For a while now there's been a sign in my town advertising a potluck to celebrate International Women's Day. I chuckle to myself every time I drive by it. A potluck says to me, "Women, you only have to cook and clean a little bit less on International Women's Day than you did yesterday. Yay for you." And I wonder - will it be followed by a bake sale? A recipe exchange? Some spring cleaning? A quilting bee? Are men invited?
Seems to me that no matter how hard we try, we can't move away from the "gender stereotypes" that are the bane of every feminist's existence. Perhaps that's because these stereotypes are not just some crazy set of rules that our society has constructed for us, but are deeply ingrained into the fabric of our beings, of our humanity as feminine and masculine. Why didn't they have a big old steak BBQ celebrating IWD? Or a chicken wing or scotch tasting? Some women would go to these events, sure, but many wouldn't. Not because they don't like chicken wings or steak or scotch (yuck) but because women, at least in this small town of Ontario, enjoy a little bit of homemade potato salad when they get together with other women.
And really? Who cares if they do? Why does it matter so darn much that women generally gravitate towards certain pleasures, like the culinary arts or quilting, while men gravitate to others? Why do those "stereotypes" have to be fought against or broken? Why do some parents insist on buying their boys dolls and their girls guns, when their children clearly know what they want to play with?
My sister texted me this morning asking my thoughts on this strange day. I have more questions than thoughts about it. Like why don't we celebrate men too? Why isn't there an International Men's Day? What is it that makes women so special that they get a day "celebrating" them, while there would never be a day to celebrate the other half of the species? Why can't we celebrate strong women and strong men? I mean, we have Mother's and Father's Days. We have all kinds of days "celebrating" all kinds of wild and wonderful things, but I think that having an International Women's Day without a corresponding International Men's Day is more than a little unbalanced. I mean, lets talk about equality here! And what man would stand up, asking to celebrate men on an international level? That man would be drawn and quartered in the public square for even suggesting it. How dare he. After all women have been through...especially at the hands of men...
I don't disagree that women have had the short end of many sticks throughout history. We have been treated as non-existent, as sexual objects, without any moral or societal rights, and as chattel - something to be owned or sold like an animal. Women have been deeply wounded by many different people for many generations, but our story doesn't end there. Women have also been honoured and revered by many others, treated like queens and elevated and respected for the wonder that they are and for beauty and intelligence that they possess. While men have been, and always can be, the source of our angst, we would be nothing without them. We would, literally, not exist.
So at some point women are going to have to forgive the injustice if they are ever going to grow, improve and become more themselves. We are going to have to forgive men for their failings to us and move on with our lives - maybe even celebrate them for the gift they are to us, and to our communities.
They're really not all that bad you know...
(FYI: A quick google search can tell you that there actually is an International Men's Day - November 19th. Did you know that? I didn't. And November 19th is my birthday - I'm pretty sure I've googled the crap out of the day. It's so unknown that, in my mind, it doesn't matter that there is one. There's no celebrating going on on International Men's Day, at least not in the same way as International Women's Day.)