Our sexist opposition

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None of these things is unlike the other ...

The other day, Carlos Ocariz, candidate for governor of Miranda, endorsed a group of 21 people who are vying for mayor in his state.

Their names? Juan Carlos, David, Ramón, José Manuel, Guillermo, Raimundo, Richard, Julio Cesar, Luis Manuel, José, Iván, Enrique, Maximino, Roger, Oswaldo, Pedro, Ovidio, José Luis, Roberto, Orlando, and David.

Leopoldo López, not to be outdone, presented his own endorsements for Caracas’ five municipalities.

Their names? Antonio, Emilio, Freddy, Eduardo, and Gerardo.

In whimsical fashion, Ocariz named his team El Trabuco.

He should have gone for Los Bomberos, because in the group of twenty-one – just like in Leopoldo’s group of five – there is not a single woman.

Venezuela is a deeply sexist country. We might not want to admit it, but it’s true.

Ours is a country where beauty queens are treated simultaneously like cattle and royalty, where 23-year old girls die on rickety operating tables while searching for unattainable beauty, where women earn 80% of what men do, and where rape is used as a weapon in our undeclared civil war.

It’s no surprise that our politicians reflect those values. They are human, y la cabra tira pa’l monte and all that. Heck, I’ve been scolded several times on this blog for insensitive comments I’ve made.

But there is no excuse for this. Leadership is about overcoming our worst tendencies.

If you were asked to name five prominent female opposition leaders, you would be hard-pressed to come up with names. Aside from Maria Corina Machado – not coincidentally, the only presidential candidate who has been shot at during this primary season – and Maracaibo Mayor Evelyng de Rosales, there really are none.

Aside from Machado, the opposition does not have a single prominent legislator. There are no female opposition governors. And the MUD spokesman? A man too. It pains me to write it, but in terms of promoting the leadership of women, our side has a lot to learn from Hugo Chávez.

You might think this is a non-issue in Venezuela. There may come a time where gender issues are important, but now is not the time, you might say.

I disagree. Time and again, I have heard from female activists who feel ignored, who resent being shunned when decisions on candidacies are made.

So while there are more pressing issues in Venezuela at the moment, let’s pause to reflect on our politicians’ mistreatment of women, who are 50% of the voters and some of our most fervent, most honest activists.

We ignore and demean them at our own peril.

1 COMMENT

  1. Again, Juan, Chávez is beating us because he has all the appearance of inclusion. We can actually learn a lot from him, and we could beat him in that game with real inclusion. But it is hard, requires work and actually acknowledging that Chávez does something right, even if it is political manipulation.

    • First Bravo for writing this article. I think this will go a long way to really change Venezuela.
      Now _GDNM- CHavez is not beating us. (Chavez the woman beater-you praise him.)
      chavista (feminine)model is not NOT the type of female model that is good for Venzuela,
      Neither is the chavista -male model. I think you know very well what type of person(s) I am talking about. ie,.someone who behaves like Chavez. Gimme a break, pal!
      Chavez does NOTHING “right”.

      • Huh?

        Then why people vote him? He obviously can connect with people at some level and make them feel they need to vote him, even despite the corruption, stupidity and inefficiency. It is actually absurd that I even have to be writing this.

        Sorry, but you are completely delusional if you cannot see that he is a master in that game of populism and demagogy and that he has beaten the opposition repeatedly almost in every election

  2. For a long time I’ve wondered why Gender issues are hardly ever raised in Venezuelan electoral campaigns, why candidates that self-identify with change and progress ignore one of the most flagrant relations of domination remaining untouched in our country. Maybe it’s a Maslovian question as Venezuelan’s believe “higher needs” are of no consequence in a country where basic needs are trampled on (“First world problems”, as some call it). But another variable that I believe is primordial has to do with what your post implies, the opposition has not been able to rid itself from all the defects of an old social order that still prevails in Venezuela (cf. Marianismo), a secular offshoot of bygone Catholic dogmas.

  3. Very good you write about this.
    As I said: it is not completely unrelated that from January to September of this year 501 women haven been killed by their partners or relatives in Venezuela. In Spain, with a much higher population and a reputation for Machismo, it had been just a tenth of that amount.

    Check out also the lists we have for deputies. It’s a shame.

    • OK, I rechecked the list of deputies.

      I tried to verify the gender of deputies, even though with Chavistas it is particularly difficult by name: is Loidy a man? A woman? What about Orangel? I imagine Yorman is
      a man (as in Cohen’s “I’m yorman”)
      There are about 17 or 18 or 19 women among 98 Chavistas (18,5%), whereas we have about 7 women for 67 oppos (10,44%).

      Here you can check out women’s ratio at the Bundestag
      http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frauenanteil_im_Deutschen_Bundestag_seit_1949

      • Orangel López is male. Former Liga Socialista guerilla (along with Nicolas Maduro), he was once involved with the guarding and moving of Niehaus after his kidnapping.

        • Thanks for the information.
          Nice fellows, those…there is another one, Róger Cordero Lara, who was involved in carrying out one of the worst massacres of the IV Republic, one they keep trying to connect with us.
          By the way: I am trying to produce a visual representation of the Asamblea and I may need some help (so that people can see the Asamblea by gender, age, profession, region, etc).

  4. I think the political culture of Venezuela has a lot to do with this. The shouting culture. If you’ve ever watched the Asamblea in session you know what I’m talking about. There certainly are women of all political stripes who can thrive in that culture — Iris Varela and Cilia Flores are not unique — but it’s structurally set up to favor men.

    • If you think venezuelan women can’t win a shouting contest … then you don’t know any Venezuelan women! 🙂

      Seriously, yours is a valid point. Perhaps it’s our militaristic culture. After all, contemporary Venezuelan politics is simply an offshoot of the caudillo wars of the early XIXth Century. There were no women there either.

      • OK, the caudillo part is true…but it was not “early XIX century”. It was ALL the time.
        The Federal War was 1858-1863 and led to the murder of over a tenth of Venezuela’s population.
        Juan Vicente Gómez came to power at the end of the XIX century on a guerrilla war. He had to fight back a lot of caudillos for about a decade in the early XX century.

        A Briton wrote this about 1833: “The chief amusement of the females is to play on the Spanish harp, or the guitar, their minds being neglected, and perhaps more so now than before the revolution”.

        Now women do better, as you can see them pushing in such fields as engineering, medicine, etc…but politics is still a male thing.

        On the other hand, I do think this is a particularly Primero Justicia problem. I don’t know,
        but it tends to be “white UCAB upper middle class law/economist guy”. Ocariz is a good exception to this (OK, he’s still a man). I Just think they simply haven’t realised it, it all started with their group…friends of friends…

    • WHHHHAT? I can’t hear you! Man, speak up!

      Wee joke, wee joke.
      I disagree. You should see Germans debating and they debate a lot. They shout all they can. You can see lots of debates between extreme left leaders, social democrats, conservatives, etc, in the Bundestag and on national TV all the time. The difference is the level of discussion (not always, but usually). They don’t go for “you are a thief/traitor of the Vaterland”, but they give some meat about why they consider you so: numbers, numbers, sources, quoting you back, etc. Again, a very telling episode for me was when Carla Angola, who is supposed to be a “star journalist” in politics, was talking/discussing with dear Iris Varela about Karl Marx…on “amor”….geez, so much soap opera watching is bad for people’s brains.

      • Kepler, you can’t compare the Bundestag with a third world country parlament – in terms of the “level” of discussion – as these countries have different issues.
        What you can compare is the level of inneficiency or “failure to make a decision” which is what they get paid for. Germans love to comment on the debate, but can never agree on anything. In that case, the Bundestag is just as inneficient as the national assembly.
        The global financial crisis is the best example of that, while in the US, they (US Congress) made a decision in just one week 3 years ago, the Bundestag is still debating.. yeah, nice debate et all, but extremely inneficient and driving europe nowhere..

