Why I’m just not that into International Women’s Day

“What? You? But you’re a….”
This is the sort of reaction I got around this past March 8 and around this time every year — when I tell people that I’m really not that into International Women’s Day (IWD). They can’t comprehend why I — a woman — would be averse to a whole day celebrating me and my gender. And with men, there’s this weird hesitation to point out that I am in fact a woman… as if they think I’m going to say ‘Hey! That’s our word!’ or something.
Now, I’m not against it entirely. I posted a picture of an inspiring woman on Instagram just like every other girl on IWD. (It was Margaret Hamilton, a NASA software engineer, who you should all look up, by the way.) And I think any opportunity to teach girls and boys about awesome female role models and the importance of gender equality is a good one. But part of me is thinking that if you want to celebrate women or a woman’s achievement, why not do it today, tomorrow, any day and everyday?
My criticism of IWD reminds me a lot of the criticism that Black History Month gets — that it’s a way out of our guilt, a month-long Band-Aid over centuries worth of injustice. Here’s a whole group of people who have been oppressed, disrespected, exploited and cheated out of something in the past. So let’s give them an occasion on the calendar but, hey, come tomorrow, it’s back to business as usual.
Another issue I have with IWD is that on March 8, all women are lumped together simply because we are women. This suggests that because we have two X chromosomes, we all face some homogenized struggle. And that’s just not true. What a lot of feminist causes often fail to consider is the intersectionality of race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.
I’d like to leave you with a quote from Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine, which sums up my biggest issue with IWD: that it doesn’t actually do anything….
“The main reason I hate IWD is because I am not stupid enough to think that such a shallow outpouring of faux solidarity will, for one single second, improve the lives of women genuinely suffering around the world.”
And that’s why I’m just not that into International Women’s Day. Because we’ve been thrown a bone and been told it’s a gift.