Ruby red

7 Mar

“You a feminist?” I was waiting for an elevator at the United Nations General Assembly building in New York, about to witness the official launch of UN Women, the new entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. “Excuse me?” The lady who spoke to me was looking at me over her reading glasses. She looked at my hands, my dress, my high heels, and then rested her gaze on my face. “Would you consider yourself a feminist?” she repeated. “Yes, I would actually.” I did not quite understand where she was going. “Hmmm. Interesting. Quite interesting indeed.”
“I’m not sure I understand..” I replied. She looked at my hands again. “Nailpolish” she answered. “You are wearing NAILPOLISH. And high heels. And red lipstick.” I looked at my hands. Yes, I wore nailpolish. Ruby red, to be precise. And yes, I was wearing a dress and high heels. I was going to an official launch, right? Wrong. Very wrong, according to the lady. “I’ve been around for a while now. And I’ve found feminism and nailpolish to be mutually exclusive. One can not be a feminist and wear nailpolish. Nor high heels or short dresses for that matter.”
I looked at the lady in astonishment. Was I really having this conversation? Right there, at the launch of UN Women?
“I’m quite sorry, but I beg to differ. I believe I can be a feminist and dress like I do, and wear nailpolish. It’s not either or, it’s and and.”
The elevator had finally arrived. Without looking back, I rushed in and went up.
“With the birth of UN Women, we welcome a powerful new agent for progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment,” I heard UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon say. “The challenges are great, but I believe that with the new energy, the new momentum and the new authority that UN Women brings, these challenges will be met. True gender equality should be our shared legacy in the 21st Century.” Indeed, it should. Why? Cause, to quote UN Women’s new director Michelle Bachelet, “there is no limit to what women can do.” Now if all women would just use that limitless action for positive change, instead of bickering about nailpolish, we’d be well on our way.

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One Response to “Ruby red”

  1. Haitham March 8, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I came to notice that there are two types of feminist movements. One of them seeks reconstructing women to be more like men. In my opinion, which is supported by your anecdote, this movement became as oppressive to women as sexists, if not more so.

    The second seeks reconstructing the whole of the society in a way that accommodates the differences between women and men, but which nevertheless still grants the same rights and opportunities for its denizens regardless of their sex. By definition, this second movement aims at amending women’s as well as men’s social status.

    Needless to say, the later is much more sublime than the former.

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