My 100th International Women’s Day Soapbox Rant

My 100th International Women’s Day Soapbox by Gaye Crispin

Calls for “equal rights,” “equal pay” and “gender equality” are vital calls that all women need to be promoting, and I champion anyone who is championing these causes.  

Calls for respect, recognition and equality for women is essential to human survival, and the necessity of such things is reflected in life: human life-cycles, and all life forms on the planet.

My concern:

Many of these calls from us, from both women and men, have become polite and weak, not wanting to make waves within the social, political and corporate structures we women have found ourselves invited, or accepted into.

It’s important to always remember that for too long it was these same male-dominated structures we now inhabit which kept women ‘down’ for too long.

We’re experiencing a surfeit of professional feminists operating at elite levels within long-standing, male-dominated social and business structures. It’s imperative that these now ‘connected’ women, who’ve gained access into male-elitedom, never forget that many of these circles they’re now enjoying were originally formed with an idea to keep women out of power.

We women must always ‘beware’ how submissive and similar we become to, and within, these structures.

I applaud all women who are working to gain equal place on boards, and within exclusive business and community groups. I’m just concerned that if we aren’t vigilant, continually questioning the basis of the structures we’re entering and operating in, we may end up becoming the very thing we initially opposed, and that for centuries opposed us.

We need to remember many of these very structures were opposed to women, their inclusion, and strongly opposed women’s complete and full equality.

Do we want to look back in 10 years time and realise that we’ve actually created, or joined, an elitist form of women’s equality which can only be accessed by elitist women, whose contribution to the many pressing day-to-day issues which affects the other 90% of the female population has no real value or significance…. other than to ourselves?

 

 3 questions I ask myself regularly are these:-

  1. Are my activities for equality and equal privilege for women geared towards benefiting myself alone, or are they primarily geared for benefiting all women?
  2. What needs to change within the structure I’m operating in to ensure the doors are opened wider for all women?
  3. Are the causes I’m involved in actively creating greater opportunites for women in relation to things like:-
  • awareness
  • safety
  • education and training opportunities
  • childcare
  • personal freedom
  • enterprise opportunities
  • privilege

for all women – and not just for me.

Or is my sole interest that of creating a personal ‘bless-me’ club for my own private entertainment, recognition and/or advancement?

Keeping On Track and Remembering Our Roots

Because women were oppressed for so long, I see many of us are now rushing to the other end of the spectrum when we begin to experience success, getting caught up in only focusing on things related to our own personal achievements and publicity.

And I find this both offensive and sad to observe.

Things women who are on an upward career or business trajectory might need to consider:-

Are we determined to analyse and challenge the new business and social structure we’re operating in so that we’re consciously opening doors for other women?

Are we interested in recognising if these structures are elitist, and how elitist they are? Or are we too busy enjoying our entry to them to care?

Are we at risk of losing our identity and edge regarding gender equality issues due to our involvement?

Have we become elitist and exclusive by our associations, and in our thinking?

 

 

Women Must Be Prepared To Think  and to Get A Little Dirt On Our Hands

We women can’t afford to be complacent yet, and especially not in issues pertaining to true gender equality – because the job’s not even half done, and particularly on a global scale.

We need to look our involvements squarely in the face, analyse our agendas, and accept that we might need to do more, and get our hands a little dirty at times.

For example, on the home front, do we bother to know what’s happening on the other side of our town in relation to domestic violence statistics?

How are our local women’s shelters faring for funds? Simply bringing your influence to bear in these circles could improve outcomes for women and children in this community for centuries to come.

I call upon all successful and self-made women, whose personal status has been elevated within social and business circles, and who are experiencing new levels of freedom, and financial success, to remember this:-

Your freedom and ability to succeed was purchased for you by many women, since past, who struggled daily, and often violently against a system geared to keeping women down.

We need to ensure that we haven’t unintentionally formed an alliance with that same type of system, or are unwittingly becoming de-sensitised and blind to recognising that type of system.

I urge all women (and men) to not lose consciousness in relation the millions of women, world-wide, who can’t feed their children or themselves today.

Even in our own beautiful, peaceful, opportunity-filled Australia, hundreds of thousands of girls and women live lives subject to misogyny, mental cruelty, chauvinism, and even male-dominated mass-media misrepresentations of what girls and women ‘should’ look like.

 If we aren’t individually, actively involved in helping to improve the lot of our sisters who live ‘on the other side of the tracks’ or the other side of the globe, then I’m sorry to say we’re on the wrong team. We’re on the team that’s only about helping ourselves: the team that’s encouraging a new female, elitist, bourgeois, high-heeled, designer label class which serves its own elitist goals and purposes. This ‘team’ completely misses the point of true gender equality and the meaning behind events such as International Women’s Day.

This 100th celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th is a significant day in history, and a great opportunity for us all to reflect, and address our thinking and plans in relation to actions and changes we can participate in during 2011 which ensure future generations of women experience a brighter and better world.   

If today’s women remain vigilant, and work together on the many fronts which need addressing , there is a better life possible for millions more women and girls world-wide to enjoy in our lifetime. 

It’s up to us –  you and me, to continue the work of our foremothers, and keep the flame of true equality between women and men burning so that men and women around the globe finally come together in that beautiful space and harmony that nature intended – equal in all things.

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2 Comments on “My 100th International Women’s Day Soapbox Rant”

  1. Thank you for this forthright opinion piece Gaye.

    Sadly, the assertion is western society, and Western feminism in particular, is that feminists are reluctant to point out, or too slow to condemn the plight of women outside the West. Their fear is they will be perceived to be culturally insensitive.

    The fact is, outside the west the issues are a far cry from our western debate, which is centered on female representation on corporate boards, the appropriateness of quotas on the gender pay gap, or sexual harassment in the workplace.

    No one would argue these issues shouldn’t be on the agenda, however outside the west women’s issues are as basic as daily survival, within violent patriarchal cultures.

    For instance, in Saudi Arabia, women can’t vote, drive or show their faces, much less be seen talking with a non-relative male in public.

    In China, the issue is Gendercide, which has fast replaced Genocide. 39,000 baby girls die annually because the medical care for girls is not deemed to be as critical as medical care for boys.

    Added to which, the New York Times reports ‘bride burning’ takes place approximately once every two hours in India. The NYT additionally reports that little girls in remaining Afghan Taliban strongholds that attend school are poisoned to death!

    The WHO [world health organization] reports extensively on the dire consequences of wide spread genital mutilation.

    The denial of basic human rights for women on a global scale is frightening. Yet feminists refusal to address these issues, by default, provide tacit approval.

    International Women’s Day is to be celebrated, however, the burden on women to fight on for the basic human rights of their sisters globally is yet to be shouldered.

    • Gaye Crispin says:

      Thank you Catherine, you reply is greatly appreciated.

      It’s so very true what you say “The denial of basic human rights for women on a global scale is frightening. Yet feminists refusal to address these issues, by default, provide tacit approval.”

      We’re blind if we choose to believe the work is ‘done’just because we’re okay or have the vote.

      If we’ve had the prison cell door opened for us, do we just walk away turning a deaf ear to cries of the millions of women still in bondage?

      Did our foremothers fight for our freedom and rights in a world foundationally geared to keeping women down, with no expectations of us to continue the work?

      There is still so much more to do on so many fronts, as you so rightly remind us. Thank you


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