Women of all ages. Women of all lands. Women of all cultures. Women of all shapes and sizes. Women of all beliefs. Women.
When social structures, cultural backgrounds and well, pretty much everyone, has an opinion on what it is to be a woman, how does one find oneself in all the noise?
Who am I? It is a difficult question in and of itself. Add to it different cultural backgrounds, contradicting belief structures, tradition and trauma, confusion is all one is left with.
Italy is a wonderful and loving country. It is full of riches of the soul, colours and passion. But also rigid and antiquated social structures, where women are more or less openly expected to aspire to marriage, to love, to family. Where men are praised when they care for their children, as a gesture of greatness, as if exceptional. Women are in charge, yes, but not too much. The home is their domain, as a kitchen salesman once dared tell my mother.
My Italy was not this Italy. My father was a modern man. A strong believer in feminism, in equality. He believed in me. Did he have all the answers? Of course not. I still don’t. I have, in only 37 years, changed and learned so much. My time, the people, the conversations, have taught me so much, that I would never expect anyone to be all knowing, not even a father. But he tried. He was curious and non-judgmental; those were his best and most inspiring qualities.
Born in 1935, he saw the war, he saw so much. Pain and trauma. Destructive social structures and beliefs. But he raised us with hope and the only true belief, that everything was possible.
But that is not the Italy I saw. Some glint of it, absolutely. So many incredible people. But also so much hate, so much destruction, so little space, so little tolerance. It was there. All around me. Nudging, pushing, shoving.
This constant contradiction overwhelming my sense of self, my sense of woman.
Denmark is a strong and embracing country. A beacon of equality and fairness the world over. But a country that does not know itself. A country that stopped fighting. Resting on old glories and old structures, as if enough. But Janteloven is not equality. Forcing people down, hiding successes, sanding down the differences, the exceptional, is wrong. We are not as equal as you might think. We have not, despite popular belief, reached our goal. Denmark is going backwards. The country of a strong and powerful feminist, my mother, is now the country where the word is frowned upon. Don’t stir up problems, is what they tell you.
Fear has reached these parts. That’s where it all comes from, isn’t it?
But equality and happiness, are like learning. Like my teachers used to say, you never stop learning. So don’t. Yes, things will change! Yes, people will change! But that isn’t bad. Change is good. It’s how we and this crazy world were built.
My Danish mother raised us as feminists, boys and girls! And yes, boys can be feminists. If that is the lesson you learn today, may it be this one!
Equality is at the core of who she is! At work, at home, in politics, at the dinner table. And she learns, she lets the world teach her. That is the Denmark I come from. Not the scared, cocky Denmark that stopped fighting because we had done enough. Really, and what is enough? No income equality, no non-transferable parental leave, religious intolerance, lack of true integration, are those good enough? Of course not. Is Denmark alone in this? Of course not. Italy has the same problems. Europe has the same problems. And change is needed!
So yet more confusion and an even stronger sense of overwhelming dread.
Life is hard in and of itself. We all have trauma, pain and normal life issues that make being oneself hard. Amongst them, being a woman. Finding your way, your path, your womanhood. Discovering how to learn from your background and experience, but not be defined by it. Pick and choose, and build your own. Find what works.
A strong, yet flexible version of yourself, one that can continue to grow and learn.
Not an easy feat. But a necessary one. To find the woman you are. No one else.
At this point I was asked, what can Italy and Denmark do for the woman I am and for the women I love. What can they do to help build and support women. Good question. PROMISE is a good start! A support system, a community, that starts and continues the conversation. A place that nudges and pushes right back! More rights, more tolerance, more openness. A new and accepting world, where we are exactly who we want to be, and not a preconceived notion of what others think we should be.
I wish for my countries to want more! To give us more! More space to grow. More rights. More possibilities. More openness. To be there for each other!
Rating Promise a Elvira Mormino: 9, solo perchè 10 è Michelle Obama