Wednesday 8 March 2017

International Women's Day: Be Bold For Change

Today is International Women's Day, an event that is probably more necessary now than at any other point in my lifetime.

(Oh, and just to forestall the usual bullshit: there is an International Men's Day, it is on November 19th every single year and if you cared about serious discussion of issues peculiar to men instead of using the idea as a gotcha at the mean feminists, perhaps you'd have taken the five seconds necessary to Google it and not need me to tell you).

I mean, where to start? Pay disparity is a hardy perennial, of course, and the theme for last year's IWD Pledge For Parity campaign; the Global Gag Rule was reinstated, putting the lives of potentially tens of thousands of women at risk; last year's US election will be keeping Gender Studies academics in textbook material for decades; and, for reasons beyond sane comprehension, the revelation that Emma Watson has breasts and can still call herself a feminist has shocked the civilised world.

I was raised by women. My dad was around but he had to travel a lot for work: he was an engineer, it was the aftermath of Thatcher's Recession and the only job he could get meant a massive car journey to the next county over so the raising of me, the actual teaching of me to be a person, mainly fell to my mother and two grandmothers. I love my dad and we get on great now but the simple fact is that a lot of who I am came from those women.

Both of my grandmothers have passed on but I think about them a lot: one solid and practical, the other rather more flighty and jovial. I couldn't begin to list the lessons they taught me, the ways they helped me become the person I am.

So there's a reason I take women's issues seriously. I've known a lot of men who don't and I've often wondered what their lives must have been like to be like to think like that. Yes, these are usually the sort of men I shouted at in that parenthetical who think its unfair for women to have a day and not men even though it isn't and we do.

Fuckers, is the technical term, or misogynists if you're being polite, which I very rarely feel the need for these days (thank the paternal grandmother for that one, my mother's mother was very much the one for proper manners in all situations).

This year's IWD campaign is simply about being bold, about providing the leadership you can in the space you occupy. Whether the person doing it is in a position of power or getting involved in some project at the local level, its an act of rebellion and empowerment to create whatever change you can on whatever scale you can.

Because we just saw the largest co-ordinated protest march in history by women on every continent over a single issue. Feminism, like every liberal philosophy and movement, has some tough years ahead and I know, as a white man, I am speaking from a position of enormous privilege and being mildly queer doesn't take that away. We literally live in a world where even admitting on tape to sexual assault doesn't stop a man being elected President of the United States. I can't imagine a world where Donald Trump could have said that shit about grabbing my genitals and it be okay.

And that's why today is necessary, possibly more necessary than its been in a long time, but to quote the immortal words of Norman Stanley Fletcher: “Don't let the bastards grind you down.” 

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