UN Women hosts these International Women’s Day Breakfasts each year. I received a ticket this year – something that they repeatedly emphasised to be worthy of celebration.
I thought I’d leave this event feeling inspired and empowered. I spent most of it feeling uncomfortable.
Here’s a short list of some problematic things I heard:
– Romanticisation of disability
– White feminism/ non-intersectional feminism
– Invalidating women who like make-up and beauty products
– Having a male on the panel who talked about how his company practices “gender equality”. (We hear about this same story every other day, yet we’re celebrating men being decent human beings and foregrounding it on International Women’s Day? Lookin at you, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Sydney Boys High)
I also can’t remember how many times the MC asked us to make donations, donations that will probably go to buying more purple ribbons and customised pens that were produced in Chinese factories. Please tell me how these items help empower women?
If feminism is not intersectional, there is no point. As Audre Lorde put it, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
We also need to be asking why male voices are needed, especially on International Women’s Day, in any conversation about sexism that would otherwise be ignored if voiced by women.
Wait – I am not done.
I think we should all acknowledge and remember that International Women’s Day celebrates working-class women. Though it has grown from its origins, we can’t erase the elements of class struggle this movement was built on.