Yes, that’s right—today is International Women’s Day. And this year’s theme, as decided by the UN, is “Equal rights, equal opportunity: progress for all.”
And Gender Across Borders has posed the question: what does “equal rights for all” mean to you?
So, to answer: to me it means a lot of things. (You know, women being allowed to drive a car in Saudi Arabia, women receiving equal pay, etc.) But in particular (and because I’m keeping it short today), to me it means the end of the double standard that is prevalent in almost every culture, albeit manifested in different ways. The double standard that calls a woman promiscuous for sleeping around but that expects men to do so. The double standard that expects women to cry but is uncomfortable with male emotion. The double standard that does not allow women to serve in the same positions as men in the army, and that requires women to pass a different physical assessment than men.
I’m not saying that the double standard is the only thing preventing equality for all today: mothers burning their daughters breasts in Cameroon to protect them from getting raped is not just a symptom of a double standard, but a result of a terrible situation, and one that should not be ignored. But for many women, especially those who live in the US and other developed countries, eliminating the double standard goes hand-in-hand with achieving true equality. Only as a result of women being held to the same standard as men and vice versa can people begin to get rid of their gender prejudices and skewed expectations of one another. (Not to say that the gender dynamic should be eliminated, just that women and men should be held to the same standard of conduct.) And getting rid of those expectations is, I believe, the only way to get equality in practice rather than just in theory.
Happy International Women’s Day!