        • Chiguire, that is completely OT. The issue is that the EU is not a country, complexity is bigger. In the USA there is not even real debates on a lot of issues for many years, until it is pretty late…just of fear of being called “un-patriotic” (over 7000 dead soldiers and over a hundred thousand dead civilians elsewhere are proof of that). But again: that’s a different issue. Real debates are needed for a real democracy. And it’s funny US Americans come up with suggestions on Europe when their economy is even more concked out.

          If we want to stop being a third world country, we must introduce real debate (it’s either that or the autocratic way used by China right now).

          • that’s the problem.. “their economy is even more concked out.”.. this is the typical farse that they feed you in Germany. Not sure if you are living there now (my advise would be to leave asap. I left 2 1/2 months ago, after 4 years in paradise (MUC)), or if you are just watching DW (my advise would be to really visit there then, and talk to real people). Its all artificial, its a bubble that’s been created for the past decade with all of the eastern european money, and it can do nothing else but burst. (even when adjusted down by inflation, the GDP growth rates of the US, which economy is 4 times the size of germany, are up to 3-4 times higher 2% vs 0.5% the latest; and that’s assuming germans are telling you the truth. But the obvious fact, is that the trend in germany is *continuouslly* declining since mid 2010, while the US trend is upward…. It is very easy to lose sight about how big the US (economy) is, and how productive actually their workers are; specially if you just watcht the current (and since 2006 I would argue) congress, which just does not move, and you top it with the typical european and latin america anti-yanqui propaganda, which is perfect to cover their own (and worse imho) shortcomings.

            Now, and just to be clear :), while the USA is not a country either, I questioned the Bundestag and the effect it has in leading europe; not the EU vs USA. My point was not to make it an economical debate, but just to highlight that, their debates (Bundestag’s) are informative and useless. Also, please remember that the Bundes(tag/rat) and Landstag combination in Germany is different than the Congress and the State’s House/Senate. You will find the real “meaty” discussions at the state’s house level.

          • Chamo, lo mismo se puede decir de ti: creyendo toda la propaganda de un país X.
            No veo Deutsche Welle. Sí hablo con economistas y empresarios alemanes.
            Si quieres leer un poquito sobre el asunto del euro, te recomiendo los dos últimos ejemplares de Spiegel…la versión alemana, ya que la otra tiene apenas una selección de artículos de interés para los gringos.
            Respecto a productividad: ni hablemos.
            Cuál es la balanza de pagos en EUA?
            Sí, es un país muy grande. Cuánto tiempo puede endeudarse de esa manera? Para siempre?

          • no pana, te estoy comentando la realidad.. la economía alemana viene en picada desde los ultimos 18 meses – dicho por los propios alemanes; y eso no para alli; la cosa pica y se extiende. Por el contrario, la gringa viene subiendo. Otros diran que los alemanes están stagnant, porque los numeros son bajos de todas formas, pero la verdad, verdaiita es que los numeros son comparables, son significativos y vienen palo abajo.
            De la productividad, pues es sencillo.. cada gringo le aportó a su economía $936 en el último trimestre; cada alemán en cambio, $220. Pana, al Cesar lo que es del Cesar, EEUU no se ha mantenido como la primera economia del mundo por coincidencia.
            Ahora bien, si vienes de la escuela europea, pues sí, alla definiamos productividad, como lo que nos traía el empleado a la empresa; así pues, la planta en Munich de BMW era donde los empleados erán más productivos, porque costaban menos en relación con la producción en dinero que hace la planta (9k empleados hacen 900 carros en el mes). Si lo ves del mundo capitalista, en donde la producción es más una métrica de “throughput” o vista desde el punto de vista del consumidor; la planta en Carolina del Norte es la más productiva porque saca más carros por empleados (7k empleados sacan 1.1k carros al mes)
            Cuánto puede endeudarse un país? Pues, en realidad importa? Alemania tiene mas de una decada violando los acuerdos economicos y de endeudamiento que hizo con la unión. Porque? Pues sencillamente porque puede pagar! Yo, personalmente estoy de acuerdo con la postura, y lo que es bueno para el pavo, es bueno para la pava Tu te preguntas cuánto tiempo pueden endeudarse, precisamente porque niegas su capacidad de producción. Ciertamente que los habitantes gringos tienen otra politica de endeudamiento y de pago que el país (y de allí puede venir la percepción), pero no hay nada mas seguro que prestarle a los gringos (compra bonos gringos), al igual que los alemanes. Ambos países con la tremenda cultura emprendedora que tienen, no importan cuánto pidan prestado, sino cuánto paguen. (y eso que a mi el Deutsche Bank me dijo en el 2009 que no me podia pagar mis dividendos y me tuve que esperar un año). Por mucho que ahora los mercados han castigado durisimo a alemania (la venta de bonos de la semana pasada), y que la gente se coma el cuento del downgrade gringo; ellos pueden endeudarse mas si es necesario, porque sencillamente pueden pagar (porque producen, y producen q jo d.
            saludos,

        • By the way: the items on debate now at the Bundestag are particularly difficult because outsiders are asking Germany to go against very well preserved principles even if Germans won’t have control on the others’ budgets and a lot more. Germany is not California, fiscality is completely different in Europe. So: the problem is with a complex international issue.

          On the other hand, you see how debate on health care has been at the US congress…health care, for Goodness sake…you don’t have to discuss with Canada or Mexico about it, only with the US alone.

          So: yes, I think the systems of debate in Germany, although far from perfect, can be a useful model for others, at least for Venezuelans, Nepalese, Spaniards, Dutch, etc.

          • yes, the spaniards can learn from it.. they are also useless but irrespectful; so they can at least take that from the germans..
            so yes.. it is just my opinion by having lived there, but both of these countries (Germany and Spain) are like the movie The Others… they are dead, and they don’t know it. Germany at least, will come alive in the sequel.

    • I am sorry, but that implies that men are structurally unable to behave in a civilised fashion, or, in other words that “la cutura mariquea”…

  5. I agree…to a point. You might be right in this case – I don’t know enough about it – but it could be also that there were no women up to the task. Also, I just would like much more to see a bunch of capable PEOPLE, regardless of their gender.
    This might sound strange coming from a woman – and most likely I’ll have a lot of thumbs down for the comment -, but have you consider that this might be caused by women themselves? That they are not really that interested in politics? How many venezuelan women still think that marrying, having kids and becoming a housewife is the best thing they want to do with their life?
    How many women go to the university in a status commonly known as “MMC” (“mientras me caso” – “while I get married”)?
    Women on their own, NEED to step it up. Forget the stupidity around boob jobs and the beauty pageants and stop being Susanitas, when the world is needing more Mafaldas.

    • Carolina, I agree with you it is also up to women to change things and they have to come up with this issue. On the other hand, I wonder if men in these parties do realise there is an issue here with representativity and whether they have thought about how to improve the situation.
      I wonder: is it possible they could put forward this in an open debate? Or would it make it too evident for others that there is a problem with female representation among them?

    • Carolina just hit it right. Young women today feel more attracted to be a Miss Venezuela or a Chica Polar than be a public servant. Just like many men are more inclined to be in sports or acting. Fame and money are more important than civic reponsibility.

    • This is true to an extent Carolina…we all have to do our part to be who we want to be…but in a society where almost all the official outer power is held by men, men have to participate in the transference of this power to make society more fair.

      But the first step for Venezuelan women is not in doing, but in becoming aware of the problem itself, which I have clearly seen has not been made completely conscious.And this is not exclusively a Venezuelan problem, but exists in different degrees all over the world…only in Venezuela the problem of lack of awareness is quit bad, much worse than in many other places.Seduction is THE name of the game there, and I refer here to seduction in all its aspects.

