SHE IS ME 

| of strong women, unfortunate statistics & turning boss

ARTICLE              JANUARY 1ST, 2018

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She grew up in a war zone. Her first war was when she was six years old. She has lived through four. Recently it even got scaringly close to home. One would think that it’s a horrible thing. It is in some ways.

She developed  animal instincts from all the sirens in the middle of the night, the rockets whistling over her head and the overall panic that surrounded her. Her excitement threshold is higher than others. She is tough. She handles things. She saw so much.

Growing up in a war zone had the most amazing side effect. The profound understanding that she may not live tomorrow. It made her appreciate the breaths she takes in. Those few moments in the morning when she opened her eyes and everything was still and good. It made her live everyday like it was her last.

As cliché as it may sound, it even worked the other way around - every day she didn’t do something significant, brought waves of sadness that washed all over her. She would get into her bed with the white linens and puffy pillows and go over her day in her head. She needed it to be fabulous, remarkable, or at least worthwhile.*

*First chapter of SHE, a memoir by Michal Ziso, to be published in the near future

She is me. And #metoo. I have this one question rolling around in my head over and over again - how is it possible? How is this epidemic caught up with me too? I am a strong, smart and confident woman. I served in the military, grew up fast, learned what the world is about, innocence bubble exploded so early on I can’t even remember exactly when. I began to travel the world at the age of 12, learned how to connect to people of diverse backgrounds and grew to be a cultural chameleon - adjusting my behaviour to match my surroundings, knowing what to ask, how to act, when to smile, when to be quiet. 

 

Let’s go over the concept of knowing when to be quiet. It is known that in order to fit in a new environment you should try your hardest not to step on any toes or not to offend anyone. Maybe even mold yourself to the expectations of your new crowd. It is the politically correct thing to do, sure, but to what extent? 

 

As the world grows smaller due to quick connections and

high-speed internet, it becomes the norm to be patient and

calculated with words when it comes to conversing with

people of different upbringing. It is obvious that those

differences may lead to contrasting points of view about certain behaviours or actions and we should try not to be offensive even if we don’t necessarily label the same things as such. 

Surprisingly enough, this is not the norm of conversing when it involves people of different genders. The assumption that what a man would call offensive is different than a woman’s point of view is basicallynon-existent. So women adjusted by doing the politically correct thing and stayed quiet, monitoring their every move, trying not t o make a big deal, not to make a scene, not to expose the difference.  Women got so used to keeping quiet throughout history, that they are not always aware that they are instantaneously doing so to the extent of it becoming the alternative cultural norm. The fact that this “solution” is unbalanced and one sided creates a much bigger problem that makes it so easy to so many women to fall into the same unfortunate statistics.

With time I became a successful architect, a woman in a very masculine world, a world where a top female architect openly mentioned her decision to give up having a family and birthing children in order to match with (or exceed) her male colleagues. Despite all of my personal stories and experiences tattooed on my very core, molding the woman I am today, I still came face to face with gender in-equality in all its forms a bit too often. I too preferred to keep my mouth shut, whether it was from the fear of losing a job, the fear of being labeled a certain way or the basic fear stemming from a physical strength disadvantage.

Surprisingly enough, this is not the norm of conversing when it involves people of different genders.

I decided to embrace the label that stuck to me for the times I dared open my mouth - bossy - and turn it into BOSS

A few months ago, just before the revolution had begun, I decided that I had enough and it was time to make my voice heard. I suffer the same pain of war and conflict that men do, I served as my fellow male soldiers in an elite intelligence unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, I worked as hard in getting my education, I have the same blood

bones heart and brain, and I will be damned if I didn’t earn the same respect and all that it entails! I decided to embrace the label that stuck to me for the times i dared open my mouth - bossy - and turn it into BOSS. I founded my own architecture firm with the vision of becoming a female architect rockstar, without giving up anything or apologizing for who I am and what I want to achieve. By being a rockstar I will be able to make an impact, bring change to the exact issues that are so important and personal to me as a woman and a human. The plan is to make a change by combining my everyday architecture practice with architectural projects that promote gender equality and gender equality awareness. Invest my time, knowledge and experience to plan and design projects such as schools for girls in third world countries, community centers, libraries and more - all crucial for making a change that grows from the bottom up by education and legislation. By finding my voice and taking a stand I can be  part of the bigger solution and become a leader and an accelerator of change.

 

Of course I would love to say I could do this alone, but big things can only be achieved when people come together. As put so simply and to the point by Emma Watson, Women Goodwill Ambassador of UN Women: “men - gender equality is your issue too”. Because redefining the female gender must come with a redefinition of the male and consequently become the liberation of both genders - Equality. As a member of the He for She movement, I would like to call on the men to stand with me in making my vision a reality, and to stand with the women who would like to make their voices heard and help those who are still afraid to do so. And to the brave women, keep doing what you’re doing because the waves are getting bigger and harder to ignore, amplify it and go get what you deserve.

Posted in Medium She is Me | Of Strong Women,

Unfortunate Statistics and Turning Boss, By Michal Ziso