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International Women’s Day: the Day After, a feminist perspective

Source : | 10 March 2013 |  Opinion | 361 views


By Sahar Amarir

Morocco World News

Paris, March 10, 2013

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and while trying to make things right we might very often only make them worse without even realizing we do so. Friday was, as we all know, the international women’s day which couldn’t illustrate the saying any better. Everywhere in the media and on social networks one could see the enthusiasm, read the welter of passionate love declaration to women, of praising of women’s greatness, achievements and nature coming both from men and women, happily rejoicing at the idea that this is “our day”, congratulating each other with nice wishes.

While witnessing this passionate expression of women’s sanctity, I felt like a total stranger to it watching it like a spectator would watch a theater play, knowing this is a comedy, already knowing how the story ends and that after the actors finish turning their life to art, everyone just goes back to their daily and usual lives.

But oddly enough, this feels like it was the right way to see it, because I am a feminist, and I feel nothing but frustration and exasperation on that day. Beyond the fact that I’m upset with the reality of women’s struggle that led to the very existence of that day – thus showing that if women’s rights were correctly achieved, we wouldn’t even need it- it is its uses and misuses that further irritates me. “International Women’s Day could be the opportunity to help societies move forward by efficiently deepening actions aiming at helping women in their struggles.

But instead, it has become a day for the society to purge its intentional ignorance of women’s issue the rest of the year by blowing its own trumpet on how aware of women’s struggle it is, since it even dedicates a day to it. But actually, that day is solely used to make statements void of genuine will of progress to hide the obvious deep disdain of the cause showing all year long”

This is the official catharsis day for sexists around the world, when they can finally externalize their “best” jokes that would sound too harsh the rest of the year, when they can express what they seriously think while trying to brush it off with a humoristic tone, claiming we’ll be legit when speaking about equality the day we’ll be able to do what men do. Of course, those same people would never make jokes on disabled people on their international day, nor on minorities on fight against racism day, nor on the victims of a genocide on holocaust remembrance day for example.

Only women get to be treated this way and witness a display of typical sexist speeches wrapped up with hypocrite humor as a gift on Women’s Day.

Moreover, their argument shows a deep ignorance of the feminist cause and is even more ridiculous once you realize there are even more things women can do and that men can’t. More importantly, we know that we were born with a different physiognomy, we’re not identical and we certainly do not want to be identical to men.

However, we simply believe being born with this physiognomy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have equal rights and equal opportunities in life. It does not mean we should be used as sexual or plastic objects. Nor does it mean we can be harassed, sexually assaulted because we are women, nor we accept to be paid less than a man because we are women, nor we will accept any gender based discrimination, nor we will accept on this day what we don’t accept the rest of the year: sexism. Apparently, it also seems to be the day women congratulate themselves over how much of an amazing creation of human life we are, that we deserve respect, It is also a day in which medias briefly recall some numbers: domestic violence, rapes, gender discrimination, wage gap.

To further improve progress and ensure the respect of women’s rights, these important numbers deserve to be published, denounced, analyzed, and explained more than just one time in the year. We need to get out of self-congratulations and from some media’s lip service to women’s rights, and make people realize that the fight of women’s rights exists throughout the year. Unfortunately, we were trapped in a day that makes the feminist cause one to be simply reminded for 24 hours, not worked on 365 days. While being half of the population – and soon even more as we have a population turning older while women tend to live longer than men- we are still treated like a minority.

After all, minorities have their own day, but they are not half of the population. Neither are disabled people. And we were fooled into accepting to have a day dedicated to us, thus clearly showing the everlasting ostracism we are victim of in every society, no matter how many we are and no matter how much we work for the well-being of society. Looking more closely at this tragicomedy and all its actors, I already know the end: I see women’s rights have been in many ways trapped in a gilded cage with this day, people speaking about it on one day to forget about it the day after, and the rest of the year. But lest we forget, we have been imprisoned in certain ways many times, and the past generations worked hard to get us closer to freedom, and so shall we. Society can keep this day for another cause: we don’t want a road leading us to a hell of disinterest and ignorance. We need no day, no praises, no flowers, no sweet words or grandiloquent speeches. We need, we want and we ask for change. Not just a day, but every time, everywhere and for all of us.

Sahar Amarir is a student in Law and Political Sciences currently living in Paris, engaged in activism and interested in gender, minority and human rights issues.

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