IWD guest three: vive la difference!

My third guest, Heather Steward.

The official website says:

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

Please don’t shoot me but this makes me feel uncomfortable. When I was asked for a contribution, I thought, ‘Hey, cool, a day for the girls’.

But upon further thought, it was exactly that point that unsettled me. A day to celebrate an exclusive group. That’s pretty non-negotiable. You’re either in or you’re out. It sets the women apart from the men, forming a big fat wedge between the two sexes.

I’m all for celebrating what women have achieved. But I’m more for celebrating what people have achieved, regardless of what sexual organs they possess. Looking at gender as an entity within itself, I’m in awe of how men and women were made so complementary to each other. There are things women can do that is not possible for men, and likewise. Men can pull stuff out the bag that is beyond us chicas. But surely that’s ok, right? Shouldn’t that be embraced rather than fought against? Two pieces in a jigsaw of creation.

I want to celebrate Mother Teresa for her humanitarian work alongside celebrating William Wilberforce. I want to salute my awesome friends Amanda and Han for growing babies and enduring pain to birth their children at the same time as high fiving their incredible husbands for being rocks for the new mummies.

All contributions are to be celebrated, recognised, appreciated. Because there will be seasons of bringing something huge to the table, and there will seasons of having nothing but a meagre offering to hold out in front of you.

I’m really not as naive as you think. It’s tough. We’ve always lived in a state of friction. God saw it and said it right after we chose to do things our own way. I know the tensions of the sexes are often fraught, and destructive attitudes have trickled (and gushed) through generations, leaving injustice and division for our children to soak up.

It is often appropriate and even necessary to build women up because cultural attitudes have held them back. But this shouldn’t be a role exclusive to us ladies. Men are generally not the bad guys. Of course there are men whose divisive and condescending behaviour makes steam explode from my ears. But there are also women who make me ashamed to be of the same sex.

For the most part we’re in this together and the way forward is not necessarily fighting the fight. Be for women. Be for men.

I know there’s a natural instinct in me to sometimes battle against my husband (we’re both incredibly stubborn), and I am still learning to challenge that within me. Just as he wrestles with trying to be the husband that he was made to be. We’re on the same team. We’re facing the same direction. We’re not the same. But thank God for that.

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