As A Feminist, I Don’t Celebrate International Women’s Day
To me, March 8th does not fill me with a need to celebrate my femininity. That’s something I do every day, seeing my reflection in the mirror whilst telling myself “hey, you’re not that bad”.
Additionally, this date has always belonged to my mother, and her birthday. Sadly, she’s not with us anymore, hence my lack of festive inclinations. But most definitely, what makes me dislike this day, is that I believe the tone around it is wrong.
Sorry to become your feminist party-pooper of the day, but for anyone who lives as a woman, things still involve navigating nightmarish, murky waters. It is hard for white cis women, and it worsens if you are black, if you are trans, Muslim… the depressing list going ad-infinitum, with sub-levels of difficulty varying by income, location and other factors.
It is an unsafe world for women.
This is a daily truth. I can’t walk my dog in the streets of Brighton after 9pm in winter, without being freaked out by a male silhouette walking towards me. Before you ask me if I’m the type of feminist who hates men, I will assure you I am not.
I believe the MCU’s depiction of Steve Rogers was a gift for both women and gay men. There is nothing I found sweeter than a guy cooing over my dog. Several of my personal heroes are men. One of them is Prince.
I believe in the kindness of men. The only issue is… I can’t trust them, one-hundred percent. And this is not something I made my mind about, one sunny day. This is all down to my personal history, as a woman.
My first sexual experience was an assault, by a fully-grown man. I was eleven. I was violated in the same manner, by the same person, a few months later.
The first time someone touched my breasts, I was 13. It was aggressive, it hurt like hell, and the stranger who grabbed me, calmly walked away, confident in the rightfulness of his actions, as me and my girlfriends stared, frozen and shocked.
Age 17, I was followed by a guy, who masturbated all the way to my front-door. My girlfriends never let me walk alone after that.
Age 18, the gays took over my escorting duties, but that never stopped the catcalling or lewd gestures I received whenever I dared walk the streets alone, even in broad daylight.
After telling myself it would never happen to me, I was raped in college, age 22, by a guy who’d spiked my drink.
I never reported any of these assaults on my body, because the powers-that-be set enough obstacles to discourage the bravest of souls: lack of witnesses, statute of limitations, flaming hoops, labyrinth-like courses I didn’t have the strength to endure alone.
What has given me strength has been talking to fellow women, hearing their own stories and noticing how we have all suffered from the same lack of respect, and the view that we exist with functions and rights defined and designed by men who have never walked in our shoes. They simply don’t have to. That’s one of their many privileges.
I will celebrate this day when girls are no longer raped at University, when black trans women stop being murdered. The day we refrain from telling a Muslim woman how to dress.
Until then, this day will be solely about my mother’s birthday.
She too told me her own stories, of how she narrowly escaped violence by the hands of a stranger. The time she called out a guy who almost run her over while she pushed my brother’s stroller, and how that man suddenly stopped his car and attempted to strangle her. I watched her get a bruised eye from the man she was supposed to trust. For decades, she was told how to dress, how to present herself. She fought it all the best way she could: by surviving.
Today is not a day for partying, but a day to reflect on how life is for a collective of human beings who have too much hurt in common.
To my fellow women, you are the superior beings. You truly are. It takes a superhuman amount of strength to make it through so much pain and countless aggressions.
Lastly, let me say this loud and clear: no, I don’t hate men, but man, I do love women.
PS. Happy birthday Mum