On the eve of International Women’s Day, March 8, celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, it is fitting to reflect on how far women have come and how far we still need to go to achieve equality and kindness for all. Of course, within this written reflection, are the challenging terms ‘women’ and ‘equality’. In these times of political correctness, neither can be defined anymore without invoking the rage of the woke warriors, the progressives who are awake to racial and social injustice. So, no definitions here. Just a focus on fierce, focused women still fighting, hopefully for the female side.
Let’s fight on the same team despite our diversity
Sadly, not all women are batting for the same team. They are fierce, focused and fighting, but not kind to other women. We are splintering into factions of feminists, ultra feminists, nasty hate filled feminists and ‘women’ who brazenly flash their male body parts in change rooms. Add to the mix the transgender factor. No wonder we are in a state of utter confusion.
Never has there been so much variety in womanhood, but never have we been so confused regarding what we can say and who is included. The women of today, in all their variety, are still fierce and focused, but some wage war on other women, depending on their rules of political and gender-speak correctness. We have forgotten to be kind.
What about universal sisterhood? What happened to a united female front for liberation and equality? What about simple kindness? Let’s use our energy for good, our voices for good and not tear each other apart.
It’s about the equality the suffragettes fought for
Never have we been less able to speak or write our mind. Is this equality? The suffragettes who fought for our rights and recognition as equals were fierce, focused women prepared to go to prison, be tortured, and even die for their noble cause. These women never had to do battle with political semantics as the modern woman does lest she offend someone.
Nobody questioned what a woman was, only what she could do. Tough suffragettes and female pioneers who changed the world fought because they could not freely participate in a man’s world. They were fierce, focused women fighting for the right to enter the world, not just be restricted to the home front. They could not engage in work other than menial tasks, nor own a business, vote, or even have a passport in their own name. They had to fight the fight.
Today, millions of women in Africa, Asia and the Middle east are still in this stage of non-liberation. We should think of them, our still imprisoned sisters and be warriors for their liberation from male domination, not fighting amongst ourselves.
Can women have it all?
Only privileged and liberated Western women seemingly have it all. The freedom to vote, work, choose their partners and when or whether to have children. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a staunch advocate for women’s rights.
Yet there is so much unhappiness among women folk. Domestic violence and divorce are at a record high. In an attempt to have it all, women have come off poorer in many respects. Unlike men who are single focused at any time, women by necessity have to focus on child rearing, home care and a career. Women are good at multitasking, but even our amazing skill-set has its limits. To the point of exhaustion, at the point of not doing any well.
Life is indeed confusing, stressful and time-poor for the modern woman. Juggling work and family commitments leaves her exhausted and with little leisure time. This stress flows down to the marriage, creating cracks that catapult couples into divorce and children into insecurity and unhappiness. We have become a nation of single parent families.
To compound this, men have not progressed overly since cavemen days. In fact, they seem to have gone backwards. No longer the food hunter or even sole bread winner, the men have relinquished their Tarzan existence to sit on couches flicking TV remotes and waiting for their dinner.
Meanwhile, their partner runs around in dizzying circles doing it all, despite having worked an 8-hour day herself. Women’s liberation enrages some testosterone fuelled men. They become violent because of their need to dominate and control their women. Men behaving badly, indulging in having dangerous toddler tantrums cancels all our hard gained liberation.
Asking a few highflyers
Australian Julie Bishop, when asked by Nadia Salemme for Stellar, whether women can have it all, replied, “They can, but not all at the same time”. Julie chose to have career and soared in the political sphere to become Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister. She excelled at diplomacy but had time for sport and has a keen interest in fashion.
Now retired from politics, Julie is an official ‘friend’ of the iconic David Jones fashion label. Julie believes that age should not define or restrict a woman and that fashion allows a woman to fully express herself. Go, Julie. That is liberating and uplifting. I must re-inspect my wardrobe.
Another Australian woman who is inspiring, apart from amazing Turia Pitt, athlete, Tayla Harris. This young spitfire is up for the fight for equality for women in sport. Tayla is not focused on medals and trophies. Like Ash Barty, tennis pro and cricketer, she is into respect for women, which involves a lowering of the focus on a women’s appearance and gender in the sporting arena.
A few years ago, sneery haters, people who spend their life sneering at others, targeted Tayla, sniggering at a photo of her taken when she kicked off at a football game. But she fought back in her proud, feisty, female way and has come up trumps. Nowadays, she is a boxer as well as an elite footy player. Go, Tayla!
Tayla, like Julie and most of us believe kindness matters. If there were more kindness in the world, “What wonderful world it would be,” as Sam Cooke wrote in his well-recorded song. Wars, no domestic violence against women, no stalkers or rapists, no hate speech. Ah! Dream on! International Women’s Day is a time for visualizing and trying to bring about a kinder, more equal world for all, not just women.
We need to be fierce and focused as a united team of female warriors, but we need also to be kind to each other. Our kindness can teach men to be in touch with their softer, compassionate side. But we need to be kind to other women first.
photo source from Unsplash
Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni also co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.