“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”
Insightful and true words from Virginia Woolf. She was a prolific writer, a fervent modernist, and a staunch feminist. Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day and the achievements of women, much like Virginia Woolf, across the world. However, I’ve always had a problem with singular days, or even months, dedicated to the celebration of a specific cause. Don’t even get me started on birthdays.
I will do my best to crystallize my train of thought.
While I appreciate the value of such celebrations, I find that the message and imperative that such days are meant to promote is damaged. To some degree, I feel that to be in the 21st century and providing women a single day of celebration is disingenuous. The history of women is intertwined with the history of men. By no means has it been a picnic. I could only imagine the women that had to suffer through the actions, ramblings and egos of (un)successful men throughout the centuries. Why then should women and their achievements not be celebrated everyday as equivalent in their importance to society? Would you celebrate your love for your mother only on mother’s day?
“God is for men and religion is for women.”
Take a second to think about that line from Joseph Conrad. It brings me to my second issue with today. I feel that the significance of today, in areas of the world where women are doing relatively well, is somewhat lost.
Which is a more critical issue: advocating for equal pay or allowing women to go to school without fear of disfigurement by acid?
Of course, I believe in equal pay for women. However, I also believe women in certain corners of the world are severely mistreated and have next to no idea about what women throughout history have achieved. This brings me back to the quote by Joseph Conrad. Women in these areas (e.g. rural Pakistan) are subjugated by the perverse view of religion forced upon them by the men who fear them. In turn, these men wield their belief in God as a weapon of oppression. You know this to be true. I know this to be true because I have witnessed it first hand.
Everyday should be a fight against the misogynistic ideas which parade themselves as values.
If we relegate ourselves to a singular and insular day, then we end up creating a disconnect across cultures. Progress is stifled and the crimes committed against women in the name of false ideals continue to fester. This runs the gamut from equal pay to being stoned for being raped. Place yourself wherever you wish along that line, but don’t get hijacked by manufactured enterprises, appeasement and false heroes. Today’s woman is by no means anonymous, but sometimes our actions, reactions and concerns can be.
Christopher Hitchens on Women & Religion:
Christopher Hitchens on Empowering Women & Disavowing False Heroes: