Women’s day: Celebrating mid-battle

It’s Women’s day in South Africa today 😀 Today, I celebrate the women of the past. The women who have come before us deserve praise for standing up for themselves and helping us see that we deserve the same things as men do.

Women demonstrating against the pass laws in Cape Town, on the same day as the national women’s protest in Pretoria in August 1956. Source: Overcomingapartheid.msu.edu

At the same time, I can’t let myself get too caught up in the festivities of Women’s day. I’m still going to be a woman tomorrow, and I’d like to have something to celebrate then too. I appreciate the free picnics and the women’s day discounts. Who doesn’t like free stuff? 😀 These are nice gestures but I want much more than that. The reason I can’t get too excited about today is because tomorrow the struggle continues. And realistically, getting a discount on a facial won’t help me in the struggle for equality.

Tomorrow, I will continue to earn less than a man who does the same job as me. Tomorrow, I will stay silent about sexual violence; lest I be blamed for it. I will pick my clothes carefully because I don’t want to be called a slut or a prude. I will buy pepper spray in case I get attacked on my way home.  Tomorrow, I will be subjected to street harassment by people who think they have the right to comment on my body. I’ll struggle to raise a child I didn’t want to have, because I wasn’t afforded birth control or the option to have a safe abortion. When I switch on the TV or read a magazine, I’ll (yet again) be exposed to images of women I should aspire to look like. Then the advertising industry will play on my insecurities and profit from it, while I beat myself up for failing to make myself thinner, whiter, bustier and more perfect.  And I’ll be expected to see this struggle as a natural part of life; just my cross to bear as a woman.

For me, freedom will come when being a woman is like being left-handed: when it’s just another way of being.

I don’t want my future daughters growing up thinking they’re not beautiful if they happen to be dark-skinned or fat or disabled. I don’t want my daughters to develop eating disorders because they can’t handle the pressure to be perfect. I don’t want my daughters to limit themselves in order to protect themselves from violence. I want my daughters to know that they don’t have to do anything unless they want to. I want them to know that they don’t have to be strong or girly or good at everything.

I want to be able to have daughters (and sons and genderqueer children) without worrying about all of this.

Being a woman, I don’t want to be better or worse than a man.  I want to be free from the comparison.

Until then…