Google is sponsoring a #OneDayIWill campaign with today’s Doodle; the hashtags #IWD2016 and #InternationalWomensDay have over a million Tweets (UPDATE: and 2017’s hashtags look to be just as popular). That’s a lot of folks who support women and their achievements and struggles — hooray!
But as much as I love the positive connotations of IWD, I’m not sure about March 8th. Do we need a special day to value women? I feel the same about holidays like Valentine’s Day, when we’re expected to prove our love for our significant others via gifts and fancy dinners.
Sounds pretty corporate to me, a way to market candy and flowers and jewelry in retail’s slow post-Christmas months. Shouldn’t we love our partner every day?
And, in the same vein, shouldn’t we value women’s contributions every day? Shouldn’t we call for change, empower them, and honor their struggles all the time? Doesn’t allocating women to a special day separate them from society instead of integrating them with it?
Though I question gender neutral products, I support gender neutral social justice: if there’s an issue affecting women, everyone should speak up. If there’s an issue affecting men, same deal. And if it’s an issue that affects only a certain group, such as colored folks, or Asians, or Latinos? Same thing again. We’re all people; we need to look out for each other. Gender shouldn’t play a role. That is what feminism is about — equality for all — not the separation of women from the rest of society for the purpose of honoring them on one day.
Maybe, for some, IWD is a powerful reminder of women’s struggles and their need for equality, especially in places where they are often denied an education. That absolutely needs to be addressed. But I can’t help but wonder if IWD creates a degree of separation by splitting women from society once a year. We’re all people — don’t we all deserve the same, proper treatment? Segregating women from men, even for one day, seems like a regression.
Maybe IWD is both good and bad. Like everything, it has its pros and cons.
The following is my Google-inspired mantra for the day, one that sits comfortably with my conscience: One day, I hope all success will be celebrated and all needs addressed, regardless of a person’s gender.