It’s International Women’s Day, and one can expect the usual lamenting and tearing of hair re the supposed Failings of Feminism. And indeed, there is a litany of things to moan over: plenty of misogyny to go around, still no across-the-board equal pay for equal work, no universal child care for working mothers, and last time I looked, women still do most of the housework not to mention, the bearing of children. On the other side of the ledger, women (in the West!) can dress as they please, work, vote, hold office and own things like houses and cars. They can even have children without benefit of husbands, if that’s what they prefer. That’s not nothing; and I want to stress, in the so-called developing countries, women generally have none of these advantages. And perhaps that is the next goal worthy of feminists, everywhere: help women in those countries find their own strength, their voice, and their power. We no longer live just in ‘the West’; increasingly, we live in a global world pressing in on us from all sides. We are aware that inequality persists; everywhere.
But back here in the West, why is there this creeping disappointment, this feeling that, somehow, whatever gains we have made, it’s not enough? It’s because we are currently living with an oversupply of global aggression and fear mongering that is creating a world of danger for most of humanity, especially women and children. There is a frightening amount of social and ‘religious’ extremism, out of control capitalism systematically raping the environment, and a near total inability to come to grips with ongoing and accelerating Climate Change. These are the dangers we face today, and we urgently need the female perspective and energy to address them. Women in the West, with their hard won position of near equality with men, are the ones who have the means to step up. To step out of the personal into the public sphere, whether as activists, politicians, artists or whatever: we need them desperately. We live in desperate times that call for women–all women, of all ages–to engage. We have to face the big issues: they are here, they are global, they are terrifying. But I believe that women are the strong sex; they can lead us into a different future, one where the concerns of women are at the forefront: security, co-operation, empathy, love. That is the goal, the direction and the work that feminism now faces.
Nobody said it was going to be easy; and meanwhile, Happy International Women’s Day!