      • FP – I think you are right. Awareness is THE biggest problem. Not only for women but also for men.
        A general rule in my generation is that women studied, got a career, went to work and brought an important chunk of money into the household, and yet, the responsibility of the house – food, kids, cleaning, groceries and management – remains solely hers, as if they were still housewives.
        Quick question to the guys: who in this group can openly admit that they take responsibility of the house chores at home without being asked?
        I believe the next generation – girls and boys – is realizing that things must change.

    • up to the task? I think the better question, is that “are you WILLING to do the task?”. Cause not only the study mentioned in the article (old btw) actually ranks Venezuela as the highest in latam wrt women salaries; but in my personal experience in the private sector, there are PLENTY of women working, actually more than men in the two companies I worked for; they actually earn the same as any men with similar experience, and they are very good as well (that is, in our performance management systems (whatever that is), they share the same ratio of top performers as men do); the question would be, would they like to take this to the public work?
      And here, I believe that given the intrinsic personal danger (as proven by the shots to Maria Corina) of doing public service in a country like ours; it is only natural (as per human behaviour) that men take more risks than women – when it comes to physical exposure.
      So they are not MMC, or wanting to be Susanitas, they are working their asses off, just like any men are, they are just not doing it enough in the public sector, as the blogger wants; or when they do, they share different ideals or are attracted to different proposals than the ones in the opposition

      • Chigui,
        It’s hard to come up with a single woman “empresario” leader or CEO. I can name you five or ten male CEOs in Venezuela, but not a single woman.

        BTW, in some circles, your characterization of men being “braver” than women, or more willing to take a bullet, could also be qualified as sexist. There are plenty of examples of strong women willing to risk their life for their ideals (Bhutto, Aung Saan Suu Kyi, the ladies who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, etc.).

        • That is also true. On the other hand, now that I think of it, women in Venezuela don’t seem to be doing so badly on the technocratic part of it.
          We had a woman who was head of the central bank. I know of quite a lot of engineers who are women and are at very high level, more really than in Europe.
          I don’t think men are braver at all, but perhaps if you want to be a CEO or a politician in Venezuela you have to be more of a thug, actually…or a rogue at the very least.

        • yep Juan, I thought about it too before writing it, but that is why I emphasized that it is just as per human behaviour, and in – Caribe’s tribe, the one that populated Caracas -, just the way they where.. man would do absolutely nothing but fight; all they had was brute force; while women ran everything; so it would take time and generations for men to think otherwise

          • To pretend there’s a “natural” propension of men towards braveness, war or courage is to perpetuate the sexist discourse that attributes certain roles to men and others to women; it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that will lead us nowhere. It is of paramount importance that candidates stand up against the inertia of this damaging vision of Gender in Venezuela.

        • Juan you can name the CEOs in Venezuela, or Venezuelan CEOs? There is a venezuelan women in Spain who is very famous and a CEO of a company there. Why did she leave? funny… it was something like… “Mi jefe me dijo ‘en Venezuela siendo mujer no vas a poder subir más, hay que “abrir”” 🙂

    • Yo creo que es una cuestión de presión social. Las mujeres modernas venezolanas, muchas de ellas, parecen supermujeres, presionadas a ser buenas en su trabajos, a tener hijos y criarlos, a llevar la mayor carga del hogar y sobre todo, a verse bellas y bonitas. No creo que una mujer de 35 años, casada y con hijos tenga un apice de energía extra para la carrera política. Muy diferente de un hombre, de esa edad, casado y con hijos, que se puede dar el lujo de dejar la mayor parte del trabajo de crianza y hogar a su esposa. Igualmente, una mujer que trabaja fuera del hogar por mucho tiempo es vista como mala madre, si sus hijos se descarrilan, es sólo culpa de ella por no esta ahí por ellos; si sus hijos toman drogas, es su culpa; todo, todo, todo es su culpa; hasta que el macho le monte cachos.
      Para terminar, yo elegí ser una Stay at Home Mom, Por un lado, el “feminismo” nos ha enseñado (entre algunos conceptos buenos y otros no tan buenos) que como mujer, si sólo quieres ser Ama de Casa eres una fracasada. Yo me pregunto, ¿acaso criar a un niño no requiere más tiempo, más trabajo y más dedicación que cualquier otra labor en este mundo? Yo decidí dejar mi carrera, decidí dejar a un lado mi educación, para poder dedicarme estos primeros años a mis chamos. No soy alguien que fue a la universidad MMC, no soy alguien que siquiera soñó con ser ama de casa, de hecho, las miraba con desdeño porque mi Mamá es una profesional. Sin embargo, una vez que nacieron mis niños, mis prioridades cambiaron.
      Si queremos que las mujeres participen en la política, somos las mujeres las que nos tenemos que organizar. Si hay mujeres en el poder, deben pensar en los horarios en que hacen las reuniones, los sitios donde las hacen, cosas tan sencillas como colocar una guarderia con pintacaritas en un rally político haría que la asistencia de mujeres fuese muchísimo mayor.
      Dejen de desdeñar de las amas de casa, algunas eligimos este camino con responsabilidad y madurez.
      Y no escribo más porque ya mi niña se molestó conmigo porque ando pegada a la compu y no dedicándole atención.

  6. So true JC

    As someone who is inside, yet outside the culture I can see it clearly in this aspect.Sexism was a non issue for me until I made Venezuela my home.

    In the small towns women are usually passive- aggressive; unwilling to be too openly aggressive, in their hidden,and sneaky ways are capable of bringing the house down as do leaky water pipes, without others noticing until the damage is too great and the house comes tumbling down.

    In Caracas, women sometimes try to imitate men instead of embracing their more natural ,female power, by being aggressively seductive( which is a male trait). It is rare in Venezuela to meet a lady who expresses herself openly and honestly without a certain deference to men, or some kind of frill that makes their ideas seem less threatening to others.

    Women’s willingness to accept a culture which does not give them equal power under the law, in their homes, and with the honest expression of their own personalities and female values is extremely sad to me.

    *****The battle is hard because most women in Venezuela are not yet aware of the extent of it – which makes the battle doubly hard because awareness is half the battle itself.*****

    But not to enlist the power of half the population is to not realize, how much hidden damage women will do to whatever process they are left out of…..like JC says: ignore at your own peril.

    It is never too late to start….and start now to defend women’s rights, and stop treating women like 2nd class citizens.If not caudillismo and a broken society will be the only future we are capable of.

      • Thanks Harrison.
        I know about this theme somewhat because I really lived it and struggled through these issues, “sweating blood and tears”.

    • “In Caracas, women sometimes try to imitate men instead of embracing their more natural ,female power…”

      While I do agree that women can assume unconsciously that the only way to wield power is by assuming attitudes that result from patriarchy, I think you should watch out with essentialist discourses based on a certain “nature” leading women to act a certain way.

  7. The main cause of the problem is/has been “men behaving badly”.
    One can use the excuse of alcohol, drugs, gang behavior or military caste,
    whatever. But, men have not been punished for their abuses of women
    in Venezuela. Educating men to be gentlemen and enforcing laws against
    abuse is a good beginning. Chavez is not nor will ever be a “role model” for men or women..

    • Gentlemanliness is just a seemingly benevolent expression of sexism. Instead of treating women like equal, by giving them special treatment you’re just underpinning the idea of their difference/inferiority.

      We should encourage men to be more respectful to EVERYONE.

      • I’ve heard of gentlemanliness towards women as an expression of respect with regards to their superiority: women can make a new human being!

        I disagree that we should encourage “men” to be more respectful; we should encourage *all* to be more respectful.

