Why I Hate What International Women’s Day Has Become

$200 breakfasts? No thx.

The day before International Women’s Day last year, I was up at midnight, baking cupcakes and crying because I was past the point of exhaustion.

The Women’s Collective was having a bake sale to raise money for women led charities, as the president, I was in charge. Of course, everyone else was busy with class so I had to do it all on my own. So there I was, middle of the night in my kitchen, sobbing over my stupid rental oven.

International Women’s Day started in 1911 as International Working Women’s Day. It was proposed by the radical women’s rights advocate, Clara Zetkin at the International Socialist Women’s Conference and was celebrated by millions around Europe. Women protested on the streets, demanding the right to vote, and hold public office, as well as against employment discrimination.

In 1917, women in Petrograd Russia held a demonstration so huge that it covered the city, and literally marked the start of the Russian Revolution.

Cut to Australia, 2020.

We have $199 corporate breakfasts and speaking events to showcase a company’s diversity on the regular. Women are brought in to do a speech at a lunch, merely a tick in a box, before organisations and institutions go back to treating them like dirt. And you can almost guarantee that many of the women working on these events aren’t being paid – if they didn’t do it, there wouldn’t be an International Women’s Day event at all.

What was once a day of protest, revolution and real, grassroots feminism, has become a whitewashed photo opportunity with a complementary glass of bubbles. It’s a time for companies to talk about how inclusive they are without inviting any woman who disagrees with them to the table. I’ve even seen some events where men are the keynote speakers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love powerful women in entertainment and society – but not when it’s paraded as some corporate event to drive revenue as it’s first goal. Or as a simple woke-points checklist item/event.

International Women’s Day does not exist for institutions or corporations. The day Is bullshit if it doesn’t advocate for Indigenous women, poor women, disabled women, trans women, or women of colour. Recognise the space you take up in the world and use it to demand change for those who don’t have as much.

This year, fuck the breakfasts. I challenge you to do something with your community. Whether that’s protesting, donating money, spending time with the women who’ve come before you, or learning how to build other women up. Be radical, hold yourselves and others accountable, and reflect.

Women, you are worth more than what people in suits and high rise buildings are trying to sell you.
You are worthy of safe campuses, of accessible sanitary products, of equal pay, of safety in your workplace – office, brothel, or other.

You deserve to live in a world where you don’t have to fear violence in your own home, or violence from the government. We can move planets.

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