To the people celebrating International Women‘s Day
I am deeply concerned by the world recent decision to mark International Women’s Day. I believe that giving practical application to concepts of equality and diversity should be taken seriously by everyone. However, I do not believe that this is furthered by the promotion of International Women’s Day in general and are concerned by the particular way in which people around the world have chosen to do so.
According to its official web side, ‘International Women’s Day’ exists to pledge for parity. It does not, however, seek a dialogue on such issues with men’s equality campaigns or initiatives. Nor does it acknowledge that the feminist structures which underpin society are inimical to both male and female advancement and wellbeing, or that the achievements of women are celebrated and disproportionately highlighted as a matter of course. I believe in a critical approach towards equality and diversity, which seeks to understand the structural causes of disadvantage but takes evolutionary approaches into account.
I also believe that there is a significant reputational risk to everyone aligning themselves with International Women’s Day an event which has not been without significant controversy. The homepage of the global website for International Women’s Day states: ‘Globally, with individuals pledging to move from talk to purposeful action – and with men and women joining forces – we can collectively help women advance equal to their numbers and realize the limitless potential they offer economies the world over.’ Retrograde statements like this show a profound lack of understanding on issues surrounding equality and parity. A day that celebrates parity does not combat inequality, but merely amplifies existing, structurally imposed, inequalities.
The remark ‘Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions’ echoes misogynistic rhetoric that women are unable to achieve something by themselves. One particularly wrongheaded and offensive pledge is: `Call for gender-based leadership’ As if the gender is important. Important are leadership skills.
This misses the crucial point that women’s ‘underrepresentation’ in these areas is a direct consequence of choices women make. Also you have to take into account, that dirty and dangerous jobs are gendered and demeaned as ‘men’s work,’ whereas women dominate save and clean roles. The statement is particularly crass in view of the fact that there is no affirmative action for men at all.
In recent years, a number of serious issues highlighting men’s inequality in the world at all levels have been reported. These include: the lack of male reproductive rights in nearly every country in the world; scientific evidence for gender parity of victims in domestic violence cases and rape (that feminists denied); the fact that the majority of political institutions that are gender specific are for women; and the continuing marginalisation of men in everything they do. Within this context, the International Women’s Day statement’s generalised references to ‘raising awareness about and removing barriers for women’ fails to acknowledge the full implications of gender bias against men within all institutions.
I believe that women’s issues cannot be approached in a feminist way, because feminism is an ideology and has no scientific backing. I recognize that feminism is damaging to both men and women, and I am in support of a discussion concerning this, as well as attention to specific issues surrounding women. I do not, however, believe that the International Women’s Day statements engage with these complex issues with sufficient nuance or understanding. The failure of the Feminist movement to do so undermines their self-proclaimed commitment to gender parity, and leaves me deeply concerned that their supposed investment in women’s rights is mere lip service.