I appreciate the sentiment behind Women’s Day. I do. Women in their numerous capacities are pillars of homes, communities, countries and continents. And for that, we ought to celebrate them. Sure.
But I often find myself in a bad mood on that day. Because during the week leading up to Women’s Day, something overcomes me and I start picking more fights than usual.
I pick fights with patriarchs because I don’t understand how people can be so arrogant as to think that they ought to be appeased and revered just because of their gender. Then I end up being bruised because it is the 21st Century and countless people still believe that it is in everyone’s interest if women learn to keep their place in society.
And what’s the place of women in society? To be submissive and passive, happy to take a back seat and nurse male egos even to the point of undercutting their own potential.
It is understandable for men to be against women empowerment because it threatens their ‘unquestionable’ power and authority. But to hear women passionately support patriarchy just hurts my heart. I come to the defeating realisation that patriarchy is not about to make an exit and women empowerment is a long way off.
The reason why I pit patriarchy against women empowerment is because they are mutually exclusive; they cannot exist in the same space. Patriarchy demands that women not be too vocal, too passionate, too aggressive and too independent to the point of being ‘manly.’ But these same attributes are necessary for success. No one has ever achieved greatness by being silent and obedient.
So we cannot continue to pretend to want women to be as successful as men while we raise daughters to be ‘proper’ and yet we do not demand the same from sons because “boys will be boys.”
We cannot achieve women empowerment when men still won’t do housework because apparently, that kind of work is only meant for women. And women are reluctant to go out and chase their careers for fear of being too successful and therefore ‘unmarriageable’.
When men set out to achieve big dreams, it is only natural and proper that the women in their lives stand by them. But when women reach for the stars, they most likely end up alone. And we don’t empathise with them because they should have held back enough to still perform their ‘wifely duties.’
We cannot say that women are empowered when we are still using phrases such as “the first woman president.” “The first woman pilot.” “The only female billionaire.” We still get surprised and impressed when women achieve great things. We are not yet there.
However, women continue to break ceilings despite the unleveled ground. And I believe that someday women empowerment campaigns will be a thing of the past. Because they will no longer be necessary.
And when that time comes, it will no longer be necessary to hold annual celebrations to remind the world that women are great. Because everyone will already know.