International Women's Day is my favourite day of the year, because it's a special occasion where we get to celebrate how fucking cool it is to be a woman. I personally do this everyday in my head anyway; a mini-me dancing ethereally within the confines of my mind to a Beyonce mixtape, appreciating my gender, my boobs and my brain, in just a pair of pants whilst simultaneously chowing down on an inexhaustible pile of croissants. But today, today is an opportunity to congratulate myself IRL, high-five every woman I see, and celebrate all the boss-ass bitches of the past, present and future. Unfortunately I will have to forgo the lifelong dream of actually venturing out in my pants on account of human decency and the weather. Major sadface.
We are here, at this point, because the women who came before us made it possible. I would like to go for a cocktail with every single one of them. But now that we are here, we need more than just women. We need men. Because equality concerns all of us, and whilst chatting one cheery feminist to another about women's rights is relatively simple, it's oh-so necessary to school guys on the subject, too.
Male feminists can and do exist, but getting hoards of men to commit to the notion is a struggle. But it's like pulling your boyfriend up to dance to the Birdie Song with you at a wedding: there may be reluctance to start with, but soon they'll get in the swing of it.
Feminism can be more easily understood once it is stripped down to its bare essentials, like algebra but way more useful. So we'll begin with the basics: a feminism 101, if you will. Here are a few handy tips on becoming a feminist for International Women's Month and beyond:
First and foremost, we are equal!
Anyone who has been in both the women's and the men's toilets at my work will realise that women are more similar to men than we let on. (It was a accident, I swear. I don't want to talk about it.) Women's rights is really just a synonym for equal rights. We don't want to be above you, and don't aim to be. We're not scholastic jezebels grinding our stilettos on your face in order to keep you down. We're not trying to claim any kind of moral high ground.
Gender inequality harms men just as much as women. And I'm going to be talking about it until its resolved. You don't know me, but my voice is no picnic. I'm no Scarlett Johansson. I'm an Ed Miliband. Do you want to listen to my voice for the rest of your lives? Because I'll do it. I'll Freddy Kruger your ass. My feminist speeches will haunt your dreams. So do yourself a favour guys, and start paying attention to misogyny, because the quicker its recognised the sooner we can be rid of it.
Don't ask if we're going to burn our bras.
Bras serve several purposes: the straps form an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, the clasp forms part of a challenging, sexy assault course and the padding prevents any immense pain of being punched right in the tit - an agony experienced by all women at some point in their lives. I don't think people realise the lengths women go to to not set their underwear on fire. Lingerie ain't cheap, my friend. You shouldn't underestimate the flammability of a good bra - all that mesh material, gel inserts, foam padding. Lean over a gas cooker or get near a BBQ and your boobs will go up in flames quicker that you can say "Mrs Doubtfire". It is a quick way to get people's attention, sure, but perhaps bra burning would be a more viable option for protestation these days if the they weren't so damn expensive.
It's okay to be chivalrous.
Chivalry has a weird place in modern society. It's an ideal that was most fashionable when women were in chastity belts and showing their ankles to strangers for a thrill. But it's not dead. Chivalry is just really, really, old, and its presence makes people uncomfortable and unsure how to act around it, like your great aunt Sheila after a few sherbets.
Chivalry will never cease to exist as long as there are good people around to perpetuate the act. Truthfully, we don't need chivalry. But we like it. Chivalry is just nice. I mean, we are perfectly capable of holding a door open ourselves. We do not have the fragile bone structure of a small, sickly bird. I run (for my train) every morning. I can pull myself up out of a swimming pool without even using the steps. We're strong, guys. So we can handle the weight of a meeting room door, or the door to our own offices, in fact. But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the gesture. You'll never find a decent lady rolling her eyes if you're propping the door open for her - that is, unless you're over ten meters away and you're forcing her to run in a pencil skirt to catch up with you. And don't worry, we reciprocate such niceties. This is nu-wave chivalry, after all.
Its not all about you!
Unfortunately you don't get a certificate or medal for becoming a feminist - it is literally the taking part that counts. If you are a feminist, show it. But be cool, man. Being our ally isn't about shouting about how good you are as a person (no matter how fun it is), but rather highlighting how screwed up the world can be, what we can do to change it, and making that happen. Feminism is complicated, and imperfect, and sometimes it'll feel like such hard work that you'll want to give up, get into bed and watch everything on Netflix for the foreseeable future. It might not even be a change we'll see in our lifetime, but wouldn't it be cool to a part of that history? To know you helped overcome something so huge?
We've got a long way to go, so let's start today. In fact, let's start right now - I'll go grab my mixtape! (Just kidding...)