If not for social media, the 8th of March would be just some ordinary day.
But for many woke women around the world (and even the ones that aren’t aware) and yes, even woke men as well, it is a day to celebrate women, of all types and shapes, and women from the workforce of various fields.
It is a day to remember what women have achieved, and their still ongoing fight for equality.
More significantly, International Women’s Day is a reminder to all, both men and women, that we still have a long way to dismantle the systemic problem that is the patriarchy.
Of course, International Women’s Day is just one single day out of the year. While it is a perfect occasion to reflect on women’s victories in gaining equal rights over the years (getting the right to vote; having full-time employment; or even the right to wear pants, etc.) there is still much to overcome.
The prevailing gender issues worldwide—violence, sexism, and even transphobia—demand an intersectional approach that will serve all women of color, women across various genders, and even men around the world.
Consequently, women should not be alone in the battle for a gender-balanced world, as what this year’s campaign aim to promote (#BalanceforBetter).
The systemic problem that has long been oppressing women are not only women’s issues—but are also men’s issues. And in case some of you are wondering, yes, there’s also an International Men’s Day, celebrated every November 19th.
Here are some things to consider not only on Women’s Day but as often as we can–so we can all be part of the solution:
Women are already receiving fair treatment. What else should be done?
First of all, no. We are still yet to say that ALL women receive fair, equal treatment.
A lot of pressing issues today are discriminatory not only to cis-hetero women but also to transexual women. This shows that we’re still a long way towards true equality among genders in society.
It’s good that, compared to a few decades ago, workplace opportunities, maternity leaves, and representation of women in business and politics have become more widespread.
However, there are still many issues like women’s bodily autonomy, access to reproductive healthcare, and freedom from gender-based violence that must still be resolved.
Women are still oppressed when it comes to their rights: including their right to their own bodies, and the right to choose whether to have children or not.
In our society, women suffer from objectification; their consent in sexual matters is frequently either taken for granted, if not completely ignored. As a result, sexual assaults continue to harm women no matter what their age, social status, educational background, or profession.
The PUA (Pick-Up Artist) Academy is still allowed to exist.
This toxic group of men continues to promote sexism, female objectification, and so-called techniques to wear down or break down a woman’s refusal to have sex—even as the package themselves as support group for socially awkward, sexually impaired men.
The worst part of this is, despite the number of victims—all women—who already spoke up publicly against them, shows how women are generally not believed in this society and that their complaints are often ignored.
What many don’t realize is that a culture that allows PUA to exist also lets toxic masculinity thrive.
Toxic masculinity harms both men and women with its propensity for violence and its focus on power and aggression.
Essentially, toxic masculinity in a culture rewards those who resort to power, aggression, and violent means to control others and achieve goals—even if such means are contrary to the values of what is understood to be a humane and just society.
The Gillette commercial was criticized for calling men out.
Gillette recently tapped this issue that received many reactions from both men and women worldwide.
In Gillette’s ad, the brand called out men in general for their toxic traits that have been believed in our society to be the norm: “Is this the best a man can get?”
Basically, the brand challenges men to call out other males who continue sexualizing and objectifying women, to eradicate the existing toxic masculinity culture, and still be a man without those toxic traits.
Not only did it spark negative reactions from men who are the sole target of the campaign. Women who believed that “people should let men be men” also took part in the discussion.
It’s even more saddening because the fact that some women believe this kind of culture is part of the norm, it only proves how toxic masculinity and its harmful effects have long been normalized even by those who are victims of oppression.
And as issues like this continue to grow, “some” men—and unfortunately, some women—would rather protect the image of the so-called nice guys and white knights rather than actually seeing the bigger picture.
Women do not want revenge.
Women’s Day is mainly the day to celebrate women’s achievements and progress despite the prevailing gender issues.
It is also the day to commemorate the lives lost because of gender-based violence, those women who still keep fighting, those who have been victims but are now tired of fighting, and those who are still yet to understand and learn about the problem.
With this type of oppression still being perpetuated across cultures around the globe, the main long-term goal should be to act on dismantling the power dynamics that bars the emergence of a gender-balanced world.
This is possible only when both women and men work hand in hand. Women’s issues are men’s issues because male privilege keeps both men and women down. It rewards men who maintain the most brutal aspects of themselves—and those men who fail or refuse to do so are brought down by shame, poverty, and lack of opportunities.
This is most obvious in the ongoing drug war: most victims of EJK are males from poor backgrounds, those who have little education and scarce opportunities for economic development.
The bigger, more powerful drug lords, however, also males but more willing to engage in violence and corruption, with more access to other men with political and financial power, are all free to do business as usual.
Men can be part of the solution by using their privilege to help women speak out on gender issues. These men can challenge other men by raising awareness about gender bias, and take part in the discussions, debates, and helping find solutions to oppression whenever it rears its head: whether against women, minorities, the poor, etc.
So the next time someone exclaims “Men are trash!” and you, as a man, know in yourself that you’re not trash, don’t defend yourself right away. Listen, acknowledge the problem, educate yourself, and be part of the advocacy of a gender-balanced world.
Cheers to all women and men who are allies of equality!