        • Do you think the state of things demonstrates that we tend to treat women as superiors? I strongly believe that is not the case. Now, I agree with encouraging everyone to be respectful with everyone; but, in Venezuela, it’s specially men who tend to be aggressive, “tough”, hyper-sexed and confrontational as an expression of what they’ve been taught (through socialisation) manliness/virility is all about. So, I think special attention should be targeted to men.

          • No, I said that I’ve heard of those who are taught that gentlemanliness is about treating women as superiors (Cinema example: Three Men and a Baby, french version). As to your statement that it’s specially men who… need special attention, I think a policy written in that light would be sexist. I would suggest writing policy that states that *anyone* that tends to be aggressive, “tough”, hyper-sexed and confrontational … needs special attention, regardless of gender or anything else. In my book, policy should not differentiate in those ways.

            Though Aldous Huxley meant it with a different meaning, his quote here seems pertinent: “Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.” Repeatedly pointing out one’s differences is no way to be seen the same.

            I know the case of an autistic child in an inclusion program in regular public school who was suspended for running off school grounds during school hours. The mother charged to the school to see the principal, with uncontainable tears, to thank the principal for having treated her child as any other child would have been treated. Trying to get everyone to treat you like an equal by demanding a handicap just does not cut it.

            Though, let’s not forget, some human beings can make babies… In my book, that’s quite a super power!

  8. The duality between Machismo and the undeniable power that women bear in Venezuela is an extremely fascinating topic. Our culture has allocated pretty non-permeable gender roles, which perpetuate men as the source of strength, and women as the source of nourishment/beauty. In Venezuela the only power women are encouraged to harness is that provided by beauty and physical attractiveness, which is supposed to open any door in your path and give you social mobility. Anything else has become secondary and irrelevant. Men benefit from this cultural norm and, women, left without any other choice, embrace it. From this chauvinistic view emerge gender inequalities, fatherless children, institutionalized abuse, homophobia, and a long etc…
    This is one of the most pivotal aspects that MUST change in our country for our own sake.

        • You reminded me Argelia Laya.
          I also remembered when she wanted to create the “black women’s union” when she was in congress. I thought that was racist.

          • Well, a RACE-defined organisation is ALWAYS racialist, in my opinion.

            I am not one for quotas at workplace or education, but, in the case of specific organisations, support for diversity is needed. So I believe Primero Justicia should create the right environment so that María Coromoto Rodríguez García, a black left-handed woman from Guanare, but now living with her partner Josefina García in Maturín, and a brilliant career as industrial engineer, would feel like becoming a very active member of this organisation.

          • “Well, a RACE-defined organisation is ALWAYS racialist”.
            Well said Kep. The same applies to any SEX-defined organization, to me.

          • While I would most of the times agree with you, sometimes social movements carried out by minorities in relations of domination can push their agenda towards success by “strategic essentialism”. It would be rather preposterous to believe that the civil rights activists rallying behind “Black Power” were detrimental to the cause of the self-identified African-Americans, or that the “Suffragettes” damaged the road of women to the polls by keeping their cause a fundamentally “female” issue, same thing for the LGBT movements, even the afro movement in Venezuela.

            If a society recognises races, sexes, sexual orientations as being valid categories of distinction…then I do not see a problem with the people who are targeted by those categories seizing the label that has been attributed to them for progressive purposes.

  9. Excellent article. Excellent examples.

    It must be tellingly painful to be beaten hands down (if appearance trumps substance) in this respect, and through not even trying, by our one and only champion of Venezuelan machismo, the Alpha squared, irreplaceable, commanding and shouting Male of Venezuelan politics.

  10. A little history …I think the Nazis lost the War because they underutilized 50% of their population, where it counted the most. Not so the Ruskies, whose women were actively involved, nor the Allied forces, whose women were actively behind the scenes. Instead, the Nazis praised women who procreated the most.

    The issue of women in line operations (meaning no fluff), in any society, cannot be entertained until there’s a radical shift in the education of that 50%, so that girls and boys are receiving the EXACT SAME education across the board, so that girls and boys are taught by those who themselves are well educated and uniformly certified.

    Here’s a for instance. And my apologies for entering a delicate area, but after all, it is the elephant in the living room of a nation. For a long time, Catholic education for boys required that they learn Latin; girls were thought to not need it, for their role in society was deemed to center around the home, their marriage, and their procreation (adding to the ranks of believers). Educational parity between the sexes just did not exist at the grade and secondary school levels.

    I’d like to know that that has changed in the last 20 years. And that Venezuela does indeed have educational parity among the sexes.

    • I don’t know. It would be interesting to find out the proportion of women studying computer science at the USB and compare that to those in a US or British or German or Chinese institution.

      • also check the curriculum, as well as the qualifications and certification of teachers at gender-separate schools, in Venezuela. Compare this curriculum, as well as qualifications and certifications to those of gender-inclusive schools, in Venezuela.

        When intellectual parity is aimed for and reached, that’s when real empowerment in a society begins. That’s when intelligent choices will start to choke out a lot of the nonsense.

      • At least when I was studying at the USB, there were actually more women than men studying computer science. Remember Pilin Leon? After being elected Miss World, she returned to the USB to finish her degree in Computer Science.

        Btw, didn’t Voluntad Popular include some sort of 50/50 gender requirement during their recent elections?

        • Yes, they did — but how many women were actually elected? It would be interesting to know what their current gender ratio is (members/elected officials).

      • I don’t have the numbers. But I attend the University of Illinois and I can assure you the ratio of female engineering and science students in USB is higher than here. A Swedish friend of mine who was an exchange student at USB also said he was impressed by the number of girls who studied engineering.

        This is part of something that was said in a previous article. It seems like Venezuela is chauvinistic in some aspects of society but not all: Venezuelan men do objectify women and there are lots of Susanitas. In a work environment, though, it seems to me the roles of men and women are not as well defined as in other places

        • No, I agree. But gender equality has many facettes. I know pretty well the IT sector in Germany and that is why I mention it. I know more Venezuelan women who are computer scientists than German ones. My impression about the proportion of females in computer science in Germany was that it was smaller. Still, I would like to see hard data.

          • Yeah, but they also say there: the sheer numbers can lie.
            What is a “scientist” in Portugal or Ukraine?
            The proportion of female students is something relatively recent, the “Professoren” with Habilitation are not usually in their twenties.

            And here I get into the fire:
            I have often spoken with people doing their PhD and the amount of times I see women telling me “oh, but I don’t know what to do” and about to cry
            is higher than with men. They seem to break faster under pressure when one says: you have to bring forward something new to the field, not just document
            (and no, I am not the doctoral advisor). They seem to get into the PhD thing because “that’s the way to do it”.

            What I have definitely seen is that Chauvinism towards women in medicine can be huge. Try to find Oberärztinnen.

          • KKM,

            Vielen Dank! That was a great video. I wish more would watch it. I started to spread it around…and it’s so cool to see two Venezuelan women there.

          • It’s not about “sameness”. It’s about “equal rights”. And, BTW, “Gender Equality” is a perfectly valid term. For example, it’s been used by the U.N. in the Millennium Project:

            “Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

            Target 4. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015
            Indicators
            9. Ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education (UNESCO)
            10. Ratio of literate women to men, 15-24 years old (UNESCO)
            11. Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector (ILO)
            12. Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament (IPU)”

            Source: http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/goals/gti.htm#goal3

          • KKM

            “it’s been used by the U.N.”

            1.In the world in general but especially in the third world there are important differences in the way women are treated….there are places where women cannot even take off a veil or drive a care, and then there is San Francisco where different demand funds for irrelevant feminist political projects.So the term is not always appropriate.

            2.Women are made differently than men…our brains are different…Look it up.While equal opportunity should be present, the fact that more men study “x” than women does not automatically imply a lack of opportunity.

