Through time, women were represented as fragile and vain and treated as a dammed gender; women were bad extensions of men, taken from men’s ribs. Misrepresentations of the female gender where and are present in Philosophy, Arts, Literature and other forms of expression.
The famous Nietzsche, in “Beyond Good and Evil”, wrote: “Comparing man and woman overall, you could say: woman would not have a genius for finery if she did not have an instinct for the secondary role.”
Kant, who revolutionized the critical thinking of Modern Philosophy also had an unflattering opinion, to say the least, about women, to whom he said the worst offence would be to be called disgusting. Men, however, would be most offended if called ridiculous, or, translating in our daily language, not intelligent enough.
Ignoring women, however, is not only a characteristic of the history of Philosophy. There are many other existing examples in Literature where women are left behind and idealized or generalized.
The danger of promoting a generalization or a “single story” as Chimamanda Adichie once said, is that women, after treated as inspirations or as the perfect semblance of beauty, are left with no space in society to think critically and to make a difference, being only considered mute objects of the sensual nature.
Poster from the Guerrilla Girls, a feminist group, protesting against the sexist vision that sees the female nudity as a “universal” form of expression.
So, what can we, as bright women, do in order to be treated with respect and equality? We should respond to such misrepresentations in an empowering way. The best way to rewrite woman’s history is through our own ideas and actions, showing how powerful, strong and diverse we are.
Women need to adopt a proud voice in society and denounce any kind violence, aggression or actions taken to diminish the female gender. The rewriting of our history should be done from our pens. Every action counts for this hard but extremely needed time of change.
Society needs more women in innovative fields, such as Science and in other areas like Arts, Business, and Education who are not afraid to speak up and to be challenged. We need to tell our true story, and this action will be made with a lot of courage and wiliness to change and to create. It is time to represent our own “nature” as it is seen from our eyes, and never forget to think critically, otherwise we will continue to be treated as possessors of the secondary role.
Gabriela Isa Rosendo Vieira Campos
=>Here is the video where Chiamanda talks a bit about misconceptions and its dangers. Though the writer explored a broader theme, referring to prejudice against countries and misconceptions about nationalities, we can also interpret her words considering a feminist approach: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg