. Even in space we are few. AND where do we take security in a world that still excludes us? We fight. But my lady, what an effort it is to fight for every inch. That life cannot be just war, sometimes even the guilt-free beautician would not be bad!
Above all, how hard it is to fight when from the ring you see others binging in the stands. And what if the space for our security is currently occupied by those who flaunt it not by merit but by system? It takes Barbero to be more aggressive and maybe he doesn’t know that when we try to be, the others, those who can be aggressive by right, they accuse us of antipathy, of acidity, and they don’t want us on the team. It’s always the same story: live a day like me and then we’ll talk about it!
Nor is it certain that aggression, which he uses in a positive sense as a synonym for “take what you want”, is the solution. We are building a new culture of equality, are we sure that the best way to do this is to take an example from the worst of the masculine?
And then male, female, how boring. Here I would get the controversy against myself, the only interesting controversy. The controversy that I also recommend to Barbero, that controversy towards the empty and hollow words that we launch – and let it be clear, we do not bend to collect them. Not even our grandmothers should have folded.