Op het Roeterseiland horen we steeds vaker vreemde talen voorbijkomen. De universiteit doet hard haar best om zichzelf internationaal op de kaart te zetten en met ruim 5.500 buitenlandse studenten lijkt dat aardig te lukken. Dat brengt een grote diversiteit aan culturen én perspectieven met zich mee. In lijn met het thema van deze editie vroeg ik daarom 6 studentes van de master International Development Studies naar hun ervaringen als buitenlandse vrouwelijke studenten in Nederland. Ze vertellen over de verschillen die ze ervaren tussen Nederland en hun thuisland op het gebied van onder andere emancipatie, discriminatie en gender rollen.
Nicole (25): Ponce, Puerto Rico
There’re cultural differences between the Netherlands and Puerto Rico. Here the gender roles aren’t as set. In Puerto Rico there’re clear norms of what women should be like: straightening their hair, wearing make-up, behaving in a certain way. I don’t sense that here. Also, in the Netherlands there’s more an idea of women’s independency. How men and women interact is therefore very different. For example, in Puerto Rico it’s expected of men to open doors, pay for dinner, etc.
Compared to Puerto Rico, the Netherlands is much more gender equal. But Puerto Rico also has some pros. Caribbean women are very dominant and assertive. Women are taught at a very young age to stand up for themselves. Therefore I think there’s more a matriarchal family structure in Puerto Rico. The woman is the one that organizes everything. And it’s women that have a leading position in the social development.
Cybele (21): Beirut, Libanon
In Lebanon there’re two sides. There’re areas with more progressive environments, but also very conservative ones. When I’d go out, my mom would say, “no you can’t wear those clothes in that area”. Because in that area people might be very conservative and think women shouldn’t show so much skin. Therefore you have to adapt to the environment you are in. In Amsterdam I feel like this is not so much necessary. I think women here are more comfortable in how they dress. And I feel less looked at by men and women.
Lebanon is also very small. All the clubs, bars and cafés you go to, you will meet people you know. That really affects how you act in public. You’re more conscious about your behavior. In Amsterdam’s international environment, I can let go those barriers that are present in the context of always knowing everyone. That might also be why I feel more comfortable wearing whatever I want here.
Dutch men? They look like Ken Barbie’s.
Arianna (24): Milaan, Italië
In the Netherlands – compared to Italy – I feel treated more as a mind than as a body. In the university environment, women and men’s opinions are valued equally. Italy is way more patriarchal and there’s more male chauvinism. Italian society is very focussed on physical appearance, and men don’t hesitate to judge women’s bodies. Dutch men are more caring in my experience; they don’t objectify that much. Generally I feel more respected as a woman. For me, Dutch women also seem to be more self-confident than Italian women, in terms of what they believe in and what they have to say. I can learn from that.
One of the reasons that I would want to stay in Amsterdam is because I see how women with children are still respected in the working environment. If I want to have a successful career in Italy, I’d have to distance myself from my family. Feminism isn’t entirely absent in Italy, but it’s not very influential in shaping young people’s minds. In Milan women think they’re emancipated, but coming to Amsterdam I realised that in reality they are not.
Daniela (29): Medellin, Colombia
In comparison with Colombia, the Netherlands is really emancipated. Medellin is not a safe place for women at night. Here I feel safe going back to my house in the middle of the night on my bike. I also feel more comfortable wearing a skirt without being watched by men.
Colombia has a very male chauvinist and patriarchal society. When I’m working together with men at the university here, I feel like we are on the same level. Men are not trying to impose their ideas. I do feel like Dutch men are shyer compared to Colombian guys. That’s good because they’re more respectful to me. In Colombia men assume that all women are available to them. However, it’s also bad because I feel like Dutch men expect the woman to take the steps in relationships, and I’m not used to that.
Colombian women wear a lot of makeup and dress fancy, whereas Dutch women are more natural. I feel more comfortable in this environment, although it’s very difficult to find clothes in my size, being a tiny Colombian woman.
Katarina (24): Ćuprija, Serbia
Serbian society is very diverse and has both progressive and conservative parts. In some cases patriarchal relations seem to be stronger in Serbia than in the Netherlands. The norm is that the man is supposed to provide for the woman. However, in my own environment, I don’t experience that much patriarchy.
In general, gender roles are stronger in Serbia, but I don’t think that’s necessarily perceived negatively. For example it’s very rare to see women without make-up. Here I feel like you can wear what you want without being judged. Dutch women are also more outspoken. In the more patriarchal parts of the country, it’s not really seen as a good quality for women to be outspoken. I do believe Serbian women are more seducing. They’re flirting quite often, whereas Dutch women sometimes don’t seem to be so interested. Maybe people in Serbia are more direct in expressing interest in one another.
Leonie (23): München, Duitsland
Germany and the Netherlands are not that different regarding gender emancipation. In general I think the Netherlands is a little more emancipated than Germany, for example with wages. While living in Amsterdam I don’t experience any discrimination as a woman, but also not so much in my own country. In Munich though, people are more conservative than in Amsterdam. They don’t like to talk about feminism and emancipation. They think it’s a left-wing invention. I think that’s very different here.
The Dutch guys I met are generally more polite to women than Germans. They are more careful with women, and more careful with saying or doing something that’s anti-feminist. But that might also relate to my studies, International Development Studies, and the guys I met there. I don’t think there’s one type of Dutch guy or one type of German guy. And overall I think the differences are minimal.