Women’s Day ghetto? Count me out

So, here we are again in the ghetto. Women’s Day is with us, and politicians, beauty spas and restaurants are having a field day. Newspapers are running stories like this, and I am feeling crabby. That article rightly points out many of the major issues facing women worldwide, but I am here to say that designating a special day is not the way to address those things.

I would ask you to think about one question as you go about this day – how would it all feel if the stories you were reading and the tweets you are sharing and the promotional specials you were seeing were in honour of black people? That’s right, a special day to celebrate the specialness of black people. Patronising? Racist, even? Okay – now you know why I dislike Women’s Day so much.

In March 2012, I wrote a column for IOL on the subject, which you can read here. But I still think this:

Whether we are honouring heroines of the struggle, or celebrating the achievements of the women’s movement, or suggesting that some special woman deserves breakfast in bed or a day at the spa, we are saying that women are somehow different from men. We are saying that something about them needs different treatment from men.

And what does being “special” in this way do? It opens the door to discrimination, is what it does.

Women all over the world are still oppressed, beaten, killed, deprived of education.

Girl children are killed because they are girls.

And that happens to them because, fundamentally, they are seen as different, useless, not fully human.

So how does a day celebrating their otherness (and giving rise to a lot of patronising woolly thinking) help the cause, sisters and brothers?