(he says, with literally fifty-five minutes left of the day :/)
People can be awesome, and some of those people happen to be women (I know right, it’s a massive logical leap of faith). So today, in this world where there are more powerful CEOs called John than there are powerful CEOs who are women, it’s worth remembering that women are not just people, but people with the same potential to be inspiring, courageous and decent as men can be (another big claim, I know).
An important book in my life is Iain M. Banks’ The Player of Games, in which there is a species with three biological sexes – males, females, and a sexually and culturally dominant ‘apex’ sex – with a pretty effective, if rigid, social structure – apexes are superior to men and women, but neither men or women are inferior to each other. This creates a triangular relationship between the genders, where the apexes are content being the dominant group, and the majority of men and women are content with not being the designated losers. This also means that this species’ ideas of masculinity and femininity are much less problematic in society because they have a central gender from which to differentiate and define themselves – men are more generically ‘masculine’ than apexes, and women are more ‘feminine’ than them.
But in humans, we lack this central gender from which men and women can define their gender identities; men have basically ended up being both the masculine end of the gender-role spectrum, and the middle-ground, meaning that anything from naked horse-riding to being a confident individual can be upsettingly logically associated with masculinity and women, as a result, have a much narrower pool of ‘acceptable’ social actions and behaviours to choose from – they only get to pick from the extreme ‘feminine’ end of the spectrum. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with being overtly masculine or feminine – let’s face it, drunken football chants are about as daft as the practice of wearing makeup – it’s this limiting of options that has been the real problem with the gender divide for the last five thousand years or so; basically, men can be men or they can be people, while women can only be women.
So that’s why International Women’s Day is important, to celebrate the achievements of women as contributing to the greater progression of humanity, a trait that men, women, and people that identify as everything in between should have equal access to; Malala Yousafzai is an influential activist, whose work affects all eight billion of us, not just an influential woman, whose actions might be perceived as only being relevant for women.
Happy International Women’s Day folks, and let’s work towards getting half the population the credit they deserve for making this barren, polluted rock of a home we cling to a little less abysmal.