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Last Updated: 04/20/2004
Only Men Have Last Names
Manuela Dviri

Only Men Have Last Names

Last month we celebrated the International Women s Day. There is no need for celebrating an International Men s Day, since men are getting along pretty well even without one. You only need to open the newspaper and see them again and again, the men: eminent, influential, the decision makers. Wearing their 3 piece (deep) blue suits, holding a (gold) pen in their hand. Usually photographed from a close up, you will see them shaking hands or signing some papers with a serious expression of self-importance on their face. They are the patriarchs: strong, confident, smart men, who will usually decide for us on wars, sometimes on peace, and mobilize the world s economy. They will shape paths in medicine, research and commerce, generally determining the future, but sometimes also reshaping the past. To conclude, their better judgment determines how we will live, and above all, if we will live, always having all the Condoleezza s of the world around them, serving them tea, handing them files for signature, long legged, pretty, colored.

Who are they, these men?

They are heads of states and presidents, kings and prime ministers, terrorists and dictators, heads of International organizations, diplomats and multi-milliard corporations. All are men. Some of them are good, some bad, some clever and some stupid, decent men and thieves, but all of them, together, run our world with the courteous help of hard working ambitious women, who motivate and mobilize them, the men, forward.


Oopss, my mistake. You are perfectly right, my young dear male editor. There are some women heads of states, even a queen or two. But does it matter? I will not let you confuse me with facts. Look at the mirror: you, my friend, are a man as well, and so are your boss, and your bosses boss.


So, where do all the women hide? Looking for them, you will find them in the field. Many of them, the warriors, are struggling against wars, slavery, children s labor, sexual abuse, poverty and inequality. In Israel you will find them in movements like Women In Black, Bat shalom, Machsom-Watch, Four Mothers, New Profile, the right wing Women in Green and the social justice lionesses. And may all those I cannot bring to mind right now forgive me. Together they produce a tremendous energy that could have sprout new leadership, formulate new policies, and mobilize women up to government. But none of this is happening. Nothing ever changes. Men keep on ruling, here and there appointing a woman minister (usually for the humane offices environment or education. Wealth fare office could have very well suite them too, if it was not such an affluent office, which leaves it to be a matter for men), while women continue doing the daily, undisclosed, Sisyphean, on-the-field work, without any real prospect for formulating and influencing policies.


No, the glass ceiling over our heads has not been broken.


Why? Why have we, women, not arrived at the peaks of government, why have we not reached the decision makers levels, not in Israel, neither all around the world? Why have we not had a women s party in Israel? And when we had one, why didn t we vote for it? I have no real good answer. We must not desire it enough. It is either that or it is that we are complete fools, convinced, by men, that we are a minority. Probably a bit deprived one, but even so, they (men) are on our side. Yet, the truth must be stated we are the utter majority, and doubtless better educated, stronger and the ones who live longer.


Just a while ago I attended a women s conference. Knowledgeable women addressed speeches, women parliament members argued, a man or two said some fine words. Finally, came the eminent moment: the thank you comments. Ms B.Y, an intelligent, smart and ambitious woman, went up on the stage: and we would like also to thank Avi Levi for helping with transportation, and Yossi Cohen for the lighting [both men], and Anat, Shoshana and Michal [all last three are women s first names] for organizing such a wonderful and lovely evening . I watched Anat, Shoshana and Michal s faces fall down. Do only men have last names?

Manuela Dviri is a feminist columnist and playwright, a peace and social change activist, working both in Israel and Italy. She is known as a leading voice in the "4 Mothers" movement in Israel , which influenced public opinion in Israel and launched the successful campaign for the withdrawal of the Israeli Defense Forces from Lebanon. Manuela Dviri, copyright 2004.