One Seven Four

Today is International Women’s Day. I wish that it was a day where we could just purely celebrate the wonderful wāhine in our lives, instead of having to justify its existence. Every year I have the same conversation with a different person about what IWD is and why it’s important. I’m thinking that maybe I should just write up a list of FAQs, print them on cards and hand them out.

Wouldn’t that be lovely? To just say to someone – “Let me stop you right there, I think I know where this conversation is going, this will help you understand.”

Why is there no International Men’s Day?

There is – it’s in November. Also, pretty much every day in human history has been a big fat international men’s day.

Why are we still fighting for women’s rights? They can vote now.

Reducing rights to voting rights is like giving a crumb to a starving person and asking them why they’re not full afterwards. There is so much more to equal rights than just being able to vote.

Why the word “feminism”? It’s too close to “female”.

Grow the fuck up. If you’re going to argue semantics for why you don’t call yourself a feminist then you should ask yourself if your stance has much substance. The word “feminism” is defined as the doctrine that advocates for women to have the same rights as men. If you believe that, then you’re a feminist. That’s how words work.

It’s hard to stay patient when you have to repeat yourself year after year and yet there are still more people who come with the same questions? I really really hope that there will be a day when I don’t have to have these conversations anymore, that we will finally be able to move forward and embrace and champion diversity in our communities and equity for all.

Thirty Nine

Feminism and faith – this was the topic discussed at the Contemporary Feminism panel talk tonight. Something that one of the panellists said really struck me – they said that we tell the stories we’re told.

Doesn’t that just hit the nail on the head? How often does society just perpetuate the same narratives that it’s been fed? Without being conscious of what we’re consuming, it’s only natural that we regurgitate the same old story.

I’m 27 now and only in the last several years have I started unpacking all the narratives that I’ve internalised, deconstructing everything that I took to be absolute truth and trying to understand reality in a more raw form. I’ve only just scratched the surface, there’s still a long way for me to go in taking apart all these things I’ve learned as true.

When the panellist said that, it reignited the fire and desire in me to write children’s literature. One of the narratives that I’ve internalised (to my detriment) is of the classic fairy tale ending – the princess being saved by the prince. Only now as an adult do I see how harmful that narrative is. There are so many problems with it!

  1. It’s heteronormative.
  2. The princess is always secondary to the story – just a prop for the prince.
  3. The happily ever after is when the prince saves the princess and they get married.

Being single terrifies me, because being alone terrifies me, because I’ve subconsciously absorbed the idea that I can never be truly happy, can never have my happily ever after on my own. I need a man in it. Maybe that’s part of the reason why the breakup with J was so awful – it wasn’t just losing him, it was also losing that fairy tale ending.

I don’t know if it’s possible to untangle myself from this narrative now, I feel like it might be too late for me. But it’s not too late for kids. They can learn a different story – where diversity is celebrated, where princesses are go-getters and do whatever the fuck they want, where the happily ever after is all sorts of relationship statuses.