Men can be beautiful ballerinas and women can be badass truck drivers!
The 8th of March is globally commemorated as International Women’s Day – one day out of 365 other ones per year where our Instagram Stories and Facebook Timelines are flooded with reminders of the facts that women, despite being 50% of the world’s population and working 2/3s of the world’s working hours, still only receive 10% of the world’s income and owning less than 1% of the world’s property.
We think that in times with still existing everyday sexism, glass-ceilings and gender pay gaps, celebrating inspirational women should be on our daily agendas – not only once per year. From well renowned figures such as Rosa Parks, Marie Curie or Marsha P. Johnson to young activists like Malala Yousafzai, Autumn Peltier or Greta Thunberg, badass women who serve us as role models should be heard and seen all year around. At the same, reflecting on inspirational and empowering public figures, we got to ask ourselves, who is International Women’s Day really for in the 21st Century? Can we genuinely claim to dedicate this day to all women, no matter their background, occupation or biological sex? Or is it rather about global corporations pinkwashing their branding and management tiers entirely consisting of middle-aged white men feeling better about themselves? We believe the 8th of March should be celebrating sisterhood (not only cis-terhood) as well as invite every one to critically reflect their own gender biases and preoccupied notions of what does or does not define “womanhood”.
At some point in our lives we all encountered gender stereotypes in the most personal form – pointing things out in our looks or behaviours that did not match what it means to be a “real man” or a “real woman” according to outdated, patriarchal standards. Thinking back on those experiences, here are some examples we encountered, and how they shaped us as feminists:
Yuliyan – Every once in a while I buy “girly” stuff. Girl pants are so comfy but in the store I was warned that they are for girls. When I was growing my hair and wearing a diadem, a friend of mine kept telling me I look like a princess. How about that shiny red leather backpack, can I not have it either?
Julia – When I was about to get my first backpack for Kindergarten I chose a purple bag, as purple was my favorite color at that time. Besides being purple the bag also had some scary looking bats and vampires on it, which seemed to bother my mother more than me as she suggested I should choose the pink bag with little piglets on it instead since it seemed more appropriate for a girl in her eyes. As a four year old I didn’t know better so I went with that one instead (but apparently have never forgotten about it til this day!)
Lilli – As an overweight kid, my classmates told me to stop munching candy, or else a boy would never like me. As a slim teen, friends were disgusted by my bony fingers and a family member told me to not get too skinny, because guys would not like “a chick with no t*ts and no a*s”. When I started working out last year, several friends joked I should be careful of not getting “too bulky” as it would make me look like a dude… The older I got, the more I learnt how little it matters what other people think about my appearance, and that neither their comments, nor the scale or a certain pants size define my worth as a person, and certainly not my level of womanhood. Nowadays I don’t hide my bony hands anymore, happily tugg into ice-cream pretty much every night and break a sweat while lifting heavy weights – because life is too short to give a f*ck about other people’s messed up concept of beauty and gender roles.