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Commission President blaming sexism for sofagate

Ursula von der Leyen recognises sexism

Three weeks after the incident in Ankara, where the President of the European Commission was embarrassingly left standing by two counterparts, Ursula von der Leyen publicly blamed sexism for the seating blunder, known as “sofagate“.

Mrs von der Leyen, during a speech at the European Parliament, said she could see no reason why she should have been treated differently to Mr Michel (who had afterwards apologised for his behaviour and expressed his regret over the situation, which he said he ‘understood offended many women’).

“I am the first woman to be President of the European Commission. I am the President of the European Commission. And this is how I expected to be treated when visiting Turkey two weeks ago, like a Commission President, but I was not,” Mrs von der Leyen told EU lawmakers, actually 21 days after the visit.

“I cannot find any justification for the way I was treated in the European Treaties. So, I have to conclude, it happened because I am a woman. Would this have happened if I had worn a suit and a tie? In the pictures of previous meetings, I did not see any shortage of chairs. But then again, I did not see any woman in these pictures, either.”

Addressing the issue still very carefully

In her speech in the European Parliament, Mrs von der Leyen did not dare to publicly blame either Mr Erdoğan or Mr Michel for the incident, but she did acknowledge to feeling “hurt and left alone”, as “a woman and as a European”.

“Because this is not about seating arrangements or protocol. This goes to the core of who we are. This goes to the values ​​our Union stands for. And this shows how far we still have to go before women are treated as equals,” Mrs von der Leyen said, adding that protecting women against violence would remain “a priority” for the Commission”.

Ursula von der Leyen also tweeted about it, in a very careful message that mentioned ‘the visit to Turkey’ and somehow attempted to downplay the incident mentioning ‘far more serious stories of women that go unobserved’.



What do we think about her answer?

Moonshot News has already expressed the opinion that Ursula von der Leyen also bares a part of the responsibility for not reacting at all to this insult, as she was not there as a private person, but as a representative of the whole Europe, and hence of the European values.

Her story made headlines for that reason and it was extremely serious: the way she was treated reflected on every one of us and she should be very well aware of that. So it is not a matter of ‘telling other far more serious stories’, it is a matter of addressing that this was a public demonstration of how serious the actual problem is for all women.

We also hope that this will be a very good case study for many who think that it is only weak women who suffer from sexism and discrimination, only those who accept it; it is a good example for those who think that they are above this problem because of their strength, or money, or status…


Maybe you would also like to tell us what you would have done

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