Yesterday I, along with many others, celebrated International Women’s Day. This year’s IWD was different from previous years. Over the last year I have been dedicated to speaking out on women’s issues, particularly sexual assault and rape. I have been constantly talking about feminism and becoming more involved in events by women, for women. So, it was interesting to watch the one day a year where everyone else seems to take a vested interest in some of the things I do on a daily basis.
Of course, not everyone was enthusiastic about celebrating the day. I saw way too many men asking why we don’t have International Men’s Day. That is because they have chosen to try to make IWD about men instead of realizing that there is an International Men’s Day on November 19th. Of course, had they any real or true vested interest in such a day, they would already know that. Does it surprise me at all that a man would come to the conclusion that having a day to honour women takes away from the honour they receive as men? Of course not. Because most of the time, people think that by making space for others, they are taking space away from themselves, when that simply is not the case.
The Timehop app also did it’s job, showing my social media activity on that day for the past 8 years – all of which spoke to IWD and feminism. This reminded me that I have always considered myself a feminist and that these issues have always been important to me. It also reminded me that the way in which I’ve rebuilt myself over the past year has catapulted me into a new depth of feminism because when I rebuilt myself, I used feminism as the foundation.
I celebrated by attending a screening of Suffragette with all of the proceeds going to the Vancouver Rape Relief Shelter – the first shelter of it’s kind in Canada. The movie was shown with the caveat and recognition that it did not reflect the presence of WOC in the movement, which was a major fault. The VRRWS rep shared statistics with us, many which received frustrated and sometimes surprised reactions from the audience. For instance, did you know what although white women were granted the vote in 1918, Aboriginal women were allowed to vote until the 1960’s? On a global scale, Saudi Arabia gave some women the right to vote in 2015, making it the last country in the world to finally give women the right to vote. For anyone who says we already have equality, you’re wrong.
There I sat, watching the movie, surrounded by people who I knew believed in the cause that I do – that feminism is important and that we still need a continued fight for women’s rights on a global scale. There’s a sense of comfort when I’m surrounded by other feminists. I wasn’t worried about how I looked or what I wore. I didn’t mind that my unshaven legs were exposed, and knew that I would not be judged. It’s the only time when I don’t feel like an outsider. Some viewers cheered at high points in the film and you could hear collective sobs during low points. The only shit part, is that while watching a movie about women being treated as less than human and the violence they faced at the hands of men, I couldn’t help but have a tiny voice in the very back of my head thinking, “I hope that no crazy anti-feminist comes in here and attacks us”. That’s my reality because if history has shown us anything, it’s that anti-feminists can be violent and shooting up a theatre is not out of the realm of possibility. These thoughts were sobering for me and created a transcendent connection between the struggles I watched on film and the state of women’s safety today.