Okay a little bit of history first up: International Women’s Day was initiated by a German socialist named Clara Zetkin (great name). She did a good job – more than one million people across the Austro-Hungarian Empire demonstrated for women’s rights – to vote, to hold public office and to have the same opportunities as men in the workforce.
The United Nations came to the party for the first time on the 8th March 1975, shining the spotlight on the status of women and celebrating their achievements every year since.
In some countries, the day is a national holiday (I hope the men still have to work and juggle kids and cook etc that day) and the mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts etc get presents. Bring that shit on.
In more recent years the day has been a vehicle for raising awareness of the “disproportionate amount of abuse women suffer at the hands of others. An estimated 120 million girls and women under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual acts – around 10 per cent” (independent.co.uk, 2016). I don’t even need to add that “This is seriously fucking dizzingly WRONG” (Meg, 2016).
This year’s IWD theme is #pledgeforparity, which seems today, to me – after a virus has been through our house and children are forgetting their lunches and bumping their heads and forgetting their three times table and oh I’ve run out of tampons and one of the guppies died and someone in the house is lying because the fruit tingles are gone and no one’s owning up to it – it seems to me to be a bit ambitous and exhausting. Parity that is. So while the energetic women with power plug away at parity and celebrate women inventors etcetera, I am hereby celebrating the weenie little huge ordinary achievements of everyday women like me, things that you may or may not (and I may or may not) have done today…
Here we go (there are lots but by no means all)…
- Yay, you got the children to school. Even if it was after the morning bell, this is an achievement in itself. I mean, think about the work that goes into getting the children to school, from the very beginning when you found an appropriate school for them and taught them how to wipe their own bottoms, to remembering their drink bottles and dealing with childhood anxieties. Some of your children might have even been early or said thank you, some may have celery in their lunch boxes, some might eat their celery. All this is extreme high achievement.
- Yay, you decided not to have children. Extra hats off and full respect to you – does that sound condescending? I think it does. Would it be less so if I was just honest and said, I’m well jell. Look at your lovely clothes and your clean car and your exceptional brain. Look at your unfrayed edges and your super account. And in a world full of expectation, you defied the bastards. Respect.
- Hooray, you brushed your hair and furrowed your brow at your wrinkles, but you went out and faced the judgy old world anyway.
- Well done, you held your tongue when you could have snapped and caused a workplace or domestic dispute, which is never worth the fallout.
- Well done, you didn’t hold your tongue, you gave what-for and made yourself heard. You might have slammed a door for extra effect. You dealt with the fallout.
- You cleaned up the same breakfast dishes that you have cleaned up hundreds of times before. And you didn’t throw them all in the rubbish bin with the scrapings, or put them in the breakfast eaters’ beds, which is what you would have liked to do with them.
- You drove a car. Remember how hard this seemed all those years ago when you were dodging barrels with your dad? And if you didn’t drive a car, you walked. Remember how hard that was when your legs were small and bandy?
- Yipee, you folded your washing and put it away.
- You turned your back on the fucking washing and went and laughed with your friends instead. Hiccup laughed. No washing is worth giving up a hiccup laugh.
- You ate and loved something naughty – a fruit tingle perhaps, a hamburger, a brownie. This is no mean feat in these days when sugar is politically incorrect and to eat a slice of bread is a crime against humanity.
- You revamped your CV after years and years and put yourself back out there.
- You quit your job so you can have more time with your family.
- You sewed a button on.
- You taught your husband to sew a button on, and you showed him around the herb garden.
- You left your partner because he/she has never been very nice.
- You gave your partner a good old fashioned pash, and then had great sex.
- You rode a horse or did a pole dancing class instead of getting dinner on the table in time.
- You did parent help, taught a child to spell ‘love’ and made up a bedtime fairy tale that had a bottom in it.
- You did seven minutes of star jumps and lunges and high knee jogging without weeing your knickers.
- You had a little family toast to women of the world and told your children all about the suffragettes and the status of women and the generations of voiceless ones. You got a bit vocal, shouty even, to make up for those years of female silence.
- You fed your family and cleaned up and made sure everyone went to sleep knowing they are loved. Then you ate the remaining fruit tingles as reward because you know where they are because it was you who stole them and you who lied and you don’t really care because you bloody deserve them and they were hidden in the kitchen and the kitchen is – according to centuries of tradition and ongoing role assignment – your domain.
Well done all you amazing, wonderful women, for whatever you achieved today. It was a lot, just think back.
And if you stayed in bed all day and literally did nothing, or if you were bitter or unkind or mean, you’re amazing too, because you have a vagina, and just having one of those miraculous things is amazing in itself. Get out of bed tomorrow and do some stuff. Be kinder. And know that you can do anything.
And give yourself a Happy International Women’s Day pat on the back (or wherever you like, depending on your mood).