According to my Google home page, today is International Women's Day. To be honest, I didn't know this day even existed. And when I Googled it, I discovered it's been around since 1909. I was embarrassed to not have known this day existed, and over lunch Dan and I had a brief chat about its significance. Our conclusion, most humbly summed up, is it is about remembering there is a constant need to create and preserve equality between the sexes.
When I meet women who say they aren't feminists, I don't really know how to respond to that. Aren't you a woman? Don't you believe that there should be equality between the sexes? Because that's all being a feminist means. It means you believe men are as good as women, and women are as good as men. It means that you do not support ideas like, "Feminazis, stop your bitching. It's nobody's fault but yours if you can't do as well as a man. Take responsibility for your own life." I assure you that is a real quote by a male telemarketer who was angry because he makes less money in his job than all the women he works with, so by extension all women need to shut-up about how they earn less than men. I'm assuming this wordsmith was in fact born to a woman and isn't the product of some science experiment in failed humanity. Nice.
Because that's what Dan and I also talked about today. Do you have daughters? Do you have wives? Do you have girlfriends? Do you have friends who are girls? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you too should be a feminist. And I'm sorry, but I personally feel any other answer than 'yes' is a disgrace. Feminism is about equal opportunity. What the individual chooses to do with that opportunity is all on them.
What is ironic about Dan and I having this discussion over lunch is that later when I was on the bus, there was a crazy sitting behind me. A loud mouthed, foul opinioned, crazy who happened to be speaking English so I could fluently understand him.
When I got on the bus he was yelling, "STAY AWAY FROM ME. STAY AWAY FROM ME. STAY AWAY FROM ME."
Obviously I did.
Sitting three rows in front of him (please note no one would sit in a three row vicinity of him) I found out that what he was actually yelling about was back in his country he approached a woman who told him to, "STAY AWAY FROM ME. STAY AWAY FROM ME. I DON'T WANT YOUR BABY."
Then this crazy guy collapsed into giggles.
"What a stupid! What a stupid! She can't tell me what to do. I will give her a baby if I want. Then I will throw that baby away! What a stupid! STAY AWAY FROM ME. STAY AWAY FROM ME." Then he burst into hysterical laughing again before confirming again that no woman will tell him what to do.
Everyone on the bus looked irritated, and the teenage guys were laughing at him. I was enraged. It was etched on every line of my face. I spun around and shot fire out of my eyes at that man and I wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up before I kicked him in the teeth. However, I said nothing because his reaction could have been dangerous, and I didn't want to find out. But he saw me, and for three seconds he was quiet before laughing again. How DARE he think it was funny that a woman said 'no' to his sexual advances. How DARE he find it amusing. Because the attitude towards women that may or may not have been 'acceptable' in his home country is absolutely not acceptable here, but he will persist with his opinion of women. It doesn't matter where he lives.
Over a month ago I was at a Coop where a man slapped a woman cashier because she didn't understand what he wanted. He slapped her. The police were obviously called. Everyone was stunned.
Last year when I was in German classes I was partnered with a guy who told me, "I was smart for a girl."
In no particular terms I told him he wasn't that smart for saying such a stupid thing. He got up and left in anger because clearly hadn't I understood he was complimenting me? In his own misogynistic way. He would not work with me for the remainder of the course.
That's fine. I'd rather work alone than with the ignorant.
I had another guy in the course tell me that women shouldn't have jobs. They should only be in the house. I told him he better remember the phrase "happy wife, happy life" or he was basically fucked.
So though I have been shamefully unawares that there is an International Women's Day, the events of today, coupled with a handful of experiences from the last year, have prompted me to want to draw attention to it in a way that is bigger than a Google home page.
Because there should not be another person left on this earth, man or woman alike, who thinks women don't have the right to say no to sexual advances, that women can be slapped!, that women can be 'surprisingly' smart, and that women should not be allowed to work outside the home.
That is so far from okay, I can't even....;AKDHFH!!! It makes me furious with inarticulate rage.
I am a feminist and proud of it.