The bible tells us Adam gave up a rib to create Eve. Eve has been paying back ever since. But Adam does not own Eve and Eve owes Adam nothing.
March 8th is International Women’s Day. Happy IWD! I want to highlight that IWD is composed of three separate words: International – it’s a global issue; Women – irrespective of race, age or class; Day – just the one, singular, like birthday or Independence Day.
I know the negative comments this post will attract and I’d like to address some of the more popular ones here and now.
What about International Men’s Day?
Seriously? We live in a society where, even now, in the western, liberated, ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘anything is possible’ world, women’s pay, for the exact same job, is less than men’s in the majority of cases. The western, progressive world where employers can still stipulate ‘heels’ and ‘manicured hands’ as part of a dress code for women, but not men. The western world is still primarily a man’s world. 1 day out of 365 when we want to bring women’s rights across the globe into focus and you want to make it about men? For shame.
I love being a stay at home mum but IWD wants me to be ashamed of that.
Good for you for doing what you want. It’s great you have the choice and opportunity and that is exactly the aim – choice and opportunity, regardless of gender, race or class. For many women, being a working mum is not an option. Every person should have the right to choose to be a stay at home parent or a working parent, without it being imposed on them by religion, society or their spouse.
I love looking sexy for my man and IWD are feminists who want me to be dowdy.
Sexy? Great. Look sexy, don’t look sexy. Dress up, dress down, do your hair, don’t do your hair. Your choice. See that word? Choice. Many women do not have the freedom to dress as they please (work outfits excepted [although Hooters needs talking to]) on a day-to-day basis, not allowed to choose their own wardrobe or choose the clothes they buy. Adult women are neither children nor dolls. They do not need dressing.
I respect men, so I don’t follow IWD.
And I respect people, irrespective of their gender assignment. I do not respect ignorance or a stubborn resistance to acknowledging other people’s needs and circumstances. We cannot live in this world blinkered by our own self-satisfaction. We are intelligent beings, capable of empathy and making people’s lives better. IWD is not anti-men. It is about ensuring women are given a fair and equal hearing on a level platform.
I don’t need IWD because I can fight for myself.
I respect that, but what of all the other women around the world who do not have a voice let alone the right to stand up for themselves? I am fortunate to live in a country where I can stand up for my rights and freedom, can speak up for myself. Now, it is my turn to speak for those that cannot. Is that not what a developed world does? When one is in a position of power it behoves one to protect the powerless.
I’m happy to have a man look after me.
And I’m happy for you. It’s human nature to look after and be looked after. We nurture and look for nurturing in turn. We have parents and spouses and children and grandchildren. We love and are loved. It is unfortunate that there are some women who have no choice in not only whether they want to be looked after, but by whom. No choice in whether or not they have a husband, family or lack a career. No choice but to be regarded as only a daughter, wife and/or mother. No identity other than that of belonging to their father or husband. It is about being able to choose. Yet, these are the lucky women, because there are women who live in areas of the world where they legally have no choice but have a man speak for them and if they are orphaned or unmarried or widowed or (male)childless then they effectively do not have any voice at all.
IWD is not about man-hating or bra burning or turning women into men. It is not about emasculating or denying anyone the right to a decent and fair life. It is about gender equality and, unfortunately, the scales remain tipped against women. I am concerned primarily with the most basic and fundamental rights, such as education:
The right to work and the right to a fair and equal wage:
Many women are denied fundamental rights over their own bodies – from the use of contraception to being deemed inferior if they cannot bear children. We still hear of FGM; of men ‘buying’ aids cures in the form of young female virgins; of women being legally raped by their husbands; of women having to live in a hut, away from the family home during their menses, all upheld under the name of religion or tradition.
Sadly, the statistics from The Independent in 2014 are still shockingly real and that is why we have to continue speaking up for those that cannot.
Only last year, I heard someone comment, ‘I hope they don’t hire a young woman; she’ll get pregnant, we’ll be stuck with maternity pay and have to get in someone else.’ See? Even now, the expectation is that women will be the stay-at-home parent, yet the trend is changing and we have to embrace it. Encourage it. Make it less an accepted standard and encourage the workplace to amend its attitudes. Encourage governments, including our own, to make childcare more affordable so women can go back to work, remove the stigma of being a bad mum when they do so and make it easier for men to be the stay-at-home dad by ensuring women have equal pay.
So, before you begin to hold up a placard that says you disagree with IWD, make sure you know what it means you are agreeing to: advocating and perpetuating the ignorance that sanctions treating women unfairly and as inferior beings.
‘I was born a woman’ is a life sentence of servitude in an embarrassingly large number of areas of the world. Let’s change that and make it a positive statement for every woman.
Before I close off that point, I just want to say, I don’t necessarily want the statement to be, ‘I was born. Gender irrelevant.’ I am proud to be a woman, but it shouldn’t be relevant to anyone other than my partner or my doctor.
While I’m at it, I may as well address the no-no-please-don’t-go-there God argument (from an atheist’s perspective). Women give birth. They create and deliver life, ergo God (creator) must be a woman. Man is not created in the image of God, woman is, therefore the Pope should, by rights, be female.
One final quote, from the small, but determined Ms Yousafzai:
We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.