A gay friend once described Mardi Gras to me as “Christmas for gay people”. He meant that it felt special and celebratory for him and his community.
I was surprised to discover International Women’s Day felt similar to that this year. It was like Christmas – for women. Except better than Christmas because Christmas for women is actually shit because we invariably have to do the bulk of the planning, cooking, present-buying, wrapping and bringing-of-festive-cheer.
Listen: Mia and the Out Loud team discuss International Women’s Day. Post continues…
IWD felt special and like a big deal for the first time I can remember. Never before have we seen this day take hold in the way it did last week. People were wishing each other a Happy International Women’s Day. There were lunches and purple ribbons and strikes and celebrations and acknowledgements of how far we’ve come, who inspires us and how far we have to go to reach…..well, equality. It was political and joyous and empowering and great.
My heart was full. In amongst all the posts and videos we created here at Mamamia and that I shared on Facebook and Insta, there was one particular photo I wanted to post, along with some comments about the men who are fighting beside us for gender equality but didn’t because I thought there would probably be backlash and anyway, it was a day for women and celebrating women.
Some women were already angry and upset about a video posted by a group of year 12 students from Sydney Boys High School that went viral to wide acclaim.
Critics (including the girls at their sister school Sydney Girls High) argued it was unfair that the boys were receiving such praise for talking about something that, had girls done it, would have gone unnoticed. A debate ensued about the role of men in feminism.
Feminist author of ‘Fight Like A Girl’, Clementine Ford wrote, “(the female students) are 100 per cent correct when they highlight that men who speak about feminism are praised and platformed in mainstream places, while women who discuss the same things from a place of experience, are derided and, in many cases, subjected to vicious abuse.”
She’s not wrong. Neither are the Sydney Girls High students. But that doesn’t mean men should stop speaking about feminism – or being praised or platformed for doing so. In fact, that’s why they should. Because they have nothing to lose or to risk, whereas we do.
It’s like the fight for marriage equality. When a gay person writes about how important same-sex marriage legislation is, they are likely to receive abuse, much of it personal, much of it vile. But when a straight person writes about it? When I write about it? I risk nothing. Nobody is going to denigrate my family or my relationship or my sexuality. Nobody is going to denegrate or threaten me personally.
That’s why it is so crucial for those of us who have NO SKIN IN THE GAME to stand up for our brothers and sisters who do – on every issue where there is injustice or inequality.
And so to men and their role in feminism.
That photo I wanted to publish on IWD? Here it is:
Three feminists: me, my husband and our eldest son, Luca.