Friday, 6 March 2015

A whole day? Just for me and my girlies? Gee, thanks (but no thanks)

It’s already started.

The ads for “Sexy Boy Live Stripshow”. Promos for “Ladies’ Night” special cocktails. Offers to teach middle-aged matrons how to defy gravity with pole-dancing lessons or workshops to bring out their inner Burlesque diva. Banners popping up on my browser for heart-shaped pizzas “especially for the ladies” (no doubt made with ‘Lite’ ingredients). Price-hikes at the florists as they prepare for the onslaught of bosses who want to gain the approval of their female staff by presenting each with a red rose on their “Special Day”. 
And me, sitting at my keyboard, seething at the screen.

Yes folks, International Women’s Day is just around the corner – this Sunday in fact.
And I, for one, am dead against it. I know that probably won’t win me many friends, but there you go.

I reject International Women’s Day on a personal level, based on the fact that I am lucky enough to have been born and raised in a time and place where a lot of the battles of my sex have been won (but certainly not all).  I grew up in a family that encouraged me to believe that I was entitled to equal opportunities and treatment regardless of what bodily equipment I lug around with me. I have the background, and perhaps the temperament, to be work hard for whatever I set my heart on without being discouraged by the “nice girls don’t” prescripts.

I don’t need to given a pat on the head and told how “special” I am, thank you very much. Nor do I need to be granted a WHOLE DAY in the year devoted to me and my sisters around the world to understand my worth. 
I know I’m special – just as every man, woman and everything in between is – and I certainly don’t need a wilting force-bloomed flower sitting forlornly on my desk next to a sad slice of taste-free pizza to tell me that.

Frankly, I’d feel a lot more appreciated if we could finally get rid of the pay gap, the glass ceiling and the pigeon-holes some male colleagues slot all females into (“hot” or “menopausal”). I’d also love not to being considered a bitch or harridan - or worse the victim of my hormones - when I am strong, assertive or simply plain pissed-off at someone’s rudeness, incompetence or ignorance.

I shouldn’t complain. We’ve come a long way, even in the past few decades. Many of my female friends feel we longer need feminism, shifting uncomfortably in their seats when I start getting all Germaine Greer and telling me “We've won the important battles” and “I like being a woman/feminine”.

Despite my short hair and sometimes strident words, I like being a woman too. I’m happily married to a man I consider my best friend. I love cooking. I even do the ironing (though with little joy). I enjoy the company of both sexes. I wear make-up. I don’t own a single pair of dungarees, and I have never burned a bra in my life. I love the intimacy and support of female friendships that most blokey relationships never come close to. 
But I am a woman on my own terms. And being patronized is not on my wish list.

Here in the developed world (for want of a better phrase), the whole International Women’s Day concept has been kidnapped by the commercial interests who want to squeeze dosh out of us. Not least, they want to convince the decent fellas in our lives that they have to buy more stuff and serve up special treatment to show us their supportive, fem-friendly side (just as they pressured them to produce enforced romance on St Valentine’s Day).

Missing the whole point, much?

In the same week I’ve seen offers for Ladies’ Nights and special girly pizzas (extra glitter anyone?), the headlines have made depressing reading.
In an interview, one of the men convicted of the horrific gang rape and resulting death of a student in Delhi states that women are more to blame for rape than men, and that she made things worse by trying to fight off the attack.
Girls are still being subjected to genital mutilation at an age when most of us were blissfully unaware of the details of what goes on down there.
Young women are kidnapped and enslaved en masse to make some idealogical point.
Female children are raised to believe that they have less value than their brothers, fathers, sons and male friends (if they’re allowed to have any).

Even in ‘enlightened’ societies, we’re brainwashed into thinking that we’re somehow less of a real woman if we fail to match up to the copy/paste ideal of half-starved, Botoxed, body hair-free, ‘Come and get me big boy’ prototype that is thrust in our faces by every available media outlet. The only acceptable alternative is the holy state of motherhood (believe me, your average mother of a pre-schooler feels very far from a sanctified paragon of virtue).

And don’t you dare get fat or old, girls.

These are the things we should be shouting about on International Women’s Day, not pink drinks and wilting roses. So let’s stop missing the whole point and, men and woman alike, start making the kind of noise - every day of the year - to try to put right some of the wrongs still left on our ‘To Do’ list.


  1. Well ranted! Who wants to be patronised even more than we are already? Is it really International Patronise Women Day in fact?

  2. I'm with you on the fact that commercialising IWD is wrong, completely, and those doing it are obviously missing the point. But I do think it's important to have IWD to make people aware that the pay gap, glass ceiling, FGM and other issues are still there.

  3. I've never been a big fan of all these "special days"...especially "mother's and father's day"! They shouldn't exist--children who have lost a parent or both don't deserve more pain...and I do agree that there are tons of things we should be shouting about on IWD and beyond.