Do I call myself a feminist, on this International Women’s Day, and why or why not?
What does that even mean?
Is this really a mandatory name we should give ourselves? Not everyone would agree, would want to give themselves this title.
It puts a bad taste in many people’s mouths, but I am a feminist. I won’t apologize for that, even though all the false ideas of others in the world may rain down on my head if I speak it out loud.
I am also a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a writer, a blind Canadian. Does it matter, in which order, I list these things?
Are labels necessary, sometimes, or do they only serve to divide and cause resentment?
We celebrate this day, March is given the title of Women’s History Month in addition, and yet there is shame or blame or something else attached to it all…still. Feminism does not need to be an either or situation with acknowledging everyone. Feminism has nothing to do with hating all men and equality goes for us all. The argument can be made, today however, that March 8th, it should just be about women and girls. After all, what’s one day, compared to all the others?
So my thoughts may not come out all that well. So what if I want more acceptance for anyone who feels they don’t have it or can’t seem to get it.
So what if I get frustrated and angry sometimes because I am a woman with a disability, fighting for rights and recognition, when so many women of colour, different sexuality, of class or religion may be fighting for those things too. Is there not room for all of us to find it? Must we push and fight our way with each other?
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (wife of Canada’s prime minister) puts out a Facebook post, ahead of International Women’s Day, and calls for a male presence to show solidarity. Suddenly, she’s betraying what Women’s Day is all about, because don’t men already have enough of the attention all the other 364 days of the year?
So the world is afraid and breaking itself up into groups. So men are resentful that women still feel life isn’t anywhere close to being equal. That they make it seem like we are wining about practically nothing. There are always those good ones who don’t let the fear rule them, who aren’t plagued by resentment at the thought of strong women in the world, women who aren’t afraid to speak out.
I liked what Sophie said. I want to speak up about how I feel and what I want, but I also don’t discount men, the good ones. I am a feminist who loves the men who have been there for me, who have shown up for me, have treated me with gentleness and respect, and who have brought me great happiness and lots of laughs. These men deserve to be included in the conversation. They are invaluable allies.
When I am most frustrated by the events going on in the world, I want to scream that not all from one country or religion are bad. I want to make my point that lots of white men have done bad things, many men in general. Do I want to build a wall between myself and all men?
Certainly not. My father and my brothers are white men. They are amazing people. So, I choose not to be afraid of all of the opposite gender, no matter the colour of their skin, because I know and have known some wonderful men.
Of course, is it so strange a thing that I am proud of a male as the leader of Canada, one who has not been caught on tape bragging about grabbing women? That I am happy to see the companionship of Sophie and Justin, the image of them holding hands, when we need to be supporting each other, male and female, no matter the day.
Because if I speak of how I think it absurd that such a man, speaking ugly things on a recording I can never erase from my mind, has been given the keys to the castle to Canada’s south, I am locked in a loop of disgust and disbelief.
And then there’s the new scandal, coming out about some U.S. marines, the revelation of a secret Facebook group where women’s pictures have been shared and gawked at for amusement. Is this real life? Are these real men at all? Just who do they think they can protect and with what integrity?
This is why we still need more work and why we strike and speak and stand up. I choose to use men to help illustrate the point.
What does it mean to be a man, a woman, a president or prime minister, or a feminist anyway?
I feel we’re all starting to turn on each other now. Solidarity and division run a fine line when these impassioned issues are discussed. The giant women’s march happened, showing the might of women around the world. Then, some people felt left out. Now they resent the intentions. Turning on one another is not what we need to be doing, but it isn’t easy to meet the needs of everyone and feelings get hurt, emotions run high.
Launching itself off of the success and force of January’s march, today is being called A Day Without A Woman and women are supposed to strike, to show what a world without any women in might look like.
Would things fall apart? Most definitely they would. Can we all agree to band together and all strike on this day? Of course not. Some cannot.
So then thank the women in your life for being there. Support female run business and wear red. My favourite colour, one of passion and empowerment, but what will this do to continue the momentum? Try and get everyone to do the same thing, to follow the same idea…doesn’t happen.
So many sound outright enraged that women would even dare to think of doing any of this. Why? Of course there are things to consider, but this is no reason to be so pissed.
Will the message be received? And what is the message anyway?
Actress Emma Watson stars in hit movies, reads a lot, and stands for feminist rights, but soon people say she wears the wrong thing or says the wrong words. Suddenly, she’s not the right spokesperson. She’s no feminist, they scream.
We, none of us, can live up to what others expect of us, feminist or not. It just can’t happen.
I know we will never all be completely equal, that life’s often unfair, but I will never stop working for change and progress, as long as I live as an aunt, to nieces and nephews both.
Do we need to leave men completely out of the equation on this day, if none other? Perhaps, to make the statement fully empowering.
Or, does this not help add to any divisiveness already growing? True, many men still do not get it, so let’s include, in one way or another, those men who do. We have a lot more work to do.
I ask these questions, as I still do not know the answers, or perhaps it’s some of both. I always was one to have trouble deciding. I ask questions instead. What’s important is that we continue asking.
We all need to stand up for good human decency, no matter the day or month of the year, no matter our gender, feminists or not – as simply the human beings we all are, something we share on common ground.