My plans to write a post yesterday in honour of International Women's Day got derailed by the need to respond to the out-of-control KONY 2012 craze. But as it's still March 8 in the corner of the world where I live, here we go.
International Women's Day was first celebrated in 1911 on March 18 in in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, and was moved to March 8 in 1913 - a date that has held ever since. It is a national holiday in a number of places, mostly in the former Soviet bloc nations (due to the holiday's historical connection to the international socialist movement), and in the rest of the world is marked by events aimed at celebrating the tremendous breakthrough achieved by the female sex over the past century - and raising awareness of how far we still have to go in our society.
What is often lost in discussions about feminism and the status of women in society is that while women have indeed made tremendous strides, they have more often than not had to do so in the face of stubborn resistance and outright (and often violent) hostility from the other half of the species. To this day it seems that the impetus is always on women to break glass ceilings and scale new heights, but rarely is the onus placed on men to play an active role in dismantling these barriers. Girls are urged to "be all they can be" but you rarely hear boys being summoned to take on the patriarchy.
In our contemporary North American society, I often hear people - mostly men - make remarks along the lines of "feminism has run its course" and "women are no longer second-class citizens." These types of statements fly in the face of statistics that show that women continue to earn significantly less than men and be staggeringly outnumbered in corporate boardrooms and the halls of political power. In the meantime, sexism still runs rampant in popular entertainment, from mega-douchebags like Rush Limbaugh to Hollywood cockfests in which women are relegated to supportive, objectified sexpot roles.
So why do we have this bipolar world in which women are extolled to be astronauts, physicists, brain surgeons and heads of state while the troglodytic sexism of our popular culture shows little - if any - signs of abetting? In my opinion, it's because the responsibility for bridging the gender gap has been seen for far too long been placed solely on the shoulders of women. Case in point - of the International Women's Day blog posts you've read today, how many of them have been written by men? How many male feminist scholars and authors can you name real fast? There really aren't that many.
Fortunately, there are some male feminist icons out there. Usually, these are men who are not generally known for being feminists, although their actions and output suggest otherwise. This post is not meant to be a "What about the men?"-type whinge-fest. Rather, it's meant to be a call-to-action to men aimed at getting the point across that working towards sexual equality (notice that I don't say gender equality - see my February 5 post on this subject) is as much our job as it is women's job. And men looking for feminist inspiration among their own ranks could do worse than to follow these guys' examples.
1 - Henrik Ibsen
2 - Jean-Paul Sartre
|Source: Question Everything or|
Die Ignorant (Tumblr)
3 - Ridley Scott
4 - Hayao Miyazaki
5 - Kurt Cobain
|Source: Bowiesongs (Wordpress)|
6 - José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero