Happy International Women's Day

March 8 is International Women's Day. I imagine there are as many different ways to talk about International Women's Day as there are women in the world. The UN's theme for IWD 2013 is "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women." The International Women's Day 2013 theme is "The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum." I write about gendered violence every day, and I don't have much to say, truthfully, about gaining momentum, except that it feels sometimes like we are and sometimes like we're sliding backwards. So goes progress, I suppose.

So I am going to mark International Women's Day 2013 with something that I feel is central to all progress for women, including the end to gendered violence, and that is a challenge to us all to love, respect, and trust women.

Last year on this day, I wrote:
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.
To love and respect women yet remains a radical act. And so does trusting women to make the best choices for themselves, to believe that women are their own captains who do not need to have their choices legislated nor coerced through public judgment.

I love women. I respect women. I trust women. Not in some distant way that treats these phrases as self-evident observations with which any decent person would agree, but as an intimate call to action rooted in the recognition that if everyone really did agree with those observations, we wouldn't need an International Women's Day.

I love women. I respect women. I trust women. Not as part of some abstract, theoretical feminism but as part of an applied, practical feminism that urges me to love by nonjudgment, respect by listening, trust by supporting individual choices.

I love women. I respect women. I trust women. Including myself. And I ask that the people around me love, respect, and trust me, too.

I love women. I respect women. I trust women. And I am angry that these remain radical practices. But it is at the intersection of my anger at the mistreatment of women and my love, respect, and trust for them that I find my motivation every day.

On this day and every day, let us all be radical.

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