On March 8th my FB Timeline, Twitterfeed, Instagram, Whatsapp and Email were followed with Happy Women’s day messages. I received a plethora of sale and discount offers from various brands and others extolling the virtues of women and the advantages of being one. My uniqueness was praised and used to sell me more garbage than I need, which I was told I deserve. It is just another way of patriarchy telling us you get one day, shut up and take it. Because on the other side of March 8th is radio silence. Back to the past we go.
International women’s day started as a day of observance and awareness of the injustices a woman faces in everyday life. Today it has become a charade with brands offering discounts to women or celebrating her! Case in point, the email I received from Etihad. It features discounts for women’s day and the featured items include makeup, hair dryers, epilators, etc. Throw back to about two weeks ago when they had another sale in their shop where the featured items included headphones, battery banks, etc. This is in itself an indicator of a woman’s place in our society. We exist as eye candy.
On the other side of Women’s day, is the reality of what it means to be a woman. The objectification, fear of assault, conundrum of existence, fight for equality,…. Every day of a woman’s life is a fight and for many women every second of every day is one. The fight begins even before we enter this world for many girls who never find their way out. Even at birth the odds are not stacked in our favour. But making your way out is just the beginning, then comes the real challenge – the constant fight for resources and to prove we deserve to be where we are every single step of the way.
Patriarchy is suffused in every breath we take in our everyday lives. It manifests itself in the most inconspicuous ways – being asked to organise parties/events at the workplace because as a woman you are more capable of it than a man – and on more horrendous levels which makes newspaper headlines – female infanticide, rape, FGM, etc. The list is endless. The average woman has gotten so used to being snubbed for the woman she is, that she hardly notices it anymore. She has relegated herself to the treatment she begets. Content with fighting her way through the barriers put in place just for her benefit.
Even today men are told to respect us for being someone’s mother, sister, wife, aunt, grandmother and sundry. We are not people. We are always spoken about in reference to a man. Even women who have fought their way up are relegated to being someone’s wife or daughter. Our humanity, or peoplehood as Mr. Trudeau would call it, is never acknowledged because it has never existed. We continue to be treated as property. A fringe group despite being half of the population.
Every woman has a story to tell about some injustice she has faced in life. Many times they are the victims of their own gender. Our mother, grandmothers, aunts constantly tell us to toe the line, to remember our place. Not because they don’t want us to succeed but because they have themselves paid the price of trying to do otherwise. They do it to protect us from the pain they themselves have faced, unaware that in doing this they are further perpetrating the same crimes that we accuse the other gender of. We have internalised the patriarchy thanks to how we have grown up with. So the struggle is always twofold. An internal struggle to over the internal patriarchy and the external against the world to get somewhere.
We are slowly beginning to lift the veil on the misogyny that is so pervasive in our everyday lives. Hollywood’s Time’s Up and #MeToo movements are just the tip of iceberg. If some of the most popular women have been victims of patriarchy, just imagine the lot of the rest of us. The amount of time that has elapsed since the incidents to the actual reporting of the same and the grieveousness of it all should give you a picture of just how much women tolerate.
We can’t afford to shut our brains off for even a second. What to wear, to where we go, how we travel, with whom we move, what time of day, what we say, how we move,…. because all it takes is one ‘wrong’ move. She was out too late, her dress was too short, she touched my arm, she smiled at me, she didn’t respond,… Everything we do or don’t, say or don’t, wear or don’t can and will be used against us. We can’t catch a break.
So no! It’s not great being a woman! It’s a nightmare! This hyper-awareness is exhausting! It’s insulting! It’s degrading! We aren’t asking for much. We don’t need any special treatment. All we ask is that you look at us as people. People with opinions, aspirations, desires, just as you would a man. Don’t respect us for being the giver of life, respect us for our actions when we are deserving of it, like you would any man.
And the next women’s day, don’t give me shit about –
To strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.
I thought that way for a long time too. But then I realised, why should women alone be strong? Why can men be more sensitive, create an environment where women don’t have to be strong. Where we can just be ourselves.
The next women’s day, give me reason to believe we won’t need one anymore. Give me –
To equality. May we know it, may we live it, may we work for it.