N.B.: Photos were taken in my tiny non instagram/pinterest friendly student flat because I don’t have a photographer on speed dial and the weather is making me want to cry.
Wednesday was International Women’s Day – and whilst there are some people who will proclaim “What about a Men’s day?” or “it’s just an excuse for middle class white women to feel good about themselves”, on the most part it was a day that, probably for the first time, filled me with a real sense of pride, love, solidarity and most importantly of all – hope.
With all that’s going on in the world right now, it can be hard to not to switch on the news and think: “fuck”.
With the current President of the United States a serial sexual harasser of women, AND having signed an executive order in his first week essentially blocking funding for abortion organisations and charities abroad, AND with women disproportionately facing the brunt of austerity measures around the world, AND taking sole responsibility for birth control, AND having to make the choice between a successful, long lasting career and a family…AS WELL AS having to put up with subtle, normalised sexism and misogyny on a daily basis…It’s hard not to feel like we’re going backwards not forwards.
But then I woke up to a stream of messages from my girlfriends telling each other how much we loved each other, and were inspired by each other. My instagram and Facebook feeds were FULL of friends – both men and women- paying tribute to their mothers, grandmothers, aunties, friends. Not just that, but people were paying tribute to women. not women they knew, or women they owed their life to, or women they were in a relationship with, but just women. Woman Kind.
Because why do you need to know a woman to respect all of them? Granted, if you don’t know one single woman, frankly, where have you been living all your life – we are 51% of the population, but nevertheless, respecting women-wanting gender equality and simply coming out of your mum’s vagina are not mutually exclusive.
The strength and solidarity amongst people emanated from every laptop, tv screen and woman I encountered. For once, women felt entitled to feel proud of being a woman, not to feel ashamed for simply having a vagina and breasts, for covering up too much or not enough, for not being pretty enough or being so pretty you’re asking for it. Those pressures and double standards were still there of course, they will be until that pesky patriarchy is dismantled, but women seemed to bond in defiance of being pitted against each other and the idea of ‘sisterhood’ became almost tangible to me.
Lots of people like to criticise things because it might make them seem cool, aloof, cynical and above it all. International Women’s day is no exception I’m sure, and there may be some legitimate criticisms to raise in order to help the women’s movement progress, but really, what is so wrong with celebrating women all over the world. We are all different yes, we all face different challenges depending on the colour of our skin, the class we were born into, the countries we live in. But we are all women. We all share a history of oppression and degradation, but we also share a history of victory and humanity, and strength and a belief that this cannot be the best it gets.
A simple way of stopping the progression of gender equality is to pit different demographics of women against each other. These women over here only care about themselves, don’t listen to them etc. But feminism IS intersectional – and is getting more so everyday, difference and unity are not mutually exclusive by any means and being white and middle class, or white and working class, or black and working class (Etc) does not mean you have no part to play or voice to be heard.
Women are the lifeblood of this earth in more ways than one. When women prosper, the world prospers. I have truly amazing women in my life that give me strength, direction and guidance in a world that can often seem like its out to get you. I have amazing men in my life too. Who would never tell me I couldn’t do something because I was a woman, or blame me if I was raped.
International Women’s day showed me all of the things I have to be grateful for as a woman living today. I have family who see me as no less than my younger brother. I have friends who are constant source of support and inspiration and solidarity, and I have wonderful women and men from around the world filling up my news feed with messages of support and feminism and love, and that is nothing if not reassuring and heart warming.