It's supposed to be uplifting....right?
I couldn't quite put my finger on why I felt so exhausted today. Sure, it's a Monday during a pandemic, coming out of the longest, greyest loneliest winter...ever? But it was more than that. Today, is International Women's Day. A day designed to highlight the power of women.
Absolutely, I understand and appreciate the idea and symbolic nature of IWD - celebrate femme stories, highlight how far the women's movement has come and amplify each other's voices. And let me be clear, the day is not the issue. The women celebrating the day are certainly not the issue. We HAVE come a long way and we SHOULD amplify each other's voices. But I can't help but cringe when I think about how the lack of diversity and intersectional representation paints the movement, and the day, well....very white. Not only that, but the movement is disproportionately female, when what it really needs is the voices and actions of men.
Only three men in my life wished me a "Happy Women's Day" - I was appreciative and they happen to be incredibly smart, self-aware and liberally minded dudes. But what about all the other men in my life? Crickets on IWD slack threads, silence on social media. The vast comments, photos, shoutouts, infographics and general participation in celebrating and discussing IWD was coming from my female friends and counterparts. I reached out to one of my friends and said, "Is it just me, or is IWD more exhausting than usual?" She responded succinctly and brilliantly, as usual with "So true - like, here we go again having to explain sexism. To men who won't even listen." Exactly.
Feeling validated, I penned a quick note and posted it to my Instagram story, and it read, and I'm paraphrasing..."[IWD] feels like just another day for women to have use their own voices, their own emotional and mental labour to prove to the world why we should be heard and listened to. Another day for women to have to explain and highlight their own injustices and beg to be seen. It feels burdensome. And if I feel this way today, and often, as a cis white woman, imagine how our Black, Indigenous, POC and Trans sisters feel every damn day." The flood of responses, "Preach!" and "1000000%", "Nailed it" and "I'm also exhausted", made me feel overwhelmed.
I was overwhelmed with relief and validation that I wasn't alone in this thought - I had a nagging feeling that I wasn't being a "good" feminist for thinking this way. But as it turns out, women want more. We don't need this day (the day can be nice, sure), but what we NEED is equal pay, equal rights, a choice in what happens to our own bodies. And we need diverse representation in the decision making realms to start making it possible. I'm not going to list the extensive ways in which these basic ideals of feminism are still thwarted (as I said, I'm already exhausted), but what I will say is that male allyship is not enough, we need men to use their power and voices to start making things right. Unfortunately, some men need to hear the words coming out of another man's mouth in order to listen.