I have to be honest, and possibly apologize up front, for what is coming. As we all know, thanks to social media, today is International Women’s Day and next to all the inspirational hashtags and pretty Facebook pictures with fancy quotes, is a stream of backlash spewed towards Sophie Trudeau. Apparently she made up her own hashtag (the horrors! This is reserved for the elite teenagers of the Instagram world, don’t you know?) and decided to ask all of us women to acknowledge the men in our lives who champion women’s rights and equality. Yep, apparently this was social media suicide for the PM’s wife.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am no Team Sophie President over here; the lady comes across trite and overwhelmingly nice, which rubs me the wrong way because in my cynical world no one is ever that nice. Just ask Kanye West and all those exes about Taylor Swift (my favourite sacrificial lamb on this topic). However, on this issue, I stand behind the Prime Minister’s wife; and I sadly shake my head with confusion at the rest of the women in the world who have decided, loudly, that Sophie is somehow wrong or inappropriate with her words. The message may have come across sounding cheesy and idealistic, but take away her perfect face and flawless figure being hugged by designer clothes and a designer husband, and you have a woman who is Canadian, educated, married and a mom. I can relate to all four of those things (educated is a loose term here as I didn’t spend my early 20’s obtaining a degree from McGill), and I can absolutely relate to the words she bravely chose to share with the world on what is supposed to be the ONE day for women to celebrate being female and to bring attention to our never-ending battle for equality. I will stand back and let everyone gasp and moan and picture themselves throwing shit at me.
I whole-heartedly agree with Sophie that we should stand up and acknowledge the boys and men in our lives who have stood behind us and beside us in the fight for the rights we now have. Women have come a long way from the days of not being able to vote or work or do anything without a husband. We have come a long way in politics and industry and education. We have come so far, yet we still are our own worst enemy. If it wasn’t for the men who stopped to listen and then agreed with the feminist movement, and if it wasn’t for the men who stepped aside to share the spotlight with strong, intelligent women all over the world, then we would STILL be in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant and relying on men for everything.
I understand the desire to keep International Women’s Day inclusive to females, but let’s get real, folks. Sophie wasn’t exactly telling us to include men on our day in the same manner that we celebrate it, she was clearly pointing out that it would be gracious (and I might add progressive) of us to recognize the good ones. So many people were up in arms that she would dare to acknowledge her husband or any man for influencing or supporting her journey as a strong woman in today’s world. A world that has gotten a lot better for women since our mothers’ and grandmothers’ time on this planet. Not good enough say the feminists. Not feminist enough. How dare this pretty, rich, privileged woman stand up on the world stage, holding hands with her successful husband and thank him. Apparently we women want equal rights and we also want all the credit for getting these rights. Apparently we do not want men to be a part of this. Newsflash –that is not feminism. That is not how feminism works, or should. Men and women are different. We are supposed to be. But underneath the fundamental differences is a common factor we all share–we are all human beings who long for the same basic rights in life: freedom, safety, shelter, love and acceptance.
If we do not want to include the powerful yet positive men in our lives who have influenced in ways that have helped us conquer the glass ceilings we talk about, then what the fuck is the point? Do we just keep marching in the streets with signs burning our bras, or do we stand up and say, “Hey, thanks for your support”? Because, if I am being real here, without any support on the male-dominated front, we women are basically screwed. There. I said it. You can all call me names and unfollow me now.
We continue to fight to push forward and upward, which is a monumental task globally, and we expect the world’s male-dominated powers that be to take notice and step aside; when they do, are we supposed to walk right by them on our quest for equality? Or do we keep pushing and pushing? How can we demand the same right as men without the involvement of men, in a positive manner? That’s not equality you’re pushing for. That sounds a lot like preferential treatment.
It’s like constantly punishing the ‘bad kid’ when he does wrong but never, ever praising him for when he steps up and does the right thing. This is not what we women should be striving for. I don’t think that is who we are.
So at the risk of sounding trite, I am going to urge women everywhere to not only stop pushing each other down, but to stop pushing the men back in a constant battle that cannot be won if we do not fight with intelligence, compassion and sincerity. We are taught to forgive and even appreciate the people who caused us pain in our lives, because without them we would not be the people we are today. Well how about we take a few minutes to thank the ones who actually went against the norm to support us in our journey towards equal footing with them? How about we acknowledge the ones who were secure enough, intelligent enough to not feel threatened by strong women? Let’s stop to thank the ones who feel empowered by women enough to stand with them, despite everything they as males were taught? We cannot expect the male-dominated global community to support the feminist movement towards equality if we do not recognize the steps that have been made and the battles that have been won, by both genders, to make it possible.
In a world where so much turmoil and hate is passed around like last week’s Halloween candy, why not be brave, be different — take a stand–for the women who fought to get us this far and for the women with no voices whom we speak for, and for the men who are not afraid to fight with us. Positive role models come in all shapes and sizes, varying religions and ethnic backgrounds, and yes, different genders.
On today, International Women’s Day, I want to thank all of the women who blazed the path for me and so many other women so that I could raise my voice without persecution. On today, International Women’s Day, I am going to stop and thank all of the men in my life who have taught me that equality is not just about gender but about being a human being first and foremost. I will recognize the men in my life and the men on the world stage who taught me that as a woman I have the right and the ability to go after what I want when I want it and that we can achieve great things if we all work together, not against each other.
Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely. Do we have to keep doing it alone? No. Stop pushing against one gender to allow the other one to rise. It’s an uphill battle already, so I choose to bring with me the people who will push me back up when I slip and fall. And I choose to thank them, especially on International Women’s Day, whether they have a penis or not.