Today is International Women's Day, which is generally only meaningfully marked by the people who already treat every day as International Women's Day. It is a day on which I am usually pointedly reminded that the business of advocating on behalf of women's equality is still considered woman's work, which tends to give the day a flavor of bitter irony that doesn't want to leave my mouth.
Nonetheless, every year, I feel obliged to try to write something profound for International Women's Day, and every year I fail, and most years I feel more optimistic about the state of women's equality than I do on this day. This morning I woke up, turned on the news, and the first thing I saw on CNN was a segment teaser for a piece about how the Arab Spring has failed to deliver on its promises for women. Quelle surprise.
[Content Note: Below links contain posts discussing violent misogyny.]
I'm angry about the state of the world for the women in it, in the US, along the US border, in Egypt, in DR Congo, in Brazil, in Scotland, in Australia, women in every country all over the world, black women, brown women, white women, tall women, short women, dwarf women, fat women, thin women, in-betweenie women, trans* women, women with disabilities, able-bodied women, neuro-typical women, neuro-atypical women, old women, young women, girls, women with children, childfree women, healthy women, ill women, poor women, rich women, middle class women, employed women, unemployed women, insured women, uninsured women, immigrant women, migrant women, English-speaking women, non-English-speaking women, progressive women, conservative women, women in unions, women in uniforms, women in male-centric careers, women in comas, straight women, lesbian women, bisexual women, asexual women, demisexual women, partnered women, unpartnered women, poly women, powerful women, weak women, vegan woman, vegetarian women, omnivorous women, religious women, atheist women, agnostic women, educated women, uneducated women, women who have survived trauma, women who want my advocacy, women who don't, and/or every other conceivable expression, intersectionality, and experience of womanhood that exists on the planet.
I am angry at what we are denied on the basis of our womanhood, or the insufficiency of our womanhood, or the unacceptable expression of our womanhood, as arbitrarily defined by people fiercely guarding their privilege.
I am angry that we are denied autonomy, dignity, respect, the right of consent, safety, security, opportunity, access, equality—and many things smaller than those.
That anger threatens every day to engulf me, to hold me like a flame under a jar until, starved of oxygen, I disappear into a wisp of smoke. I search each morning for a way to turn that anger into inspiration, fuel, purpose. Today is a day like all others in that regard.
Today is a day when I am angry, but, also like all other days, it is a day on which I am happy to be a woman among women.
I do not long to be the Exceptional Woman. When I find myself in a space in which I am the only woman, I do not feel satisfied, nor do I feel insecure: I feel contemptuous that there aren't more women there. I do not want to compete with other women in a way that suggests there is only room for one of us. I want to lift up other women, and be lifted up by them, and blaze trails in the hopes that many more will follow behind.
I respect women, and I love them. And when I take stock of all the issues disproportionately affecting women across the globe, what I see is lack of respect and love for women so pervasive and profound that to merely assert to love and respect women yet remains a radical act.
It is at the intersection of my anger at the mistreatment of women and my love and respect for them that I find my motivation every day.
I am an imperfect advocate for women, and I have nothing profound to say on International Women's Day. Again. The truth is, I just want to recommit myself to treating every day as a day in which it is important to fight for international justice for women, and to love and respect them, including myself.
I am a feminist with a teaspoon, and I ain't afraid to use it.