Written by Silvia Pellegrino,
Illustrated by Simona De Leo
Gender equality: do all women care about it?
Camilla is a citizen of the universe, with her head immersed in the exosphere and her restless feet in hyperspace. She is an engineer with freckles. One for each celestial body.
She is about to attend an interview for an international company, exactly two years after her graduation. The thought of leaving the group of old ladies to whom she has taught Tantra Yoga makes her feel a bit sad. Some of them claimed to be able to make love for two hours in a row thanks to her classes. But Camilla is also very happy because she knows that her interstellar dream is about to come true.
When the big day finally arrives, she wakes up at dawn, then she has breakfast and gets ready. Before leaving, she kisses the Sally Ride poster, figuring out the most convenient route to cycle.
After arriving at her destination she is told to sit in the waiting room, which looks like a large Martian incubator. Old magazines of different genres and a yellowed copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (one of her favourite books when she was young) are placed on a small table.
On the opposite side of the corridor, Marta is adjusting her makeup dissolved by a desperate cry. She is the human-resources manager and suffers from the 'younger-sister syndrome' of someone who lived in the shadow of her siblings for many years.
Marta owns a loft overlooking the river. She loves to buy flowers and keep them in a crystal vase. The only recycled gift from her aunt that she has ever appreciated.
Marta has also recently been dumped by an actor from the Cometa Theatre Company, and was later seduced by the bartender of the pub at the corner of the pedestrian area where she lives.
They never dated.
Taking in a bite of air, she picks up the phone, telling the secretary that she is ready to receive the first candidate.
Hello, you must be Camilla.
Yes, hi, how are you?
So, Camilla, let’s make it quick and clear. I have a question to ask you: Why is there no photograph in your CV?
Well, I think skills are more relevant than appearance.
But dear, as they say, looks also count, it seems obvious to me.
Yes, but I do believe...
Camilla, listen, what you believe matters little. Tell me about yourself, instead.
Well, I studied at the University of...
Oh no, no please, I have to stop you there. I can actually read where you studied, my dear. Tell me more, tell me who Camilla is.
Well, let’s see, I am a serious and passionate woman who loves working in a team and...
Yes, sure. Basic skills, I reckon.
Well, talking about my experiences, I have learned to...
Listen, Camilla, do you realise that there are other equally good candidates out there and that you already represent a loss for our company?
Yes, a loss! Listen now, and answer my questions carefully:
ARE YOU SINGLE OR ENGAGED?
ARE YOU GOING TO GET MARRIED?
ARE YOU PLANNING TO HAVE CHILDREN?
HOW MANY DAYS A YEAR WILL YOU BE CALLING IN SICK?
I... I’m sorry, I don’t know, I don’t understand.
There is nothing to understand, my dear engineer. I am fully aware of what kind of person you are, I don’t need to hold a degree for that.
Camilla is confused, but strangely she begins to feel lighter and lighter.
How could I possibly think you would be an asset to this company? What if you split up with your boyfriend or maybe... girlfriend? Are you a lesbian?? What do you hope for? A career?
Suddenly Camilla’s body begins to float, getting bigger and bigger.
Meanwhile, Marta presses: You will have to work twice as much as your colleagues, and don’t you dare ask any sort of questions, or make complaints or even contradict our beloved project manager. Do you hear me?
Camilla has now reached the power of a thousand suns. She is a supernova.
Marta’s face is pale and shady. She hasn’t realised that her stomach has opened, forming a huge vortex right in the centre.
Nobody cares about your ideas, your projects, have I made myself clear?
Camilla has now occupied the whole room, illuminating it as the daylight would do.
Stop shining, stop it!!!
Camilla finally explodes into a billion stellar fragments and reaches Space, leaving Marta on Earth, alone and miserable, like a huge black hole.