Reflecting on an Intersectional Women's Day & Why We Should Celebrate it All Year Long
International Women's Day is so special because it doesn't just commemorate how far the women's movement has come, it actually empowers people to talk about how much more there is to do.
And considering all of the ways that women are still marginalized, subordinated, and objectified, anything that encourages real debate about these issues is a good thing.
But, after watching these conversations play out on social media on this most recent Women’s Day,there were some things we thought it was important to reflect on and these aren't things we should just apply to the next Women's Day when it rolls around, they're things we as people and business owners can incorporate into our daily practice because they'll make our businesses, our lives, and the world a better place.
Before we start, we just want to be clear that this isn't a list of things we're wagging our finger at anyone about. They're things we're working on too because we recognize that that with just three cisgender, heterosexual women working in our company, we need to do some extra legwork to incorporate other perspectives.
So, what were we wanting to reflect on?
For starters, not every woman has the same experience or faces the same struggles and it's really important that we honour that.
I saw a protesters sign the other day in the news that said "feminism without intersectionality is just white supremacy" and I think that sums it up pretty well.
We can't just be fighting for the equality of one kind of woman, we need to fight for the equality of all women and that means opening up the conversation so we can understand all expressions of womanhood and all the ways its subordinated so the solutions we propose are actually geared at equality and not just equality for ourselves.
Secondly, all issues are women's issues. Racial justice, saving our planet, and fighting for the rights of immigrants, workers, and LGBTQ+ communities should all be championed because those are all mechanisms that enable and further women's marginalization.
Yes, this is basically just the first point said in a different way, but it really emphasizes that there's no one kind of oppression that supersedes another and our view of what a feminist future looks like needs to contend with that.
Biology isn't what makes someone a woman and neither is femininity.
At the women's march in 2017, I carried a sign that said "Viva La Vulva" and even though it had some fun alliteration in it and had little cartoon vaginas all over it that were pretty damn cool, I look back at it now and see that I was just advocating for one kind of womanhood and that was my own.
Transgender and non-binary people don't have their own day and their physiology shouldn't mean they have to have one. It can be so easy to see periods and uterus’ and the ability to have children as the ties that ultimately bind, but at this point, they don't bind us all and we should acknowledge that.
Lastly, we just wanted to say that whenever possible we should all be taking a position of curiosity when there are things we don't know about or aren't used to.
When I was in university I had to take something called the Intercultural Development Inventory Assessment which basically scored you on your intercultural competence, cultural intelligence, and ability to adapt cross-culturally.
I didn't do very well on this assessment and it was almost entirely because I get a lot of anxiety that I'm going to piss people off or offend them and then I end up just not engaging at all. And that, I see now, is a mistake because it means I'm not asking people questions or engaging with them in a meaningful way and, in the process, I'm making my world view much smaller and exclusionary.
This is something I work on all the time to be better with and in so many ways it's making my life a much fuller one. And, while I fear sometimes my questions may come off as inconsiderate or uninformed, it's really only by asking those questions that I can be more considerate and informed the next time, so it's well worth it.
There's no hard and fast way to suddenly embody all of these things. It's definitely a process. But taking the time to reflect on them and bring them to the forefront of our brains every once in a while just gives us a new lens through which we can examine our relationships, whether those be personal or professional.
It can be a deeply uncomfortable experience, especially when we realize there are things we do which exclude, diminish, and even sometimes uphold the status quo because it benefits us. But, as we said earlier, making this kind of reflection a part of our daily practice will only help us be more inclusive and accessible and it will only bring in more perspectives and more ideas.
And we all know that two heads are better than one and three heads are better than two.
If you want another example of why different perspectives are so important and why they're necessary if we want to create inclusive spaces then check out this article from AIGA called Why Role Models Matter: Celebrating Women of Color in Design.