International Women’s Day – Was It the Biggest Insult to Womankind?

“This is what a feminist looks like”, remember those annoying T-shirts? How many of you rocked one of those the other weekend for International Women’s Day? Not many I’ll bet. Why’s that then? Is it because International Women’s Day was as patronising as seeing Nick Clegg wearing one of those said T-shirts? Or is it because we have actually lost sight of what it is to be a feminist?

‘Maybe we should put less effort into holding days celebrating the fact we have tits and put more effort into actually doing something useful…’

Emmeline Pankhurst would be turning in her grave if she knew how pathetic and whiney we had become. I’m talking about you, the women who took selfies for International Women’s Day, the celebrities who keep getting feminism cringingly wrong, the WAGs and wannabe WAGs, the professional wives, who drop the kids off at school (then go home and… do fuck all). You have done nothing for the cause yet you are more than happy to join in the sisterhood and pat yourselves on the back for celebrating International Women’s Day.

Cheers, also to Cosmopolitan magazine for truly dumbing down the cause with the dullest tweet about Taylor Swift and Ellie Goulding, informing us why we should all want to be their BFF on International Women’s Day. You go girls, you rock! Girl Power at its finest.

The sanitary towel brand Always’, latest marketing campaign #LikeAGirl, is currently trending. They created a neat little spin on the derogatory term ‘Like a Girl’ with a campaign showing women doing powerful acts, nicely timed to coincide with International Women’s Day.

So there we have it, what it is to be a strong woman, all wrapped up in a T-shirt and a video. The fashion industry and the pharmaceutical industry, the irony of them giving a shit about the women who buy their products! Two of the most patronising, anti-equality businesses out there and they know it. They love to feed on our insecurities so we buy the products (is our next t-shirt slogan going to be: ‘I Can Tie My Own Shoelaces’?). Of course the big brands aren’t jumping on the first passing bandwagon into town; of course they are celebrating International Women’s Day! Just like that nice BBC, which is very kindly insisting on having one female representative on every panel show. Yep, got to keep those workplace gender quotas up haven’t we? Just like the Fire Brigade and many other institutions.

Essentially, if you haven’t worked it out yet, the fashion industry, the pharmaceutical industry, Fire Brigade and the BBC all hate us. Just like the popular kid in the playground, they’re fake friending us so they look magnanimous. This not only undermines us, but by applauding it we are doing nothing to prove that we are capable of working as hard as our male counterparts, we are essentially there just to look good.

However, this #LikeAGirl campaign got me thinking about the idea of female role models, are they important? Do we need a strong female role model? From The Duchess of Cambridge to Katie Price anyone with an opinion or dressed head to toe in Boden is listed as a role model now. Whom should we celebrate? Mother’s, Sisters, Friends, Wives, surely they deserve that recognition from us every day? Not just because someone made up a ‘day’ and told us to do it.

Instead, we should be championing the indomitable women who have proved they can do it, have fought adversity and come out on top. However, we know full well, there is a part of the female psyche that picks apart at the very essence of other women. We love the part where we can build them up; only to knock them down. Everyone needs a pariah to mock on a bad day, right?

How many times has the green-eyed monster crept in when we’ve seen a woman being successful and doing well at something? What is the first thing we do? We compare ourselves and highlight our own insecurities; then we have a good old bitch amongst ourselves. “She won gold in the Olympics, but OMG, she looks fat in that picture!”

‘Every day, women move mountains, it’s an insult to have an international women’s day’.
Waris Dirie

For those of you who are not aware of whom Waris Dirie is, she is a Supermodel. I know a quote from a Supermodel is likely to rile some of you – since when did a model have anything worthwhile saying, right? Wrong, Dirie is Somalian, she ran away from an arranged marriage at 13 and travelled across the desert for weeks, to the capital, Mogadishu, barefoot and with only the clothes she was wearing. Here, she worked incredibly long hours for little money; she made it to London, struggling to speak English, without a roof over her head and working in McDonald’s. A chance meeting with a photographer propelled her to new heights and working with Terence Donovan, sent her career rocketing.

These days she campaigns hard against female genital mutilation, (something from which she still suffers pain from to this day) and her work has led her to being a UN Ambassador for the Abolition of FGM.

So for all the International Women’s Day back slapping, celebrations with cheap Cava, selfies, the celebrities missing the point, the media hype, where are we now? Oh yes, nowhere forward. Maybe we should put less effort into holding days celebrating the fact we have tits and put more effort into actually doing something useful and creating the changes that are needed. Fighting for change, the abolition of female genital mutilation, the pay gap, challenging undermining gender quotas in the workplace, inequality as a whole … So it goes on, thus bringing us back around to the beginning of this whole vicious circle of female empowerment.

Is it not time to break out from our self-inflicted chains of righteousness and sham feminism and prove our worth? Verifying our egalitarianism by doing something useful; not by burning our bras or taking selfies, but by just getting on with some worthwhile shit?

That is what a feminist looks like.


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