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Misogyny is Hidden in the Details – Who has the power over the remote control?

Image - from the movie "The Steford Wives"

Misogyny is recurrent in our society, so deeply rooted in our culture that it forms part of social and family behavior without any questioning. They are accepted on the "autopilot", in a form of torpor or inertia.

With more than thirty and five years of experience as a psychotherapist, I would not lack examples of how misogynistic behaviors are practiced daily, being part of common complaints, especially between couples. However, a supposedly banal fact took me off the "autopilot". In this case, I only became aware of the abuse after the outrage of another woman, with whom I was in solidarity, and which I thank for having awakened me to pay attention to this detail, not so silly, nor so rare.

The most frightening thing about misogyny lies in the fact that we, women, often share the permanence of this status quo by charging that other women adapt to their men by sacrificing part or even all of their rights for the well-being of the other.

Changing the channel as a battle of power

Let's face it: The situation is in a prestigious gym club in Sao Paulo, where several TVs are always turned on, usually in sports channels. That day, mostly women were in the room, and my "neighbor" asks the P.E. intern to change the TV channel in front of us, since all the TVs were in football, and no one seemed to be watching. The trainee, instead of simply responding to the client's request, waits for a single man first starts his exercises on the next device, and asks him if he was watching the channel (the man was not there before my neighbor asked him for changing the TV channel). The man answered he was watching the TV, and then the trainee says he could not change the channel because the client, a man, did not want it.

I, who was not interested in any television program at all, became interested in the behavior of my neighbor. She revolted, saying that instead of asking all the customers what they wanted to watch, the boy expected that a man was present, asking him permission to change channels, ignoring the vast majority of female clients there, and did not even deign to ask if any of us (women) were satisfied with the programming chosen.

Women need to say everything more than once to be listened

My colleague complained again, describing his attitude as inadequate and discriminatory. Again, the young P.E. intern, instead of apologizing for the rudeness, seeks his superior, saying that the woman was "making a case" because of the television channel. The conversation becomes a mockery about us (at this moment I was supporting my neighbor) between the intern, his supervisor, and the male client.

The situation became upside-down, and the disrespect that has been repeated over and over again towards women, every time we claim for our rights, was happening now: we are treated as "hysterical", case-maker, or simply "crazy."

When the situation finally resolves, after the intervention of my colleague and my own, almost thirty minutes had passed, enough time for us finishing our exercise, and to them seeing us out of there, the “case makers”.

Women, the case makers

  • How many women feel identified with this situation?

  • Who, while watching a television program had the remote control taken by their children or husband, who changes the channel, without even asking for permission?

  • How many women were simply “trampled” by men during their speeches? (It happens including when the woman has a superior position towards a man).

  • How many men have interpellated women saying they should smile more?

It is enough for me

Why must I smile all the time? Some occasions are just not funny or inappropriate for a smile. Sometimes I am concentrated, creating, working, saying or doing something really serious, or even when I was been introduced to someone else. Smiling is an option, not an obligation.

Women are not dolls, as one tries to create in the film "The Stepford Wives", which title was translate to Portuguese as "Perfect Women" (actually, they became perfect by being substituted by similar dolls…). Although, the society has for millennia tried to transform us into peaceful and objectified beings.

All the harassment and disrespect that women suffer every day is on the "autopilot," not just for us, but also for the men around us.

The remote control is just a little tip of the iceberg.


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