International Women’s Day & The Predictable Backlash

International Womens Day 2016

Every International Women’s Day, the same predictable questions and statements come up. It’s the same every year.

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s. Originally called Working Women’s Day, it was intended to be a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements. What started as a political event has grown into a day celebrated by men, women and all genders across the world.

Every year the same people are outraged, amused or nonplussed by International Women’s Day and every year these people say the same things.

“So when is International Men’s Day then?”

Often said with righteous indignation. So many responses to this. My gut reaction is every day is International Men’s Day!

To answer the question: first of all, use Google. Secondly, are you really so threatened by women that having a day dedicated to them outrages you?

There is an International Men’s Day, on the 19th of November. It began life in 1992 and the objectives are to focus on men’s and boys’ health, improve gender relations, promote gender equality and highlight positive male role models. It is an occasion to highlight discrimination against men and boys and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care. It’s interesting to me the the number of Google searches for International Men’s Day reaches its peak on International Women’s Day. It would appear while some men bitch and moan about feminism run amok that they only care about their own rights when they think they’re under attack. Suddenly the day they condescendingly mock becomes a right they demand.

International Men’s Day shows how the patriarchy hurts men as well as women. The society that shames men who show vulnerability is patriarchal. Pushing hypermasculinity and rape culture is patriarchal.

Paternity leave was introduced to the UK in 2003; it took that long because society still believes that children are the responsibility of the mother. When Men’s Rights Activists accuse courts of favouring women in child custody battles, that is the patriarchy working against men.

“I don’t need a day to celebrate my gender”

I understand the sentiment behind this statement but the women who say this are missing that not every woman has the same freedoms you enjoy every day. We need a day for women who came before us and fought for our rights and for the women who are struggling today. It is still illegal for a woman to drive a car in some countries – that country needs feminism. It’s illegal to have an abortion in some countries – they need feminism. While some would like to believe bad stuff only happens in other countries, the fact is the UK needs feminism too. On average two women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner in the UK, and an estimated 23,000 girls under 15 could be at risk of FGM in England and Wales. The wage gap exists and – depending on what career you have – will depend on just how royally you’ll get screwed over on your salary.

“International Women’s Day is sexist”

No, it isn’t. For a start, there is an International Men’s Day and an International Transgender Day of Visibility (31st March) but that alone isn’t what makes this statement ridiculous. This statement is operation on the assumption that celebrating this day is excluding men from the occasion and that simply isn’t true. I saw just as many Facebook statuses, articles and Tweets from men as I did from women. Gender equality is not just a women’s issue, just like gay marriage isn’t only supported by gay people but by anyone with a heart. The same should be said of gender equality.

To the people who think it’s just another flippant invented day like ‘National Talk Like a Pirate Day”. Don’t trivialise something you don’t understand. If you don’t understand why International Women’s Day is important, read up about it and if you still can’t see what the big deal is all about, maybe not voice your opinion on everyone’s happy IWD posts, tweets and articles. You come across as the wilfully ignorant person who asks “where’s my straight flag?” and “when is white history month?”

We all need International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is important because every time it comes up, women get more hate thrown at them for simply being celebrated for their accomplishments. Every time someone questions the day, they prove why we all need it.