I’ll admit dear reader, I hesitated writing these words. Not because I don’t support International Women’s Day and what it represents – of course I do – but because I felt as if anything I said about it would be trite and vacuous.
Please understand, this isn’t a case of self-deprecation or devaluing my own opinion. For people like myself – men who believe in women’s rights and gender equality – we run the risk of sounding smug and self satisfied.
“Well I’m not like those sexist jerks,” we say expansively, basking in the perceived adoration of the women around us.
Lovely. And of little to no help to the women around the world who face unspeakable discrimination and abuse on a daily basis.
Canada’s Minister-Most-Prime, Justin Trudeau, has famously declared himself to be a feminist, and has made some gestures to back up this claim: putting more women in the cabinet, etc.
These are moves in the right direction certainly, but they are, it must be said, more photo-op friendly than entirely substantive.
The real change needs to happen in the background, in the dark places that rarely end up in the glare of media headlines or the flash of a photo-op. Serious issues such as:
- A judicial system that punishes the victim as often as it punishes the guilty.
- A workforce that determines salaries on which chromosomes you possess.
- A culture that idolizes and fetishizes the narrowest definition of “beautiful.”
- A society that treats “feminist” as a four-letter word.
I apologize my carbon-based compadres, instead of being trite and vacuous, I’ve descended into low vibe and negative. Let me turn the tables a bit.
Today is the “official” day for celebrating women so let’s do that, celebrate them. There’s a lot to celebrate frankly.
I could spend all day listing women who are inspiring, innovative, courageous and compassionate. From Malala Yousafzai to Dr. Grace Hopper, from Rosa Parks to the Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the list is literally endless. (Begin your Googling now. It’s ok… I’ll wait.) I’ll leave it to you to access the digital gestalt that is the world-wide-inter-web-net and fill your brain-box with knowledge and understanding about women. Not just their accomplishments – but also their struggles.
However, such a spelunking into the digital archives will only reveal those whose accomplishments and struggles have been recorded. The famous, the well known. What about the less famous? How about the single mother who works two jobs (or more) to support her family? Or the young entrepreneur showing up every day to disrupt an industry and share her genius with the world? What of the little girl who dreams of being an engineer, a fire fighter, or an astronaut? Do these women deserve to be celebrated?
Damn right they do.
Every last one of them belong on the same list as Amelia Earhart and Mother Theresa. I know there are some who will disagree. There are some who will throw up their hands and lament all the hoopla about “women this” and “women that.” They feel threatened by the rise of women, conveniently ignoring the everyday abuses and offences committed against their gender, both directly and indirectly. To those people I will only say this:
SHUT UP. Just. Shut. Up. For one day… for just 24 blessed hours, quit whining!
You’ll have to forgive my apoplexy my dear and long suffering readers. I hear this kind of wretched moaning on an almost daily basis, and I’ve grown tired of it. My veneer of diplomacy has worn thin.
Allow me, if you would be so groovy, to highlight one accomplishment in particular for this International Women’s Day. An accomplishment that has made it possible for you to read this collection of literary effluent. What is this triumph?
It is this: Every single human-flavoured humanoid perusing these words is here now, on this big blue marble… Indeed, you exist at ALL… because of a woman.
Take a moment and let that rattle about in your cranial cavities.
Now more than ever, we must understand that to devalue women is to devalue ourselves as a species.
Women deserve better. We can do better. But only if we choose to.