And the Dream of Gender Equality Goes On

Even as a little girl, I could always picture a world ruled by women and in 1983, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s ‘The Mists of Avalon’ made this dream more real. Was it just forty years ago when we all read her take on the Arthurian tale, seen through the eyes of Morgain, Gwenhwyfar, Igraine, and Viviane?

Now, at the present time, my wish for the future has changed. I don’t want women to rule the world anymore, I just want them to be equal to men, no matter their color, their religion, their race, or sexual orientation.

I am not naive. I know what’s going on in the world, yet hearing the UN chief António Guterres speak, made my heart heavy. 300 years is a very long time. Fifteen generations -give or take. Nothing will change during my short lifetime and I am now at the point where my anger has diminished, there is just sadness in my heart. Perhaps I am now too old to get all worked up, or I found a crumble of wisdom, and I know that getting angry doesn’t change a thing.

I have marched in the streets for women’s rights and it hasn’t helped the cause, it was only a temporary bandaid.

I protested and sat in silence with other women who were strangers to me, but at that very moment, we were all one. A minority in a man’s world. The underdog marching for equality.

Sometimes I think equality is just a word we made up and deep down we humans are not capable to look at another person without any judgment. Why do so many feel the need to belittle and rule others? Is white better than black? Is brown better than white? Is black better than white? Are women less worthy than men? Do we look at same-sex marriage and truly accept it as an equal union, or do we just tolerate it because the law tells us so?

Women still kneel in church and accept that their religious leaders are mostly (or only) men who still to this day prefer women to be uneducated and underpaid. The ultimate ‘good wife’ stays at home, has many children, doesn’t get a college education, and will never demand a job in a leading position. A breeder, a handmaid, or is this too utopian? Maybe too honest?

Perhaps that’s what the abortion law fight is truly all about, to keep women at home -where they belong?

Does it not bother us that we still look at women differently? The weaker gender, so often asked to be so much stronger than any man ever can be?

We have purple hearts and medals for the soldiers who fight in the wars, but for the women who are left alone at home, who take care of the children and the remaining elderly, who work in the factories to make ammunition, or as nurses behind the frontlines -there are no rewards.

Women work quietly, we do what we have been raised to do. The moment we speak up, we become feminists. The ‘F-word’ I never understood that either.

Single women working two or three jobs, with lesser pay of course. Women juggling careers and raising children. Married women, work full-time jobs, and at night and at the weekends they manage their families and serve the meals they quickly cook in the kitchen. I think about my mother-in-law, who made my father-in-law’s dreams come true. Her sacrifices I noticed, but didn’t fully understand back then. Now being older myself, I think about her in admiration.

Women have always fascinated me. My grandmother was a strong woman. She was witty and smart. She walked with her head held up high but was never arrogant. The fine line I am still trying to find was given to her, she made everything look so easy. She had elegance and grace embedded in her.

With the help of my grandfather, she managed to escape the Hitler regime as a half-Jewish woman, yet she didn’t talk much about it. Her story was one of many.

A few years after I read ‘The Mist of Avalon’ I sat in Munich at a fountain in front of the Ludwig Maximilian University. I ate an apple and a sandwich. When I unfolded the map, trying to find my way around, I looked up and searched for a street sign. Where was I?

I was sitting at the Siblings Scholl Plaza. Later on that day, I heard the story of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans Scholl. Sophie Scholl is today an iconic figure in our history. Her death, a reminder that one can make a difference. She was the driving force. Her resistance and her willingness to risk her own life at such a young age stunned and frightened me a bit.

So often in my life have I found myself in ‘awe’ over achievements by women.

From an early age, I knew that women’s rights were not equal to men’s rights. The nuns in the boarding school I attended made sure of it. They never used the phrase discrimination, nor did they want us to be feminists, but somehow they managed to make us aware of the fact that if wanted to achieve anything in this world, we had to work harder than men.

I found myself in a manager position in the late 80s. I was young, 28 years old, and I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Sexual harassment on the job site, one way or another we all have experienced it, haven’t we? There were no laws that protected us, and there wasn’t an HR department that would hear our concerns. We dealt with it, some louder than others.

I traveled the world alone and worked in different countries with or without a crew. I checked into hotels and went out for dinner or a drink alone, at a time when many still thought it was not appropriate. I remember the night when I finally felt brave enough to open a restaurant door. When I asked to be seated alone, all eyes were on me. I felt what it meant to be a person second class.

The waitress in that restaurant that night gave me a funny look because I ate alone at a table. She served me a meal that I didn’t order and she refused to hear my complaints. When she insisted that I should pay for a meal I didn’t get, I finally decided that it was time to speak up. Perhaps that night I became a FEMINIST when I dared to complain without a man by my side.

I left the waitress a very generous tip and wrote a note under the receipt. I hope she never forgot me.

Or maybe I became a FEMINIST that evening in 1989, in a hotel in Marroco, Africa, when I refused to be seated at a dinner table with an older couple and instead demanded to have a table for myself, like the men who ate alone, who weren’t tourists either.

Gender Equality. I like the explanation you can find on the United Nations website


Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. There has been progress over the last decades, but the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.
The social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even bleaker. Progress in many areas, including time spent on unpaid care and domestic work, decision-making regarding sexual and reproductive health, and gender-responsive budgeting, is falling behind.
Women’s health services, already poorly funded, have faced major disruptions. Violence against women remains endemic. And despite women’s leadership in responding to COVID-19, they still trail men in securing the decision-making positions they deserve.
Commitment and bold action are needed to accelerate progress, including through the promotion of laws, policies, budgets and institutions that advance gender equality. Greater investment in gender statistics is vital, since less than half of the data required to monitor Goal 5 are currently available.

I don’t want Marion Zimmer Bradley’s vision to come true anymore. I don’t want women to rule the world, because it would be discriminating against men and this would be -even if it sounds tempting- wrong as well.

But another 300 years? Why?


12 thoughts on “And the Dream of Gender Equality Goes On

  1. First, I read “The Mist of Avalon” during quarantine and couldn’t believe it took me so long to read such a beautiful book. It’s a wonderful tale of women ruling, but even in that tale, they didn’t rule directly. They still were the guiders of men.

    Second, I LOVE the image of you fighting to sit alone by yourself in a restaurant. That’s something I’ve done hundreds of times and I take it for granted it wasn’t such an easy and acceptable thing to do. Thank you for being on the front lines.

    It does feel like we are sliding backwards and it must be so upsetting to you, as someone who has spent her life fighting so hard. Women, LGTBQ, minorities—all under attack by a strange new religious movement I simply can’t understand. It makes me scream at times and other times weep. My daughter is watching the world she thought she would be safe in (as a queer person) slowly devolve and go backward. I know we have to keep fighting, but I too don’t know how we dismantle all the layers of this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The truth to be told, I felt intimidated when I had to sit on a table with strangers at first and I assume I would have been fine with it, if I wouldn’t have noticed all the men who sit alone. It made me furious.

      The backward trend into the middle age worries me more than anything. No matter how hard I try, I can’t understand it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. From my perspectives, we tend to take three steps forward and two steps backward. There are pockets of hope. In my episcopal church, there are a growing number of women priests. I’ve known many, and they are well-educated. I don’t think I would go to a church where that was not the case. We have two part time priests – one is a woman, and one is a man. The man sometimes refers to God as she.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We seem to be going backwards in so many respects at the moment and I am finding it increasingly demoralising. However, we must remain positive and we must continue to strive to improve things for future generations, hard as it may be.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Pingback: And the Dream of Gender Equality Goes On – TheCloudGallery

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