I tend to think in songs or specifically, song lyrics. I don’t know why but it is a strange habit. So you may have noticed that I have song titles or part of its lyrics frequently featured in my posts.
Today, being the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, as I write this post, uncontrollably I start thinking of songs and lyrics that are girl-power focused. (I hear a succession of Katy Perry’s Roar, Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman, Aretha Franklin’s Respect and Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women in my head..)
International Women’s Day is not usually a special day for me. Don’t get me wrong. I respect and love my fellow female family members and friends. I admire the Sheryl Sandbergs and Michelle Obamas of the world. I applaud women who are dedicated spouse, mother, sister, daughter and everything in between – THE ultimate multi-hyphenated multi-taskers in the world. But IWD is not one that sparks deep reflection, like how a birthday or an anniversary does for me.
This year, though, because of the particular political climate that has placed emphasis on the topic and my new ‘stint’, it makes me ruminate a little more.
Transitioning from a working woman who earns her own keep to one who stays home and depends on her spouse for almost everything (and I still hate thinking/saying/typing it), I am like an anti-thesis of the women marching in today’s #ADayWithoutAWoman protest.
The protest, happening at noon today, is against the discrimination and salary differences between men and women in the working world.It encourages women to not show up for work and not to shop, as a sign of protest against inequality.
I don’t have earning power now. I have to buy groceries today because I need them. Does it mean I do not stand for equality?
How about all the stay-home spouses and mums (and dads)? Many take on this role by choice or simply because it is a practical thing to do for the family. Does it mean they do not contribute to the society? Does that make us less worthy of respect from fellow females who are out there protesting now?
I was watching a talk show yesterday that introduced a new book by Stephen Marche, titled The Unmade Bed. It talks about the role reversal of the author moving here and staying home while his wife works as the editor for a key publication, and all the changing dynamics in such a situation (sounds familiar to me…) With how society perceives and expects of men, in general, I can only imagine it is 10,000 times worse than how I feel in my situation. Does that make him less worthy of respect from his fellow males?
As of now, there are already several notable figures and celebrities showing their support for the movement via social media. There are also many (men and women) who came out to criticise the action.
If you have read my previous posts, you know I relish my independence. My sense of self is also closely tied to my ability to be self-sufficient. While the situation has changed, it does not mean I have to surrender my voice to have an opinion (my husband can vouch for that, grudgingly).
Reading about schools cancelling classes and business closing for the day in anticipation of staff participating in the protest, is disturbing. I get what the underlying issues are, but is this the right way to do it? Perhaps inspired by the march in January following the inauguration of the new POTUS and the A Day Without Immigrants protest in February, the organisers and many women around the world feel that such a protest is a good platform to be seen and heard.
Honestly, and I know this may incur the wrath of some women, this act seems so negative to me. I am not going to show up/ return your call/ give you what you want so you know who’s boss. What is this? Throwing tantrums? Yes, I am angry to know that women are paid less than men doing the exact same job. Yes, I am incredibly pissed by society’s warped expectation of women to be ‘the full package’ yet judge harshly when we voice our displeasures. I get it.
But I do not see the need to punish everyone for this, including the innocent bystanders. Can you imagine how stressful it is for the mothers (and fathers) whose children are affected by the school closures? Even if they scramble to find and willing to pay more for babysitters, they cannot find one, because they are also out there marching! Or those poor business owners already struggling to make ends meet (who may happen to be women too)? For me, as a teacher, to let students miss their class because of the need to prove a point, to me, it is self-serving and irresponsible. As an employee, it is simply unprofessional. I stand for women (and men) who are marginalised in the working world for no good reasons but I cannot stand for this. Are these ideas and actions what we want to push and show the younger generation?
No need for bra- and corset-burning here (blame it on the pop culture symbolism) although I believe many issues regarding inequality need to be addressed. I think we possess the strength and maturity to discuss them in a more targetted and meaningful way. I do not think we need to go to that extent of not showing up to prove our worth and get some well-deserved R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Happy International Women’s Day.