    • In my experience, in public and private (scholarship) schools, 23 to 12 years ago, we had always the same classes, mixed classrooms, no separation of gender, except for physical educations. We the boys got soccer, basketball and heavier physical activities.
      During my university years, towards the last semesters, women were slightly more than half of the courses. Most of the grad students and professors in my lab are women.

  11. Empower women as men with their own money, such that each can be economically independent of each other, and you’ll see a radical change of culture in every aspect of society, for the better. UCT.

    • MCM is getting it. She’s about to win my heart and my vote: “anunció que su plan para el ingreso petrolero es que todo el dinero que reporte la venta del crudo vaya a un gran fondo del cual saldrán los recursos para el presupuesto ordinario y el resto irá a cuentas que tendrán cada uno de los venezolanos.”

      http://www.globovision.com/news.php?nid=210172

      This does more against sexism in Venezuela than all the anti sexism laws put together. Equal economic empowerment from oil revenues. Good for her. Good for us. Good for the poor. Good for everyone. Hooray María Corina Machado!

      Please, MCM, don’t lose the momentum and push this through like if it were the only thing that mattered. It is *the* way out, not only of chavez, but of the mess created by him and all previous mismanagements. Awesome. UCT, all the way.

  12. As a Venezuelan woman (now abroad) who is of the right age and education level to be part of the incoming class of local politicians, I think that the difference lies in the way young adult women and men are treated in society. If I were still in Venezuela, even if I were working and possibly in a position of power in the company, I would be expected to still live at home and be constantly in touch with my parents (and my father would not think it was safe for me to be out doing the ground work you need to be a candidate – I might be raped! or kidnapped! or killed!). I would move out of my parents’ house when I got married. A man, on the other hand, might still live at home if unmarried but would be much more independent of his family, and would be seen as brave and admirable for getting into local politics (with the hazards that come with that).

    Also, from personal experience, Venezuelans treat women as girls until they are married (I’ve personally had trouble getting UCV professors to even consider talking to me because I’m a late-20s “girl”, even when I have more degrees than some of them – one actually asked to talk to my mother when I called him). Boys are treated as men the moment they grow enough facial hair to need to regularly shave.

    No one wants to elect a girl to a position of power. Plus, she’s might get married and start popping out children soon, and then she’ll quit politics to take care of the kids.

  13. As usual, with most puzzling questions, the answer is a combination of multiple factors. Why are there less women in power than men? whether it be political, economic, social prominence.. I agree that to a degree, it’s because they just don’t feel like (not “up to the task). They tend to care more about life at home with their children and families, than to run for office or seek the CEO position at their jobs. That’s one of the many reasons.. Parity in education, sure, but to a lesser extent. Except that young women often get pregnant. Especially in less-developed countries. Who is going to take care of the kids and the house? A pregnant 24 y/o Venezuelan woman, often with kids, is not going to feel like running for office, or compete in business to become a millionaire leader of some firm. They are too freaking busy. Sure, the man could quit his job, stay at home, or hire a nanny.. to care for the children, while the wife goes out to compete and win la alcaldia de Chacao, against all of the other money and power hungry alpha dogs.. but it usually doesn’t happen. Our societies are not geared towards stay-at-home dads, plus they don’t produce milk in the early years.. Not many guys are raised to enjoy staying at home, cooking meals, cleaning the house, taking the kids to school, while the wife is battling for political office, or bringing the paycheck.

    Another factor would be psychological: women tend to be less aggressive, less competitive in nature. Granted, a few of them will run triathlons, or become Margaret Thatcher,, or earn millions as CEO’s, but that’s a vast minority. How many women compete in Iron Man races compared to men? It’s just not their feminine style, they are less prone to fight for prominent positions, they just don’t care to prove anything to anyone as many of us men do. Add to that the political structure hurdles in the system, and other smaller factors I’m surely forgetting (gotta get back to work and earn more money, or beat the next guy to a promotion, or my g/f will be pissed!). Add all of that up, and there’s the answer to such complex question.

    • Your analysis is in my opinion completely infiltrated with a normalized kind of sexism…this so-called theory that claims “men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” which is entirely flawed. All those “traits” you mentioned and assumed as “natural” aren’t such. There are culturally created and maintained.

    • Although I do not agree with Mr. Iglesia’s reasoning, it would be naive to believe that men and women are the same. Evolution has made men and women different, and they have – in average – different interests and capabilities. We’re what we are, and we cannot change that. Men are men. Women are women. However, that doesn’t mean that women cannot or do not want to be leaders.

      Circumstances play a big role. In countries like Russia and Rumania, a woman who doesn’t get married before she’s 25 is considered a weirdo. I think that’s the way most Venezuelans think. On the other hand, things in Germany are very different. Women are not THAT obsessed about marriage or kids and most want to have a professional career. Although they have the same concerns as any other women (finding love, having kids, etc.), they know that they can have a decent life even if they don’t find a husband. There are also women like that in Venezuela, but most of them doesn’t have it as easy as the Germans. My believe is that if you make life easier for women, they will rise to the ocassion, just like is evident in the large number of female students in our universities.

      Although circumstances and culture DO play a role, I resist to put the blame entirely on men. Yes, there’s a social bias that make difficult for women to rise to the upper echelons of business and politics, but women DO also encourage sexism in Venezuela. After all, who is raising all those girlfriend-slapping machos in our country but women, i.e. mothers and/or grandmothers? And where are the women that should be complaining about this unfair situation?

  14. Hello

    I am posting here without reading the thread, just Juan Cristobal’s piece… And I say inclusion is not something that happens just because. Maria Corina… Whatever you can think of her, she came up with Sumate! I mean, she went up there and made a place for herself!

    I agree that we can be a sexist country -in some sectors, I worked under female bosses for almost my entire professional life there- but you can lay a substantial part of the blame for that at women’s feet. As MCM’s case proves, when a Venezuelan woman has something important to say, the country stops and listens! The same can be said for other women in positions of power like Cecilia Sosa back in the day -I mean, regardless of what you think of her as a politician or a judge, can anybody remember the name of another president of the Supreme Court? She made herself relevant!

    What should women expect, fixed participation quotas? Like 50 pct of all assembly seats should be reserved for women?. A recent example on a Latin American country that shall remain nameless showed parties scrambling to get enough women to nominate for Congress. After they got elected, a large number asked for permanent leave of absence and gave their seats to their male “suplentes”! And so the political game of musical chairs went on. That’s what you can get by forcing inclusion when there’s not enough members of the “included” group willing or ready to fill those positions.

    I agree that it is easier for men to get into politics. There are more men currently in positions of power, and men find it naturally easier to talk to other men, as much as women find it naturally easier to talk to other women. I am sorry if it sounds too pedestrian, but any man who has walked in on his female friends discussing any subject over coffee has felt this!

    My point is that the “Bomberos Party”, as any other exclusive club, will have inertia on its side to keep only “the right kind” getting in. It is “the others” job -and this is not only women, but also gays, christians, atheists, ecologists, all other groups currently underrepresented- to bash the door in and make themselves heard. It then would be the Bomberos’ job -actually, their survival strategy- to listen carefully. But NOBODY gets free lunches, least of all in politics!

    I knew so many articulated, outspoken women in college and in the professional world (I still know them, and they are still articulated and outspoken, mind you) that I don’t understand why there are not a lot more of them in the public arena. These are not the kind of women you say no to, so my guess is a lot of them just don’t want to get in on it THAT BADLY.

    Juan Cristobal (lo puedo llamar ‘Juanchito’?) says “Ours is a country where beauty queens are treated simultaneously like cattle and royalty, where 23-year old girls die on rickety operating tables while searching for unattainable beauty, where women earn 80% of what men do, and where rape is used as a weapon in our undeclared civil war.”

