I don’t know which sort of world some people grew up in, I genuinely don’t, but I have never looked at a woman expressing an opinion and attacked her based on the fact that she was a woman. On the argument? Sure, by all means. But because she is a woman? Hell, no. Yet this happens all the time, now more than ever with the advent of social media.
I’m a gay man, and when I wrote about how you can’t get HIV from a banana – because, you know, we still have to spell these things out – all I got were a few ‘liberali dan qisu’. Meanwhile, when my friend, Anna, wrote an article for The Times of Malta detailing why Malta needs to update its HIV medication, she actually received messages from complete strangers telling her, ‘I hope you get AIDES[sic]’.
When she showed me the message, my first reaction was to tell her that she should get all the aides she can afford because God only knows how hard she works. But the truth remains that there is a serious underlying problem here: why is it okay for me to speak my mind but not for my female friend to do so? We’re of the same mindset, our argument was pretty much identical, we’re both chubby. Short of hating her for having every handbag anyone could ever covet, the only logical argument would be that she receives more abuse simply because she is a woman.
This is echoed by what happened this week to actress Pia Zammit, who was attacked by the It-Torċa newspaper by “suggesting” she is a Nazi-sympathiser. First of all, LOL. Second of all, if Pia is a Nazi-sympathiser, then I’m Bella Hadid. Pia’s only fault here is that she is a woman with an opinion. Well, maybe she has another one: she’s not on the side of ‘power’. And I don’t mean the PL or the PN, but right and wrong. We saw this happen with Daphne Caruana Galizia: the harder she worked and the bigger her stories got, the more vitriol and venom she received.
Well, let me be frank: I may not have spoken out as much as I should have when Daphne was alive and being vilified, but if her assassination has taught me anything, it’s that I will never, ever, stay silent when someone’s character is being assassinated for not praising the status quo. What happened to Pia, Daphne, Anna and many other women in Malta, and beyond, is horrifying. Being female doesn’t make a person’s opinion less valid. It doesn’t give anyone the right to come down on you like a tonne of bricks for no reason.
Thinking women don’t emasculate you; a woman’s opinion doesn’t break any rules. Being a chauvinist, meanwhile, does. And well, it’s so 1985, anyway.