This was a week of celebrations all around the world. International Women’s Day (8th of March) is getting more and more awareness and its celebrations last a whole week with protests, art exhibitions, talks, conventions etc. We have come a long way in 101 year since this day was implemented, but we still find a lot of resentment, resistance and protest against it.
This year I heard someone saying that by celebrating IWD we are only focusing on issues that matter to middle class white folks. Well I politely disagree as I think that this is an issue that concerns and involves everyone in the world, and here is why!
My dad has always been a very respectful man and never once have I seen him being disrespectful or sexist towards any women. I am very proud of the fact that both my parents even if divorced (or because of that) always thrive to teach me to fight for my rights and never let anyone disrespect me, whether for being a child of divorced parents or for being a girl.
Nevertheless, my dad never got it why my mum would make a fuss about him not wishing her a happy International Women’s Day, back when they were married that is. He used to tell me, he didn’t understand why there should be such a day that celebrates only women.
Well, maybe he didn’t get it because, you see, my dad was brought up by women and so did my husband and so their perspective on equality is taken as a natural thing, something that you do because it’s the normal thing to do, we are all people, all the same.
But what about all the men (and women alike) who were brought up in a sexist and abusive environment? How will they hear about the problems that are still happening throughout the whole world? How will they realize that being sexist is not an acceptable and normal behaviour?
Some people believe that we live in a post feminist era, and that all proclaimed feminists are unreasonable, overreacting activist women who have no reason to ‘moan’ about the issues they raise.
Well, it’s true that a lot has changed in the last century since the first International Women’s Day was celebrated. Maybe that is why a lot of women decide to celebrate the good things and all the accomplishments by fellow women who have made a difference in what still is a men’s world, instead of protesting.
And we should celebrate these women, and all of the women of the world that are making a difference and making the equality gap smaller everyday.
But if you still think there is no reason to celebrate International Women’s Day, and that feminism shouldn’t exist, think about this:
In the arts industry:
Powerful women are largely dominating the music industry with strong messages about femininity and feminine strength and beauty.
The Orange Prize and Birds Eye Film festival (to name a few), celebrate women’s originality, excellent writing and film making skills.
But if you consider women together with men in general Prizes and festivals women can’t stand a chance.
Granted that last year the Oscar for best director was awarded for the first time to a woman. But consider this, in 84 years only 4 women directors have been nominated and only 1 won. No surprises there, when you find out that 77% of the academy voters are men.
Women’s bodies are still subjected to criticism, idolatry and ridicule by being placed under scrutiny by the media in a way that men’s body has never been looked at. Fact, that this happens because it makes money, and also fact, that women themselves largely consume this nonsense, but then raising awareness on the unimportance of these trivialities should be a priority.
In politics and human rights:
In Saudi Arabia through strong campaigning, women are now allowed to work in lingerie shops and the punishment for driving their own cars is smaller.
But these women are still punished for driving their own cars, they are still arrested and lashed for it.
China has the most self-made female entrepreneurs in the world.
Nevertheless, women in the UK for example still earn 15.5% less and do more unpaid care work than men.
In gender studies and Women’s Health:
In the 21st century a woman is still called a slut for having sex. This month, Sandra Fluke was called a slut by Rush Limbaugh in what can only be described as one of the most disgusting comments made about women’s health and birth control access.
Earlier this year in the USA the republicans tried limiting the definition of rape to “forcible rape”.
But through campaigning and petition signing, Rape is Rape campaign won this battle:
“On January 6, 2012, the White House and the DOJ announced that FBI Director Robert Mueller had approved the change recommended by several committees of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service that the FBI would change the definition of rape in the FBI Uniform Crime Report.”
So yes, there is a reason to celebrate this day.
To raise awareness, to celebrate a day, to gather strengths and raise our voices is the only way we have to make a change and tell the young girls of this and the next generations that they have the right to be respected, that they have the right of choice, they have the right to good health and that they have the power to change the world, to a better and more equal world.
Join me in celebrating this day, this year, every year. And acknowledge and pass the word to everyone else you know.
Here are some interesting posts for you to read if you want to find out more about the issues I raised above:
Are we nearly there yet? – Emily Best talks Orange Prize and Women in literature
Women and Film – Katie Couric and others reflect on the Oscars Week and women’s contribution to the film industry
From Slut to Weight Shaming – Michelle Konstantinovsky talks about this month’s most shameful insults by men towards strong young women
This year let’s celebrate … the Saudi women’s driving campaign – Eman Al Nafjan talks about the successful campaigns for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia
Calm down, dears? Why it’s a bad time to be a British woman by Polly Toynbee
Stand with Sandra Fluke for birth control access! – Sign the pledge and demand access to birth control.
Limbaugh Calls Sandra Fluke a “Slut” for Her Birth Control Advocacy
Rape is Rape – Ms. Blog discusses the implications and injustice of disclaiming certain types of rape on a wording technicality
No more excuses – read about the Ms. Rape is Rape campaign outcome