    Cuts both ways pana. I have female friends who have got their overhauls on the operating table and nearly kill themselves on the gym, yes, who doesn’t?. But also, at least one male friend almost fried his own liver on steroids and other performance enhancing chemicals, as well as a grueling training regime, to try and achieve the kind of physique that would get him noticed out there by girls. Us gorditos also do not have it easy in appearance-obsessed Venezuela.

    So, sexist? Oh yes, but this particular example speaks more about another deeply ingrained national trait, our extreme materialism and vanity! And forget about the 23-year-olds, we are talking about 15-year-old girls getting nose jobs out there by parents unable to say no to their daughters, because we live in a culture that idolizes beauty -male and female- and the perks of wealth and disregards “secondary” traits like honesty and a sound mind.

    Or why is it that, in parts of our society, a life is only worth a pair of expensive shoes? In other parts of that same society, a hand on some extra dollars is worth turning a blind eye or even actively participating in corruption…

    Bests.

    • Nyet on participation quotas. And ‘da’ on educational/intellectual parity across the board, with frequent reminders that this is the only way to progress. Once this happens, the dumber aspects of the media (fixated on short bytes and appearance, solely to create an impact) will begin to atrophy as they begin to reflect a better prepared generation. Let the (career) choices undertaken by youth reflect their natural talents and good guidance, rather than a forced outgrowth of economic circumstances or gender blocks. And may that educational parity never drown out the voices that call for the observance of ‘valores humanos’.

      • Good on educational parity, but I went to Catholic college -the one in Las Adjuntas- and not only were there more women than men, at least on my major, but there was not the smallest bit of role disparity in the curricula or in the way professors behaved towards us! I also attended both private and public schools in the province, and can recall no time where I found myself in some class the girls weren’t on, and that includes Formacion Pre-militar. The girls were dragging their mock-up rifles though the mud besides the boys, jumping through hoops and climbing ropes, and that was before they were allowed in the military!

        So I think you have to dig REALLY deep into gender-exclusive private schools like the ones the Opus Dei operates to maybe find something like that. I think it is a bit of a non-issue, at least in formal education.

        • Actually, mixed-gender education may be part of the problem. I have three girls, and they go to an all-girl school because Katy, the real one, believes the research out there that says that all-girl schools provide a better environment, one where gender stereotypes do not become ingrained.

          There are many studies out there that have shown that in co-ed environments, the teachers will always assume that boys are better at math and science than girls, for example, and they will call them out more frequently in class.

          This is far from a settled debate, but at least in my house, single gender education is the choice.

          • Juan:

            That is your choice and you probably have valid arguments to support it so I respect it.
            Without wanting to critize, I just don’t understand is how you write a post against sexism while on the other hand you actually support a sexist school system.
            In any case, my two cents regarding schools, I believe that one of the most important roles of the schools is not the actual learning of subjects, but the socializing aspect of it. For me, it’s much more valuable for kids to learn how to interact with all sort of kids, boys, girls, colour, religion, etc, than to get called more often by the teacher.
            It’s like homeschooling: for many parents this is their choice because kids learn better on a one-one environment.

          • Part of what you call “socializing” frequently involves teaching girls that they are not as good as boys in certain aspects, and being subjected to the social pressures of trying to please the alpha male. Sorry, I’d rather shield my girls from that. It’s not sexist, but quite the opposite.

            Anyway, there’s research on this, so don’t take my word for it. Here is a useful link,

            http://www.girlslearndifferently.com/classroombias.php

          • Juan, though I take these sociological studies (or stretches) with a grain of salt, especially where teachers are concerned (has anyone ever done a study on teachers and why many need to be centre stage?), I did enjoy reading this:

            “Boys know that they are the favored sex in coeducational schools. In a 1988 study, 1200 elementary age students wrote on the subject: “Today I woke up and I was the Opposite Sex.” Boys were 95% negative about waking up as girls. Many expressed revulsion such as: “First I’d throw up. Then I’d go crazy.” “I’d stab myself in my heart with a knife.” “I’d blow myself up.” On the other hand almost half the girls wrote that becoming a boy would be a positive experience for them.”

          • Juan – your choice for all-girl school is absolutely fine by me and I respect whatever reasons you have had for it, including shielding your girls. I can’t help to wonder what would you do if you had a boy?
            Now, as for the reasons on the link you sent, when I read things like “Once girls go through puberty and look like women, the boys at their schools sexually harass them…”, I actually get offended. First of all, they are generalizing. Not all boys are like that, maybe a couple per class. In fact, girls turn into puberty way before boys, and most of the time is them harassing and teasing the boys that haven’t grown a beard yet. As the mother of two boys, I do have many, many stories to tell.
            In any case, my boys are done with school. They went to a mixed, public school for 12 years. Their groups of friends is remarkable tight, loyal and supportive of each other, and it includes a pretty even number of boys and girls that have been together since they remember. It’s amazing to me to see them interact with each other. It’s beautiful.
            In my particular case, I also went to an awesome mixed, non religious school – in Caracas 35 years ago – and I can tell that I never felt I was being treated badly or teased because of my gender. I do remember that one time, being in grade 10, a teacher, a gocho, who made the “joke” of women being of long hair and short ideas, and he got booed in the class by almost everybody, boys and girls. Needless to say, he didn’t last long. The only consequence of this isolated incident on my psyche was to show the world it was not true, and it has paid off.
            Anyway, I’m almost done at raising kids and I’m quite proud of the results.

          • I understand Katy and Juan’s decision. And I respect it.

            As someone exposed to private school education — co-educational up to puberty and single sex through my teens — I can say that my co-ed experience was richer and more dynamic, both in the classroom and on the playground. Sure, girls and boys tended to congregate among their own kind, outside the classroom. But not always, and certainly not where ad hoc sports were involved, including ‘marbles’.

            I never encountered any favouritism whatsoever towards the boys by the teachers. Except in one case, as seen through my eyes, many decades ago. We had to put on a puppet show, and while both girls and boys had to make their own puppets, girls were directed to sew the clothes for those puppets, while the boys were directed to build the puppet theatre. That ticked me off, since I was fascinated by the use of drills, and I had little interest in the art involving needle and thread.

            Once I began my single-sex education (yeah, the studies indicate whatever at puberty – I don’t know if I buy it), I very much missed the presence of boys in class. Particularly one boy who had become my good friend and mentor in one course, and who then died on the school football field from a heart ailment. I’ll never forget him. And I can’t say that about any one girl I subsequently studied with.

          • Also with respect, but I have my doubts about educating kids in an environment that is artificially different from the one where they are going to spend the rest of their lives. Removing half the equation from the sample demographics that is a school environment… I don’t know, I just think it might leave them unprepared for dealing with real life afterward.

          • I always preferred mixed schools for my children, however:

            According to political correctness, recognizing differences between sexes in education, is a function sexism.But in reality differences do not equate to inferiority or superiority, so even if differences are acknowledged, there is not any sexism inferred necessarily.

            Some people think( and they just might be correct, I don’t know) that when girls study only with other girls , they will be able to express themselves more freely in an all-female environment as opposed to the status quo.

            This is a choice that does not necessarily imply a sexist attitude, but rather a protective one.

  15. Me parece que esta nota de Juan da en el clavo. La oposición tiene mucho que hacer todavía en cuanto a la igualdad de género. Desde una experiencia en el terreno que vengo desarrollando en Venezuela en el área de la salud, puedo decir que la sociedad civil supera de lejos a la clase política en cuanto a participación y liderazgo femenino. He visto a verdaderas líderes comprometidas con el cambio social que trabajan en todos los rincones de Venezuela, con un nivel de discurso, de capacidad de análisis y de vocación de servicio que se comen a cualquier político profesional. Esas mujeres necesitan más visibilidad, más representatividad y más protagonismo en la vida nacional. Ellas son actores de un cambio importante que se está generando en la sociedad, cambio que a veces pasa desapercibido por el ruido de la diatriba y la polarización que domina la agenda pública en Venezuela.

