Por Flávia Azambuja e Kátia Vieira Morais
I wake up. It seems like a normal day. I take a shower, get dressed. I don’t eat anything, I don’t have time to do it. I don’t explain why, but I feel myself different; and this changed everything. I walk all my way without any joke or whistle. I don’t hear “hot”, “With this dress? Why are you complaining?”. I don’t feel like men’s eyes devour me. I see respect in the men’s eyes. I remembered to think “so strange” but it is a good strange. Finally, it appears that the world changed.
Arriving at my job, I am doing my sacred service, I am making coffee to my boss. Yeah, He asks me to do it all day. I hate this job; I hate it more than my boss, but I need it. You don’t judge, don’t understand me in a wrong way. He is almost always a good person, but He is a chauvinist and this makes me feel lousy to work with him.
Oh hi! What are you doing? She does that. Pointing to the new girl. I lost my post. No, I don’t feel any better. I only feel better in a world where each oneself makes their own coffee. I’m asking too much. I don’t think so.
I almost forgot, I am a teacher. I never want to be a teacher, but my family thinks this is the right profession for me. I wanna be an electrical engineer. My family never agrees with this. I can hear my father’s thunder voice tell me to “forget this, this is not for you”. Besides that, my dad pays the bills and he just pays to have a teacher in his house. Everything is his. In my house, whomever pays the bills, has the power to decide, has the control of everything.
However, I came back. Here I am as a teacher. Today is the day to gather dads, kids and teachers to discuss the kid’s future, but you can name it torture. Only people who face a meeting with the parents know what I’m talking about. The parents questioning all I do, the principal agrees and my colleagues explain to me what I just explained. But not today, today is a special day. I started to talk and, instantly, there was a silence. Everyone listened to what I said, they nodded in agreement. I was not interrupted. Not once. I don’t feel that it is necessary to raise my voice or search for more and better arguments for the first time. This freaks me out. It is good, it is special, it is unusual, and very strange.
When the meeting was over, I ran to my house. I am tired and sleepy. I always fear when I walk alone in the dark. It is always me against the darkness: the mystery. But also this was different. Men ignore me – suddenly I appear invisible. I did not need to hurry up when I saw a man; I did not need to ask for help from a stranger. I did not need to take my phone and pretend that someone met me. I did not pretend to know a stranger to feel safe. I felt safe. Strange special day.
I entered my house and my son asked to play some video games. It does not happen. In the evening, I clean the house, wash their clothes, and feed them. But not on this day. I think, “why not? It is a special freak day”. I felt carefree, I was just playing with my son, enjoying the time. I can’t remember when I do these things or I feel these things. I think I’ve never felt like I felt to this day. I know, it looks bizarre, I don’t know how, but the house was clean and the dinner was ready. I felt relaxed and enjoyed the situation. Why not? I hope my days will always be like this.
I decided to take a shower and sleep. I admit I was a little afraid that my normal life would come back. But this thought soon disappeared when I smell the fabric softener coming from the clothes that I expected to wear after my shower. I had a long and relaxing shower. When I stopped in front of the mirror, I got scared. I screamed. I can’t believe in that. This explains everything. I saw a man. Special day? No, It is a typical man’s day.
I wake up. It seems like a normal day. I take a shower, get dressed . I don’t eat anything, I don’t have time to do it. I don’t explain why, but I feel myself different; and this changed everything. I remembered my special day yesterday and I hope today is the same. I ran to my mirror and I saw a tired woman who would have to deal with the issues of being a woman in our society. It is a typical woman’s life.
This is fictitious to discuss male privileges and masculine’s gaze about women: how the view of others can define ourselves. The story I wrote here was inspired in a documentary made for me. I interviewed some women and they asked the question: “What would be different in your life if you were a man?” Many stories were repeated and I identified myself with many stories. In some ways all stories relate to each other. Unfortunately, it is a common story.
I talked about harassment when the woman can’t walk alone. We feel fear, guilt, shame and this is not our fault. I talked about themes related to the workplace, when a woman is obligated to do something that she does not agree with, or when she isn’t able to choose her career or when she can’t choose where to study or when others can’t hear her or don’t want to hear her. Finally, I talked about how the other’s views influence our perspective about ourselves. When she feels relaxed, less afraid, and does things that normally she would not do.
This story does not end here. When I write these lines, many women in many places are living something similar to the narrated here or even something worse only because they are women. We need to change this, my way to resist, to change is writing. What is yours?
Flávia é mestra em Ensino de Línguas, inquieta, professora de português como língua materna e adicional, otimista assumida, co-coordenadora do Lab. Interessada em aprender com tudo e todos.