Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why A Special Day For Women?

Today is the International Women's Day, March 8th. The idea is to pay attention to the plight of women in so many countries of this world and to celebrate the achievements of women in general. I have heard more than one anti-feminist argue that having a special day for women is really unfair, because there is no such special day for all men. The proper answer to this is that the other 364 days are special days for men in fields such as politics, music, science, sports, arts, journalism, cartoons, the academia, wars and religious organizations, to mention just a few male dominated fields.

But still, to have a "special" day for the majority of this world's citizens is insulting. It tells us that sexism is well and alive, that "women" are a subcategory of the human race and one which is not expected to demand very many "special" days. At the same time, it is equally insulting when this "special day" of ours comes and goes and hardly anybody bothers to even make a note of it. In recent years I have noticed that racism is still a BAD thing but sexism, well, not so much, and this is one of the reasons why we are in such deep shit in regard to reproductive rights and why our president can talk about sexism in Iran and remain mum on the topic of sexism in the United States. The politically correct use of sexism here is all about how unfair the world is to men and boys. If anything at all seems to be unfair to women and girls it's caused by a) the immovable will of God, b) the unchangeable rules of nature or c) women's own desires to be trampled upon. Maybe that's why The International Women's Day causes such a torrent of... media silence.

There are so many good topics to write about on this International Women's Day. I could have written about the almost four hundred dead women found in Juarez, near the U.S. border, all murdered and all pretty much ignored until the feminists got on the case of the Mexican police. I could have written about the problem of obstetric fistulas in Africa, a medical condition which affects thousands of women in Africa, which leaves them incontinent and often shamed by their communities, and which is a direct consequence of the societal tradition of using very young girls for childbreeding combined with lack of medical resources. I could have written about honor killings as a form of patriarchal control on women and the similarities it has with poorly punished rapes in the West as a form of invisible and perhaps unintended control over women's freedoms. And I could have written about the rapidly disappearing reproductive rights in this country, among many other topics.

Had I been in a more positive mood I could have written about the hundreds of interesting women in our history and what they have achieved. I might even have done one of those "you've come a long way, baby" articles of patting our own backs, or given an interesting explanation why it was a woman who invented the brassiere and what should be invented next (a support for the testicles, perhaps). I could have done any one of these things if I had been a member of the proper media on this International Women's Day and if I had thought that women mattered.