#IWD: What does it mean to you
International Women’s Day is here once again and this time I decided to ask recent guest bloggers on Black Looks to write a few sentences on International Women’s Day and what it means to them. For everyone it was a day of honouring, celebrating, remembering and recognising the struggles of the past and preparing for those of the future. My mind has taken a different track altogether as I contemplate the meaning of “woman” and how this has changed over time and continues to do so. Neither gender nor sex as categories are neutral or fixed. The former is bound in the later and vice versa which makes them both full of complexities especially when they are intertwined with race, class, disability and age [ often forgotten]. Judith Butler asks us to think about new ways of looking at gender, to move away from the binary of ‘man” “woman”. She asserts there is no single woman, single feminism – there are no singles…..
“The consequence of such sharp disagreements about the meaning of gender…. establishes the need for a radical re-thinking of the categories of identity within the context of relations of radical gender asymmetry.” [Judith Butler, Gender Trouble]
Perhaps this is not the place to expand on this – but today I would like us to move beyond the trappings of gender identity and acknowledge, celebrate, honour trans, gender non-conforming and gender questioning, gender queer people and their personal struggles.
I want to say a day of celebration but how can I knowing majority of women are still heavily oppressed globally? Ravaged comes to mind and I speak from experience -as one woman out of millions oppressed daily- because of our gender identities. However, instead after recent readings on organising across the continent and Diaspora, I’m inclined to dust myself off and re-engage afresh. As a woman in the African diaspora I think we need to build bridges more with homeland African women especially in areas of African sexualities and gender identities with specific focus on our collective human rights in mind.
What does it mean? Better futures for all women irrespective of our stations in daily life.
For me, it is the culmination in a single day’s commemoration of the numerous ways in which we celebrate our womanhood 365 days of the year. On this day we reflect on our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and our continued struggles as we seek ways to improve our status as women in a generally repressive environment.
Women’s Day means too many things to fit in a nutshell. It brings to mind wife, sister, friend, and especially mother. It is about the sensitivity that mothers impart to their children, and if they’re lucky, to their husbands and boyfriends as well. I celebrate women everywhere, writers who have influenced me (Rita Dove, Antjie Krog, Pam Mordecai, Nikki Giovanni, etc), singers (Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone) whose voices walk and sleep with me, sports-people, politicians, actresses, freedom fighters, the woman in the street who looked at me and smiled, and it made my day, I celebrate all women.
What does International Womens Day mean to me?
I have spent most of my life not knowing that such a day existed. This year will be the first year in which I make the effort to celebrate International Womens Day and I plan to do that by further interacting with women of colour and connecting with them. International Womens Day will be yet another opportunity for me to learn from inspiring women and increase my knowledge reserves.
It makes me wonder why there’s a special celebration to venerate women. And thinking that, I readily remember that women have been the most subjugated sex, although it is increasingly apparent that their strength in the face of injustice is measureless.
A century of celebrating women–their trials, tribulations, and triumphs–should be a sobering reminder that we cannot rest on our laurels. The struggle for African women’s political, economic and social empowerment is not a result, but a process that we must continue to monitor and assess. A luta continua!