As the youngest daughter of Dije Tasuni, the 58 years old murdered in cold blood by her partner on February 26th, was pledging for help in a Facebook post, the United Nation’s chief called on the students of The New School, a private university in New York City, to make this century one of gender equality. Perhaps, no other coincidence would express more precisely the overload of testosterone in Albania. In a time when our western counterparts are actively trying to change the male-dominated systems that prevent women from achieving their greatest potential, men in Albania are spending their time guarding their position of power in society, and, as a derivative, killing, raping, and ridiculing our invaluable Dije-s. So, what will it take for women in Albania to be treated fairly and equitably?
At the heart of this issue is power and the hysterical gender stereotypes that our boys are fed since birth.
It is not until after 2010 that we caught up with the rest of the world and women in Albania started to make their way into positions of leadership in party politics, governmental institutions, and large corporates. Today, more than 40% of the cabinet and 29% of our legislative body is represented by women; the highest numbers registered in decades. As they rose into power, we watched men squirm in their seats when confident and intelligent women took the floor to talk about domestic violence and female empowerment. Women, who in the totality of human history have been regarded as inferior creatures capable of only pushing babies through their pelvic bones, started to follow the example set by those who lit the way and demonstrated their many capabilities by climbing the ladder of mobility, gradually breaking inside the male-dominated system that had underpinned every aspect of their life. Such a climb resulted in a redistribution of power, although not equal, between men and women. However, taking into consideration the rapidly rising number of spousal crimes in Albania, redistribution of power alone is not enough to transform our overwhelmingly misogynistic society and achieve gender equality in Albania.
The missing piece of the puzzle relates to the mechanism of our society that is designed to trap our boys into rigid gender stereotypes for much of their lives. It teaches them from a young age that life has been cast as a form of competition in which they are pitted against anyone and everyone who dares to challenge them. As a derivative, a women’s fight for what is essentially her birthright – gender equality – is perceived as an attack on the status quo of men. It teaches them strength and dominance, endurance and stamina, making any woman they ever come in contact with so submissive to the man that they never say Me Too again. The ability to mask fear, vulnerability, and weakness are also fed at birth, leading to the routine judgment of women based on insecurities that are so beautifully embraced by women and so cowardly pushed to the darkest corners by men.
So, my wish for women this year is that they grow courageous enough to let their sons meet the flip side of the coin. Teach them about how tenderness makes them look less like disembodied souls who are so willing to lay hands on a woman’s body, be it their mothers’, wifes’, sisters’, or daughters’, just to show who has got the upper hand. Teach them that real men do cry, so that they do not bite their lips, crush their feelings down, and bottle them up, only to unleash years of piling up on our beautiful and innocent Dije-s. Teach men to fear unlimited power, so in our post-Harvey Weinstein world, no woman will ever be so easily squashed, silenced, and ruined ever again.
Kejsi is a sophomore at University of New York in Tirana. His “a-ha!” lightbulb moment in life was the second he realized that words carry the vibration needed to serve as a source of inspiration, encouragement, and life-changing revelations. As such, he utilizes the power of storytelling to connect with people on a deeper level of humanity. At Insider, he is Editor-in-Chief for the 1st Managerial Board. He seeks to bring into spotlight social issues that have long been the cause of injustice and inequality in our society.