Gratitude on International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day, lovelies!

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I feel very thankful today (and in general), to live where and when I do, especially as a woman.

I am acutely aware of the millions of women who are deprived of their human rights, both basic and intricate. I know that within some cultures, this deprivation is so embedded that it is not even visible to the victims. As my hubby’s anthropology textbook points out, “In societies where male dominance is pervasive, men learn to devalue women and to assume rights to control women’s activity. Women in these cultures learn to devalue themselves and accept male domination. These gender models are often conveyed subconsciously and go unquestioned. The are automatically accepted and followed and thus are strengthened in the society.”

There are times when this fact fills me with fury, and times when I just feel pride in that despite millennia of traditional repression and the very best efforts of the patriarchy, women keep figuring out ways to be more awesome.

I heard an interview on the radio the other day with the extraordinary Leta Hong Fincher, author of “Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China.” It was fascinating.

It’s hard for us Canadian-born women to imagine what it would be like for our government to forbid us from spreading ideas about our own rights. Here, even though we have misogyny and sexual misconduct in abundance, at least we’re allowed to say #metoo. In China, such hashtags are prohibited, but women figure out ways to say things anyway, in code.

Since I have recently gone into some depth on what irks me about the status of women right now in North America, today I’d just like to bow my head for a moment and say thank you. I thank the feminists who went before me, whose lives were so much harder, and of whose battles and suffering I am a beneficiary.

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At this moment, I feel so grateful for the freedom and power

  • to speak – and write – my opinion
  • to make all my own decisions in everyday life
  • to have a job that pays fairly
  • to use my professional judgment in said job
  • to own property, rather than be property
  • to drive a vehicle
  • to travel where and when I wish
  • to expect gentleness and pleasure in intimacy
  • to raise my children as I see fit
  • to dress as I choose
  • to have had two year-long maternity leaves
  • to be responsible for my own money
  • to have come from an enlightened family
  • to have a feminist husband
  • to be, in the grand scheme of life, unafraid.

THANK YOU.

I know there are lots more things that belong on this list. For example, I could go on and on about how glad I am to wear stretch denim and sports bras as opposed to boned corsets… but if I set out to plumb the depths, I’ll be here all week.

For fun, here’s the Oscar intro by Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, and Amy Poehler, three women of great privilege but who nonetheless are pioneers in the boys’ club of comedy. My favourite bit is, “In my experience, all actresses are outstanding supporting actresses, because women naturally support each other.”

What are you pondering on this International Women’s Day?

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6 thoughts on “Gratitude on International Women’s Day

  1. Gratitude is peculiar. To whom is one grateful for the complex snarl of circumstances which underpin and contribute to one’s existence?

    Leaving that quandary aside for the moment, I’m grateful for you!

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Back at ya!

      I guess if my circumstances were more snarly, I might also find gratitude peculiar, but as it is, I find it ever so natural. 😉

  2. This is just wonderful! And to answer your quesiton: On International Women’s Day I feel gratitude, as you do, Di, for all the things and especially all the people who have made it possible for me to have a happy, free, fulfilled, and progressive life. Some of those people I know well and love dearly, and some I’ve never met. More on my FB page — but meanwhile, gratitude to you and all my other kids for being tangible evidence of the good things that happen when a woman is happy, free, fulfilled, and progressive.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      I love that post on your FB page. Your parents were extraordinary indeed (and the rest of your family, but your parents especially because of how revolutionary they were for the time). <3 <3 <3

  3. I had to spend some time thinking about your post, which is why it’s a few days after International Women’s Day when I’m commenting. I’ve been thinking less about gratitude and more about what still holds us down. It struck me that, as an American, if I were to write a similar list to yours, I would have to leave off the maternity leave part, not just because I don’t have children, but because the most we can expect from the federal government is 12 weeks unpaid, in which our employers are not allowed to give our jobs away. Things are a little better in some states, and particularly good (in comparison) working in DC local government, where we get 6 weeks paid for any sort of family-related caregiving (having a child, taking care of an aging parent, etc.), and we can take the extra 6 unpaid weeks from the federal mandate, as well (the first 6 have to be concurrent).
    But I’ve also been thinking about menstrual equity and treating menstruation as the normal, biological thing it is, rather than a giant taboo. That’s what we haven’t overcome yet in North America. It’s now OK to admit you’re pregnant and celebrate that, but god forbid you admit in “mixed company” that you’re on your period, and you may need to go to the bathroom to change your hygiene product. And so this taboo leads to toilet paper, soap, and ways to dry your hands being free and available in every public bathroom, but a dumb little machine (only available in bathrooms designated specifically for women) that you have to put a quarter in in order to get a pad or tampon. When you think about it, it’s kind of ridiculous.
    Not too long ago, the DC mayor, who is a pretty progressive woman (the first single mother to be the mayor of a major city in the US–and she’s a single mom by choice…she adopted her daughter last year), took the tax off of feminine hygiene products in DC, to help people with less money be able to afford them. But we have yet to mandate free products in every public restroom (and they’d have to be in every restroom here, because we do have a law about not discriminating about the perceived gender of the person who goes into the bathroom–you can use whichever one you want).
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    • dilovelyadmin says:

      These are great points. I have always thought that US maternity leaves are simply barbaric. NO mother should have to make the choice between giving up her career and sending her kid to day care as basically a tiny, helpless newborn. Just awful. I wonder often about the damage done to whole generations of babies whose parent(s) can’t/couldn’t afford to be primary caregivers during that most tender time of their lives.

      And you’re absolutely right about menstruation too. Even though we have it better in North America than in many parts of the world, we are taught to treat our period like a curse individually, and society likes to pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe things are looking up when (to quote the winning documentarian this year) “a film about menstruation just won an Oscar”, though? 🙂

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