(Photo from EarthSky.org
It’s only International Women’s Day for another hour in my neck of the woods, so I am going to attempt to squeeze a little shout-out in before it’s too late, or else it will become one of those awkward belated (and thereby sorta irrelevant) shout-outs that I do so well and often, where it’s like everyone has moved on except for me. I am trying to change my ways, here. I think it’s called personal growth.
My sister and I had a conversation recently wherein I peripherally mentioned that I consider myself to be a feminist. It was relevant and in context, and that is how I tend to reveal that part of myself. Not because I am ashamed of my identification with that word – quite the opposite, actually – I have just learned that putting a voice to these thoughts and beliefs are wasted on most of the people I have talked to, as they the second they hear the word write me off as some extremist, who invents issues that aren’t really there, because aren’t we such a progressive society, and yadayadayada.
And it’s true; Denmark is a very progressive society. Sure, women still aren’t paid as much as men, but we have a lot of choices. I mean… basically, we control our own lives. Of course, there are 284238 expectations to who and what a woman should be, but we have the choice to either do right or do wrong. Aren’t we privileged? Aren’t we free?
I have met women, who glamorize the 1950s, where “men were men” and “women were women”. What does that even mean? Sure, I love a lot of things from back then: the music, the clothing, the movies, etc, but I wouldn’t want to go back, I mean, what the hell? How many periods of Social Studies did you miss? Why would you glamorize gender roles that gave you less of a voice?
If I had a nickel for every time I have heard, “I am not trying to sound like a feminist or anything…”, my little piggy bank would be reeeally heavy. I have heard it from women my age, and younger, and older. It’s like it’s a hush word, a dirty word, a box some people are scared to death to be put in. And I guess I just don’t understand why. What part of feminism is it you disagree with? What part of it tastes sour in your mouth? Why can’t we work together, rather than fight each other? Sometimes I think we, women, block ourselves from getting anywhere, when we basically want the same thing – we just fear the alienation.
I want for women to have a choice. If you want to work, work, if you want to stay at home with the kids (and is able to), stay at home with the kids. If you want to wear make-up, do it to highlight your beauty and not to please someone else, or because you think that’s what you should be doing — you are enough. If you want to express yourself sexually, express yourself sexually, but never let anyone talk about you/treat you like you are less than a person (who should be respected). And don’t let anyone tell you what is right or wrong for you to do with your ovaries!
While I don’t agree with the radical extremists (I am talking from a strictly Western European viewpoint here) who believe that women, who shave their legs, have some kind of self-gender-hatred going on, I do think it took extremists once. And I thank those for walking miles and miles in those shoes that others are now so afraid to step into. I thank them for giving me a voice, human rights, and a vote. I thank them for giving me the right to drive, to own my own land, and to own my body and myself. I thank them for giving me choices. It’s not over, and it might take hundreds and hundreds of years, but we have a much better starting point because of those women, as we have the right to demonstrate and to voice our opinions.
It’s now twenty-five minutes past twelve, which means that I am once again late and irrelevant. I’m sorry. Of course there is so much more to say on this issue, and if I wasn’t so tired I would write twenty more paragraphs, but it has to end somewhere.
So, my fellow women (and men, for that matter), here is my shout-out to you: Happy International Women’s Day 2013. Let’s make this the year where we dare to put this word in our mouths and inspire others to do the same.