As International Women’s Day came and went I found myself uninspired to write about what makes this day so special. My celebration of women and interest in their history has been tempered of late by multiple examples of our stagnation or regression.
The gains and disadvantages my gender can point to can be qualified by an understanding of where we live. If I were to ask women in developing countries how much work they were doing, how much they were getting paid and how much they personally own in comparison to men, they would probably offer a vastly different perspective than my own. If I analyzed safety, abuse and exploitation I would see again a vast difference between women worldwide not to mention between the sexes. Simply put there are plenty of stats and stories to highlight inequality.
Recently the press released a story about a sexist note that was found on a WestJet plane’s seat. The writer complained about the plane being piloted by a woman. The fact that anyone holds those views in 2014 shows women continue to be considered, either openly or secretly, unworthy of certain personal or professional status. Even evoking the words equality or inequality conjures up for many people images of some loud, angry woman making her point or protest marches by feminists. It can even prompt a huge sigh followed by frustration that equality is even being discussed. Compassion, humanity or civility should be recognized as part of the roots belonging to equality not the negative definition it so often receives.
The unique differences that exist between women and men could be celebrated but for the most part they are pointed out in such grotesque ways. A person needs only to watch TV or movies to see many examples of how one-dimensional a gender can be and how that limits any valuable dialogue or portrayal. In everyday life person to person conversations and anonymous comments on websites strengthen the divide.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate International Women’s Day. I truly believe we should celebrate and bring to the forefront the history, sacrifices and contributions of women everywhere! (and acknowledge their supporters) BUT Do we do so believing that equality will be achieved? or Are we content to know this is a movement without a defined end?
Here are a couple more points I want to make:
1. Equality cannot be confused with robbing Peter to pay Patty. We have to keep in mind that women’s ascent in society is of benefit to all. This is not a competition between genders and it is time we stopped nurturing that attitude. We are not taking but rather giving to each other a gift that guarantees prosperity.
2. What I fear most is that some of the push-back we saw in the past towards women’s advancement is resurfacing even stronger. There is an under-current of judgement and even hatred that exists that if not properly addressed may come back to hurt women now and in the future.
Maybe we need to change the language we use in order to negotiate a better path forward while still honoring and celebrating our past.