Thursday, March 8

Happy International Women's Day! Click for more info

All across the globe, people everywhere are celebrating women. Well I say "people", but in actual fact it seems that only women are allowed to celebrate women.

During the weeks either side of today many interesting events have been taking place and although there were a few I'd have loved to have attended, the fact that I have both X and Y chromosomes[1] meant I wasn't allowed to. Oh and no, I didn't just want to attend these things just 'cos there was a guaranteed selection of girls there. Honestly, tut.

Even Islam, a religion that teaches equality and promotes the spreading of knowledge no matter who you are, wasn't immune; the WharfMA amongst others were holding women-only lectures. And I read that today a library banned men from entering for an extended period of time. Absolutely stunning. Imagine a day celebrating Muslims or the Black community for the sake of understanding, but marked with events only for those particular groups. I'm not sure many would call that much of a celebration.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not criticising the day itself. Even though I have my reservations (I think it's unnecessary and redundant at best and sexist at worst; I mean, when's International Men's Day anyway, huh?), I don't mind it and even appreciate the sentiment and spirit of the occasion: I'd much rather celebrate this than a more commercialised and exploitable Mother's Day (say). I do think it's a bit patronising though, especially when some events seem to be exclusively about how to cook, clean and generally keep a home running. But hey, I'm not a woman, so perhaps I'm off the mark with that one.

No, I have a bigger problem with certain aspects of today; specifically the intentional and deliberate non-inclusion of men in it. I've always disliked the whole "sistahood" mentality so, yes, my feelings are partly due to that. But I do have a more objective criticism up my sleeve too. Honest.

Recently, men have been continually criticised for not getting involved with or being interested in the affairs of women. Apparently we're not up for dialogue or debate with them, and we avoid any attempt at understanding the alleged gender divide despite the unabated efforts of women to approach us with enlightenment.

However now that there's a perfect opportunity to do exactly that, we're instead told to stay at home and allow women the right to have their party on their own. In other words, we're only allowed to interact on the terms of women and on their timetable (usually when the Football is on. And I don't even watch Football!). I was never really convinced that it was fundamentally the guys dragging their heels when it came to improving gender relations, but when things like these happen it's compelling to conclude that women are just as reluctant to face the issues we have at hand.

I don't mean to sound like I'm hating. Quite the opposite in fact, and I hope that most of you reading know how I utterly respect (and, of course, totally love) women. However I have to say that I think an opportunity has been missed today and that an isolationist, separatist and almost defensive approach to celebrating women won't really do much to improve gender relations. Nope, I think the best way to do that would be to allow men and women alike to celebrate the fairer sex together.

[1] As some of you might have guessed, I was going to pick a certain other attribute with which to demonstrate my disqualifying masculinity. Luckily I decided to behave myself today.