Thursday, March 8, is International Women’s Day (IWD). The official website for IWD says:
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
I think that our “feel good” culture needs to understand and recognize the hostile environment that groundbreaking women (and other marginalized groups) operate in. Women today (Retired Major Tammy Duckworth is a prime example) often believe the myths fed to them by the men who were hostile to the first women entering their field. For today, however, let’s ignore the negatives. Let’s not think about how countries where women are marginalized, such as China, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, use IWD as a propaganda tool by providing women with a holiday, yet they don’t provide safeguards for those women from abuse or poverty. Instead, let’s be glad that today’s American woman is free to take her choices for granted.