U.S. Women Shouldn’t Celebrate International Women’s Day
So, does anyone know today is International Women’s Day? It’s even the centenary—yes, this has been a worldwide holiday for the past 100 years.
I certainly didn’t. But that’s just as well. I find it rather weird, and it makes me a little uncomfortable. Haven’t women (in the U.S., anyway) already gained most of the equality they set out to? Why do we need our own day celebrating our achievements? We’re equal citizens now (in the eyes of the law, anyway, to be fair) and we should act as such.
This year’s theme, according to the International Women’s Day website, is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.”
Um, what? I’m sorry, but did we forget a few decades here? I thought we already fought for this during that thing called the Women’s Movement. I’m going to make a blanket statement here and say I honestly believe that most women, at least in America, have fairly equal access to education and decent work. In fact, we’re going to college more than men now—the National Center for Education Statistics’ most recent numbers indicate that only 7.8 million men were enrolled in degree-granting institutions in 2007, compared to a whopping 10.4 million women. The NCES stats also show that this trend started in 1980, and the gap has only widened since.
For countries where oppression of women remains the norm and those where women are still crusading for basic rights, I understand it. But in countries like the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, where women have rights, I’m feeling wishy-washy about celebrating this holiday.
Sure, women still face a pay gap—and we recently learned that male CEOs are more likely to increase female employees’ pay only after they have daughters themselves—but is having an international holiday really the way to remedy something like this? I don’t think it raises awareness. And it certainly does nothing to fix the image some men have of women as chronic complainers.
Plus, if we’re pushing for “decent work,” fair pay and the whole bit, don’t you think it’s just a bit juvenile of us to ask that an international holiday be dedicated to us? Men don’t ask for a holiday. Of course, they’ve already got Super Bowl Sunday.
I just can’t help but feel a little slimy about having a holiday dedicated just to women. The proverbial glass ceiling does still exist; I realize this. (In college, a male counterpart told me that I was only a decent reporter because I was “a pretty girl” and that made people want to talk to me. “I couldn’t just go up and knock on doors and get the information you do,” my man-friend told me matter-of-factly.) But again, celebrating this holiday doesn’t seem like a good way to affect change. In 1911, in its first year and when women here didn’t have their rights, it was fitting. But things have changed.
Truth is, feminism today isn’t—and shouldn’t be—what it was in the past. For us, it’s no longer about women going out and joining the workforce to prove the point that the kitchen, the laundry room and the bedroom are not the only places they can be comfortable; we’ve long since proven that. It’s about choice. And as a young, independent woman, I choose not to celebrate this holiday for myself, but rather to use the day to keep in mind the women of the world who don’t have the opportunities that we do.