March 8th. International Women’s Day. It’s a day we – worldwide – celebrate females! So we must have equal rights by now, right? Except… we don’t.
Here’s the thing – I get it. Women have been seen as less than for so long. We’ve been objects and property and currency, things of beauty or an economic asset – little else. It’s going to take a while to make a complete shift out of that mindset, to see us as capable, function-able, worthy human beings, I get it. For so long, we’ve been seen as primarily sexual objects (something the ever rising porn industry is not helping with) – so I understand the high levels of sexual assault, the victim blaming we get, the rape culture we live in. I am NOT IN ANY WAY OKAY WITH IT, but from a sociological standpoint, I get it. In so many parts of the world, this shift to equality is still being flat out resisted. I’m lucky to live in a country where my getting an education wasn’t frowned upon, where I have the freedom to not only think my thoughts, share my thoughts with others, but also write my thoughts on the public internet. So I’m glad we have an International Women’s Day. We need it. I’m glad we have people fighting fearlessly in the name of progress. We need them. We need you! So I’m not sitting here, bitter, that overnight women haven’t become equal to men – I realize that’s impossible. I realize change doesn’t come instantaneously. I’m hopeful these things will one day change, I’m hopeful that “one day” comes sooner rather than later, and I’m hopeful for a brighter future for today’s girls to grow up in. I’m hopeful, but I remain realistic.
Yet there are some things I don’t get. There are some things that I just can’t fathom about our world today. There are some questions that keep circling in my head that I can’t find a reasonable answer to…
– How do we get paid less? I realize this might be more of an American problem, somewhat of a developed world problem, but it’s still a women problem: we are economically valued less than men. For doing the same damn job. This will never make sense to me. Paying anyone – based on race, gender, or age – less for doing the same exact thing will never make sense to me. Especially now with reports coming out that statistically women do more hours of unpaid labor every week in addition to their time jobs, this makes NO sense.
– Why do women wear engagement rings and men don’t? This is 2016, for goodness sakes! Why does a woman sport a marriage symbol 6-9 months before a man does? It seems archaic to me. I know, I know – it’s “tradition”. But is it really? When did this whole business start? I have a feeling it has more to do with the last few hundred years, generously pushed along by the jewelry industry, than it does any ties with our ancestral traditions of old.
ALSO, as a single lady, it would be nice to know a guy is engaged and/or married from across the room. Guys get that privelege. Just sayin’.
–Why do men get to joke around all the time about masturbation, and yet girls’ periods are still considered “gross”?Seriously, watch a sitcom – you’ll hear it being referenced to, joked about, or casually brought up. Periods? HA. Unless of course we’re talking about PMSing or being “late”, periods are not talked about. They happen behind closed doors. We learn to carry our tampons to the bathroom in shame. Which is strange to me, because they both involve the human race’s ability to reproduce and strange liquid exiting the body…
–Why are women forced to care so much more about what they look like? We have to paint our faces every morning before looking socially acceptable. (I have nothing against make up, I just really love my sleep and bitterly realized the other day men can get out of bed, put on clothes, and walk out the door. What?!) Women on the news get judged on their outfits, not their job performance. Women on the red carpet get asked about their designer, not their work. Do we even want to mention the amount of products sold to women to reduce winkles and hide aging and take away stretch marks and mask other natural things that happen to our bodies?! Eish.
–Why do men have problems shaking women’s hands? This is SO WIERD. You walk into a business meeting, job interview, bar, party, whatever – guys meet guys, they shake each other’s hands. Same situation, guys meet a girl? You get: A. An awkward head nod / smile combo B. A brief look of acknowledgement before they turn to something more worthy of their attention or, sometimes, C. A delayed, half-hearted handshake. I realize this isn’t 100% of the time, I realize if they guy is interested in dating the girl it’s a completely different story, I realize that guys with manners and a heart do exist and they are out there shaking girls’ hands (truly, thank you for being you). But I have had this experience often enough to claim it as a regular occurrence. 90% of the handshakes I do get, I have to initiate. Women aren’t seen as worthy of a handshake (aka respect, attention, affirmation of them being an actual human).
If you are reading this not knowing what I’m talking about: be on the lookout. I almost guarantee within the next month you will see this happen.
–Why are our opinions still not valued?! Why do we have to fight to be heard, fight for a seat at the decision making table? Why are there less women authors, less women CEOs, less women in leadership? (Even though we, statistically, go to college more often than men.) Why does the majority of the church still insist on keeping women off the stage? (…but we welcome them at the reception desk, in kids ministry, or “snack duty” for Bible studies.) Why are our brains seemingly less intelligent, our voices seemingly not as valid, our thoughts seemingly less significant? WHY?
I realize there’s no easy answers to these questions. Or, if there is and I’m missing it, please kindly share! But I think we need to be asking the hard questions, talking about the hard questions, and pushing back against these hard questions for any change to come. Even if it’s as small as a handshake.
Happy International Women’s Day! May next year bring more change, more progress, and more equality.