Category Archives: Serious stuff

Dumbing Down Diversity

I’ve been thinking about this post and whether I should write it or not all day.  In the end I thought that it would be a betrayal (of sorts) to censor myself, just because the subject is likely to be controversial. So, I would truly appreciate any comments or thoughts you have on the subject.

Today is International Women’s Day. And I don’t agree with it.

Let me explain. I actually consider myself, if not a true feminist, then an ardent supporter of equality issues. But therein lies the rub. Equality means that everybody should have equal chances in life, equal opportunities and a right to be treated fairly no matter what circumstances life has thrown at you. I’m not for a moment going to suggest that there ought to be an International Man’s Day to keep balance, as that would be ridiculous, but why do we feel the need to highlight one day a year to celebrate the achievements of around 50% of the world’s population?

OK – strictly speaking, women are a minority but what I fear is that this tokenistic show of support threatens to undermine the ongoing (and sadly likely to be eternal) struggle that the female half of the population have to try and overcome. Great – so we spend 24 hours thinking about women doctors, women inventors, women soldiers, women scientists, women protestors, women pioneers, women musicians, women volunteers and women workers; so who do we think about tomorrow? I’m sure there are more than 365 worthy minorities whose struggles against prejudice deserve recognition at some point in our calendar – as a white, middle-class male living in one of the richest countries in the world I am unlikely to feature in many of them – should I be listening to and celebrating all of them? In a truly egalitarian society, at what point do I draw a line and stop caring?

And on top of that, are there really any long-term benefits to this endeavour? Do we really think that someone who doesn’t view women as an equal will change their views as a result of this day? Or do we think that there is anybody who doesn’t already know that women sometimes have a tough time of it that will hear about it? Will enlisting James Bond himself make an appreciable difference?

Granted there may be specific instances of inequality that may be raised or promoted – but I think using the banner of International Women’s day is facile and actually a bit patronising in a post-feminist world. Does this day make women feel good about themselves? I’d genuinely like to know.

But then again, I’m a white male living in one of the richest countries in the world – so I probably don’t understand the true gravity of the situation.