Some thoughts on International Women's Day...
And the irony of it.
First of all, I rarely ever know when these recognition days are. Like, I know when it’s Christmas and Thanksgiving and stuff, but these kinds of days are always a surprise. And are always brought to my attention by social media. And then I feel obligated to post something about it.
So, Happy International Women’s Day.
And, for the record, I have nothing against these days, or various recognition months. But, like so many of the other things that we recognize, we do so because these groups have been marginalized or held back in some way… like, is this one day/month of recognition supposed to make up for it? Or is the point that it’s attempting to bring attention to the marginalization in an effort to shift it?
Unsure. Maybe I could do some research on those exact purposes, but instead, I’m going to vent.
And this “venting” comes from a place of full acknowledgment that as a white woman from the United States, I am fully aware that I am not among the most marginalized demographics out there. I know I have privilege that many others don’t. So, read this with that asterisk in mind.
At times, I don’t mind being treated differently for being a woman. When it’s time to carry heavy boxes and I don’t feel like doing it, I don’t mind it being a task designated to men. But, growing up, I also remember taking offense when teachers asked for “strong boys” to help with moving things, as if girls couldn’t be strong or capable too.
Here are some of the other things that really bother me (maybe an understatement) about how I’m treated as a woman, and, I imagine, on behalf of much of womenkind:
*I used to have a boss who would apologize directly to me after swearing in conversation with a whole group of men. Like, we’d be in a business meeting, where I was typically the only woman, he’d say something to the whole group that included a swear, and then look directly at me and say something like, “Oh, sorry Sara.” This was clearly done because I’m a woman, and not because I’d made it clear that I have a problem with swear words, as that is not the case. It just always made me feel awkward and also seemed to draw the attention of others away from the conversation and to the focus that I was somehow too delicate to hear swears. Maybe that last part is an assumption, but the fact that he felt the need to apologize directly to me for swearing in front of me was fact. I imagine he did it in an effort to be polite, but it made me feel unequal or not worthy of hearing the whole conversation.
*NOT equal pay for equal work. I’m literally not sure how this is still such an extreme disparity. Recent reports say that women are paid 83 cents to the dollar that men make. And, check this out… in my googling on this just a few minutes ago, I came across this Twitter account called Gender Pay Gap App (@PayGapApp) which, according to their bio, is re-Tweeting the gender pay gap of organizations making posts celebrating International Women’s Day. The bio states: “Employers, if you tweet about International Women's Day, I'll retweet your gender pay gap 👀 #IWD2022 #BreakTheBias” WOW. BOLD. Now, I’m not sure how exactly accurate these pay gaps are, but pretty incredible to bring attention to it nonetheless.
Or this one, made even crazier because the company couldn’t resist making a comment about this women’s lean frame, WHICH, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?, IS BASICALLY THE WHOLE POINT.
Along these lines, cheers to the US Women’s Soccer team for fighting for equal pay for equal work… aka, performing much more than their male counterparts, respectively, in the first place!
*The She-Session that happened, and is still happening, as a result of the pandemic. I know I don’t have to belabor this point, but more jobs were lost by women during the pandemic, and fewer women are returning to said jobs now that the pandemic is (hopefully) ending.
*I know this is specific to this country, but the fact that the US is one of the only countries in the world without paid maternity leave is crazy. A quote from an October 2021 New York Times article titled, “The World ‘Has Found a Way to Do This’: The U.S. Lags on Paid Leave” said, “The U.S. is one of six countries with no national paid leave. The Democrats have cut their plan to four weeks, which would still make it an outlier.” One of SIX countries, and the only “industrialized” nation, to not have it. And you know those 4 weeks didn’t make it into any plan either.
*Don’t even get me started on Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. Regardless of where you stand on actual abortion views, the fact that women’s rights to choose are slowly being taken away—ALMOST FIFTY YEARS AFTER THE ORIGINAL ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RIGHT—is unquestionable. Not only are women in some places more-or-less forced to have children, but to my previous point, they’re also not given time to support that baby or themselves following birth. Oh, the irony.
*In my experience and in working with clients around nutrition and body composition every day, there are VERY different physical expectations for women compared to men. The ‘dad bod’ is endearing and joked about, but if a woman carries around a few extra pounds, it is NOT viewed in the same way. Magazine covers talk constantly about how women can and should lose weight, or fad diets to help them do so, or this famous person who is being celebrated for losing weight, etc. and, again, the same is not necessarily true for men. Or, at the very least, I don’t hear these kinds of concerns and social stigmas and comparisons from men as I do from women. (This is why I speak a lot about understanding societal influences in my nutrition coaching work. Making sure an individual’s goals are actually significant to them and not being pushed into their brains from social media is important.)
*Along a similar line, many women are also shamed for wanting to be strong or have a muscular physique. Fitness-focused friends of mine who have bigger social followings are regularly told by men that they look “too manly” or are unattractive because they have defined muscles. I don’t know if this comes from a place of jealousy or what, but if you feel that way, you DO NOT have to say it out loud to strangers, you just don’t have to marry a women that doesn’t fit the type of mate you’re looking for. Simple enough.
So yeah, let’s keep “celebrating women” and give them a whole day/month of recognition, but also NOT change many of the things that continue to hold women back. Cool.
I’ll leave it there for today. This certainly isn’t all of the examples of things that bother me, but a few that came to mind today. To be honest, I’m not even sure where the desire to write this even came from or what I would want people to take away from reading it. But I had a gross feeling about seeing all of these celebrations of women, when many women aren’t actually celebrated or supported or treated fairly on a day-to-day basis. So, I felt called to get these thoughts out.
The intention of this post is also NOT to take anything away from all of the incredible women out there who are doing amazing things and accomplishing everything they want in life. They are doing so despite all of this adversity and cheers to them.
Please share any thoughts or feelings that come up for you in reading this. I’m open to learning and better understanding the perspectives of others in connection to my own. And with that being said, thank you for reading some of my thoughts.
I appreciate you.