Women under siege

People fear what they do not understand. This week has offered us an explicit demonstration of what much of Maltese society does not understand: women. People have no idea how we function physically, how we think, and how we act. Sometimes even other women too. Preconceived stereotypes are produced through a certain type of male gaze and these nonetheless persist. They make a certain kind of male feel comfortable with the feeling of being a dominating leader of a pack, with the woman as a submissive counterpart, dishing out kids for the continuation of the species, and as a show of the male prowess and virility. They give a bad name to all the good men out there making the effort to be good people.

When a woman shows that she does not fit into this box which has been made for her, this type of male loses control, as he does not know how to deal with this unusual specimen. That is what happened during the TV programme Insights on TVM this week, where the macho meat-eater zoo keeper tried to overwhelm with his macho ways, loud voice and general lack of manners. He did this to bully the petite and delicate-looking animal rights activist. It is a pity for the zoo keeper that this delicate looking woman is anything but weak.

Moira Delia has made a name for herself through being an animal activist and has gained wide respect. She possesses that brilliant combination of brains and beauty, which for the macho man is unthinkable, as yes, she has opinions too. How dare she? What we saw is what every woman has to endure in a patriarchal society where everything female is looked down upon, frowned at and ridiculed. Even our pain is belittled so as not to make the macho man feel uncomfortable, and maybe question his faux masculinity. Heaven forbid!

If one is a macho man in Malta, whatever one does has to be perfect and one is an expert at whatever one convinces oneself of. Women, on the other hand, have to work twice as hard to get maybe half the respect, recognition and money her counterpart gets.

It is respect which Emma Portelli Bonnici lacked in front of the Holy Father who called her a Satanist and Hitler, just because she is vouching for women’s rights. She found next to no help from her inconsistent leader, who declared with all pomp that no candidate of his holier than thou party will be able to contest the elections if they are in favour of women’s rights.

The slogan Kun il-Bidla has now become more than ever flaky-fake and has lost all credibility. What change do they want to bring if they want to keep the status quo? How can they convince us that they want active women in Parliament when you stifle their voice and opinions and force them to bow to a leader’s will? If I had been in Emma’s shoes I would have left, but sometimes, one puts party before principles. What now unites the PN candidates is that they are anti-PL. Sounds about right? Yeah, sure. Try convincing the tens of thousands of floaters to switch.

It is not too late, however, to stand on principle. That is what Malta needs – conviction. In the days of Borg Olivier and Mintoff, whether one disagreed with them or not, one did not have to worry that every sentence had been weighed and measured by a marketing team before that. Let us go back to honest, principled and consistent politics. That will truly inspire the tens of thousands.

Sandra Gauci
ADPD Deputy Secretary General
Published in The Malta independent Sunday 14 November 2021