Make It Happen

Is it just me, my imaginary friend, or do others weary of the rhetoric surrounding International Women’s Day? “Make it happen” is one slogan I encountered, along with “Empowering Women – Empowering humanity”. I am quite sure that millions of words have been written in support of the idea that women’s equality is oh so close…More women in business. In government. In the highest positions of power. Opportunity for education and training. Equal pay. Freedom from fear of violence. More attention to women in sport. Yes, yes, we need merely fix these things (ahem, there are a few more items) – and half the world’s population will be equal to the other half.

If I sound a little cynical, friend, I remember International Women’s Year; yes, an entire year devoted to raising awareness of such gross inequalities as the lower rate of pay for women, stunning domestic abuse and sexual violence statistics, the lack of equal opportunity in an array of professions. That year was 1975, and these basic inequalities are still with us …even in the most progressive countries. And in many ‘developing’ nations, the lives of women are nasty and brutish. Four decades on, and oh so little progress is an anguish for half the world.

Of all the images of the day, this one stands out for me – this picture of Kubra Khademi armouring herself against unwanted touching, in a truly magnificent piece of performance art. Magnificent or not, I’ve read that Kubra Khademi has now gone into hiding, for fear of her life.

The-Armor-Performance-by-Kubra-Khademi

The banality of slogans in the face of such reaction is outrageous, frankly.

Kubra’s performance of wearing body armour is uniquely personal to her and her story. But it is also much larger than that, for it is the metaphor that half the world’s population understands in the most intimate way, for women carry out the act of armouring every day. It may be as physical as wearing a burqa, or as routine as applying make up to conform to some cultural notion of beauty. Perhaps slipping a gun or a can of mace into a purse for ‘protection’. Maybe it is the girl desperately trying not to provoke the rage of a father and his bruising blows. The women walking quickly and purposefully down dark streets – because you must have a good reason for being out after dark, or appear to have one. It is, of course, of all these things, and far too many more to recite, but mostly, it is the daily armouring against simply being ‘woman’ and not ‘man’.

There are obvious differences between men and women, and then there is the accumulated cultural conditioning, the stereotypes that resist being laid to rest, the persistent notion of otherness. (Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Apologies to John Gray.) “Other’ is a forceful cultural construct, and it seems women are other. Well anyway, dear men, we’d like nothing better than to take off that armour, to immerse ourselves in that delicious sense of freedom that comes from knowing yourself, being yourself, and having that self valued for its uniqueness. And I say, dear men – I really do love you – because let us be clear, you are the gender that holds almost all of the positions of power, whether in government, or business, or many other spheres. Kindly stop blathering slogans at us and make it happen, would you?

I think Gloria Steinem’s words say it best:

The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Mark that very important phrase, “human rights”, for it is the crux of the matter. We are all human, first and last, and we must find the humanity that insists that half the world’s population must not be compelled to armour themselves. Happy International Women’s Day.

Advertisements

4 comments on “Make It Happen

  1. Agreed on the “human rights” bit.
    However.
    I don’t think things will change much for women so long as a Patriarchy remains. We cannot “compete” according to the “rules of the game,” for they are men’s rules, and women do not play by them, save a handful.
    I, too, love certain men, just as I love certain women. I do not love Patriarchy; it does not serve a world striving for equality and compassion for all living things.
    Now, how to shift paradigms … that is the conundrum.
    Cheers, VL.

    Like

  2. SharingIsGood says:

    Nor am I a fan of Patriarchy, VL.
    I gotta say, I find men and women about equally as lovable and women only slightly less culpable for the state of our relationships to one-another and to Gaia.
    Now, I must go outside to enjoy shovelling in the wind before it reaches a gale, then on to storm force – laden with more snow. Clearing that snow, sparring with Gaia, is part on my patriarchal duty.

    Like

    • Thanks for reading, Sharing. Some men and some women are less culpable than others…it seems to me that many people simply do not think about the roles they play in life…I prefer to be myself, rather than play a gender or any other role…
      This post was written, I can’t say in anger, but certainly with indignation that we are still hearing slogans about women’s equality. And also, I will say that the fact that men in power do not change this says much about their culpability…

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s