08 March 2012

International Women's Day

If you have looked at other blogs, Twitter, or Facebook, you know it's International Women's Day.

I just don't know.  Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a true feminist, and I think that A LOT still needs to be done for women everywhere.  But I am also troubled about the whole Motherhood, Sisterhood, and Wonderfulness thing.

For one thing, I get really really really really tired hearing about Mothers As Heroines.  No, I don't have children.  Lots of people do, and good for them.  However, I don't feel that because they gave birth, they are in any way inherently better than anyone else.  Being a mother doesn't automatically make you the answer to all of the world's problems.  I don't envy my mother her experiences putting up with me after my father died, when my older sisters were already on their own.  I was thirteen, and though my mother and I were good friends and got along really well, I am 99% sure that I was a PITA most of the time.  And you know what?  Even though I loved her immensely and miss her terribly every single day, she was no prize either.  True, she was my heroine, but that's about it.  She also drove me as crazy as I drove her.  And I don't think that she cared that she wasn't being held up as The Perfect Mother - she loved us and took care of us, and I'm sure it was just as much because when she got up every day that needed to be done, as it was because she was A Mother.

Also, I am often embarrassed by the Women Are Completely Superior approach to life - you know, the God Men Are Stupid/Useless/Whatever group.  I know plenty of men who fall into that category.  Sadly, I know plenty of women who do as well.  My father, The Tim, my brothers-in-law, my nephew, and my nieces' husbands - they were/are all pretty amazing guys, who tried/try every single day to be decent human beings.  They love their families, they work hard, and they count on being able to laugh and enjoy their lives at least every once in a while.   I can think of plenty of men AND women who are great, funny, smart people that I always enjoy being around.

And oh my holy God - Sisterhood!  Don't get me started.  I would do anything for my actual sisters, friends, and some other females that I know.  I hope that they would say the same about me.  I try to encourage people to support equal rights for women, and to fight for justice for women here in the U.S. and also abroad.  I would LOVE to live in a world where women didn't have to be baby-machines, sex slaves, or servants to anyone.  Where any accomplishments, educational opportunities, or personal decisions were not dismissed or "corrected" by others (male or otherwise).  So you might think I have a strong sense of Sisterhood.  But I don't.  I am a person who will work with any group for anything I believe in, but that doesn't mean I am just like them, and want to be like them.  Particularly when I had cancer, I was expected to become part of the Sisterhood - of patients, survivors, advocates for care, whatever.   And when I would not immediately respond "Oh that's great, count me in!," people were taken aback.

I'm reading this post, and I fear that it sounds a) negative, b) anti-female, and c) preachy.  If you have read this far, please let me tell you that I don't mean it to sound like any of those things - particularly the last two (I know myself well enough to know that I can often seem negative even when I don't think I do).  I'm just trying to say that International Women's Day should be a day when we can celebrate the accomplishments of all women - those who we know made a difference in the world, and those who get up every day and live their lives because they don't have the luxury of a lot of other choices.  Plenty of well-known women weren't nice people. But every woman is just as important as every man and/or child. Because every person is important.

We are fortunate to have this day that asks/reminds us to think about women and their lives.  But it also reminds me of when I was a little kid, and would complain about Mother's Day and Father's Day, and adults would say "That's because every day is 'Children's Day'," which is of course a crock.  Every day should be everyone's day.  No matter where they are or who they are.  And it will take women AND men to accomplish that.  Every. Day.


Jenn said...

I have been getting more and more uncomfortable every time I heard someone mention "International Women's Day," but I couldn't articulate why and you did it perfectly for me. Thank you.

Marie said...

International Women's Day, even though it's been happening for 101 years, was sort of news to me. I didn't really have time to "celebrate" but it did make me feel warm and fuzzy to know we have a whole day! LOL. I went to knit night with my friends last night, although we let a husband sit with us for a while. And I LOVED this post. Thanks Bridget.

Lorraine said...

Bridget- What about International Act Like a Human Being Day? Wouldn't that be more relevant?

KSD said...

Magnificent. Send this, ASAP, somewhere to be published.

Anonymous said...

I am 58. I have been there since the beginning. I have fought long and hard to be seen as the intelligent, articulate, educated PERSON I am. I consider myself a feminist. and I agree with everything you said.

Right on, Sister! (tongue firmly in cheek) I crack myself up sometimes.