Once a year, we are celebrated. Happy International Women’s Day! Inspiring quotes are brought up. Women of color are being recognized we say. (Even though this Pandemic has shown that those who have been left behind and disproportionately so are those same women of color). Donate to women lead organizations we say. Then we get back to our respective places, playing the game we’ve been taught to play for so long we forgot what the rules were in the first place. Being a human being requires equanimity. We have been at this game for far too long and we seem to lose more ground each year that passes. Each year we profess to want to see the world truly change.
I would honestly be ok with a one to one ratio. I don’t want to have more than men or to be valued more than them. I don’t believe my work is more valuable. I believe it is just as valuable. I’m not sure I want equal to men either. Equality still means we have to work harder, speak louder and say more just to be half as understood.
I want to be received as a hard working professional, a woman with integrity who isn’t pandered to, patronized and dismissed because and only because I seemingly need help. I don’t need help, I want people to listen. I want my non paid labor to be accepted, acknowledged and recognized as work. I want my successes to be of my own merit, and my failures not to be the failure of all women. I want to collaborate to elevate, not to compete in order to prove that for some reason we are not on the same team.
Raising human beings is work, taking care of your elders is work, Cooking for a family of 3,4,5 is work, cleaning a household is labor which is almost too often shouldered by and only by women. Let’s be honest here. We’ve worked so hard to prove we can seemingly do it all, because we had to, because we played a game we didn’t have a part in designing; and in the end we’ve neglected the premise of having the necessary support to do it WELL.
The structure of how society chooses to accept women is so contradictory it’s driving us further apart than bringing us closer together. Just look at the supportive comments on any social media feed that features a woman in a position of power. I don’t want the obligatory child I’m supposed to have, be the exact same thing that keeps me away from the job I need, the career I want and life I deserve. I don’t want the only project worthy of recognition to be my marriage and breeding credentials. I don’t want to be seen as a vehicle for humanity’s salvation or it’s hard on. I don’t want to be agreeable, timid, quiet, I don’t want to be undermined in public and in private as being difficult because I don’t agree with the status quo. I don’t want communicating better with men to achieve a better outcome to be perceived as selling out. That’s not equality, that is not celebration.
We have learned to define ourselves in reaction to, in connection to, and in a space created by men. When we do get over it, and create our own spaces they are not treated as equal to those we’ve reluctantly had to occupy because of lack of choice. Even spaces created for and by women are in connection, subsequent to, or in response to the status quo. That is not progress, that is not women being celebrated, that is being forced to see ourselves only through the lens and opinions of the other.
How can we celebrate? What aspects of our achievements, our success, our experience, femininity, aging, sexuality can be discussed freely and openly that don’t highlight our struggle to be recognized? What belief systems do we recreate, replicate and blindly repeat, and which ones do we do away with in order to fortify, and be who we always knew we were. Ourselves.
We are shaped by the women before us, we owe deep gratitude to those who invested in us, helped us think for ourselves, while paving the road for progress and change. The road is not smooth. Breaking down the structures of the pastis an ongoing, often perilous battle. We are also shaped by the ones who will come after us, as we commit to live by example and be the change we seek. It’s not easy, it’s not a catch phrase, it’s not a meme. We don’t just need one day. We need it every damn day.
Recognize, Celebrate, Unite.