Every year on March 8, news of International Women’s Day fills the airwaves. In the past, I would jump on the bandwagon and join in the festivities. Rah, rah, rah! Here’s to all the women in the world, including me. This year, though, I took a step back and wanted to dig deeper. To uncover its origins and history, I consulted Wikipedia.
Students are steered away from this online juggernaut given its reputation as an ‘unreliable source.’ But when it comes to a quick overview of just about anything, it is unrivaled for easy access.
“In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements,” according to Wikipedia.
In 1909, the first IWD was celebrated in the U.S. and apparently has Socialist Party origins. Female empowerment ideas spread to Russia, and subsequently all over the world. The rest is well, history. Her-story, that is.
This celebration begs an obvious question, “Is there an equivalent day for men?” Much to my surprise, according to my go-to source, International Men’s Day is celebrated in some parts of the world on November 19.
“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,” says my morning tea companion.
Needless to say, IMD certainly does not get the same fanfare as its female equivalent. But why not? Women need to be honored more say the gender equality gurus because they are they are weak and are being oppressed or held down.
Suppose we go with the premise that women are the more disenfranchised gender in society, therefore we need to honor them more. The reasons for this disenfranchisement need to be dissected. Though many would claim men are the culprits in ‘male-dominated societies,’ this is an over-simplification. An “us versus them” approach of blaming men is entirely self-defeating and will get women nowhere fast.
Taking the long view, we must not ignore the role that women play in this. Women make choices that have lasting consequences. In particular, the way they raise sons not to abuse and pounce on women. Let’s not ignore this and place the onus of the world’s gender imbalance only on men.
Glancing back at Wikipedia, I read on: “In some cases International Women’s Day has led to questionable practices that discriminated against men.”
Really? Honoring women leads to discrimination against men? If women believe that men are to blame for gender unfairness, why treat them the same way?
We should work toward a world where we don’t need to have days to honor gender. I look forward to a time when all people are given the rights and dignity they deserve so that a day of so-called celebration does not pit one gender against the other.