YES, WE DO STILL NEED INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Over on the quickhits earlier, I posted this link. It was to a piece in the Indy today, entitled, “To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists”. Well ain’t that the truth.

I did my usual quickhitting and tweeting on Saturday – International Women’s Day – but I didn’t bother with the day itself so much or with its coverage. It’s not that I don’t support International Women’s Day (there’s very little women’s anything that I don’t support) but this year, it weighed heavily on me that we still need it. There was the usual backlash on twitter from all the detractors. When is International Men’s Day, they asked. Richard Herring handled that much better than I ever could. I, of course, would have responded that every single day is International Men’s Day because this is a patriarchy and that is how it works.

Yesterday, also over on the quickhits, I posted the main findings from a report on violence against women in the EU. The report interviewed 42,000 women across the EU about “their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (‘domestic violence’)”. That’s a good sample size by anyone’s measure so there shouldn’t be any doubt about the findings. Here are some of them:

  • One in three women (33%) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since she was 15 years old. Out of all women who have a (current or previous) partner, 22% have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15.
  • Of those women who indicate they have been victims of sexual violence by a non-partner, almost one in 10 indicates that more than one perpetrator was involved in the incident when describing the details of the most serious incident of sexual violence they have experienced.
  • Whereas in most cases violence by a previous partner occurred during the relationship, one in six women (16%) who has been victimised by a previous partner experienced violence after the relationship had broken up.

There are many more on the link and in the report’s PDF. It is not until you see the starkness of the statistics, written neatly in a paragraph, that you realise and understand just how much violence women experience. One in three women and girls. I’ll say that again: ONE IN THREE WOMEN AND GIRLS.

So why do we still need International Women’s Day? We need it because of violence against women, because a young student I know was belittled and humiliated by her campus welfare support team for reporting on women’s issues, because another young student I know was called a “feminist bitch” and threatened when she stood up for women and girls at her college, because I get a taxi home after dark instead of walking even if it’s still early, because of rape culture on campus, because of everyday victim-blaming, because of everyday sexism, because violence against women is up for bets, because the default position is to question the victim’s story, because of street harassment, because of our reproductive rights, because there are “blurred lines“, because of lad culture, because of Page 3, because of the impact of porn, because of these statistics, because of these statistics, because of these statistics, and because of these, dead women.

And why I am so weighed down by it? Because it really should be better by now.