"But what about International Men’s Day?” It’s in November, go look it up!
International Women’s Day is a tricky occasion in the 21st century. Unfortunately, while we know the importance of recognising and celebrating women; for most of the world, the day itself has become a symbol of erasure.
What started out as a day to commemorate the struggles of lower class women to attain equal rights has turned into an annual pander-to-women festival. Companies and individuals everywhere are falling all over themselves to convince us that they really do respect women. One too many faux pas have been making the rounds on Facebook and in WhatsApp groups.
With D-Day upon us, this seems like a good time to take a long, hard look at all the cringe-worthy messaging we have to suffer through year after year!
“Oh my God, you’re so selfless!”
It is honestly high time we stop expecting women to be sacrificial lambs at the altar of men’s successful and fulfilling lives.
Women are capable of empowering themselves and those around them without being selfless. In fact, it’s deeply sexist to judge women on the basis of how much they give away, instead of how much they keep for themselves.
Let’s stop expecting women to measure their lives out for the sake of archaic gender roles.
It’s not wrong for a woman to be selfish, and it’s definitely not wrong for her to do things for herself without wondering if she’s stepping on the toes of those around her.
What to say instead: “I think it’s amazing that you do not compromise on your happiness.”
“Women are like goddesses”
No, we are not!
Women are human, and like all humans, we contain multitudes. We have flaws, we make mistakes, and occasionally, we even stumble.
What makes us strong is that when we get knocked down, we get up again, dust ourselves off, and keep going. We don’t let rock bottom keep a hold over us.
That is not goddess behaviour; that’s badass behaviour!
What to say instead: “So glad to have you by my side. Your energy motivates me!”
“Here’s our XYZ Women’s Day offer!”
Enough with the capitalism clickbait!
If you’re offering a free drink or trinket on Women’s Day, but disrespecting women on other days… well, you are contributing to this unequal culture.
Here are some questions to ask yourself: Is your organisation paying everyone equitably? Do the women in your workplace feel unsafe? Do the men in your office talk disparagingly about the women in their life?
The answers should be “Yes.”, “No.”, and “No.”; in that precise order. If not, then your organisation needs a bit of an airing to get rid of all those toxic ideas.
What to do instead: Conduct gender sensitisation training for existing employees, and make it compulsory for new employees to undergo the same.
“Thank you for being such a good wife/mother/sister!”
Can we stop relegating women’s identities to their roles in relation to the men in their life? It’s annoying (and problematic) to have one’s whole sense of self determined by their closest male relation. Yet, year after year these messages flood inboxes like ghosts of sexism past.
If the only reason you admire a woman is based on whether they deserve your protection… well, the problematic stuff just keeps piling up.
The women in your life don’t need your protection. They need your support, especially when the rest of the world tells them that they cannot support themselves!
What to say instead: Support your wife/mother/sister by thanking them for the amount of work they do, both at home and in their careers; not because they fall into the category of female relations. Then, share the workload you so casually consider to be their job.
"Why do we even need Women’s Day?"
Ugh, we don’t.
At the end of the day, women are tired of being placed on a pedestal. We don’t want to look down on others from some kind of higher moral ground.
We just want equality.
What to do instead: Take time out of your regular, non-Women’s Day days to support the women in your life, and let them know that you appreciate their existence.
What are some of the positive and empowering Women’s Day wishes you’ve received? Let us know in the comment section!