International Women’s Day – Reflection

Another International Women’s Day has been and gone, seemingly with nothing to show for it. There’s been a lot of negativity about this day from both sides: Radfems think it’s essentially submitting to the idea that we are so marginalised that we should be grateful for our one day, men think it’s sexist that we have a day and they don’t (more on this inaccuracy later) and a lot of people just don’t care because it doesn’t achieve anything putting a label on a day (you mean like Christmas and Birthdays for example? Hmm). If you want to be a negative nancy about it, sure, in the grand scheme of things nothing has changed in the system and women are still dying the world over.

I choose to look at things from a slightly sunnier perspective: IWD got people talking about women’s issues, it got people paying attention to stuff that they may have been able to ignore the rest of the 364 days and for me, most of all, it showed some people’s true colours (spoiler: they didn’t look good). I consider myself well versed in the female struggle on a global scale but I learned a lot of things on Tuesday that I don’t think I’d have learned were it not for my Facebook sisters sharing their knowledge with the world on IWD. “Facebook Feminism” is often framed in a negative light, being seen as the equivalent of a keyboard warrior who does the very least they can by bashing out a few equality based statuses now and then. In a digital age, where social media and online platforms are native – I see nothing wrong with choosing your medium of activism to suit your audience. Tuesday showed me that the quest for gender equality and better rights for women is growing and I’m so proud to see how many people are on board.

No post about Women’s Day can go by without giving our fellas a mention in the “but wat about teh menz” corner of Twitter. I think Richard Herring made it painfully clear on his Twitter that there is in fact an International Men’s Day on the 19th of November, it has a pretty big prominence on the web actually. Yet without hesitation the gut reaction of these chaps on Twitter was to strip women of “our day” and steal that spotlight without so much as a quick Google search of IMD – for me the lack of effort involved in finding out more about IMD shows the transparency of feigned concerns of reverse sexism masking the “ME FIRST” attitude. This is why IWD is important, because the knee jerk reaction of a lot of guys is to push in and try to take not only something they already have but what we have too simply because they can’t stand the idea of anyone having something that they don’t. As Ricky Gervais pointed out: it is indeed very embarrassing.

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The sheer fact that these dudes didn’t even know they had their own day shows me how much they don’t really give a shit, they just wanted a reason to shame women and complain about the threat to their “diminishing rights”. Just because a marginalised group is slowly creeping back up to your level (WHERE THEY SHOULD BE) does not mean that your rights are less looked after – someone needs to take a break to let the rest catch up and that’s all it is, nobody aims to oppress men we just want to be even. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but in order to truly want equality for women you may have to stop trying to talk over us every now and then and especially on International Women’s Day. Please understand the difference between actual oppression and simply allowing oppressed groups to reach your levels of power and respect to create an equal playing field.  This is not the Oppression Olympics but if it were you would all come last. SORRY ‘BOUT IT.

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Awareness is absolutely the key to making the world a better place for men, women and trans and IWD achieved just that – a big old spike in awareness around women’s struggles around the world as well as our achievements. The discussion on Facebook is still going strong between both men and women alike – I’m delighted to see so many people engaged and debating over how to achieve a more inclusive society. An emphasis on the media and it’s reinforcement of harmful stereotypes in the West of both genders has been made. We’ve talked about women’s rights in the Middle East and what we can do to make it better. We’ve looked at the positive steps towards reducing sexual violence and the increasing need to educate our children: ESPECIALLY about uncomfortable subjects.

We’re all so keen for the next generation of little men, women and transpeople to live in a better world where poisonous gender ideals are a thing of the past; where a boy can wear the colour pink and cry when he hurts himself without getting picked on, where a non binary child can be confused about whether to use the boy’s or girl’s toilets and for that to be okay. We want a world where our girls can choose who and what they want to be without being shoved through a cookie cutter whether they fit or not. We want our boys to grow into men who see their female peers as equals and not as a potential shag despite their talents, we want trans kids to feel supported in their journey without fear of mass rejection, we want girls not to expect violence from boys in turn seeing themselves as victims and nothing more. We want so much and we’re willing to work for it together, that is what IWD and true equality is about. It can be easy to get downtrodden by all the bad things in the world, it’s not hard to imagine why some people think we are beyond repair but it’s weeks like this when I see so much beauty in compassion for the world and I really start to feel like we’ve got it in the bag and are headed somewhere great.

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