I feel a long way away from International Women's Day these days.  It was even my OTL that reminded me about it last night; making me wonder where I've been, what I've been doing, and who am I that it could emerge, so unexpectedly, out of the tunnel that is Tomorrow.

Once upon a time I was all over it.  I went to the marches and rallies, paid attention to the guest speakers, wore purple, green and white, carried placards.
She (all megaphone and big black boots):  WHAT DO WE WANT?!!
Me (squashing my shyness, my aversion to Standing Out):  EQUAL RIGHTS!
She (brave, brash, shaved of head): WHEN DO WE WANT IT?!!
Me (bolder, appreciating the point of spectacle): NOW!!

I have done my fair share of that.  I've been to breakfasts and guest lectures, hosted dinners and watched documentaries.  I've toasted women everywhere with whatever was to hand.

There seems to me to be a certain irony, then, that in a time of my life when I feel more challenged - as a woman - than ever before, that I might miss the international day of celebration that singles me out and all the women I know, and all the women they know, on and on down the line, to say:
You.  You matter because you are women. 
Because, as women, your experience is distinct, different, significant.  You matter enough to pay attention to; to seek for signs of flourishing, and despair; to care for and about.  You matter and that is enough to prompt all of us to act in ways that show this.
Yes, there's a certain irony that IWD could almost glide right by me at a time when I am immersed in some of the  most traditional women's work that I never imagined for myself.  Nope, in all of my imaginings about the woman I would become, I was never going to be a homemaker.  Or a housewife.  Or a mother, for that matter.  Some days I can find myself reeling at the reality of my choices (you know, the bit where I left everything for the love of a good man; and the bit about bearing a child and becoming a mother - it's a full-time gig, don't you know) and how they place me in the position of being economically dependent, in a foreign country, with my employability ebbing away with every month I choose to stay head cook, chief toilet cleaner and number one Organiser (with a well-earned capital O).  Yes, irony indeed.

I would like to lament this, to rail against the seductions of "romance" and to insist on the sacrifices - body and soul - that mothering has asked of me.  And, pushed, I could also flare up about the unfairness of ageing and the defensive position a sexist, youth-obsessed culture corners you into, despite hard won understandings of truth and beauty.  And I would like to detail this, in a way that gives you surprises and revelations about how this is for me, as a woman, but also for all women.  But I'm weary, and there's work to be done.

And I know I am also blessed.

Though my own life has taken some unlikely and unexpected turns, I am humble enough to know this: Unlike many women, I am literate, educated, and live in relative wealth.  I have access to safe housing, clean water, plenty of food and free healthcare.  Also, unlike many women, I am in a good, respectful relationship with a loving, non-violent, feminist-inspired man, who does his darnedest to share the care of our child within the constraints of his paid job.  On balance, I am doing well as a woman in this world. That is why I am glad it's not yet too late to raise a glass (okay, so it's a cup of tea - I've been swamped by every domesticity, I tell you) to women everywhere on this International Women's Day.

Join me, won't you, in celebrating women.  The ones whose lives we should all be working towards to change for the better, and the ones, like me, who are blessed with good soil to grow in despite, or because of, the choices I've been able to make.



  1. Hey there,
    I found your blog via a comment on bluemilk and thought i'd check it out. I have to agree wholeheartedly with your post here - finding myself in a very similar place and headspace right now. Well except for the foreign country part!
    But I do agree that it is so odd to be feeling like I'm less of a successful modern 'woman' now that I have become a mother. It's a funny feeling that doesn't sit well.
    Anyway, just wanted to say you post here spoke to me - happy international women's day to you from Sydney, Australia!

  2. von_boysenberry10 March 2012 at 02:44

    Cheers to that, FB! I too was too snowed under in domesticity to give IWD more than a passing thought this year (again), but treasure the memories of our young selves marching down Adelaide Street.....in not outstanding but adequate voice, as I remember ;-)