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Netta Barzilai performs after winning the Grand Final of Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 12.(Photo by: PEDRO NUNES/REUTERS)
‘I Am Not Your Toy’ and the end of patriarchy
By YVETTE NAHMIA-MESSINAS
06/11/2018
An Article in Three Parts.
Part I: Grandmother versus Daughters

My three daughters and I stayed up late to watch the Eurovision song contest. We thought that since Israel had a high chance of winning, we should be there to support Netta Barzilai, the young, energetic and out-of-the-box singer that Israel chose as its representative.

We were proud of Netta, and of Israel for its alternative choice.

I appreciate Netta and stand for her message of accepting the differences among us. Still, my teen-age daughters remind me in a critical and hurt voice how I, their mother, brainwash them weekly that they should exercise, lose weight, be fit and look good.

Looking and feeling good is a family value passed down to me from my grandmother Yvette who, during the summer season in Greece, would get up early in the morning, go for a swim at Athens’ Vouliagmeni Beach and only then would she go to her shop “Creations Yvette” in downtown Athens, feeling in great shape.

Yvette’s bodily and mental shape was boosted with the morning swim, and she placed it high on her day’s agenda!

My daughters accuse me that I am not progressive enough, in that I have neither shed nor let go of the expectation for each of us to have a thin, fit-looking appearance.

In holding this perspective, they argue, I am not enlightened enough to assert to the world that neither my size, looks, nor external appearance limit me.

And this is, in my mind, Netta’s stage message. And I repeat it for it to sink into every cell, muscle and tissue of my body – and I hope all women will, too, as I find it to be healing to all of us: “I won’t let my size, looks, and appearance be a limit to what is possible for me!”

But will I stop?


Part II: In pursuit of “I Am Not Your Toy” messages

Netta’s winning song, I Am Not Your Toy, argues that women have not been created to amuse, entertain and please men. Netta and our fellow women are not here so that men will play with us as their toys. Women are not men’s toys.

“Look at me, I’m a beautiful creature,” Netta asserts. And in this I think Netta means look at me not only externally; the whole of who I am is beautiful. I am beautiful inside and beautiful outside, and if you are judging me and other women only by our looks, you are missing the point and being stupid.

“I think you forgot how to play.” We learn about life as kids through play.

We explore different characters, and take freedoms.

The freedom to be young, old, dress up and try out a different gender, age, race in this role playing – this authentic playing builds us. It builds our bodies when we climb up on trees and play outdoors, and builds our characters.

Playing is essential to who we are. And when we only play on our smartphones, what results is the line: “You’re stupid, just like your smartphone.”


Part III: The End of Patriarchy


Patriarchy. Patriarchy, it seems, also thrived on the difference in body size and strength between men and women. Men were the big, heavy and strong ones, and women were smaller and weaker in terms of physical strength.

But we are not just our bodies: we are creatures who have bodies, but are in essence beyond the physical. Our woman-power lies not just in our physical strength, but also in our emotional, spiritual and mental build.

Patriarchy is crumbling.

I Am Not Your Toy is about women taking their deserved place in the world, not as toys but as beautiful creatures, who have come here to bring their share of wisdom and leadership, and contribute their gifts and creativity, side by side with men.

Patriarchy is crumbling in that women are refusing to be used and abused, and instead are asserting their right to be fully themselves and in their power.

I Am Not Your Toy. It is no wonder that the song placed first with televoters in the Eurovision Song Contest, as people chose the message that resonates with their hearts. Let us hear it loud and clear.

Women have come here to play, too, and share our gifts in life’s playground. We won’t settle for less than playing as equal partners, hand in hand with our fellow women and men.
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