I have a three-foot tall, blow-up parrot in my lounge room.
If you'd ask me this morning whether I'd have a three-foot tall, blow-up parrot in my house by day's end, I probably would have said "no." However, life is like that, no? One minute you have a sick little boy in your arms at the supermarket and the next minute, instead of sensibly buying some bananas, you find yourself watching the nice lady at the counter filling the world's largest balloon parrot full of helium.
In my defense, I thought it was one of those dainty, round balloons that would bob about prettily and harmlessly, cheering up this pale-faced, weary little boy. Instead, as I wrestled it into the backseat of the car to loom loudly, resplendent in all its colours, over Tiny, I knew that it wasn't quite going to do the trick. To his credit though, he took it all in his stride, eyes rather wider than normal. While there were no delighted squeals emanating from the backseat as I had hoped, there was the occasional awed "Da," between long spells of silence. It can't be easy making friends with a parrot that is taller than you, but he was trying.
Which is all a rather roundabout way of getting to the guts of today's post: Women. It is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day and, as the strong, proud feminist that I am, it would be greatly remiss of me to let it slide by without a word or two on the matter. Which is exactly what I want to say: Women matter.
As a child of feminist and feminist-sympathising parents, I grew up surrounded by the ideas of feminism. The first lesson I learned (not, perhaps, the first I was taught, though) is the one that will stay with me evermore. It is a simple one: Women matter. They matter because they are women. Who they are, what they do and the accounts they give of their lives all matter. So, we should pay attention. In those early days, although I heard words like "oppression" and "domination," and listened to women talk about inequalities and discrimination, I couldn't grasp what that actually meant. Really, at thirteen I just wanted George Michael to love me and to grow up and be a sultry cabaret singer. Ahem. However, this message, which anchors much of the rest of the feminist analyses of the world, is a timeless one. Dare I say it again? Women matter because they are women (which, historically, culturally, environmentally, socially, biologically and in many other ways, is different from being men).
Interestingly, my experience of saying this, or something similar, to people over the years, is a bit like trying to fit a large, blow-up parrot into the backseat of my hatchback. In some cases it has made me a bit of a spectacle, in others, it has been seen as a kind of looming threat. Nevertheless, in pockets all over the world, people today are seeing this message for what it is. Women matter: What a resplendent, colourful, and joyous thing that is. Not unlike a three-foot tall, blow-up parrot balloon, really.
Happy International Women's Day, women everywhere.