Is Women’s Month still relevant?

What is the most common response to the Men’s Rights question “Why isn’t there a Men’s Day?”

Obviously, it’s “BECAUSE EVERY DAY IS MEN’S DAY!” right?

Now, I could go into a long discussion about the patriarchy, misogyny and institutional sexism, but I think there is a bigger question here – why isn’t every day a woman’s day?

It looks like I’m not alone here. My social media channels are full of women pointing out that their world is full of fear and anxiety.

This is no surprise, considering the current state of the country and the world. It feels completely tone-deaf to be “celebrating women” while at best they experience fewer freedoms than their male counterparts and at worst… well, we read the horror stories in the news every day.

There are some who will point out that the day that isn’t actually about all women. We know that it commemorates the brave women who marched against a repressive regime, and they say that we should focus on that. It’s a fair point.

In all the conversations I’ve seen, it’s only been the official channels from the news media and government that have remembered the 20 000 brave marchers who put themselves at risk while opposing oppressive pass laws. These women should be remembered, honoured and emulated.

But it does seem strange to me to be honouring those women, while their daughters are literally being harassed, oppressed and killed.

I know why we do this. It’s the same reason why we get hyped for Mandela Day or any other day that calls for some sort of social activism. It’s easy to do something for just one day. It’s easy, for just one day, to write messages of support for the women of South Africa, or to do some physical work for a charity, or to drop off food or blankets at your local grocer.

What’s not easy is to work hard at understanding the nuances and complexities of the social issues in this country. It’s not easy, as a man, to knuckle down and empathise with women, or as a middle-class earner to empathise with the most vulnerable. That would mean getting out of our safe comfort zones and seeing these people for what they are: people.

“Women’s Day morning was a great opportunity for me to talk about a range of social issues with my boys, even though they are only four- and five-years-old.”

So, are these days a waste of time? Should we even have a Women’s Day or Month if it doesn’t seem like society is changing the awful reality that women face? Are we being hypocrites by observing days like this?

The eternal optimist in me says, “NO!!!!”. Something like Women’s Day still offers us all an opportunity to change and to be active. It gives us a chance to look our ourselves and ask the question, “Is this the best we can do?”. It’s days like this (and Mandela Day) that gives us a taste of what social activism looks and feels like, and can inspire us to continue our work.

Granted, it can also be a bit of a pressure-release valve for our guilt. I feel bad for not being a better ally to women, so I write a great tweet for Women’s Day and I’m okay for the next 365 days. Or I feel like I don’t do enough for the less-privileged and vulnerable in my city, so I spend 67 minutes packing food, and I feel good about myself again for another year.

Unfortunately, there will ALWAYS be people who take the easy way out. These days aren’t for them. For some of us, the day is about recommitting to make this world better for those most at risk and most oppressed. We’re not just ticking a box and forgetting about the issues for another year – we’re using these days to push forward.

Women’s Day morning was a great opportunity for me to talk about a range of social issues with my boys, even though they are only four- and five-years-old. We talked about why women marched against the pass laws, apartheid, being brave and doing the right thing; why the world treats girls differently to boys (and why that’s wrong); patriarchy; their role in making our community better for everyone and, ultimately, why their mom is seriously badass!

So, these days aren’t useless… if we decide to use them as a part of a journey, and not the destination.

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AfroDaddy, a.k.a. Terence Mentor, is a place for parents, especially dads, to come together and share in the “duality of parenting” – the fact that being a parent can be fantastic, wonderful and beautiful, while simultaneously being exhausting, frustrating and awful. A husband and father to two boys born 18 months apart, AfroDaddy shares his unique view and experiences, while opening himself to new experiences, learnings and people. You can find him at AfroDaddy.

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