International Women’s Day (IWD) left me feeling bleak. And I’ve realised that’s nothing new, it’s been uncomfortable for some time now. It’s wormed its way into some self-congratulatory echo chamber where people meet for brand-sponsored networking brunches and post about the strong and brilliant women in their lives or Taylor Swift ‘Fuck the patriarchy’ memes. My best friend joined a zoom meeting on the morning of IWD and the client – meaning to say ‘Happy International Women’s Day’ – accidentally started with: ‘Happy Halloween’. If that doesn’t surmise the emergent futility, I don’t what does. I feel like it’s lost the plot… it’s refocused on the idea that women deserve to be celebrated instead of calling out the political horrors they face all over the world. We’ve missed the memo and what’s snowballed from productive activism and spreading awareness is now a red-letter day. But what is it we’re meant to be celebrating exactly?
I’m so thankful you wrote this. On Wednesday I was scrolling through social media and my main thought was, “Wait, what’s the point of Women’s Day?” I felt totally separate from what I was seeing online to what I feel in my body and mind about what it means to be a woman.
This post makes me think a lot about the work of artist Ana Mendieta - especially the performance piece “Untitled (Rape Scene)” which she created in response to a campus rape and murder at her university in 1973. Mendieta died in 1985, at the peak of her career, after falling from her apartment window during a violent argument with her husband, sculptor Carl Andre. Many suspect that he was responsible for her death.
It’s really sad that her work still feels so deeply relevant today, but I guess I’m also grateful that it exists to remind us of the things you talk about in this piece. Would highly recommend exploring her catalogue - a really incredible artist.
Yes to all of this! There's a campaign in Australia this year aptly calling IWD 'a day of corporate gender equality gymnastics' - https://www.morethancupcakes.com.au
This is brilliant thank you 🙏
This was such a great post! Thank you! I was in Mexico for International Women's Day and was having very similar thoughts and feelings when comparing the themes of the protests here to my mostly Australian Instagram feed. It seems like we've lost the purpose of IWD in Australia.
Thank you so much for this post. You put my thoughts into words. I felt especially uneasy this year around IWD and when a collegue said happy women’s day I politely thanked him but was repulsed by this seemingly nice gesture and wanted that day to end. I’m so fed up with this seemingly nice but superficial celebratory day. I will do IWD much better next year thanks to your suggestions!
SO 👏 DAMN 👏 GOOD 👏 !!!! Thank you for this incredibly inspiring piece. Cheers!
Yes to ALL of this! Excellent article with great links too - thank you Abigail for wording the vague uneasiness I’d felt about it all whilst reading the Sunday paper full of atrocious wrongs against women from so many different parts of the world so quickly forgotten amongst the performative money-making that is IWD now.
I’m a little too late to commenting on this post but I just wanted to say what a powerful piece. I work in content creation and one of my company’s clients put through a request on IWD. They wanted us to post some quotes from women in the company on the day to ‘jump on the hashtag wagon’ as I like to call it. I remember getting home and feeling that ‘uneasy feeling’ you speak about in the piece. It feels like all the combative energy and all the traction IWD has in countries like Spain (where I am from) fades into a sort of tokenism day here in the UK. Really really great piece, and still just as relevant these many months after IWD.
Remind me a lot of the dilution and commercialisation that’s been happening around Pride for years, too. Great read, thank you.
Thank you for this. I was just ranting yesterday about the uselessness of corporate IWD. But actually, they're not "useless" because they serve as a way for coportations and organizations to say "Look! We did something!" Even though it was actually nothing of substance.