Opinion | International Women’s Day annoys me

By Grace DeLallo, Assistant Opinions Editor

I love being a woman. Women are the coolest. You’re a lady with a penis? Cool. You’re a lady who works as a stripper? Cool. You feel like a lady sometimes but others not so much? Cool. Whatever size, shape, color or sexual orientation you are or whatever profession and interests you may have, you enrich the spectrum of women for the better, and that’s a beautiful thing!

But women are not treated that way. Instead, we’re given measly piecemeal “solutions” that don’t meaningfully further equality — like International Women’s Day. 

In theory, International Women’s Day is a great idea. But when you are actively aware of the performativity inherent to the “holiday,” it loses all its luster. 

Hi, it’s me, the person that can’t enjoy anything anymore without taking a critical lens to it. While self-awareness may sound like a good thing, I am also exhausted. As I peeked at Instagram and Snapchat last Wednesday, I saw the posts and filters and hashtags roll in for International Women’s Day. Instead of feeling empowered and excited over the prospect of female achievement being widely acknowledged and celebrated around the globe, I was overcome with annoyance. Even as some of the most “woke” people I follow or encounter on my social media accounts posted, my irritation did not subside — it increased. 

I guess when you’re given the opportunity to celebrate progress in the face of oppression, having the platform to do so can be invigorating. Given the chance to educate people on buried history and hopefully make them have a greater stake in said issue, many people rejoice. But my main bone to pick is the fact that we allocate one measly day to celebrate a gender that has faced systemic oppression throughout the course of human existence. Why do we celebrate the crumbs when we need to demand the whole loaf of bread? Yes, we can do both simultaneously and should, but putting our efforts into a holiday meant to settle our feminine rage for a day is exactly why I don’t want to settle and post pictures of historic figures on my social media platforms. 

My vision for equality relies on things outside of Instagram posts. I want to walk into a classroom or lecture hall and have an educator open my mind to the world women have shaped, all the while being discriminatorily left out of the narrative. I want my high school teachers and textbooks to have told me about the substantial contributions of women to the fields of physics and anatomy and English and American history and art and every other realm where women have made beauty and wonder in this world and it’s gone unsung. I want statues of women marked by large plaques detailing their achievements as I walk down the street. I want to see women’s bodies celebrated in magazines instead of tormented. I want to hear that she invented this, that she developed this recipe, that she was the first PERSON to do this — not in measurement to men, but in measurement to humanity because, after all, women are humans too.

I want educators to talk about the intersections of gender, too, and how race, sexual orientation and class all affect how a woman is treated. It’s not some theoretical existence of inequality that I want to discuss — it’s a shared reality among women, but their individual and communal experiences must be made consistently known. Because, for the first time in our lives, school is where we meet people who are unlike anyone we’ve met before. We see little girls of different races, ethnicities and cultures and girls with wheelchairs and girls whose parents can’t afford new shoes for the first time in school, so why do we not talk about those experiences more broadly? 

We ignore the experiences of those who are in front of us and fail each other because our society isn’t designed for empathy. It’s designed for individualism. And on an individual level, I see that every girl will face gender-based struggles in her life, whether or not there is a day or month to celebrate the very thing the world harms her for.

I mention these things very generally because for me to pick women in specific areas to highlight would be the exact thing International Women’s Day attempts to do — which is educate. I am not here to educate. I am here to point out how ludicrous and outright ridiculous it is for us to think that a day in honor of our gender is a step toward equality — because it’s not. 

There isn’t an International Men’s Day, and for good reason. Men have dominated almost every conceivable intersection in life, so their achievements are consistently praised, day after day. So, basically, if women were equal to men, we wouldn’t need a day to celebrate! I feel a little crazy for having to state that because it seems so rational and logical to make that conclusion, but maybe not since it’s 2023 and women’s autonomy remains subjective. If we can’t make decisions for ourselves, are we actually free? Women and girls are still objectified and our true value is in our sexual organs. 

Do you know what occurred to me the day after International Women’s Day? A strange man took it upon himself to approach me on the street, and within the first several minutes of speaking, he mentioned us having children together. Not one, not twice, but at least three times. Now I wish men didn’t see my worth through my womb, but alas, that’s not the society we live in. Do you think that man acknowledged or respected International Women’s Day? NO! Of course not! So, what is this celebration really doing? Because I know it’s not affecting the people it needs to, at least not on a widespread scale. 

And listen, I’m annoyed and saddened for myself, but let’s be real — so many women have it way worse than some random approaching them on the street and striking up a conversation revolving around procreation.

This column was first meant to both be my soapbox and educational platform, but it’s evolved into me voicing the needs of every woman in the most basic of terms. It’s a call for change, for the necessity of change and education in all aspects of society outside of a given day or month. Celebrating women’s existence and achievements and progress for a day or a month does more harm than good, because it allows us to be swept under the rug for the rest of the 364 days or 11 months. We deserve much more. 

Now, this one column that, if I’m lucky, a few thousand of you will read, is not going to change my world or anyone’s world for that matter. But I hope I can inspire someone to evaluate their relationship with gender and oppression and see themselves a little more substantially than what a single holiday or elongated celebration can offer. 

Just remember that women aren’t free until all women are free. Even if we wake up tomorrow and the United States has turned on its side and gives women of all walks of life the equity we deserve, we won’t stop advocating for women’s liberation until it’s shown around the world — because women deserve the world. 

Grace DeLallo writes about whatever she wants, including angsty feminist rants. Write to her at [email protected].