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Archive 2011

A personal note on Women’s Day

Since arriving in the UK 8 years ago, this is the first time I have heard so much talk about women’s day.

In my spare time I like to pretend I am an amazing artist.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a self portrait.

I like the androgynous flare of it and it reminded me of Virginia Woolf’s theory regarding the androgynous mind of the artist.

Virginia Woolf puts value in an artist’s ability to create without the impediment of his/her sex, unifying the two sides of his/her mind, the masculine and the feminine, to create something that is incandescent and undivided. The two sides, she thought, must live harmoniously in one’s mind to create effectively, cooperate, and the result is a whole and complete work of art. I particularly appreciate the disengagement of the idea of gender and its characteristics from sexual inclination.

I have often questioned myself on the necessity to label artistic perspective as ‘feminine’ if not ‘feminist’. I really disagree with the constant subdivision, or subtraction, of feminine from a bigger whole.

Not too long ago I visited the Museum of London, where an area is dedicated to the suffragettes’ struggle to have women’s rights recognised. I am grateful for the willingness to fight these women displayed and I like to think that if necessary, I’d be just as ready to fight for a worthy cause. But I find it contradictory that women should have a designated day or  for example designated studies.

I can’t help but think that perpetuating this dichotomy of feminine versus (everything else?) is past its time and frankly quite damaging.

If history can teach us anything, it should be not to repeat mistakes; I understand that commemoration is an important part in the shaping of social identity. Revolutions, big and small, are necessary in the evolution of human society, but are by their very own nature temporary: eventually changes are absorbed into society, a new order is established. Memory is necessary to warrant the achievements reached but I wonder at which point does remembrance stops being a cautionary tale and starts being the perpetuation of divisions that actually no longer exist?

What is the value of Women’s Day, to me – a Western, emancipated-born 21st century woman? It’s difficult to say.

On the one hand, it is important to recognise that I am able to say all this because someone before me made sure I could. On the other I almost feel like a burden the necessity to demonstrate that as a woman I can do  just as well and quite annoying that my identity should be constrained by a label dictated by gender.

I AM.

That should suffice.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “A personal note on Women’s Day

  1. women’s day is like endangered species day. sad, that so few others see it that way – happy to read your post.

    women’s day is a socialist invention – and socialist governments were, as we all know, free of women. we free the south american farmer, but the women still have to make the coffee.

    womens’ day has got to be abolished. its humiliating for us (for us women; and if there’s any conscious man out there – also for men).

    Posted by uta beyer | March 9, 2011, 3:51 pm
  2. hehe – a socialist invention – I don’t know, and don’t care.
    the point is, for me, that women’s day kinda has meaning in a world where women are emancipated. in those areas of the world where women are not, it’s usually because the entire social system is, at least in our (western?) eyes, somehow detrimental to human rights improvement.

    Posted by Alice C. Macchi | March 9, 2011, 5:15 pm
  3. Alice,
    I agree. “women’s” only things like photo competitions, grants….make it seems like women are weaker species and need to compete/celebrate/live in a special category…
    Veronika

    Posted by Veronika Lukasova | March 10, 2011, 8:07 am
  4. Interesting. I think this short video sums up a few reasons why the feminist movement still has relevance today. I agree that the feminism of the 1980s seems to promote too strong/unified an idea of The Feminine, which might be quite annoying for women who have grown up with many more opportunities. But, while I don’t think you should feel obliged to feel solidarity with people outside your class and country just because of your gender, it is important to remember that gender (like race) is a much bigger issue if you come from a less privileged background. Just because there are lots of successful women doesn’t mean that there aren’t others held back because of stereotypes about their gender. Also, as i have noticed with friends of mine, things can become more difficult if you are a woman and want to have kids and a career. Many employers are much less understanding than you would hope/expect. I take your point that Women’s Day might not be the best way of campaigning for women’s rights/equality. It does feel a bit like disability day.

    Posted by Jamie | March 13, 2011, 9:03 am
    • hehe, disability day.. that was my point. Indeed I am aware of the fact that women are still underpaid and under-represented. i went to one of the birds eye festival events the other day, i found out women only make up 7% of movie directors for example.

      But I think overall my point was that ‘gender’ is only a tiny portion of the bigger problem. The problem is that within society somehow there will be one ‘party’ in a more favourable position to hurt the other. Man versus woman, adult versus child, blue versus red etc… The root of the problem is that people find it acceptable to hurt others, treat others in an un-equal manner.

      There is going to be inequality wherever we look and we could have just as many international days. Society changes all the time and there will always be new groups created or considered ‘other’ from the mainstream. So even though we may be able to solve one inquality, another one is going to pop up eventually.

      i think as a society we should work towards solving the root of the problem, promoting a cultural revolution that can work on all fronts rather than focusing on small, individual aspects. Even though it may take longer to achieve one would think that it should also last longer.

      Of course the question raises if there is even the possibility to have a perfectly equal society ( and what is ‘equality’?) and what that would imply.

      Sometime I wonder whether ‘inequality’ is the just the negative aspect (or consequence) of differentiation; if we assume that different groups exist within society (and they exist because they display different characteristics which we believe should be preserved) is it really possible to act towards them in the same way or should allowances be made? or do we in the struggle to recognise all the different aspects are bound to treat them in ways that may be considered un-equal?

      i don’t know.

      Posted by Alice C. Macchi | March 13, 2011, 10:34 am

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