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.
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.