International Women’s Day

Feminist Friday comes early this week, since I missed it last week, and today is the 101st International Women’s Day.

And yet, I’m not entirely sure what to write.

A few weeks ago I started to flag pieces from the papers, and sometimes from magazines, that relate to feminism or feminist issues in some way, so I can round them up here on a Friday. I’m not informed enough to make detailed enough comment, but I am interested, and capturing people’s interest is surely half the battle when you’re trying to raise people’s awareness.

Because I missed last week, and because it’s International Women’s Day today, there’s stacks in the news. Comment, stats, in-depth reports…

Annie Lennox told the Guardian that the sexualisation of women makes us one-dimensional.
The Independent reported on where the best and worst places are in the world to be a woman (Mum’s should all go to Iceland apparently).
The Telegraph reported the news that the EU is considering introducing quotas for the number of women who sit on the boards of big businesses.
Cosmopolitan magazine celebrated it’s 40th birthday with the launch of a campaign for equal pay.
Lego reported a rise in profits, after introducing pink bricks for girls.

The list goes on. Once you start to focus on inequalities, you see them everywhere – and even within the feminist movement there are inequalities. It is one thing to discuss whether pink Lego is sexist in the UK, but it seems barely significant in the face of the fact of atrocities like forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

And this is not to factor in the people of all ages and genders who barely have enough to eat.

The more I think about it, the more unbalanced the world seems, the more hopeless it feels to even begin to do anything of consequence about it. What can I do that will tip any scale in the direction of someone less fortunate than me? What impact can I make that will bring justice and redress, not just for Lent, but forever?

There’s a 30 minute video trending on Twitter at the moment – #KONY2012. It is the final attempt of a US charity, Invisible Children, working with child soldiers in Uganda, to gain enough public support for our governments to take action against the UN’s number one war criminal – Joseph Kony. For more than twenty years, he has kidnapped children, and forced them to commit heinous acts of violence, sometimes against their own families, for no other reason than to maintain his own personal power. Invisible Children are asking everyone to pressure their leaders into taking action against this longstanding crime against humanity.

Inevitably when a movement for change gains popularity, there are naysayers, and KONY2012 is no different. The papers have already started to critique the charity as colonialist, and the ‘cool to be cynical’ kids on Facebook are highlighting the organisation’s flaws in my newsfeed.

Thinking about all of this, and about the seeming impossibility of the world ever being fair and right and noble and pure and good, I have come to this conclusion:

If we wait for the perfect act, the perfect political or economic system, the perfect time or the perfect conditions; if we wait for the perfect solution before we act, we will never act. The world will never change. Injustice, inequality, war, deprivation, calamity, and evil people will prevail. We will stand by, shake our heads at the terrible inevitability of it all, shrug our shoulders, and continue to wait for something perfect.

But if instead, when we see something good, even if slightly imperfect, we throw our weight behind it, lend our strength to it, believe that to do good is better than to do nothing at all, then maybe children won’t starve, evil men will meet justice, and humanity will experience something closer to equality.

Maybe I’m an idealist. Just putting it out there that maybe it’s better to make a stand about something, than to stand up for nothing at all.

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