  16. Good past Juan, one thing though: I would have titled it “Our sexist politics”, I don’t even concede that Chavismo is even superficially that much better than the opposition (they are at most infinitesimally better, if I may say), when the issue is posed in this way, what we risk is creating a situation where oppo folks start giving only a token, symbolic role to women which only makes matters worst.

    In any case, as with all questions and issues in life, we must always seek wisdom in the most lucid of bipolar rodents

    http://www.elchiguirebipolar.net/06-11-2011/venezuela-logra-1er-lugar-en-otro-concurso-que-premia-genetica-de-mujeres/

    “Recuerdo cuando Japón ganó el Miss Universo en 2007. La prensa rosa anunció la noticia en un cuadrito chiquitico de una esquina del periódico; no salió ni en noticieros ni nada. Es que en esos países no saben de victorias ni trabajo, ingratos.”

    • That’s a great quote, as usual.

      As for chavismo, I’m pretty sure they’re wildly sexist, but at least they try to hold appearances up. In fact, the problem with chavismo is that they give *too much* power to women, with the caveat that those particular women are all batshit insane.

  17. First off, the most important quality a politician can have to be successful is the ability to tell outrageous lies to people’s faces without showing any trace of guilt. Saying that women are less likely to want to become politicians than men is a complement to women, not an insult.

    And second, are you going to complain too that there are far less women serial killers than men too? Or that women are far less likely to beat up their spouses than men? Would it be a measure of “equality” if women were as likely as men to commit violent acts as men are?

    Politicians aren’t a “good thing”. In the best case scenario, they’re a necessary evil. They do things that everyone else is too honest, too busy, too smart, or too qualified to do. Complaining that there aren’t enough women who become politicians is like complaining that there aren’t enough men who become prostitutes.

    • I am sorry, but politics is not a necessary evil, politics -meaning the ability to negotiate and agree between large groups of individuals- is most likely the main cause that our particular species of hairless, slow, weakish pack monkey became the dominant species on the planet.

      We are just too many -I am thinking of Ciudad de México, with approximately 18 million inhabitants- to hear everybody equally AND reach any meaningful decision on a defined amount of time. Anybody remembers their last junta de condominio? That is why representation is the only possible way to run a country…

      And PLEASE before I get hit by the angry wave of new-age “democracia participativa” and Twittocracy advocates, I would also heap large chunks of accountability. I think, at first, all assembly members (local and national) should be elected by name and constituency. Their voting records should be made publicly available, and their positions should be also subjected to referendos revocatorios. So if you promise to take the Urbanización Barici de Barquisimeto case to the local assembly, and you fail to do so, you just might get fired before time!

      The same for alcaldes, gobernadores, ALL elected officials.

      That is when participative democracy kicks in, in permanent harassing and monitoring of public officials to make sure they do what we hired them to do. And meeting with them, and telling them what to do, and writing to them… No work? NO VOTE FOR YOU! The “vote Nazi” would say…

      • Agree with all, specially on the politic thing. Politics is actually good. I would disagree strongly though on the referendos revocatorios, they are a joke, a waste of money (as it is difficult to implement), and nothing gets done.
        What we should have is some law or mechanisms where acts of congress could be dissolved, or simply amended. That way we would be looking forward always and not backwards. “Chivo que se devuelve se desnuca”

  18. Well, let’s hope women keep getting better educated worldwide, with equal chances at every political or economic role in society; Let’s hope they get wealthier, more ambitious, aggressive and competitive. I hope they surpass men, and hold most important positions everywhere! Heck, at this point I wouldn’t mind at ALL spending lots of time time at home looking after growing kids, leisurely cooking some wild dishes, embellishing the garden, while the wife is trying to become president or CEO, making lots of doe for all. Be my guests!

  19. http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2011
    the world economic forum The Global Gender Gap Report 2011 is out
    includes political index
    interesting to compare Venezuela with other countries.
    Apparently Pakistan gives women more political empowerment than does Venezuela (who would believe that!)
    I really do think that MCM is being persecuted viciously and publicly as part of an electoral strategy to bait and polarize the opposition by heaping abuse on the only female in the list.

  20. “I really do think that MCM is being persecuted viciously and publicly as part of an electoral strategy to bait and polarize the opposition by heaping abuse on the only female in the list.”
    Yes, seems the “chavista wolves” chose to attack her very early on. Example- Dia de la Independencia-remember that -and how little the press and the country paid much attention
    to that also…

  21. Hmm, Juan, long time without coming here and you tempt me with a feminist post….

    You know what I think? It is not the *opposition* that is sexist, it is the upper class Caracas that is essentially, a “good ol’boys club”. The politicians probably studied in the same male-only schools and then went to private universities where the same ol’boys club mentality is kept.

    How many of them would marry (or married) strong professional women that have a name and strong career on their own? I wouldn’t be surprised that the answer is “very few”, despite the fact that Venezuelan women are mostly career women.

    Men are not sexist per-se, it is just that they were raised with that good ol’boys mentality. I am sure that they did not even realize there were no women in their team…

    • Reminds me of my time at the University. I worked and studied much and did not have a lot of free time for parties. Found myself most interested in ladies who were good students, and “downto earth”. Met my future wife, who is a hard-worker, very honest Venezuelana. We were not “upper class” and members of any club. We have been married forever now and remain in contact with a few like-minded friends from the
      University. None of our friends, nor ourselves have had any problem with sexist , femininst or macho behavior. Ihave family members that are all of these bad things
      and some are not. Most educated people seem to leave these bad behaviors behind
      or never develop them.
      This election cycle the opposition highlights the difference -whereas all of the opposition candidates present themselves as not having these type of problems- we all know
      Chavez and many of his associates have a long history of saying and doing horrible,
      abusive behaviors.

    • Hehe…I think Bruni is very right here.

      In any case, as I said earlier, I think Primero Justicia does have a problem: it has remained too much the UCAB group of alumni from law and then economics from Greater Caracas.
      That’s one of the reasons why Ocariz is refreshing (but not enough)

      • You guys are ascribing waaaay too much influence to schools and universities. Boys-only schools as determinants of sexist behavior? In case you haven’t heard, probably 0.00001% of the Venezuelan population goes to those, including yours truly, and I for one married a strong professional woman who keeps me on my toes. As for University, well, I don’t see how that makes you more sexist. If anything, being exposed to tough, smart women and competing with them would make you open your mind.

        As my wife frequently says, ” Schools aren’t that important.” And she’s an educational psychologist who does empirical research for a living, so go figure.

        This isn’t a Primero Justicia or Voluntad Popular-only problem, this is a general problem with the opposition. El machismo se aprende en casa.

  22. I agree with your general point, Juan. But, alas, women can prove just as incompetent as men in running the country. Caracas has had a small number of female majors -and now a pseudo governess-; apart from Irene Saez (and I take that with a HUGE grain of salt), who do you recall being better than their male competitors?

    In any case: is this an proto-endorsement for, say, Maria Corina Machado… Or for Miriam Do Nascimento or Diana D’Agostino or Delsa Solorzano at El Hatillo?

    Moreover, a for inclusion, do you figure a special quota (which is in place for deliberative bodies)? Where would it end? Women, african-venezuelans, LGBT, indigenous peoples, etc.?

    Inclusion is both a matter of human agency (we decree it) and history (it just happen). You ca also say it’s a matter of policy (don’t decree it, promote it: empower women by giving them more access to jobs, financial independence, contraception, etc.). What’s better from your point of view?

    Remember: if you have more kids, you are more likely to be poor and politically and economically disenfranchised. Who bears that burden in Venezuela? Most poor families are mother-centric, but hardly matriarchies.

