Happy International Women’s Day!
So I identify as a feminist. It took me a while to come to that conclusion – the term seems laden with negative connotations, dragging unbidden into people’s mind images of scary, unshaven man-haters, with no sense of humour – but the turning point for me was reading Caitlin Moran’s book How To Be A Woman. Anyone who wants to know what I mean when I call myself a feminist, read that book – I’ve got it on Kindle, I’m happy to lend! I don’t agree with everything she says in the book: notably, I have a faith, one that’s very important to me, and she doesn’t as far as I can tell. But it’s a must-read, nonetheless.
In summary, Moran’s view of feminism is that it’s not about hating men, nor is it about propagating the perfection of women… it’s simply about equality. About every human being having the same rights, the same opportunities, and being afforded the same love and respect regardless of gender, faith, race or age.
OBVIOUSLY we are different. Obviously. There are physical, emotional and mental trends that are related to gender – this cannot be denied. But that does not make women (or men!) better or worse, it just makes them different.
Equality, not sameness… get it?
Because of this, it took me a little while to decide what I think about IWD. As a women, I don’t want a token day – do the men have a day? Well, no… it seems like they get the other 364!
Ok, I’m employing a little hyperbole here. I don’t really think it’s that stark a divide… but it does make me a little sad that an annual event like IWD is still necessary. Why should we need a special day to raise awareness of oppression, to celebrate achievement, and highlight the varying struggles worldwide that people are still facing because of their gender? We shouldn’t, is the answer… there shouldn’t be oppression because of gender, achievement should be highlighted based on the merit of the achievement itself, not because it was a woman who achieved it. Female achievements should be as common as male achievements. The varying struggles being faced (from glass ceiling to genital mutilation; from unfair pay gaps to limited or no access to education) should never have come about.
But they have, because humans suck.
(I mean, humans are marvellous and beautiful and passionate and clever and creative and surprising as well… but they also suck.)
So this year, I will wish you, one and all (regardless of gender!) a happy International Women’s Day. Celebrate it by appreciating the women in your life! Maybe donate to a charity that fights for education for women, or take some action, write to your MP… whatever stirs your heart. And maybe, one day in my lifetime, we won’t be celebrating IWD any more.
Because we share all the days equally.