Neither a slave nor a lady

The leader of the main opposing party and the most likely next Prime Minister of Greece has brought back into discussion the outdated concept of “housewife”, leaving no room for misinterpretation of his views on gender equality.

Dialekti Angeli
Dialekti Angeli NewsMavens, Greece
Neither a slave nor a lady - NewsMavens
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

There is a Greek phrase: “A good housewife is both a slave and a lady”, meaning that a woman’s place  in the marriage is to stay at home, raise her children and take care of their needs and that of her husband, of course.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the leader of New Democracy, obviously feels comfortable describing household chores as "working conditions" for women. In a deeply conservative society that has not yet been able to secure equal opportunities and respect, it is unlikely that he will face backlash for his statement.

Tabooed but powerful prejudices, entrenched in established patriarchal hierarchies allow Kyriakos Mitsotakis to tell women that they are not well suited for either work or politics. Their "natural" environment is their home, where they can also keep up their professional activities, as well as be protected from the unpleasant surprises that their exposure to the political public space might imply.

During his televised interview, (at 2:46 above) Kyriakos Mitsotakis says, “In the new world that is coming, people will work differently than how they were working before. Yes, giving a woman the ability to work from her home is not bad. It can go against the traditional eight hours per day for five days per week, but it's good."

The pre-election announcements of the president of New Democracy were -- rightly --  interpreted as yet another indication of the hard neo-liberal views of labor relations that his party is adopting. But, the gender dimension of his claims was barely mentioned.

It is obvious that sexism has long been a policy tool and any feminist objections are usually seen as yet another obsession with political correctness.

Details from the story:

  • Needless to say that for many categories of working women, Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s "new world" is already here -- unemployment, atypical or precarious forms of work, degrading wages, labor violations and arbitrary employers' practices.
  • In another interview, some days later, Kyriakos Mitsotakis claimed that “I know that household chores are made by the housewife".
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