Is space for everyone?
How come we are not occupying all the spaces?
What are the spaces we are expected to occupy?
How is gender dictating the way we exist?
In the past years we observed the reborn of feminism throughout the world. Reproduction rights, female representation and violence against women have became the subject of media, internet and entertainment. The society is also engaged in debating sexism after a long silence which can no longer be kept. This is the case both in Brazil and India, and we felt that our work could not avoid but to touch these subjects. Since those countries have problematic gender relations, we wanted to listen and give a voice to our women and share this restlessness.
For a long time, the unequal usage of space between men and women was not perceived as an important issue. The spatial divisions caused by demographic, economic, cultural and political issues were particularly important. This involved denying the distinction between the public and private , and even women's activities. This is what we call "invisibilization" of women. They are there, important for the set but insignificant to the scene. Thus, the city is treated as a mass of asexual individuals, submitted from a global point of view - a.k.a. masculine. The house, sphere of reproduction, is now seen as a simple demographic and statistical unit, without any hierarchical structure of power relations. Mixed in the crowd, the woman lives a false impression of equal use of space.
Accordingly, when we analyse contemporary society, we cannot say that men and women occupy the same spaces and positions. Thus, feminism is a key critical lens to understand space.
In the past years, we observed the rise of feminism in Brazil. Reproduction rights, female representation and violence against women have became the subject of social media and on the most important publications of the country. The society is also engaged in debating sexism on politics since the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff, as well as the rape of a teenage girl by more than 30 men that was widely reported. Some online campaigns with hashtags also created an important buzz on the subject.
On the Indian perspective, we found a connection with our reality through Amartya Sen’s famous essay “More Than 100 Million Women are Missing”. In this work he develops the fact that the existing number of women in the world is below what should be expected. They die at an early age due to the “son preference” effect, as young women because of violence and are more vulnerable than men during their whole life. In addition, they face difficulties in finding their places in political representation. Therefore, both countries face similar challenges in regards to the spaces occupied by women in their societies.
The project was also inspired by the feminist political scientist Susan Okin and her work on “Gender, the public and the private”. On this essay, the author reminds us that our society is divided into these two categories: the public and the private. The former relates to the economic and political spheres and belong to men, since is their prerogative to work and have political roles. The second one belong to women, the domestic and reproductive tasks are their place and activity. Our society has personal freedom as one of its milestones, and nevertheless we observe that women are subordinated to men in both of them. Even in the domestic space, which they belong to, their freedom is always under the men’s control. Inequality between men and women in the world of work and politics are inextricably in a double-handed cycle where inequalities operate to reify and legitimize spaced gender structure in our society.
Culturally, women still have many obligations and not many benefits within the household. Economic factors play an important role on the number of births and girls survival, but the contrary is not necessarily true. Generally, girls are seen by the family as more costly: it is believed that the "investment" in raising them will be lost when they get married and move to another household, ceasing to contribute economically to their original family. Beyond that, women will not be able to take care of their parents in old age and during their economic active life they will not be as productive as men. For this reason, they belong to the household, the only space where their value is recognised.
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