Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I am woman. Hear me scream.

Today is International Women's Day, and in honor of the more than half the population who still don't earn equal pay, who often don't feel safe in the simple act of walking down the street at night, who face stigma and blame for every sexual decision they make from saying no to saying yes, from wanting a child when their boss wishes they wouldn't to not wanting one when politicians think they should: This post is just about outright feminist anger.

Because most of the time, I'm not really motivated by anger. Mostly, I feel lucky. As recently as my mother's generation, my choices would have either been much more constrained or I would have had to fight for them tooth and nail. Sexism is real, and present, but I don't experience it as a constraining factor in my day to day life in meaningful ways.

But that sense - that perceived experience - is wrong. We still live in a world where our leaders can think it might be a smart political strategy at the earliest opportunity to:
  • Redefine rape to exclude the kind that isn't, ya know, REALLY rape. (charming)
  • Strip all funding from Planned Parenthood, to ensure women don't get access to frivolous luxuries like cancer screaning, birth control, STD treatment and pregnancy tests
  • Listen to the "testimony" of foetuses, but NOT of women on the issue of abortion rights
  • And, of course, ensure that women who have been systematically discriminated against don't get any uppity notions about acheiving justice.
Equality is still something we have to fight for, and even us raging feminists are sometimes guilty of unwittingly perpetuating the assumptions that make us unequal.

So, today I'd like to raise a glass to the heroic women of the past and of the here and now who have been willing to face being laughed at, yelled at, abused, insulted and injured just because they aren't willing to lie back and take it.

And speaking of not taking things lying down - here's a video, shared widely and mentioned with approval by lots of folks who work with me in the world of social media. They think it's fabulous.

I hated it. Why? Simple:

I like beer. I like hugs. I like Facebook. Indeed, most Facebook users and huggers are female, and I suspect a pretty hefty constituency of the beer drinkers are too. But we are not being thanked here. Are all of Heineken's 1 million Facebook fans male?

I realise this is petty. But I decided to grant myself permission to be petty today. Don't worry, tomorrow will be one of the 363 International Days of Men, so we can go back to complacently accepting that physical contact with attractive women is the currency with which brands bribe men to drink beer, but for today, let me be the humourless shrew who points out that sexism is so ingrained that on most days, in most circumstance... most people don't see it.