On International Women's Day

March 8 is International Women's Day, which fell on the weekend this year. The 2014 theme is "Equality for Women is Progress for All." I write about equality for women every day, so I don't feel like I have Something Special to say to mark International Women's Day, although I do want to note that I prefer to say "Equality for All Women is Progress for All."

That might seem like a distinction without a difference, but crucial to the pursuit of meaningful equality is recognizing the women that tend to get left out of many casual uses of the word "women," depending on who's using it. Trans* and intersex women are women. Gay, bi, and asexual women are women. Women of color are women. Fat women are women. Women with disabilities are women. Poor women are women. Women without children are women. All self-identified women are women.

And it is only equality for all of those women, firstly with one another, that means progress for all people.

Once again, I am going to mark International Women's Day with something that is central to all progress for women, and that is a challenge to us all to love, respect, and trust women.

Last year on IWD, 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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