Monday, March 08, 2010

International Women's Day Rage

I am extremely tired, so I reserve the right for my spelling and grammar to be a bit off. I also want to warn that the focus on this post is for women's rights, although other rights are unquestionably related, this is not a post about minority rights, or anything the like.

Today is International Women's Day. It is a good day but also a day that gives for a lot of anger.

International Women's Day is a day to celebrate women's achievements in the political struggles toward gender equality. While a lot has been achieved in the Northern hemisphere, there is still a lot left to be desired.

Today is not a day to celebrate the fact that I happened to be born with two X chromosomes. Today is not a day to celebrate that I was born with female genitalia. Today is not a day to celebrate that females in general have "female attributes" and today is certainly, above all, not a day to celebrate "female qualities". Today is a day to highlight the hardship women have been put through historically, and to critically assess the inequalities still exisiting in the world. Today we need to look upon the world and vocalise what is wrong and decide what we can do to change it.

Some people seem to believe that today is the day to give women flowers and be extra nice to the female population. They believe that through holding open a door to a woman, they are being extra nice. I deserve respect 365 days a year, not just on International Women's Day. If you want to give me flowers, do it because I am a good human being or for some other quality you cherish in me, not because of a biological happenstance. And just because it is International Women's Day do not mean that I am handicapped. I am perfectly capable of opening a door 364 other days of the year, why should I be impaired on this particular day? When you hold a door open for me just because I am a woman, you are implying this is something I am not capable of.

Today is a day to rage against the stupidity of society and politicians. If you need something more concrete to rage against, read my post on the proposed EU legislation on maternity leave. Today is also a time to celebrate female suffrage, something feminist movements fought very hard to gain, finally recognising women as citizens of a state so they were no longer stateless persons.

Today is the day when we have to continue the fight to recognize women as human beings. This cannot be done until society and the different states recognize without argument the civil and political liberties, human and socio-economic rights of women as human beings. This is not so in a lot of countries today, sadly. But today is the day when we pick up the spear and roar extra loud for this to be so.

I am a woman, a student, a feminist, Swedish and a lot of other things. Recognize me as the individual human being I am, not as some sub-human being that requires special attention because of some inherent flaw in my gender.

International Women's Day makes me rage, it makes me rant. There are so many things yet to be achieved in the matter of gender equality. International Women's Day inspires me. We can celebrate all that we have achieved and see that it is worth it to continue the fight. I will be in one corner with bloody fingers ready to fight till death.

And to address another question that is constantly posed on this day: No, we do not need an International Men's Day. I will not answer by the cliché "you have all other days to celebrate" but tell me, what is there in the area of male equality that needs to be celebrated? I'll give you the one on extended paternity leave, but honestly, men do not come from a lower position in society. Not to mention that this right comes from a view that women are the automatical care-takers in society due to their weaker disposition and men are bread-winners due to their stronger, more rational disposition. There is an unquestionable assumption that (white) men are human and inherently have a right to their position and civil rights. This is not so for a lot of women around the world.

As a concluding remark, I want to say that today is not a day to blame the men. Today is a day to recognize the flaw in the society that has come from historical values, inherited through generations. All men are not intriniscally discriminating, society is. It is the patriarchal structure we need to address, not the flaws in the opposing gender.

So women, and men, pick up the spear, because the fight is far from over. Personally I intend to fight straight into my grave, and let my sons and daughters pick up from there.


  1. You completely misunderstand International Men's day. IMD is primarily about celebrating positive male role models in the present environment which highlights ONLY images of males behaving badly. How is that a helpful message to boys and girls?

    International men's day is not to celebrate a gender war, as International Women's day does. IWD promotes the idea that women are an oppressed class, and that men are the oppressing class.

    So to summarise, the objectives of IMD are completely different to the objectives of IWD, and it would help if you didnt assume the objectives are the same.

    I hope that helps to further understanding:

  2. I like that you do not answer the International Men's Day subject by the cliché "you have all other days to celebrate".

    This immediately tells me you are more intelligent, and emotionally stronger than other women. (I am being serious).

    It is so easy to shout meaningless slagans at each other in place of genuine discussion.

    In admiration

  3. #1. I meant it more as a reply to the arguments I hear men making when I talk about IWD, but the true objective, as it seems from what you just wrote, seems to me a better way of doing it.
    In either case, I'm not really sure that objective is good either. Women are part in the female oppression as well, we have huge anti-feminist movements where a lot of women partake, sadly. The oppression has gone from being male to being all over now.

    #2. Although I appreciate you enjoying my post, I do think that you should be wary of putting me down as "more intelligent and stronger than other women". Generalising on that scale is very dangerous. My attributes do not come down to the sole fact that I have XX chromosomes, I am much more versatile as an individual than that. So are other women (and men).