International Women’s Day – and any other International Day for that matter – normally passes me by without any bother, barely doing more than briefly impinging on my awareness.
However, this year I’ve had one very interesting conversation as a result of International Women’s Day with a female friend who has recently returned to work full-time at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) after having a child, as well as reading a beautifully written post on the subject by DoctorDi, freelance writer and new Mum.
I consider myself a feminist. And while I recognise that there is still no parity between women and men in the workplace and that this is unjust, I am also increasingly uncomfortably conscious that we will do ourselves no favours by simply insisting on being granted access to a life which doesn’t even make the men who currently dominate it happy. Or even healthy.
My main concern with feminism over the last 50 years has been its seeming insistence that we women need to be the same as men in order to have rights equal to theirs. I don’t want to be the same as a man – I am a woman not a man – but I do want equality. And that means equality for both women and men. Equal opportunities for women in the workplace should they so choose, and equal opportunities for men as homemakers if that is what they want. Or a mixture of both roles.
At the same time, I don’t wish to struggle up any greasy pole [now there’s a phallic pun if ever there was one] just to find my ‘success’ and self-worth measured in terms of the bullshit capitalist system, with value purely financial and the only rewards being monetary.
We know, as women, that there is more to success than money and that we have more to contribute to family and society than cash. We just need to identify and articulate what we achieve for society and value that properly, according it a full measure of respect even where its actual remuneration is pitiful.
And then we can stop apologising for taking maternity leave, for using emotional intelligence, for choosing not to have children, for deciding to be a home-maker, for paying another person to care for our children or clean our house, for all the things that nobody should have to apologise for or explain.