Lida van den Broek: ‘Keep fighting for equality’

Five questions for Lida van den Broek, one of the founding mothers of Mama Cash, the first international women’s fund in the world. On 8 March (International Women’s Day), she’s organising the Mama Cash Feminist Festival in Groningen.
By Mella Fuchs / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Do feminists hate men?

‘People said so during the early days of the second wave, because feminists were criticising men. Calling them man-haters was a way to avoid taking them seriously. Men aren’t inherently bad, but some of them still have a lot to learn. And so much has already changed, thank God. The only housework my father ever did was vacuum. And any man seen pushing a pram would have been considered a pussy. But these days all of those things are normal.’

So you feel positive about what’s been achieved so far?

‘We have achieved quite a lot of course, but there’s still a long way to go. So our second motto is: One hundred years of suffrage is nice, but we want more. Look at the wage gap, or the number of women in government, the Lower House, or city councils. Rutte says: “We certainly looked for women, but in the end we selected the best people.” This feeds into the idea that men are more suited to leadership positions because they’re supposedly less vulnerable and empathetic.’

That isn’t true?

‘Certainly not. Research has shown that having both men and women in the workplace works best. Moreover, the so-called male and female characteristics are usually learned behaviour anyway. When my son was in high school, he had a huge crush on a girl, which she reciprocated, but he was afraid to ask her to an upcoming dance. My son said, “Why should I ask her? Why can’t she ask me?!” And that’s exactly the issue: the boys are the ones who are taught to ask. And that’s why, during job interviews, men are the ones who ask about company cars and pay cheques, and women don’t. Women weren’t taught to ask. That has to change.

What can students do?

‘Keep fighting for equality. Stay aware of (any form of) discrimination and decide to not be a part of it. Don’t tear down others to make yourself feel better.’

What’s the festival about?

‘Using the motto “If I can’t dance, I’m not part of your revolution”, by feminist Emma Goldman, we’re starting off with a rave at 7 in the morning. Then we’ll have a hearty breakfast. Next, we’ll go and admire fifty important northern feminists at the opening of the Groningen Women’s Gallery at the UB. You can attend lectures (about travelling through Mongolia on horseback, for example), music performances, a talk show, a panel discussion, or a spoken word session for free. There are also workshops, and a tour through the city about the women who influenced Groningen history. We will close the festival out with a theatre show.’



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