I so love this very important day of the year where 50% (approx before any pedant gets on my back) of the world’s population gets to jump up and down, wear purple and make asinine tweets or Facebook comments for A. Whole. Day.
Equally encouraging, are the saccharine news articles telling us how much women’s lot has improved.
And then adding, as an afterthought, how much more needs to be done.
Of course every year needs a theme.
The UN tells us:
This year’s theme, “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
“To be truly transformative, the post-2015 development agenda must prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment. The world will never realize 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realize their full potential. ”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
The International Women’s Day website has this to say:
2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
That’s great. Flowers and small gifts really help reduce rape, domestic violence, and discrimination.
‘Men honouring their …’ sounds like more patriarchal bullshit.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change … The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
Very good. At least we are getting to something meaningful now. But …
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
… let’s not dwell on the down side? However:
It’s more than 50 years since Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the first woman prime minister, quickly followed by Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir. That’s hardly recent progress.
Girls have been going to university since the 1870s.
Many women have to work while having a family to fund that family. And still come home and ‘housekeep’. Is that a real choice?
How about looking at whether women have real choices in fundamentalist religious communities? How about looking at whether women’s right to choose an abortion is continually under attack?
Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
Fashion parades? Really?
Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.
And just how is this ending discrimination and improving women’s health care and education in developing countries and poor communities in the western world?
The theme on this website is ‘Make It Happen’ and the UN was also using ‘Step It Up’, both are aiming at achieving gender equality sooner rather than later.
Well, I can’t personally make better health care happen in Uganda (Guardian) or stop girls being pulled out of school to fetch water (UN).
What I can do is highlight sexist derogatory comments. Because, while everyone signs up to the laudable principles of better health care and education for women and girls, what everyone does not sign up to is accepting, admitting, and ending discrimination. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, or rather in the eye of the offendee.
So, day after day, I read news items, speeches, blog posts about people who proclaim they are not sexist and then open their mouth and shoot themselves in the foot.
A couple of examples.
Here, because he is just amazing in his sheer lunacy, is the religious blogger I recently quoted:
Our society is really screwed up today! A lot of the problems are the result of the Evils of Feminism!!! The goals of feminism have been to destroy society by destroying the Christian Family- Husband, Wife, & Children. With the Husband going to work, the Wife staying at home being a full time homemaker! Then feminism came along, with it’s lies & telling the women to ditch the home & family for that “Career” The lie of a career being more satisfying for women than the true purpose of women- to raise the Future! The ability to create another life is a PRECIOUS GIFT that God gave to Women! That is far more noble & fulfilling than ANY job can be! And the Husband should be the one to support the whole family, as God intended it to be! Then,along with the feminist goal of wrecking the time tested & traditional family, along comes “The Pill” and casual sex, teaching women to be more promiscuous, and be less inhibited about having casual sex.
and let the men welsh on their responsibility for the kids that were produced in all the fornication that resulted from the pill. Along came Abortion! No problem, you don’t want your baby, then just kill it! And let’s lie to the woman, and tell her “it is not a baby, just a clump of cells, or a fetus, or any other name to de-humanise the baby, so he or she will be easier for you to kill!!! And then homosexuality- Lie to people some more, tell them they were “born gay” and they should be proud of being a perverted sicko- Go marry another perverted sicko!
Women Can’t have it both ways- a career is NOT compatible with Motherhood, and feminism knew that all along, that’s exactly what they wanted!!! To destroy the Christian Family! Oh, yes- we must also remove God from the equation- hence evolution, or just saying “there is no proof that God exists” (which is a LIE) There is plenty of factual evidence to prove beyond any doubt that God is Real!
Amazing. I have no response to that, except, feminism has no interest in destroying the christian family. Feminism wants equality for women. If christianity doesn’t accept that, well, that’s up to christians to cope with it however they choose. But, and a big BUT, their god-derived view of the world should not impact on women who don’t share those views.
