Whenever I shared my views about violence against women and working mothers, I took comfort in the belief that even if Malta had a long way to go in terms of execution and percentages, our politicians and law-makers had the right mindset on both matters. But, this week, Mrs. Michelle Muscat and Ms. Helena Dalli were quoted saying things that would make Gloria Steinem break out in hives. Unless they’ve both been misquoted by the media, (which of course is entirely possible) then these two women, who are in such enviable positions of influence, should fast forward to the 21st century, sooner rather than later.
Ms. Helena Dalli was quoted as saying that women who suffered abuse should not play the victim if they were guilty of emotional abuse.
Ms. Dalli was speaking in Parliament on the world day focused on the elimination of violence against women.
Here’s my two cents on the matter: physical violence is never justified. NEVER. If you’re emotionally or verbally abused, you don’t have the right to emotionally or verbally abuse back, let alone hit someone. You might get a few more nods of understanding from family and friends, but you never have the right to be abusive back. You only have the right to defend yourself from physical violence and to walk away from emotional and psychological abuse. You also have the right to report your case, whatever it may be, to the relevant authorities, but that’s about it. So, whilst both emotional and physical abuse are wrong, one never justifies the other, and playing the victim does not come into play at all – you could very well be both a victim and a perpetrator, but ‘playing the victim’ does not feature whatsoever.
And now to the next mind-boggling quote of the week – Mrs. Michelle Muscat was quoted to have said that women who continue with careers become role models for their children. She was talking during the first edition of the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, which focused on demonstrating how women’s contributions to society can have positive, political, economic and social impact. Again Mrs. Muscat might have been misquoted, or quoted out of context, by the media, but nevertheless, here’s what I think about the matter:
Women are role models for their children, whether they like it or not, whether they pursue their careers or sit down and get drunk poking cigarette holes in the sofa. As a new mother I know that your child will always follow your example and not your advice, so whether I choose to pursue my career or not, is quite simply, irrelevant. Of course, I can be a good role model or a crappy one, but I can be just as good by being a stay-at-home mum and just as crappy by pursuing my career. The point here is all about choice – a mother should have both the freedom and the means (in the form of support) to choose whatever suits her best – if that’s pursuing a career then so be it, if not, then kudos to her. Choice is what emancipates women, and that’s what we want to pass on to our children and future generations.