On why we need International Women’s Day

Much like my favourite Twitter profile in the build-up to Christmas is the ever patient, almost saint-like, John Lewis from Virginia who is categorically *not* a retail store, my favourite one on March 8th, International Women’s Day, is Richard Herring’s, who (less patiently but no less diligently) explains to every whining person that International Men’s Day is on November 19th, so don’t worry dears; you’re not being denied a day of equality under the tyranny of the Feminazis.

when is international men's day though

Amusing Twitter replies aside, the idea that women shouldn’t have a day celebrating them – ‘why is their gender important??’ and ‘why do they get one over men – we’re important too!!’ (please don’t hold back on really hamming up the nasal whine that accompanies those kind of statements) – is one that I have decided I no longer have the patience to politely counter. In politics, in the workplace, in social standing, in education, in music, and everywhere else women have less of a voice, less influence, less respect. Whilst we’re lucky enough to not be Oppressed with a capital letter in the West we’re not boosted up to an equal footing either – Charlotte Whitton put it succinctly when she said

Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.

this girl can

The reason we make such a big deal about International Women’s Day is because it’s the one day when women make the majority of headlines, and when women across the world aren’t overlooked. We’re so often brushed aside (‘what are you complaining about, you have the same opportunities as men’) that we need a day like this. It’s exactly the same in sport as it is in every other walk of life:

We need IWD because less than a third of sports board members are women[1].

Because men get more prize money than women for winning the same events[2].

Because we’ve not improved TV coverage of women’s sport significantly in the last 30 years[3].

Because people still ridicule top sportswomen for their sexual desirability (or lack of it)[4] whereas criticism of men’s bodies is limited to ‘have they put on weight/bulked up?’[5] (still not a good thing but not as belittling either).

Because girls are consistently less active and less happy with themselves than boys (60% compared to 73%)[6].

Because I am sick of seeing girls’ and women’s teams have less resources, less pitch-time, less assistance than the boys, because they’re still not considered to be playing traditionally men’s sports ‘properly’.

Because I’m bored of the incredulous looks women receive, and the patronising ‘advice’ given to us when we do any exercise that’s supposedly ‘unfeminine’ (‘Girls shouldn’t lift weights’ ‘You play rugby!? You don’t tackle though right?’).

Because I am constantly blown away by the physical feats people I know complete (see crazy lady running a 250km ultra-marathon in the desert BECAUSE SHE CAN)[7] and for some reason they’re less of a big deal than when men do things.

Because it’s 2017 and we have a female prime minister and a female queen who’s going to have to send herself a telegram soon and whatever your opinion on politics, or the monarchy, you can’t deny they’re pretty important.

Because you can strive to surround yourself with positive, inspirational female figures who drive you to better yourself, and you can never, ever escape the plaintive male voice from the corner of the internet going ‘what about the men though?’

Well you know what, today is not the day that we’re going to share our limited and valuable airtime. Today we stand up and shout about how amazing women are, and how much we’re capable of, and what we’re going to go on to do. Tomorrow we will have to share (read – give way to the majority) the infosphere with men again, and that’s fine. And on November 19th we’ll celebrate the inspirational and supportive male figures in our lives.

But today, today is for us. And if you object to that then bugger off and come back tomorrow, and the other 364 days of the year. This Girl Can and This Girl Bloody Well Will.

 

[1] https://www.womeninsport.org/resources/beyond-30-report/

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/29744400

[3] https://qz.com/428680/there-is-less-womens-sports-coverage-on-tv-today-than-there-was-in-1989/

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3192605/Serena-Williams-hits-sexism-sports-showing-six-pack-stunning-cover-shoot-one-month-labeled-manly-online-trolls.html

[5] http://nypost.com/2016/11/26/tiger-woods-return-comes-with-a-weight-he-hasnt-shed-in-7-hellish-years/

[6] Girls Active Report, Women in Sport

[7] http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=georgiepeters

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