Now, that’s a fairly easy one to criticise. Let’s look at something more subtle and insidious.
I recently read a blog post about Butterface. Like the blogger, I’d never heard the term before. It’s a really witty (?) word usage to refer to a woman with a good body and an ugly face. ‘She’s got a great body but her face …’
And no, I didn’t comment for obvious reasons. Others did. Far more nicely than I would have done.
Now, note, the blogger later added this:
I knew, when I posted this, that some might consider it sexist. ….
It was not my intention to be sexist. …
I hope no one takes offense at this post, but if anyone does, well, all I can say in my defense is that it was a female who used the term. I’m just, in an attempt to be witty, relating the story.
And seriously, if you are truly offended by this post, grow up. When did you lose your sense of humor?
I know 99% of readers do not grasp what feminism is about but I’ll attempt the impossible and try to explain why this is a problem. Because until sexism and discrimination stop being the norm, gender equality won’t become the norm either. Which will suit the 50% in power.
So, what’s the problem with this oh so funny comment?
- A woman is being judged on her face and her body. It’s called objectification. We, both men and women, look at women and rate them on how sexually attractive they are. Because that is how women are primarily judged.
- I knew some people might think of it like that, but it wasn’t my intention, so therefore it’s ok, EVEN though I knew I might be causing offence. Stop. Seriously. Give me back that shovel you are digging your own grave with. You knew it might be considered sexist, yet it wasn’t your intention to be sexist by repeating it? Um.
- Going on the defensive because, yes, it was sexist. However, it wasn’t his fault because another woman made the statement. This is always the number one classic defence. Well that’s all right then isn’t it? Sadly no, it’s not. Because women are imbued with the same societal values and culture as men. Women making sexist comments about each other does not make it better or mean it isn’t sexist.
- And the second classic defence is: no sense of humour. ‘It’s funny, don’t you get that?’ It’s really funny insulting women because their physical appearance doesn’t come up to scratch. It’s just a joke. Lighten up.
Why is this wrong? Because it is not taking women seriously when they complain about sexist, offensive, derogatory comments. And it doesn’t just happen in blogland and on facebook and Twitter (qv the man with his rapetruck), it happens in real life when politicians put women down by laughing at them and taking serious points and turning them into jokes, and then accusing people of no sense of humour.
It is not funny. Just as rape jokes are not funny.
A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries. In some jurisdictions, male-female rape is the only form of rape counted in the statistics. The attitude of the police in many countries often discourages victims from reporting rape: one study in Turkey found that 33% of police officers agreed with the assertion that “some women deserve rape” and 66% agreed that “the physical appearance and behaviors of women tempt men to rape.”
In many parts of the world, rape is very rarely reported, due to the extreme social stigma cast on women who have been raped, or the fear of being disowned by their families, or subjected to violence, including honor killings. Furthermore, in countries where adultery and/or premarital sex are illegal, victims of rape can face prosecution under these laws, if there is not sufficient evidence to prove a rape in the court. Even if they can prove their rape case, evidence during investigation may surface showing that they were not virgins at the time of the rape, which, if they are unmarried, opens the door for prosecution.
Countries may or may not criminalize marital rape, and, in many countries which do criminalize it, prosecutions for it are exceptionally rare. Sexual activity in marriage is, in many parts of the world, considered an absolute right of the husband that can be taken with or without the consent of his wife; the very act of a woman refusing to have sex with her husband may be considered unthinkable: in one survey, 74% of women in Mali said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him. Though de jure, a rape law may be applicable to any victim; de facto the enforcement of the law often excludes certain victims, such as prostitutes, women who were not virgins at the time of the rape, or other women with a ‘bad reputation’.
Sure it’s from wiki but it’s good enough to make my point about sexual objectification being inherent in all our societies, in both men and women.
When a majority of women find it acceptable for men to beat their wives for refusing sex, we have some seriously screwed-up values.
But that’s in Mali, it doesn’t count. We’re better here … women are equal … butterfaces …