Artwork by: Andreya Klobucar
I spent this International Women’s day online, reading acknowledgements from feminists, and appreciation posts by girls my age to the other women in their lives.
Last year on this same day I wrote a similar post on my Instagram, thanking the women in my life and otherwise trying to prove to the social world that I was a feminist. Back then my only goal was making feminism a part of ‘my interests’. I was extremely ignorant, and so I didn’t have any criticisms of the day. I didn’t realize the weight of it’s history or even it’s message until I participated in last year’s Women’s march in protest of Trump’s inauguration.
That was probably the first time that I actually attempted to learn about the feminist movement instead of just assuming the title out of popular interest. But my relationship with social media didn’t reflect that pursuit, so I unfollowed accounts that didn’t inspire me and followed more feminist accounts, more artists, writers, activists. Now, a year later, there are far less superficial messages on my social media. Not zero, because we have to fight for there to be zero, but definitely less. The women that I follow now do not call themselves feminists because they think it’s a cool label. They are feminists because, in a movement of equality, there is no other option. These women are not afraid to address the issues society has brought upon this day.
In fact, of the internet messages I received on this day, two stood out to me the most. The first being a newsletter from Neha Gandhi, the editor in chief and COO at Girlboss (an online publication that originated from Sophia Amoruso’s clothing brand “Nasty Gal”). Neha addressed her email with the subject line “Why I have mixed feelings about International Women’s day” and went on to reference the misplaced marketing that happens around this day as well as the problem with conflating activism with capitalism. For instance, purchasing a “feminist backpack”.
In response to her concerns, Neha made an effort to reiterate to her readers the true purpose of IWD, and its historical roots in suffrage movements and anti-war protests.
A similar statement was made by photographer Petra Collins on her Instagram. She began her caption with the same apprehension towards IWD that Neha expressed in her newsletter and went on to point out the appropriate way to acknowledge this day (not with a celebration but rather a testament of thanks).
Petra and Neha are right to be apprehensive about the circumstances of IWD’s popularity. They are right to worry that the history of the day is being lost to the current trend of feminism, or that the movement might be sidetracked by the way society markets it.
Still, both these women and many others that I interact with on social platforms want to use this day to thank the women in their life that have done the work and who continue to do so without putting others down. They thank the women they work with, their friends, their mothers and sisters, even their idols. In fact, I spent most of this IWD reading testaments from my peers to women that inspire them and by the end of the day, I knew that I had to use this article to do the same.
Should I begin to thank anybody, I have to start with my sister. She embodies the strength, the ambition, the inspiration and the stubbornness of every woman in my life. I genuinely believe and have for a long time that my sister will be an unstoppable force in this world. The energy she has, the same energy I see in my mom and my best friend, inspires me to fight for the things I want. It’s an energy that has and never will take no for an answer, and one that I have only ever seen a woman carry.
With that said, today cannot be the only day that we stop to appreciate the women in our lives and the women who fight for our equality. This date was established by the U.N in recognition of the history of women’s suffrage, not with the assumption that women would support each other globally only one day out of the year. Our fight for equality is ongoing.