EACH year, I ask myself if celebrating International Women’s Day remains relevant. While I cannot say that I suffer from gender discrimination—globally, such is not the case for many women. So, the fight to achieve “equality” continues for as long as women worldwide experience discrimination.
For many men of a certain age in our country, gender equality sends shivers down their spine—not in a pleasurable way but in a scary kind of way. You see, somehow “equality” sounds like “sovereignty” to them.
But it’s not sovereignty that women seek. It’s autonomy—the freedom to make decisions over their lives and their bodies—essentially, basic human rights.
Millennial males grasp this idea completely. Men of my generation, however, despite displaying an increasingly tolerant stance towards gender equality, still largely believe in women’s traditional roles.
Mother. Wife. Subordinate.
This is the focus of the struggle that has spanned generations—the right of women to choose who they want to be without being boxed into gendered identities.
Pregnant. Married. Subservient.
Women want to be able to make the choice to be unattached and not be branded deviant. Women want to be able to make the choice to be childless and not be branded selfish. Women want to be able to make the choice to command an army and not be accused of penis envy.
Why are female bosses seen as bitches, their male counterparts, gods? It’s because of a deeply-entrenched mindset of how and who women should be.
Why are strong, intelligent, assertive women made to feel unattractive? Because the truth is that men do find these women unattractive. The men I know who say they like intelligent women add a codicil—but not women more intelligent than them.
And while some men claim they like strong, assertive women, all strong and assertive women know that while these qualities may come in handy at certain times and are appreciated by the men in their lives, their men prefer that they subdue these qualities, at other times.
Of an ex, a friend once told me: “He would get upset every time I got a higher score than him in class. After a while, I got tired of trying to dumb myself down just to appease him.”
Men should understand that women seek parity and partnership, not superiority or sovereignty. Why does it have to be dominance or submission, slave or master when men and women can be partners?
It’s time to choose to challenge yourself to transform tradition and embrace evolution.
Women should be free to make choices without guilt, shame or censure—to stay single or be partnered, to have children or to have none, to focus on family or professional development.
It’s time to choose to challenge yourself to think differently. #ChooseToChallenge