Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day, on which we celebrate social, political, artistic, scientific, cultural, and everythingelseal achievements by women. The last time I paid attention to this day, I wrote that I’m not much of a feminist since I don’t attend marches or hand out flyers. Want to know whether this is still the case? Read on!
One of my favourite lessons are those where I teach about early-twentieth-century England. I teach them about the First World War, about the world changing, and about the first feminist wave. I tell them that back then, women weren’t even allowed to vote (to be fair, there was a large percentage of men that were excluded, as well). The suffragettes, as they were called, demanded the vote. They wrote a marching song, wore buttons, they chained themselves to the Houses of Parliament, they blew up post boxes, and attended illegal speeches. Somehow, these actions fill me with a sense of pride, and I always tell my students that we should honour these brave women any way we can.
Approximately two years ago, some students of mine asked me whether I wanted to take part in a Prom, in which two teachers would be crowned King and Queen. We had to look pretty and be witty, and then the students would decide which teachers deserved the title. For some reason, they asked me a question about dating, and I told them I always waited for the man to ask me out (which, I told them in a highly amusing anecdote (I thought so, at least), hardly ever happens).
‘But Elke,’ they interjected, ‘how could an independent, feminst woman such as yourself be so old-fashioned as to wait for a man to ask you out?’ Touché.
I had to think on my feet there, and told them that I am a what I call opportunistic feminist, which means that even though I am definitely supporting women’s rights, I don’t necessarily think that we women should forgo such pleasures as being wooed (I didn’t tell them that the times I’ve been wooed can be counted on one hand – and that the reason I don’t go around wooing men (seriously, I never use the word and now I simply can’t stop) is because I’m far too insecure – and some part of me thinks we should never let on we’re insecure). Also, I might have added, women deserve to be worshipped, don’t they? They, the feminist part of the audience that is, might have given me a round of applause – but I might have made up these two sentences for dramatic effect. I didn’t win anyway (it definitely had something to with the fact that I had put in quite a lot of effort on my outfit that day, and I took far too much time describing it – or is that a not-so feminist thing to say?).
Thinking back on that moment, I realise I regret saying we women need to be worshipped. I shouldn’t have insinuated that women are somehow superior to men. I disagree with such feminists who argue that we don’t need men in the first place. Instead, I think we all need each other, while also making sure we are all independent. The International Women’s Day website states the following: ‘Imagine a gender equal world.’ I hope I’ll live to see the day people stop caring about any aspect of gender, and include every single human being.
All in all, I must admit I am still not a very active feminist: I haven’t gone on marches, I haven’t joined a feminist club. I do talk about feminism quite passionately at school, I urge my female students to vote, and I always recommend books written by females or featuring strong female characters. Let’s hope some of my young students, who are, after all, the future, will pick up the feminist torch that has been passed on for generations.
Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day. We celebrate it because women deserve it. But I cannot help but wonder how great it would be if we no longer felt the need to celebrate it, because the world would finally be a place in which inequality was a thing of the past.
Do you celebrate International Women’s Day? How do you support women’s fight for equality? Do you think we will ever be treated the same way? Which feminist books would you recommend? Please let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me for more (feminist) book posts!