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The F word.

By Danié Gómez-Ortigoza

May 7, 2018

I am a feminist. No, I don’t burn bras, and I do love make-up. I wear lipstick almost every day. Red. I have nothing against men, quite the contrary…

I am a feminist by chance. I grew up in a society where it was common to be told ‘Calladita te ves más bonita‘, which is the equivalent of, ‘When you are quiet you look prettier‘. Every time a woman made a major accomplishment, someone would make a remark such as ‘I wonder how she got there’ implying that she had probably slept with her boss, and not really worked for it. Being in a bad mood, was synonymous with having my period, ‘seguro está en sus días’. And of course, offensive words were 80% of the time feminine, and often referencing mothers : hija de la chingada, la puta madre, chinga tu madre…

I could rarely walk on the street near a construction site or congested area without getting some kind of whistle or comment, and it wasn’t a matter of being pretty or not. You just had to be a woman for men to feel like they had the right to interact with you that way. In other words, being a woman, is quite similar to being an object, and men are entitled to an opinion.

Telenovelas, (soap-operas) have played a determinant role in Latin-American societies, making women believe that they need to always compete against each other. The protagonist is not the one that succeeds professionally, builds a family, finds uninterested love or does whatever is in her hands for the greater good… Never. The protagonist ‘wins’ whenever she gets the rich man. Period. Thank goodness for Netflix, which is finally helping towards the evolution of this concept forcing national TV stations to change.

Life happened. After living in Madrid, New York, Toronto and Stockholm, my perception of a woman’s role changed dramatically. Creating the Mexican delegation for the Women’s Forum for Economy and Society with Jean Christian Agid, who heads the Forum in the Americas, was also a determinant moment, because I could see powerful women in action, and realized that what made them so powerful was, to a great measure, being part of networks of women that made them stronger.

For me being a feminist is as simple as believing that women have the freedom to choose the life they want, and use their body according to their personal values, while deserving as good of an education as any man, and also getting paid for jobs accordingly. It’s all about fairness.

Simple thought, right? Yet women are paid less for the same jobs, carry a greater stigma when it comes to their sexual life, and have to pay more for simple things such as dry-cleaning. Have you noticed that cleaning a shirt is often double the price when it’s for a woman vs a man? Then there is toiletry, clothes and even pink pens. It just doesn’t make any sense.

The other day, while a woman was interviewing me before I was part of a panel for Girl Starter, the TLC reality show about young entrepreneurs, she said, lowering her voice, that she was a feminist. I looked at her straight in the eye and told her that ‘feminist’ was not a bad word.

Same happened when a good friend of mine who is a top executive at an extremely important company in Europe read in my bio that I stated that I was a feminist. She said, ‘You know that ‘feminism’ is a really big word, right?’. Imagine my reaction…

So please, if you identify with any of the things I’ve mentioned above, embrace this term. A kitten dies every time you keep it in…

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