Women do not need quotas to get to the top

by Joana Bento Rodrigues

The so-called feminist woman – often dazzling on magazine covers – claims to be emancipated and yet also oppressed. She does not need a stable relationship, nor does she want a pregnancy as they “deform” the body and ruin professional careers, and she shies away from elegance. Instead, she often chooses self-objectification, claiming to be fulfilled by only casual relationships and that she is “reclaiming” her sexuality by rejecting her full feminine, marital and maternal potential.

Female potential refers to everything that typically characterizes a woman. She loves to feel beautiful and loved. Often, she would take pride in having an organized life, with a tidy house and planned out calendar. Women are usually the ones responsible for the home, with all the duties that entails. However, we are seeing a rejection of the traditional homemaker lifestyle, in favour of being a busy, career focused and “enlightened” modern woman. The feminist modern woman eschews being a homemaker, as it is beneath them, and places no value in the important work of being a homemaker.

In much the same way, the modern feminist shies away from the long-term commitment and stability of marriage. She refuses to accept that marriage provides security and value, rather marriage is a tool of oppression that prevents her from having a successful life. It is this misconception that has so damaged Western society. A loving marriage is a joint enterprise, his success is her success and vice versa. What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours, richer and for poorer; these are not just empty words. There should be no shame in holding the fort at home, so that her partner can fully focus on their professional career and achieve success. This success is also her success, and if her partner does indeed achieve success, she can take heart and pride in knowing that, in no small way, she is responsible for enabling him to achieve that success. Choosing to work for your family rather than in the professional rat race is picking the harder but more rewarding path.

The potential of motherhood is biological. Women are endowed with a charm, a tenderness that is only found in her relationship with her children. It is through marriage and then motherhood that a woman can feel truly fulfilled – through these two expressions of true and unconditional love. It is also a duty that you cannot resign from; motherhood is perhaps the truest expression of self, in both outcome and in attitude. Moreover, it is a biological imperative with strong subconscious appeal that make women inimitably suited for the responsibility of looking after children. Even when she is not a mother, her unconscious desire for that unique style of relationship is expressed in other ways; perhaps as the “best aunt in the world,” or the “best godmother in the world.”

I will not deny that feminism has played an important and vital role in the West. It fought for equal rights, for the vote, for the right to study and work outside of the home – away from mandatory male supervision – and for equal labour. It has allowed for women the world over to achieve many wonderful and great things, but feminism has now lost sight of itself. That original, crucial feminism is far from being represented in today’s movements.

The chance of motherhood and marriage used to be more than an acceptable trade off against a “successful” career. However, we are now seeing the ugly perversion of feminism in action. If a career woman chooses to be a mother, she will spend time away from work, but if this time away from the office is reflected in her salary or rank, this is now claimed as unfair discrimination.

However, the time spent as a mother, in pregnancy or after, is not lost time nor is it a punishment or penalty for being women. Is this discrimination? No, they are choices freely made by women the world over. It is only common sense that if you have less experience or bring less to the table than a colleague you should not have the same salary. It is not because you are a woman that you earn less after motherhood, it is because you have not been in post through your own free choice. 

Popular wisdom says correctly, “you cannot have everything”. Not surprisingly, there are fewer women in political positions and positions of power than men. Women naturally choose this.

Whilst it is true that it can be more difficult to ascend in a male environment, an inevitable consequence of social dynamics, this difficulty has been falling away, thanks to the work of the original feminists who fought for dignity and equal rights. Accordingly, we have seen women prove that what we can achieve what we set our minds to, just as well as any man. An example of this is the high level of female representation in higher education in Portugal, and in medicine and law.

Therefore, feminist movements should be concerned with fundamental issues, particularly those related to the realities of working life and equality of opportunity. The spectre of quotas has risen again in Portugal’s extension last year of the parity law. This extension to the law, now requiring a minimum of 40 per cent female elected lawmakers, is a despicable parody of feminism, it does not help equality but rather deprives women’s achievements of value and is driven by the sexist assumption that merit is not enough – that women need more help than men.

The woman is a beautiful and extraordinary being, who can achieve all her dreams and goals, without the need for sexist laws. Women do not need compulsory quotas in any walk of life, especially in political life. Did Margaret Thatcher need a quota to become the first British Prime Minister? Did Angela Merkel need a quota to become Germany’s Chancellor? Did Ìndira Gandhi need a quota to be Prime Minister of India? No, no and no.

For all these reasons, I declare myself anti-feminist and against the Parity Law!

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