The Times, They Are A-changing (Let’s be bold)
When Bob Dylan wrote the song, “The Times They Are A-changing” in 1963, he intended to incite the battles for civil rights that were about to rage. Though what was chanted more than fifty years ago can be said comfortably today: we are living in times of ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (to quote David Bowie, too). Actually, there’s hardly a period in history in which this invite to start swimming in the big ocean of events and diverse pool of humankind doesn’t fit, because the times, they are constantly a-changing.
However obvious this may sound, some people conduct their lives according to the belief that the world they wake up in is the same in which their fathers and grandfathers were brought up, their children educated and their grandchildren doomed to spend their future — and so on, until the end of times. The feeling that one’s reality is a monolithic truth that cannot (and must not) change, instead of being a volatile result of multiple processes and changes, is a misconception created by the mind to protect our self-consciousness. It would be too much stress to accept how our convictions and assessments will become obsolete in just a few decades. The human being is indeed a creature of habit: it is used to a certain state of things and gets confused if a single element runs out of the puzzle. Confusion leads to fear. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate.
All this, in short, is the path to Trump, AfD, Le Pen and all that far-right shit.
We shall not be frightened of change: we must take it, use it, make an opportunity of it. It’s what the theme of this year’s International Women Day challenges us to do: #BeBoldForChange. It’s an invite to avoid curling up in our comfort zone, refusing what is different to the point to fight it. The temptation to pull back from an unknown future could trigger dystopia: reverse time turning back the clock, at an age where society was firmly handed by esteemed patriarchs and women couldn’t exercise even the most basic rights — for instance, the right to vote.
Didn’t we share this presumption as we watched Trump rise in the polls, when with a grin we thought: he won’t win? And yet.
What if the far-right manages to turn back the clocks? What if we wake up in a world where we can’t vote? Is this hypothesis so random? A woman was closer than ever before to becoming President of the United States; a misogynist won instead.
In less than a week, he reinstated the Global Gag Rule, forcing numerous organizations helping women abroad to despair. In Germany, getting an abortion is now more difficult that it’s been for years, thanks to the sabotaging work of the AfD, and the situation is likely to worsen: neo-nazi groups that don’t call themselves such (they just love their nation; too bad your nation sucks!) have, to put it mildly, medieval conceptions about women.
In Italy, women undergoing a difficult pregnancy face great peril for the self-proclaimed “objectors” won’t help them. France risks to be conquered by a woman seemingly little concerned about gender discrimination; Poland was an inch away from giving up abortion rights; recently a group of Argentine sunbathers were denounced because they weren’t wearing a bra.
This is just to cite a few examples. But it’s sufficient to spy on a young woman in the work place, everywhere in the so fiercely liberal Western world, to sadly realize how our society is so deeply entrenched in patriarchy and paternalism. If she protests when they call her “sweetie” and treat her like a pretty baby-doll, they’ll stamp her as a rabid feminist, probably “on her period.”
Because gender discrimination is still OK, and challenging it is the exception.
This has to stop. According to the WTO, the gender gap won’t close until 2186. If global development keeps up at this pace, this is likely to be postponed for another 100 years.
Let’s not let it take so long: let’s embrace change. Let’s witness it in our lifetime and able to say, to all the daughters and granddaughters yet to come: I fought for this.