Yesterday, I was at university and arrived early for a seminar. My seminar tutor and a fellow student were already in the room so I said hello and began writing some notes. Whilst doing so, the male student announced “it’s International Women’s Day today!”I waved my hands in the air and theatrically let out a “woo!”, then continued writing. Out of nowhere, my MALE tutor announced “I don’t want any of that thank you! If you’re celebrating something as ridiculous as that then you’re in the wrong room.”
Safe to say I was absolutely shocked by this statement. Unlike many other women I know, I took the concept of International Women’s Day in my stride; I didn’t post inspirational quotes, I didn’t tag my female friends in photos thanking them for all they do for me.. It’s a day that I acknowledged but I didn’t place particular emphasis on. But the moment my lecturer responded in such a small-minded way, my blood boiled. Why shouldn’t women (& men) be able to celebrate International Women’s Day?
My Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat was littered with girls showing solidarity – incredibly refreshing considering we are often stereotyped to be bitchy. My male friends took the time to post about the admiration that they had for women too. But equally, there were sexist, small-minded jokes also flying around Facebook. I have two things (amongst many) to rant about.
- Sexist jokes. First and foremost, they are not funny. No, I’m not on my period – you’re just a dick. Get back to the kitchen? How about you go to a library and try to educate yourself. I get the fact that it’s a joke but the dangerous underlying issue with these jokes is it makes everyday sexism seem acceptable. Normalising these behaviours is a catalyst for further discrimination.
- My lecturer (& others with similar viewpoints) need to know their audience. One of the main reasons for getting so worked up about his comments was largely due to the fact that he does not know what it’s like to be a girl. I try my best to avoid walking alone at night in fear of being attacked, I get cat-called in the street which is incredibly intimidating, men touch my bum when I’m out at a bar, I’m insulted if I decline giving someone my number… I understand men also face issues similar to this (the threat of fights breaking out, being told to “man up” etc) but I would never make disparaging comments to a man regarding his gender as it is something that I have no experience in.
I hope more than anything that through each generation equality will no longer be an issue and will become an everyday norm. In some ways, I’m glad that my lecturer said what he did. It’s made me be even more determined; I will be paid the same wages as my male colleagues, I’ll be feisty, independent, ‘unladylike’, witty, angry, intelligent.. Don’t let somebody else dictate to you what you can and cannot do. From now on, I am going to celebrate International Women’s Day and I will be vocal about it. Men, thank you to those of you that support us. Women, don’t stop celebrating. Everyday we should celebrate our existence because we are fucking fantastic.