Don’t treat me special because I am a woman. Treat me equal because I am a human being. This is my mantra.
March 8th is International Women’s Day and honestly the only reason I know this is because I received an email yesterday from Canada’s largest bookstore chain promoting it for the purpose of selling women’s books. I can’t help but wonder if the day is only used by marketers and politicians. I say this because after the book store email, I saw a post from Justin Trudeau, our feminist and very likeable Prime Minister, launching what the government calls the 50-30 challenge. He challenged businesses to reach 50% representation of women and 30% underrepresented groups on their boards and senior leadership teams. Sounds nice doesn’t it. Probably a bit idealistic though. It sounds more like a suggestion. I didn’t see any deadlines. Their goal is to get 1000 businesses signed up to do this. A whole thousand businesses in a country of this size. hmmmm.
As a women who, in the past: has been treated unfairly by doctors, to the point that I was actually told that I was making myself sick on purpose to get attention; who has been treated unfairly by employers, with one male boss actually telling me to take the day off and get my hair done; who has been touched inappropriately both in and outside the workplace; who has been criticized and called a bitch for trying to do my job and voice my opinions; and who realizes that not much has changed in the past thirty years, I wonder if the average women gives this day a second thought.
We all see how female politicians have been treated lately, from being criticized for their wardrobes and hair to receiving death threats for just trying to do their jobs. And it does makes us angry. And although we admire these women, it also makes us not want to go there because we have enough shit on our plates. Personally, when I was working, I was constantly exhausted. And the older I got, the more tired I got. I may have been more vocal than some women regarding certain things, but in reality I was too tired to really fight. The average working woman is still doing the majority of the childcare and housework on top of her day job where she makes less then a man doing the same thing. The average woman is just trying to make it through the day. Comparing her to Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Margaret Thatcher is a bit of a stretch.
Plus there are other women who don’t really care about this day because their lives revolve around their personal status and pleasing men. I am not talking about prostitutes. At the risk of opening a can of worms, I am talking about women who worry more about their eyebrow curves than the way women in general are treated. They are more concerned with their decor, their hair and fingernails, and their wardrobe than women’s issues. They don’t have opinions on women’s rights or abortion or gender politics. We can’t pretend these women aren’t out there because they are. And they are bringing up their daughters to have the same shallow priorities that they have. This is something that scares the crap out of me because it is also a big reason why nothing seems to change. It is these women who roll their eyes and make comments like, “lighten up,” to other women who take women’s issues seriously. They have no desire to change the status quo and based on my observations of females over the years, there are more of them than there are women like me.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge (#ChooseToChallenge). So that is where Trudeau was coming from. Of course, I only learned this by searching it online. It seems to me that something is lost here. It seems that if this day is to be successful, there needs to be more hype. More marketing. I appreciate the effort and know that their hearts are in the right place. But it all seems like a token gesture. I also know that we women really need someone more than Justin Trudeau in our corner, another token gesture. But what I really know is that we need more than just a single day. We need a major attitude shift by both men and women. Until that happens, nothing much is going to change. How’s that for a challenge?
Oops this went out early… Thank you for reading.
Photo: Levi Guzman, Unsplash