International Women’s Day

I don’t really understand what International Women’s Day means apart from the fact it marks a year since I last stepped foot out of my old office. There are many campaigns around today; I like the idea that Oxfam is raising awareness for women across the world by encouraging all us women to get together. Although I am failing to understand the point of the day.

Surely the inequality of women, the violence and oppression should be something we DO something about every day of our lives, just like we should DO something about the suffering of all humankind every day. Not just take a day out to CONSIDER women across the world and THINK about our similarities and differences. Doing means more than thinking. In a much less important way, this is how I feel about Valentine’s Day. I show love every day, not just think about doing so on one day of the year.

A friend of mine put this as his facebook update today:

“So, you reckon if we give them a day we won’t have to deal with that glass ceiling/ equal representation in parliament/ equal wages/ some kind of plan to treat domestic violence and sexual assault more seriously as crimes stuff the’re always banging on about for a few more years? And you’re using International Dress Your Dog Like A Pirate Day as a model?”

“Yep. That’s kind of it in a nutshell.”

It sums it all up perfectly. That is not to say I am against IWD but that the progress towards equality is in such a sorry state if we need such a day to highlight the work still to be done.

I really am not sure if I should treat IWD as a celebration, a starting point to do more or with apathy. Although it is apathy that has brought much of the hard work of second and third wave feminists to this stand still. That ‘feminism’ is now an insult, something women should be ashamed to say we are. I will stand up and say I am a feminist and I hope my son will as well. Yes, that is right, I said son. I dearly hope my little boy will grow up to believe all people should be treated equally and will be proud to call himself a feminist.

I don’t know how all this fits into the idea of a Day for Women. I am not even sure that I would choose to spend one particular day with my women friends over my male friends and not just spend time with them all together as a group.

Last year it seemed to have poignancy given my treatment at work while pregnant. I saw it as some kind of sign that I was bigger than all of that, bigger than the boss who refused to provide me with a suitable chair during pregnancy so I suffered crippling back pain, bigger than the money I had to fight for each month as it was taken from my salary for attending ante-natal appointments and out of office work meetings. I let the stress of that place which held back women, held back my career and passed of my good work as that of other men in the office just fall away from me.

It took a lot longer to allow the anger to pass from me that such workplaces still exist, that such attitudes still exist here but I am a better person for doing so. As a bonus I also got sanitary bins installed in the ‘Girls’ toilet for the next woman who worked there. Yes, they didn’t even bother with sanitary bins.

All of that is in the past and the woman I am today is far stronger, far more canny than the woman of last year. I will take much pride in Mother’s Day this year.

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