sad woman

In 2018, Should we Focus on Celebrating Women or Promoting Inclusion?

woman walking

These are my views. It is International Women’s Day.  What does that even mean?  It feels like there’s a day for everything, and while I think it’s important to celebrate women, I wonder if we are making it worse by doing so?  I, myself, am not a hard-core feminist.  If you’ve read any of my other posts, you will know that I have a strong core belief in equality.  I don’t think one gender or race of people should have more value than another.  The bad news is we don’t live in a world that solely represents my views.  The good news?  We live in a world that is changing.

I’m not saying that there isn’t a long way to go with this battle.  But I am saying that we are heading in a direction where we can see progress.  Getting back to the question I asked in the first paragraph, which probably made your jaw drop.  No, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t celebrate women at all.  But I do wonder if we are making things worse from a gender perspective, by celebrating this day? As a woman, I understand the struggles.  I get out of bed in the morning and automatically think I’m ugly, or fat, or that I’m not smart enough.  For a very long time, I’ve had to be independent.  Which, for better or worse, has given me a bit of an edge.  And yet – every day, I think about how weak I feel.

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I saw posts on Instagram this morning, which I wholeheartedly agree with, but seeing those posts every so often doesn’t make me feel any stronger.  Identifying today as International Women’s Day doesn’t make me feel like I can take on the world.  Just because it’s Thursday, doesn’t make it any more of a day than Friday.  Or Sunday.  I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we place too much emphasis on IWD when we should be fighting the battle for gender equality every day.  And to credit a lot of people out there (men and women) this has become more of a daily battle, than ever before.

There is one thing that we don’t talk about, which is transgender or gender non-conforming individuals.  Last year, GLAAD released a study that found 12% of millennials identify as either transgender or gender non-conforming.  Which means that they don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, or their expression of their gender is different from the conventional expectations of males and females.  Where am I going with this?  Well, if we are only celebrating women, then we are potentially alienating a portion of people out there who don’t have a gender. (Sorry men – my focus is just on women in this article.)

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I also think there are some people out there who believe that transgender women don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman.  And that’s simply not the case.  I would make the argument that they would have more hardships than a woman who was born as a woman (due to stereotypes and all kinds of barriers) and therefore might understand women’s struggles in a way that others can’t imagine.  It’s 2018, and we have moved beyond the idea that womanhood is a single and universal experience.  The struggles that my mother went through are far different from the struggles that I have.  Just as the struggles of my best girlfriends are far different than mine when it comes to things like reproductive experiences.

Being a woman is far more than putting yourself into a social category.  No longer can we point to body parts and say “she’s a woman because she has…”.  Just as we can no longer point to a man and say he’s a man because he’s different than a woman.  So while I think it’s great that we are celebrating women, I also think we need to be more inclusive with that term and understand that not everyone fits into that box.  As women, we need to celebrate the beauty and strength of anyone who wants to call themselves a woman – regardless of what they were born with, or how they choose to identify.

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I know I said I wasn’t a hard-core feminist, but after you read this, you might think otherwise.  When it comes to being a woman, I think the commonality isn’t our bodies, it’s our minds.  It’s in how we are treated at work.  It’s about how women traditionally get paid less than men.  Don’t even get me started on what this statistic looks like for women of color.  Given how much progress has been made with the #MeToo movement, I am very optimistic that women’s rights will continue to progress.  I just hope that it also means making progress for transgender women (and men) in order to level the playing field.  Like I always say – it’s not about diversity, it’s about inclusion.

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