    • No, no endorsements, or quotas. But sheesh, twenty six candidates for mayor and you couldn’t find a *single* woman? How is that *not* sexist?

      • I don’t think it is necessarily sexist. If no woman is being actively dissuaded, and I don’t think anyone is, it cannot be concluded as sexist.

        • Well, you have to admit that it is odd that there’s no woman there. It would be probably more obvious if the opposite were true: 26 candidates are women and NO male candidate?
          Probably you can say that it’s just an statistical oddity or whatnot, but given the circumstances in our country, that’s probably not the right answer. 50% of the population are women, so there should be something closer to that in our political landscape. It’s not a pro baseball or soccer team, is it? So, where are the ladies?

          • Actually, women are more than 50%, specially at that age. I will run my little program to get the proportion per municipio on the CNE data.

          • A. Barreda:

            I’m not sure what you mean by “odd” that there are no women there. For example, is it “odd” that most people who play chess well have more dextrous thumbs than the average human being? I agree it is “odd” in the “I would not have guessed” category, but you simply don’t have the data to determine if it’s statistically odd. As it turns out, higher IQ is correlated to higher thumb dexterity. Does that mean that chess is discriminatory against those who are non thumb-dextrous? No. The only way to conclude if there is discrimination is if you have evidence of discrimination. This brings us right back to electoral fraud accusations: statistics, or an “odd” number, only points to where one should look for evidence; it doesn’t offer evidence itself.

            Going to the case at hand, when you go to a party and start a discussion of politics, do the women stick around or decide to leave the area? Are they doing it out of lack of interest or because the group is dissuading them away? By the way, I’ve gotten 26 head in a row when flipping coins, and later 24 tails in a row within the hour. It’s really not so “odd” in probabilities, let alone population statistics. It’s for this very reason that sometimes a sample taken randomly turns out not to behave randomly, so it has to be taken again; perhaps it was fraud, but perhaps it was just a non random sample taken randomly. Statistics can merely test and point, not provide proof.

          • Kepler, there can be many reasons. There seems to be room for research. The group dynamics around me dissuades all men and women from entering politics for security reasons. Is that of greater concern for women than men? I’m also aware of dissuasion based on having to sacrifice too much time from family, or having to spend too much time double guessing people’s intentions. Again, a greater concern for one gender over another? Assuming there are level differences by gender in those dissuasions, correlation does not necessarily imply causation: it’s not necessarily sexism.

          • I believe you’re splitting hairs here. I’m not saying that sexism is the explanation, but I am no buying either the explanation that it is just a fluke. I think it’s worth a thought and we should take a look at this avoiding simplistic explanations.
            Let me be clear: I am not endorsing a quotas for females or whatnot, but I think we should be take a look at what’s going on here. It’s sexism as Mr. Nagel points out? Or is it just a matter of sample size as you imply? I cannot tell.
            However, like I said, if I were to see a political party, and ALL its candidates were female, I would find that very odd and I’d probably ask myself what’s going on there, don’t you?

          • A. Barreda, I wasn’t splitting hairs, I was stating what you just did. We cannot claim one way or another without looking into it. Clearly, to you, the 26 is more “odd” than it is to me, though we agree in not concluding anything until we find evidence. Investigate, and I’m open to a conclusion either way, just not a priori.

        • “If no woman is being actively dissuaded, and I don’t think anyone is, “

          Perhaps ET, you are unaware of group dynamics. It happens, when one or more in a group lay down unwritten rules for others to follow. Could be the all-boys cluib. Or the “only pretty girls need apply”. You’d have to be in that group to really know whether there is any dissuasion or not.

          • Syd,

            Perhaps, Syd, I am unaware of group dynamics, but it just so happens that I’m not unawre. It could be the all-boys club, or it could not. It could be the “only pretty girls need apply”, or it could not.

            “You’d have to be in that group to really know whether there is any dissuasion or not.” And even then… But I like that you end your statement, “or not”, because that is my point exactly: one needs evidence; “odd” numbers are not.

        • Now: why aren’t there women who come up and raise their hands and say: I want to do it?
          Why are there more of them in Germany or the Netherlands? (and sure, they are also a minority there)
          Extorres, you don’t want to see the environment, only focus on the own initiative. Neither factor can be overlooked.

          ps. and ot: why are you EX Torrres?

          • “There are no female candidates because no women have expressed a desire to participate” = “People are poor because they want to be poor” = “Black people are too lazy to get into good colleges”

            All three statements are equivalent in my book.

          • Kepler,

            there can be many reasons to anwer you questions, social dynamics being what they are, but concluding that I “don’t want to see the environment, and only focus on the own initiative”, from my simply stating that I don’t see evidence of discrimination and that I don’t find the 26 such an “odd” number, is not the way to get me analyzing them.

            I chose extorres when wordpress forced me to change names after they gave mine to someone else, so I chose a short version of “The Commentator Formerly Known as torres”.

          • I want to do it! (there you go Kep).
            But I won’t, simply because I don’t have the necessary temper to suck up stupidity.

      • Por eeeeeeeso Juan …

        There is a difference between “you couldn’t find” and “None came forward” … I mean, I know that if I was doing politics in Venezuela, I would go to a bunch of female friends and acquaintances to ask them to work with me … But I also know a great deal of them would offer to work behind the curtains. They would be political operators, but would NOT want to deal directly with the hassle of public office themselves… I can almost “forequote” one of them saying “Nooooo mijo, a mí no me vas a joder así, yo todo lo que tu quieras pero a mi no me pongas ahí”… And they would work tirelessly creating taskforces, negotiating, breaking ground and generally being the power brokers behind whoever I finally found to run for office.

        And there is another part of the equation… A lot of Venezuelan women are passionate about their work, but they prefer to leave the hassles -the big meetings, the Tedeums en la catedral, the Reuniones Protocolares- to others. “Nooo pana, osea, qué ladilla!”

  23. So sorry I missed this thread, very interesting. Only surprised how everyone seems horrified of quotas or the like. I don’t think right now they would work to increase participation on politics in Venezuela. But setting up a goal of how much do you want to increase the participation of certain group is part of the process of getting there. Affirmative action can be useful to mobilize resources and set up strategies to get there. If the odds are stacked against one group then it makes sense to set up some external pressure to influence change, and actions without clear objectives rarely achieve the desired results.
    The reason I don’t think they would work in Venezuela RIGHT NOW is because there is not enough awareness of the problem and not enough clarity of the very complex interactions that cause our dysfunctional society to behave the way it does.

  24. Here’s a thought. Yes, quotas or affirmative action programs have shown themselves to be necessary in certain societies, where change needs to be acted upon, sooner rather than later, against very entrenched opposition to certain liberal ideas.

    I don’t think opposition to wome’s greater participation, in Venezuelan politics, is that entrenched. I see sexism in Venezuela as a matter that needs a little educational boost. Personally, I think Venezuelan males are far more receptive to new ideas, even those which may upset their apple cart, than say, Bubba in the deep south of the USA.

    I’d suggest a series of public service announcements, throughout the nation, to call upon women to join their community ‘asambleas’, to speak out on the problems that they think need to be changed — for the betterment of their community, to learn more about their local government, and to participate. The PSA could point out that women are a vital component of society, but that too few of their voices are heard where it counts, especially in all levels of government. The PSA could indicate that female voices are necessary to reflect a balanced society. Have your voice counted! (etc.)

    So that’s where I’d start: educating women (and men) not to fear participation at the grass-roots level.

    • Cont’d.. Once you’ve educated women to consider participating at the grass-roots level (and thereby educated men to accept this), and you’ve made references to women’s vacancy in government at higher levels, I believe that the current gender imbalances holes will begin to level.

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