Today is International Women’s Day. A day designed to celebrate the accomplishments of women and raise awareness of inequality where it exists. I dared to challenge on Twitter how people seem to mark the occasion and clearly my first tweet on the subject was too tongue-in-cheek and the point lost. So, I’ll make it as clearly as I can and hope for the best. I absolutely support, applaud and salute International Women’s Day. Gender inequality is very much still rife and apparent in all institutions, despite the progress made. I’ve seen it in action and it disgusts me. That is not what I was disputing. My issue is that a vast amount of people use the occasion counter-productively, perpetrating resentment and division.
If you search the #iwd string on Twitter, it won’t be long before you come across it being used as a stick to beat with. The “heated discussions” I then had unfortunately furthered my point. There is nothing I like more than a healthy debate, and if I’m made to look like an ignorant twat then I’ll stick my white flag up and pray for mercy. What I will not accept is people chastising me for a point I was not making, and painting me as a misogynist. The issue that seemed to crop up more than most is that of ‘unexamined privilege’. This is the single-most counter-productive attitude to have towards equality. Basically, I was told (and you can search my @mentions) that because men predominantly still write the rules, I have received privilege my entire life and that I should take that into account in everything I’ve achieved in my life. So, in an argument about equality, people made assumptions over how and what I have achieved in my life, because society made it that way. It’s inconceivable, apparently, that I may have deserved everything I have received. If I have got the wrong end of the stick, I gave one person in particular plenty of room to correct me. They chose not to. And if I even think about saying that I have earned my accomplishments, then I am denying I have been privileged, which is akin to denying the holocaust (I hope that’s not Godwin’s Law, just an apt analogy), that I don’t “get it” and that I think any woman trying to argue with me is a feminist.
One example of the unexamined privilege afforded me, which I had highlighted to me a couple of times, is that of employment rights when it comes to maternity. Women DO repeatedly get screwed over when it comes to maternity, no matter what governments try to do to protect them. My argument there was that men are still, by a long way, portrayed and viewed as a lesser parent. But this argument is indicative of the problem. We engage in gender one-upmanship, even if we subscribe to the overall message this day is supposed to convey, which I do, and that could create a bigger divide. Men come out of the argument as oppressors after trying to justify their existence. What good is that in trying to rectify equality??
Rather than maybe slam all the good work the day does in my face, they amplified the original issue I had. This day would be better spent bringing people together in the cause rather than be used as a tool to create divides.
*This is a JOKE but probably confirms that I have privilege by the fact I can make it.