I am invisible to the world

Invisible women

I've been angry for over a year now. Or rather: even angrier than before when it comes to the systemic disadvantage of women. More than a year ago I read “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado-Perez and I could hardly fall asleep in the evenings because of indignation and anger. I really thought we were on. I thought we were more equal - at least in modern, western states. But we are not. And that is not a feminist dramatization of a perceived situation. There is nothing in this book but facts. Proven, proven, sad truth. Actually, out of this anger, I wanted to write my review and hit everyone with this book until he or she reads it. I was ready for an outcry. And then the pandemic came and I was concerned that this book and my outrage would be swallowed up by it. Because suddenly completely different topics were relevant and an author who denounced discrimination through a lack of data on women would be pushed to the wall by Corona. I wanted to wait until the important points in this book became meaningful again. Lo and behold: it is you! In fact, they were all the time! The pandemic in particular has revealed that in the world of data, rules and standards the measure is still cis-masculine. But one after anonther. Criado-Perez, journalist and feminist activist, shows in "Invisible Women", sorted according to topics such as medicine, workplace, design etc., how the non-existence or non-application of data not only makes life more difficult for women all over the world and leads to injustice at all levels - financially, healthily, every day - but even puts women in mortal danger. Whether it is about work clothes, town planning, traffic, product design, medication and much more - data about women is either not collected at all or is only insufficiently collected. And if they are available, they tend to fall under the table. Did you know, for example, that drug studies often only include data on women whose bodies are at a stage in their hormonal cycle where they are most similar to men? Including women in studies at different points in their cycle would be more time-consuming and expensive and - as it is annoying - would possibly lead to more complicated results. You might then have to set the dosage of a drug differently for women and men (not to mention trans and non-binary people) or adjust the drugs - where would we go ?! (Sorry for my sarcasm, but my bile is coming up again). In other words: medicine is predominantly geared towards cis men - and that applies not only to medication but also to guide values. That women's bodies react differently? According to the data in this book, it is a proven fact that a wrong dosage or a wrong classification of symptoms may not help women at all but, on the contrary, may even harm them. And does the topic not sound familiar to us? We are in a pandemic. And it's great that there are already vaccines (THANK YOU, science!) That I can't wait for one of them to finally make it into my arm! (Honestly now, bring it on!) However, there are indications that women and men react differently to the virus and to the vaccines. The longer-term course of the disease may also be different. And now I'm curious to see whether studies will actually follow that are carried out on an equal footing in order to derive gender-specific therapies from them. Or whether the standard remains male, as pointed out by Criado-Perez - and whether women with certain vaccinations, drugs or therapies are simply left out instead of being adjusted. One (s) will see. Another hot topic right now: so-called care work. These are all the many hours that women put into the free care of children or family members in need of care, from actual personal hygiene to “taxi rides”, errands, social contact and and and. For this care work there is - if at all - only a very reduced payment (e.g. parental allowance) or social benefits. For financial equality between the sexes or even for secure old-age provision, this is a catastrophe - not to mention the difficulties of gaining a foothold in the world of work after years of leaving work because of raising children or looking after the elderly. Here, too, Corona is juicy evidence of Criado-Perez ‘claims: We already know that women are the disadvantaged in this pandemic. They are more at risk because they are overly represented in the care professions, retail trade and teaching and are therefore on the front line of contagion. Where they usually earn even less. It is the women who mainly manage the balancing act between home office and home schooling at home or even give up their job entirely - because the men usually earn more and work full-time. And now let's wait and see whether data is consistently collected here that also and especially examines the burden of women during the pandemic - and whether this will really result in consequences such as better pay, different care models or even actual wages and social security for care work. Whether it is applause and self-care advice for burned-out mothers, or whether the data is actually collected and used fairly. I could stick with my angry snort. I could also continue to tell from the book about the lack of public toilets, which are only an annoying inconvenience in this country, but increase the risk of rape for women in other countries. From bus stops that ignore the security situation of women when it comes to placement and lighting. Regulations that ignore breastfeeding mothers at work and endanger their jobs. From city planners who turn the journeys to and from work into time-consuming mazes and long detours for men and women who have to pass school, a pharmacy or the supermarket on the way. From studies on occupational safety and occupational diseases, where women-specific problems and health consequences are given too little attention, e.g. in the hairdressing profession due to exposure to chemicals. I could preach around here. But you can also just buy the book and read it yourself. And how much I wish that men would do the same! After all, it's not about “us against them”. It's about equal treatment for everyone! There is little to criticize about the book itself. I have followed how Criado-Perez was accused of being very binary and disregarding all other gender variants. And the critics are right: trans people, intersex people, non-binary people are not discussed in the book. And the gender data gap applies even more to these groups. Virtually no data is collected about them. Perhaps the author will respond to this criticism in a new edition? I think that's good. Then there is the criticism that Criado-Perez attaches equality for women primarily to their contribution to GDP. That it is about equality in the capitalist sense of achievement, and not about success that is tied to other factors. Yes, there is some truth to it. But Criado-Perez also shows many other topics. And I think we would really be further if it remained for everyone, regardless of gender, to make their own decision (and not a decision based on unfair circumstances) what, when, how much and whether to work at all - with the same consequences for all. If, at some point, personal happiness and well-being also turn into data-based and promoted success, for everyone - then we are in paradise. I'll gladly take that then. Until then, it would be nice if the data gap at least doesn't kill me. Conclusion: read! This is not an outcry for emancipation. This is harrowing, documented, startling evidence for the fact that women fall into a systematic and systemic data gap that puts them at a disadvantage and even at risk. Worldwide. The standard, as we learn specifically here, is still male. That needs to change! Urgent. Right away. And right now! Criado-Perez kills us with numbers, data, facts. This is no easy reading for entertainment. And in the evening before bed, it's not good for your blood pressure either. But it is important and, precisely because of the overwhelming facts, it is so convincing and eye-opening.