Happy International Women’s Day to all the lovely women in my life, young and old who, every day, do their best to do good. The theme this year is Choose to Challenge. I love that. Let’s challenge the status quo, internationally and locally. Because we have to. Because as a women of privilege it’s up to us to raise up women who do not have the same opportunities.
I was never raised with the idea that I could do anything I wanted. In fact I think that in our home there were clearly designated boy jobs and girl jobs. But somewhere between the lines of what was said and what was not said I realized that I could keep my last name, get an education that suited me, get a black stripe in tae kwon do while belly dancing, choose to be married, choose to leave when it wasn’t working and choose to live a life on my terms. My gender should not be the hurdle of my life.
I think of every woman that came before me. My great grandmothers didn’t read. They. Didn’t. Read. They didn’t go to school and they didn’t have any say in who they married and if they had children or not. My grandmothers had limited education and they also lived hard lives. One grandmother died in childbirth. Tragedy. She was just 20. I’ve heard all the rumblings of women before me.
But I have also heard the conversations of women with me. A retired colleague was told she had to go home once her pregnancy started showing. She was married but the principal wasn’t comfortable with her big belly. I saw Margot Franssen speak about needing her husband’s signature to get a loan in the 80’s to open the franchise The Body Shop. I have friends, who when they journeyed to their home lands were not allowed to eat meat because it was a “man’s meal.” I know women who were told that their outfits were not sexy enough for their job as as server and friends who were too sexy for their admin jobs. I know women who finally came to Canada and got a driver’s license because where they came from it was not legal for them to drive. This is all in my life time—conversations with me, not from generations ago.
I have very unintentionally stepped into the shoes of a feminist. And let me tell you these shoes feel fucking fantastic. It was a long road of trying on all sorts and then settling on this specific pair. This came from a place of fairmindedness, a place where I sat in compassion and thought about what was fair and what wasn’t—gender aside.
Mark Ruffalo’s mic drop
This man had my heart when he took to Tumblr with his rebuttal to the I am not a feminist campaign.
“First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, ‘I’m not the feminist babysitter.’ But here is what I think you should know. You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago. You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis center, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement. You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993). You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (it is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime. In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice. In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.”
So, yes, we are comfortable in our experience but let’s not forget what was sacrificed to get us where we are. Let’s also remember that we are not 100% equal—still. So, let’s keep on keeping on and bring the men with us. It’s worth it guys. I promise.
I saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak once. When asked how we can changed men to understand women, to want to give women equal opportunity she responded in the most silent of rooms “ladies we make men, literally make them with our bodies. Why can we not teach them fairness?”
So, my ladies, happiest of days to you. Let us keep marching forward in compassion with each other and in support of each other to a more balanced, and loving future and a more nurturing world for everyone.
If this is the first you’ve heard of it then click here for basic information. If you have heard of this important day then click there any how to learn a bit more—For yourself. For your daughters. For your mothers. For every woman. And for men.
This link is also informative and gives a sense of all areas and all parts of the earth where disparity still occurs for women.