As a realistic and somewhat pessimistic woman I tend to stay away from international days of anything. One day of focus is not enough to change anything or even learn much of any given subject. That said, as a woman in the male-dominated world of history and a citizen in a country that is regressing horribly I feel like not mentioning International Women’s Day would be a terrible mistake.
Right now women are still swimming against the current, as we’ve almost always done before. It’s hard to get people to think of us as separate, unconnected beings – not merely a sister, daughter, wife, or friend – but as a valid person regardless of our ties to anyone else. We still fight hard to be seen as equal. We still can’t make decisions about our own bodies or our own sex lives without shame or judgment. We can’t get a comparable paycheck for equal (if not harder) work. Many still dismiss us as being emotional, crazy, nagging, or dramatic when we demand to be listened to or treated fairly. Eamon De Valera called women the “most unmanageable of revolutionaries” and he spit the phrase out as if it were a bad thing before undermining nearly every woman around him. It was as if he forgot all about the Proclamation that he fought for, which promised full equality to both sexes.
I was told by teachers and other people that no one would ever really care about women in history, since (with few exceptions) they never really gained enough power to truly change things. I started this blog anyway to highlight women in Irish history, because at that time I couldn’t find much about them. That in itself made it an unintentionally feminist blog. In the years since there have been great strides in the Women’s History arena – tons of books, blogs, and stories have shone a light on the amazing women who came before to help shape Ireland and many other nations…but they’re still being written predominantly by other women. It’s time to change that because the same old-fashioned men will still be able to dismiss our hard work. It’s time to work together – all genders, creeds, colors, and lifestyles…in order to wipe away the stigmas and the outdated traditions, eventually leading to a place of real equality. It’s beyond time to carry each other into the present and the future. On International Women’s Day and every day forward, I can only continue to reiterate that it’s time for everyone to stop thinking of women as support staff and to start seeing us as wonderful beings that are valuable in every way, whether you know us or not. I ask that the “crazy” and “unmanageable” monikers are not tossed around derisively as an insult or a dismissal, but instead celebrated as a strategic acknowledgement of a different but equally desirable and vital skill set.
It’s long past time to realize that true parity doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice. Equality doesn’t take from one side to give it to the other. It just recognizes and celebrates our differences while rewarding us equally for them. It doesn’t have to be scary or threatening. We don’t have to tear one side down to lift ourselves up and it is only the weak, the insecure, and the old-fashioned that think differently. I’d say their #timesup.
Start today. No matter what gender you identify as, use International Women’s Day to celebrate a woman you don’t know and will never meet. Learn about and honor her without the expectation or realization of a kinship of any kind. Don’t put yourself in her story at all. If that’s not your thing, look at your vernacular and make a conscious effort to remove any bitch, slut, crazy, or “like a girl” descriptions from it. Don’t expect women to do more than anyone else, or blame them when they won’t. Call out unfair practices – and call your friends out on any bad behavior or language you see and hear. Don’t do it to protect us, do it to protect everyone from stupidity and bias. Acknowledge that history and herstory have very same worth and that equal worth applies to whatever field we’re talking about. Respect and trust the women you know – but do the same for the ones you don’t. Change laws and paradigms. Resist bigotry and misogyny. Realize that the patriarchy is damaging to both men and women. If you’re in Ireland, repeal the eighth and if you’re in America protect Roe v. Wade because more often than not, it’s only the women who pay the price and do the heavy lifting when it comes to having or not having kids. Stand up, not at the expense of anyone else but because it’s time to lift everyone up to higher standards. Be revolutionary in the easiest way and change the world for the better. And yes, all of this takes longer than a single day…but we can start with this one and if we all do our part, there may yet be a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.