This International Women’s Day, I wanted to share some thoughts.
Our struggle for gender equality remains a major challenge despite years of speaking truth to power. Unfortunately, most men who have yet to check their privilege, don’t get it, and some deliberately refuse to understand.
We still have men who ask, “when is Men’s Day?”, not realising, or maybe ignoring, that everyday is “men’s day”.
What I find really interesting is how men, especially so-called allies, are happy to put forward examples as if we are demanding equality in misery, and equality in discrimination. So they will say things like, “so you want to work in the hot sun carrying cement, etc.?” not realising many women in developing countries carry brick and do hard labour as well in construction and other areas. You will notice that they ask questions about whether women would like to face the type of discrimination faced by men. But those completely opposed to gender equality and are straightforward about it, know that it’s about power, and since elite men won’t share their power with non-elite men, just dump crap and BS on the women, right?
Even when men say, “well, men face domestic violence too”, or “well, men are raped too”, they fail to note and acknowledge that it’s because women, especially feminists, are speaking on these issues, that they are able to raise these issues and speak about it too. Otherwise, there has only been silence, or men who face these forms of violence, if they are lucky, are quietly consoled in some corner.
When women demand for gender equality, you will notice that men won’t say, “oh, so you want to marry four men? you think you can handle it?”, “oh, so you want to be the breadwinner, you think you can handle it?”, “oh, you want to earn more than me in the job market, you think you can handle it?”, “oh, you want to be able to go out at night and be with whoever you want, you think you can handle it?”, “oh, so you want to be Prime Minister? You think you can handle it?”, “oh, so you want to be given respect just because you’re paying the bills, you think you can handle it?”. No, they won’t say all these things to tell you that your demand for gender equality is stupid, because they know that these are privileges, and that these privileges come with power — power to discriminate (if you want to be an asshole) and power to overcome discrimination and be inclusive, if you believe in equality.
When men cannot see that the work women do in the household is real work, and when they can never imagine to ever want to play the roles that women play, then men, please check your privilege(s). That’s why transgender women are often asked, why would you ever want to be a woman? By both strangers and family members.
Here’s to women who hold steadfast to the demand for gender equality, substantive gender equality, and know when men try to manoeuvre and camouflage their privilege.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Angela M. Kuga Thas