Written on March 8th:
Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. There are a wide variety of things happening around the world today to celebrate how far women have come, and to think about those who are still in need of a voice. I’ve been wondering how people feel about this day – whether it’s a happy occasion or not. For me it is bittersweet. The fact that we need it, and that we have done for a really long time is painful, and it’s hard not to feel worn out by the struggle. But then we make the best of what we have, and today is a day where women are recognised for what they have achieved and can demand attention together to voice their concerns, worries, anger, hurt and the injustices that they face. It is an important day, and one that deserves much more thought than it is probably getting – especially from men.
I think that for some people it’s hard to see how this day fits in with men, or anyone else who does not identify as a woman. This is sad, because in my mind it would be an excellent chance for women and men to come together to discuss how our society can become a more equal playing ground for both. The focus needs to be on women because historically and currently the battle is greater from their side, but in an ideal world we would all work together to better the society we live in for all of the people involved. In an idea society, however, feminism would not be needed like it is here today.
On the 5th of March, a chilly and windy Saturday, women from all over the United Kingdom gathered together in Hyde Park, London, ready to start marching, singing, shouting, talking, drumming and dancing for recognition and solidarity.
Together we can end male violence against women is a bold statement, and one that I’m not sure I can believe. A huge fight in feminism is getting across that men do have a choice as to whether they rape a woman, and that a woman is never to blame for her own assault. Due to this, I’m not sure than anyone other than men can stop violence against women, but I do believe that if we stand together and say loudly and proudly that we are survivors and that we stand united in saying NO, that we can spread the education that’s needed for women to demand the help that they need. A group is stronger than one person, and if feminist and human rights organisations locally and worldwide can stand together and agree to fight this, we can make a difference.
This difference can be:
- Making sure that a woman knows what she is entitled to.
- Support in finding a safe place that has shelter and food for women who need to escape violence.
- Teaching teenagers that it’s okay to say no, and that if somebody ignores that, it is wrong.
- Making sure that safety measures are put in place to help women who work in the sex industry.
- Putting things in place that allow women to leave the sex industry.
- Trying to spread the word that rape is never acceptable.
- Letting women know that they are capable of far more than they’ve been told.
- Saying no to the objectifying and possessing of women.
There are so many things that we can do that it is not possible for me to list them all. I think that what makes a victim into a survivor is developing a sense of power. That power could be something as simple as knowing how to pay bills or how to protect against sexually transmitted infections, or it could be making sure that girls know when they are growing up that they have the right to say no to unwanted touching and sexual experiences. It is that subtle something that gives the choices and decisions back to women, and then them knowing that they are their own people. This is something that far too often people try to take away.
All that’s left for me to say is happy International Women’s Day. I hope it’s a good time for your own reflections over plates of hot pancakes and maple syrup.