Women’s Business is the World’s Business
Over at Trespass Magazine, we’ve just kicked off Women’s Week. It’s our fourth theme week (following Love, Green and Comedy weeks) and it’s one I feel particularly strongly about. I have long considered myself, very happily, to be a feminist and am always completely bamboozled when women of my generation turn their noses up at the term. Or sigh. Or roll their eyes. Or dismiss the movement as something that has nothing to achieve anymore and is best left in the memories of hairy-armed bra burners. The plain truth of the matter is gender equality remains outside of our grasp, worldwide. And refusing to acknowledge this and subsequently associate oneself with a movement that, in its purest form, advocates equalityof the sexes, not the privileging of one over the other, simply doesn’t make sense to me.
From this week’s Letter from the Editors over at Trespass …
The woman’s movement is not an attempt to arrogate man’s prerogative of manhood – it is not even an attempt to assert and emphasise women’s privilege of womanhood; it is simply the demand that in the life of woman, as in the life of man, space and liberty shall be found for a thing bigger than manhood or womanhood – for humanity.
Jane Ellen Harrison
Isn’t that the truth. And yet, despite the complacency, at times the eye-rolling, when women’s issues are mentioned or crusades embarked upon – this attitude born of a belief we have achieved precisely what Jane Ellen Harrison was talking about – statistics keep on singing a different tune.
Women make up more than 50% of the world’s population but are less educated, more poorly paid and more frequently domestically and sexually abused or assaulted than their male counterparts. According to UNIFEM, women ‘perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.’ It is women the Millennium Development Goals aim to gain equality for by 2015, women who in so many instances are not afforded the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, women who continue to face unique issues in the workforce brought about by their ability to reproduce. It is women who come out second best in the majority of religious practices, women whose unemployment rates were more disastrously affected by the Global Economic Crisis and women who form the majority of sex trafficking victims.
Whether or not you choose to acknowledge what we have left to fight for; however disdainfully you look upon the three waves of feminism that preceded us; however much you want to distance yourself from a word that has almost lost its meaning – feminism – the simple truth is, if you can read those statistics and you believe in a fundamental, overarching equality between the sexes, then you are a feminist and you admit to a need for the ongoing championing of female issues.
Having a week that celebrates women – believing we live in a time that necessitates setting female issues apart from men’s and prioritizing the former – doesn’t negate our belief in the importance of, nor our love for, men. Obviously. And those who believe feminism must occur at the expense of appreciation for the other half, need to open their minds.
Read the rest of the letter here – and enjoy Women’s Week.