Containment, a different experience for women and for men

The confinement imposed against COVID-19 has changed the habits of millions of human beings at least temporarily, but differently for women and men, who do not experience this period of withdrawal at home in the same way.

“Confinement has a different meaning for a man than for women, who have been confined for centuries,” said Franco-Colombian feminist Florence Thomas in an interview with AFP.

And this closed session of several weeks or months has been “dramatic” for many women, in particular generating more violence, added this professor of social psychology and former director of the faculty of psychology at the National University in Bogota.

In Colombia, the hotline to report cases of domestic violence has received 175% more calls since the start of confinement on March 25, “almost three times more than the 1595” cases reported over the same period in 2019 , according to the vice-president.

A pioneer of feminism in Colombia, where she has lived since 1967, founded the Women and Society Group in 1985 to defend the cause of women, and had two sons, Florence Thomas adds that “for men, it must be very hard too, because that it is new ”.

But this “symbolic daughter” of Simone de Beauvoir and “signet” of the Legion of Honor sees in it “positive effects”, in particular the fact that they have become “aware” of the importance of unpaid domestic work.

Main extracts from this interview

What is the impact of confinement for women?

It has changed the lives of women and men a lot, but (…) confinement has a different meaning for a man than for women who have been confined for centuries.

Right when we start going out, conquering the street, the bars, the night, etc. we are told “No, come back!” “

Obviously it was absolutely necessary to confine ourselves (because of the pandemic, note). But it’s a distinct feeling for us to be sent back to the domestic sphere inside.

In addition, 77-year-old women (…) like me are a little less used to technology (…) You can not imagine how I suffer! I give lessons to medical students (…) It’s a pain to speak by these means, on a screen. Let’s hope it’s not tomorrow’s world!

Is it more difficult for them than for men?

For men, it must be very hard also because it is new. Men have their whole life “owned” outside. They are the ones who talk, that we listen to, who are on the street, unlike women.

Of course, there have been unconfined women. But how much? The Heloise of Abelard and even the Mary Magdalene of the Gospel. There have been disobedient women like (…) Simone de Beauvoir, who is par excellence the woman outside: she wrote in bars.

And when today, we start to have a voice, with #MeToo among others, when we are listened to more, we are told again: “Shut up and stay quietly in it”!

Maybe not all women feel it like I do. But I’m of a generation that fought to be on the street, that fought for a voice, that fought to be able to go out to party without necessarily being accompanied by a man.

Does containment have any other negative effects?

For women, having much less access to absolutely essential health-related things like abortion has been dramatic.

But perhaps before abortion, violence: domestic violence has tripled. There have been no political, educational measures to explain to women that they retain the same rights in terms of sexuality, unwanted pregnancies.

But can society also expect positive effects?

There will surely be positive things when we see for example that men had to understand what “care economy” means: the fact of devoting unpaid hours to cleaning the world, to the well-being of the world, to the care of others.

Women have spent their time cleaning the world (…) for centuries! And I believe that men have become a little aware of it. Including my son Nicolas, who on the third day of confinement called me and asked, “Mom, how do you clean a toilet? “

Yes, I think there are positive things!

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