How women's movements can undermine equality

Ugh, movements.

Instead of celebrating International Women’s Day, an occasion that marks some of the successes of the feminist movement - I’m sitting here writing an grumpy blog post. The amusing part is that I’m a woman, an educated working woman - supposedly a vessel and the result of such a movement. So why am I so disinterested in it?

There’s no denying that the actions and words of many great and courageous women have made huge differences in a woman’s quality of life - and for some, ended suffering and slavery imposed by their gender. But these steps were taken over 60 years ago, and in some ways, we’re in a very different society now. The gap has come much closer to closing - with women working similar hours, similar occupations and earning much more than they had decades ago. The stigma surrounding women working - particularly in childbearing age, has faded, and more women than ever are taking in the technology and scientific industries.

And this for me is the issue: We’ve stagnated. It feels so close to equal that it’s easy to pass off the remainder of the gender gap as differences in culture. But that’s not really it, is it?

The truth is that we still have a ways to go, and the ways we’ve championed the cause for gender equality is no longer effective to men (and women) who think it’s all over. Moreover, those who strive to be heard now look like dramatics banging a long-dead horse, having shouted the same “More pay for women” slogan for the past 60 years.

When I get invited to women-only events, or a talk or breakfast to help raise money for women’s charities, I don’t feel empowered, merely annoyed. Now we’re so close to equality, singling out genders like this feels outdated, and a step backwards.

I think the United Nations’ women’s ambassador Emma Watson said it quite succinctly in her speech for the HeForShe campaign:

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. “

This hits the nail on the head for me - the way forward must change with the time, like everything else has. While we cheer on women making waves in their careers, so too must we cheer on men for their achievements, whether it be at the company board, or in making a perfect lasagne for the family at home.

Part of why this irritates me so much is because it’s so damn obvious. While I do not shout it from the rooftops like some, I never accept second best because I am a woman. To put it more coarsely, I do whatever I goddamn like.

I just hope that there are as many people attending events for International Men’s Day, in November. Heck, I’d rather if there weren’t any. Can’t we just have an International Let’s All Be Nice To One Another day?

S