Hello, and Happy International Women’s Day! I have been sent two (2) emails promoting sales in celebration of this blessed day, and you know what? It’s fine. If you want to shop today, you shop today. This isn’t a shame-post or even an angry post (because you guys need a break from those). Instead, it’s a starter guide. Because while I am all for 24 straight hours of honouring women, I am even more for a 24/7 schedule of getting to work to make sure we’re all hanging on an equal playing field.
So this, my friends, is the most basic of work you can do. Today, tomorrow, and always.
1. Listen up
For real, let’s just start here. Listen! Listen to the women who are speaking. And I don’t mean that in a “listen until you’re allowed to speak again” type of way, I mean, listen up and don’t speak and actually just get off the stage for a second and remember that your experience may not be the universal one. (And it probably isn’t!) So if a woman begins sharing her story, that is your cue to listen and to acknowledge, not to interrupt and speak for that woman or to say “I GET IT” when you do not. That’s not how intersectionality works. Mainly because intersectionality isn’t recruiting women to stand around you quietly while you speak. It is inclusion, not tokenism.
And another thing: if somebody else can speak to their experience better than you can (because it is their experience), that’s your cue to elevate them and their words. Which doesn’t take a lot of work, I promise. You can share posts and pieces written. You can promote movies and music and TV and art. You can RT a necessary thread. Because why would you say what someone who’s living that truth can say better? Exactly! You wouldn’t. You know better.
3. Be mindful of your language
I hate the idea of mindfulness because it doesn’t work for me and perching anxiously like a cat is far more effective for my day-to-day life, but I digress. Pay attention to the language you’re using, is what I mean. Like, hi: a lot of us are gung-ho over the “uteruses not duderises” rhetoric, but when applied to a wider context outside of Parks and Rec (specifically a scene where two cis hetero women were talking about dating men), it reads as transphobic. Mainly because if somebody identifies as a woman, their anatomy is separate from that. And we know that! We know better! Inclusion!
4. And speaking of language, sex work is real work
Which is another point we need to visit today. Sex work is real work! It’s not shameful, it shouldn’t be taboo, it shouldn’t be a punchline, and it shouldn’t mean we exclude sex workers from our conversations about representation and equality and human rights. It’s an industry that’s existed long before any of us were born and it’s an industry that will exist long after. It’s also an industry we need to understand and educate ourselves on so we can keep pushing for sex worker rights. And we do that by listening to sex workers, as outlined by Alana Massey in this great piece.
Because here’s the thing about International Women’s Day: we can all get together and celebrate the awesomeness of women, but that also means as women, we can’t just throw on a slogan t-shirt and call it a day. It means taking accountability, it means speaking up, it means sitting down when somebody else is speaking up, it means listening and making space and then ensuring that space is kept open. It also means acknowledging privilege if and when you have it. Which can feel terrible, but also too bad/[shrugging Emoji]. Work isn’t done without recognizing your own complicity or what you can do better. And the beauty of that is, International Women’s Day is merely 24 hours. We still have another 364 days a year to do the work, and then some.