Today is International Women’s Day, and it has been around for more than 100 years. However, this year is the first year that I have been aware of it, much to my bewilderment.
I did a bit of reading about it and it seems that apart from trumpeting all things female from the highest rooftops, there is not really much to be said about what International Women’s Day is all about. As a newbie – to the festival, not to womanhood – I thought that it was going to be an excuse for the feminazi brigade all over the world to start banging their drum about how bad all men are and how downtrodden all women are, but I have been surprised by what is being said about it.
There are literally hundreds and thousands of articles about what’s happening in the name of IWD and I won’t insult your intelligence (or try to influence you) by directing you to any on here because I’m sure you can do that for yourself, but allow me a moment to share a few thoughts of my own about it.
- Is it really “international”? Or is it an excuse for Western women to pretend to get alongside our oppressed sisterhood in parts of the world where it is practically against the law to be a woman?
- Is it a celebration of womanhood and femininity, women’s achievements and contribution to society, or is it an opportunity to bash men the world over for the fact that they are not women?
- Does anything actually happen as a result of IWD? Do we see any increase in equality after each annual IWD, or is it a day of paying lip-service to the feminine “cause” where women get a pat on the head for the duration of the day and the world goes back to normal the day after?
- If this day has been around for more than 100 years, shouldn’t we be further on than we are by now? Shouldn’t there be more women in leadership roles in our politics, our fields of scientific research and development, of banking and finance and so on? Shouldn’t more women across the world (remember, this is International Women’s Day) see some improvement in their lives and not be treated as slaves or baby making machines to be hidden behind closed doors? Shouldn’t there be more choices for women across the world to be something different from their own mothers? To be free from mutilation, ‘honour’ punishments and the rest of the things that are supposed to keep them ‘pure’ for their menfolk?
- In relation to number 4, do women in the West really have the same experiences as the women in the Middle East or the developing countries in Africa and Asia, or do we pretend to share in their experiences because actually, our lives are pretty much sorted out here and even though there is still work to be done, we have more equality and freedom than those women we stand alongside for the day?
- How are we supposed to feel when after a lot of work in the sports industry, women are finally equalling men in terms of prize money and competition opportunities and one of the highest paid tennis stars of all time announces to the world that she has been taking a performance enhancing drug for the past 11 years? Are we allowed to feel betrayed by Sharapova’s actions, or do we have to stand shoulder to shoulder with her simply because she’s a woman trying to make it in a man’s world? I know where my gut feeling takes me but by criticising her for that, am I being disrespectful to my sister?
I realise that there is probably a lot more to this day than I have addressed here but I can’t help wonder if today we can really look at the world with the same eyes that the women of 1908 did, where women were fighting for the right to own their own property in the UK, and the vote for women was still a long way off. What would those women then think of our women today? Would they be pleased with progress made so far, or would they be appalled that we still haven’t made it yet?
Of course there is more to being a woman than being ‘equal’ to a man, just the same as there is more to being a man than being ‘superior’ to a woman, but it strikes me that there is more to womanhood than that fight too. For some women the fight to be recognised as an individual with thoughts of her own is one that will take her a lifetime to achieve or fail. For others, the fight to have autonomy over their own bodies is a fight that will take all of their lives to fight. For others still, the fight to have an education is one that they are prepared to die for, and many do.
My last questions on the subject of International Women’s Day is this: if half of the world’s population is female, and there are 365 days in a year, why do we only have a single day to celebrate and promote and enjoy and talk about and investigate and think about all things woman? Wouldn’t it be lovely if we didn’t need to have an International Women’s Day at all?
Finally, according to the BBC, Sharapova’s admission yesterday is going to cost her £30m each year from now on. My guess is that it is going to cost an awful lot more than that.