Dear men, I know that today is Women's Day. The poor mimosa trees are hacked down and their bright yellow velvet beaded sprigs are given to women. However, these soon fade, turn brown, and die like the women in considerable parts of the world who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, and caged in the name of religion, love and the culture that denies them freedom.
We Western women, of different cultures, of different faiths, cannot but admire these lionesses who seek to free themselves from Sharia, and break the cage in which they were born and held by weak men who are afraid of free women. These men know of their strength, their value, their imagination, their self-determination, and their courage.
The weakness of men triggers the violence, the rape, the murder of those who leave you. Not love.
Whatever pain befalls you or when you feel lost without the woman-mother-sister to kiss your wound, your aches and pains, you cannot bear the suffering; you cannot bear to be abandoned. At these times, you feel orphaned and incapable of self-management, of enduring loneliness, or any loss for that matter, including losing your job, of that social position, your frustrated ambition; any defeat disheartens you, as if you have remained a little child. Is it not time to grow up and endure the hardships of life? Will you miss your mother eternally? Even when a man is enlightened, important men too, they find it hard to stomach their woman's success when she surpasses them. After all, they always want to have the reins in their hands. Intelligent women, of whom men in general are somewhat afraid, are happy when their partner achieves what they want, but unfortunately, the opposite is not the case. You barely put up with educated women, while being aware of their possibilities, as if they had no right to fulfil themselves.
A secular culture, like ours, which has always privileged them above women, has harmed them too and this is to their detriment. By this, I do not mean that career-seeking women are better than men are; on the contrary, sometimes they behave worse than men, to show that they can even be superior to them.
I would say that any violence towards a woman is nothing but a man’s fragility. Even to raise a hand is a defeat.
In the countries where they are veiled, women have finally opened their eyes and, fortunately, there is no shortage of men who fight alongside them and pay with their lives as they do so. We hope with all our hearts that the awakening that has just begun continues, that it does not stop, does not cost too much blood. Eventually the iron-willed dictators and their punitive faith will give way. We can only hope. The chains that imprison freedom, and beauty, or a diktat that has been written, decided upon, and imposed by men only for their own benefit, cannot exist in the name of any faith.
Women are writing a new page in history with blood, which is sustained by our pain, solidarity and closeness; even though, we know that unfortunately there are very few of them and that we are reduced to impotence.
After half a century of lessons and struggle from women, our men are changing their children's nappies and walking around carrying them on their shoulders, and have they ceded space and power to the many women of valor. Women have emancipated themselves through work, they have left home, and they are no longer the angel of the hearth. In addition, even if this new relationship is not every man's dream, it is now a reality. However, not for this reason can one leave a man with a light heart. Femicide abounds because of men's weakness, because we do not walk hand in hand, because we do not grow together, with mutual respect, love, acceptance, and awareness. A man is always a few steps behind and if he could stop a woman, he would stop her. There is still a long way to go.
Only I, a survivor of the Shoah, can recount men’s extreme weakness, those who paid the highest price for their culture in the concentration camps, where they died in numbers at least twice as high as women did. The intellectuals, the orthodox, and the formerly wealthy were particularly targeted; yet they too were incapable of protecting themselves during roll call. So weak were they, they could not kill a louse, hide the chilblains on their feet, or cover a wound or a boil. They struggled even to wash themselves when it was possible, to stand upright at roll call, to protect themselves with anything from the cold, to endure the pain, the hunger and abandonment to themselves, and the physical and moral suffering, the insults.
They were incapable of dreaming, of imagining, of thinking that one day, perhaps, they would be free. On the contrary, the women in Auschwitz, during roll call, in order to deceive the murderous eyes of the notorious Dr. Mengele, procured, for a shadow of a piece of bread, a small piece of red paper to dye their cheeks. When mixed water with a little powder they used this as foundation to cover the pallor of their pale faces, to hide their blotched complexions. They protected their bare feet with grass in their clogs, and miraculously cured themselves with practically nothing.
Oh what pain, what painful heartbreak to find these men, by chance, in Dachau, near our camp, lying on the ground, almost motionless, unable, due to extreme weakness, to grasp a potato I had stolen and thrown over the electric barbed wire that divided us. I could see an arm reach out but he was unable able to grasp it.
There, in Bergen Belsen, after the death march, we found ourselves in a men's camp. There, too, everyone was on the ground, either naked, dead or lying there in agony. With the promise of double soup, we were told to clean up the camp as if what lay before us was rubbish, and to drag these men to the death tent, where there was a pyramid of corpses.
The women who bring life into the world and defend it as if they had to repopulate the world, after a million burnt children, after that hell on earth in “civilized” Europe.
Let us celebrate this March 8 by walking, women and men together, hand in hand, and reach out to them, to guide them towards peace with themselves and with us women, which neither they nor the world can do without.
By EDITH BRUCK