Driving. In the traffic, where else?? With the corner of my eye I can spot an endless display of colorful bouquets, roses, azalea and hydrangea from the numerous flower shops on both sides of the road. It’s that day of the year when every woman is supposed to get at least one flower. It’s her day. It’s our day. Aren’t we blessed, I think. We have this blessed day once a year.
On my radio there’s this interview with a guy I don’t know… someone who is now trending in the music or the film industry. The interviewer, a lady, keeps on addressing him by his full name, a privilege of the stars, I guess. In as much as the name is not familiar, it has something to do with astrology.
Q: We just heard that you and your wife are waiting for a family enlargement??
A: Oh, yes, of course, we can’t wait, that’s how proud we are…
Q: What would you like it to be, a boy, or a girl?
At this moment I catch myself thinking: what a silly question… of course he’s gonna say, “Whoever is coming will be welcome.” Who does she (the interviewer) think she is talking to, an old Patriarch?? We are now living in million-dollar mansions, with piscine and home security systems… we are living modern, emancipated lives … wearing dazzling high end brands and cosmopolite lifestyle… I keep thinking, kind of anticipating the answer.
But my anticipated answer turns out to be wrong, as I hear the interviewed man saying:
A: Why, a boy, of course…
Hmmm, I say… why “of course”?? As a proud mother of three, two daughters and a son, I remember how thirty-something years ago, at the birth of my first daughter I fell a shock when the doctor announced me it’s a “she”…. Previously, I didn’t even do an “echo”, out of superstition… for fear that the answer will be opposite to what I was (to what we all were) hoping for. But things have drastically changed since then. Or, have they really?
Because, we all know, it’s been this way since the darkness of times … “a boy will bring you status, validation”… “a girl, only trouble”. This is the way it has always been, this is the way it was thirty years ago… And, what about now? Have things really changed?
Meanwhile, statistics show that girls are working harder at their academic achievement than boys are..
Forbes, February 2012
Or, more recently, “Males are enrolling in higher education at alarmingly low rates, and some colleges are working hard to reverse the trend”, according to the Atlantic in a 2017 article.
And here in Lebanon the situation is still consistent with the facts and figures outside: over all academic Degrees awarded in 2014–15, including. PhD, MD and GR, 4,168 were male and 4,475 were female.
Then, why is it that we aren’t proud of getting girls, instead of boys?
Maybe it’s because the $24,000 tuition per year, an average of $75,000 for an undergraduate engineering program will go to waste for a family whose daughter is most surely not going to find work in her field in Lebanon. Or in any other country, as a matter of fact. Why? Because work is hard for boys even. And, if she does find work, if she is blessed to work for the “respectable” rate of 1000$/month (?!!) then she would be lucky to repay her parents’ efforts (*just for the calculation’ sake) in like seven years net (no transportation, phone, food, clothing, health fees). And yet, the 12 year -scholarity fees are not even included.
So, dear parents, if you are in your right mind, you should better want to have a son, instead of a daughter. Oh, but it’s just the retarded Middle East, one may argue. Actually, it’s worldwide. According to the World Bank Group, there are important differences in gender employment, and they not only affect individual women themselves, but society as a whole:
..women all over the world appear to be concentrated in low-productivity jobs. They work in small farm and run small firms. They are overrepresented among unpaid family workers and in the informal sector. And they rarely rise to positions of power in the labor market. World Development Report, 2012
If women face serious employment issues, it is no wonder that they have to confront themselves with inequalities in wages; for the same competences, preparation and level of experience, women would likely get only 70 – 80% of a man’ income.
In the United States for example, the unadjusted average female’s annual salary has commonly been cited as being 78% of the average male salary (…) Inequalities in wage income between men and women are defined by an income gap between men and women, which is often expressed as a percentage of men’s income.
This income gap is the subject of a debate between scientists, sociologists and economists to quantify the part that goes to the biological difference between the sexes, to preferences or economic choices (profession less remunerative, the number of hours worked, breaks in the professional career) or proven sex discrimination , the woman can sometimes be less well paid than the man in a professional situation identical in terms of age, skill, experience or hierarchical position. Wikipedia
Despite progress, wide gaps between women and men’s economic empowerment and opportunity remain, which policymakers need to tackle urgently. … First, gender wage gaps directly contribute to income inequality (…) World Economic Forum
But women are used to doing work without recognition. Don’t they do it day-in, day-out in their homes? While the man comes home, takes off his tie and jumps in his slippers before chilling out in front of his TV or of his computer, playing video games (my respects to all those men who make the exception), the woman would pass by the daycare, pick the kids, grab some groceries, rush home, do beds, do the morning dishes, make dinner, give the kids a shower, put them to bed, read them stories, take out the laundry, iron and fixe the next-day clothes and schoolbags, just to get finally to do the unfinished office work. And sometimes her “duties” don’t end up here.
Dear society of both men and women, why is it so? If, let’s say, men are the culprits, and they are the ones behind the systematic segregation of women (I cannot call it misogyny, can I?) wouldn’t they like having their own daughters, sisters, mothers, working and being paid in equal conditions as men are, being treated not as a secondary, unimportant category, but as the complimentary gender? Can a multifaceted society function well limping on just one leg, men’s, while women, the other half of society, are still being “lateralized”?
Women have this one day of celebration, once a year… But why is it that we just have one day, when women are alive all year round?? The rest of the 364 days who are they for?? Do men need one day-a-year to enjoy being well treated? After all, I think I understand the man in the interview, and I can’t but agree with his logic… why, even now in the 21st millennium, would anyone want a girl?? After all, I think that I definitely hate this 8th of March day.
Mirela Jaber, Lebanon