International Women’s Day
For most of my life, I have naturally gravitated towards male-dominated professions. I was the first female secretary of a rugby club in the State of Victoria. I did this not to seek to be the first. It was because at my University I was the overwhelming minority sex and the guys started a rugby club, so either get into the game somehow or stay isolated. I am a team player and the rugby field at the time was not an option.
I have spent 24 years running with a group of guys. I have heard it all. The banter. The toilet humour. Almost all of it was harmless. I have a huge love for men, for the experiences they have been navigating during these times of change as they try to find their identity amongst constantly shifting sands of women’s rights. How do they respond? How are they expected to respond?
I frankly never noticed my minority status.
When I became more involved with tech and the entrepreneurial startup culture, business finance and community building, leadership at a more public level I experienced blatant sexism.
It showed up in the form of full dismissal. Zero voice. Not even being seen. A negation in totality. It was as if I had to fight for oxygen.
To be totally dismissed for who we are – be that a woman, a person of colour, someone with a physical disability, young adult, or elder – is a cruelty that only the weak of spirit delight in.
In my experience, most perpetrators do not even know they are doing it. It is so ingrained in the cultural soup. Therefore my role is to bring compassion as a start, and then gentle re-education to the experience.
I have something to say. And my voice is of equal worth as yours. Extend me the respect of listening and I will do the same to you. Acknowledge and pay me for my skills of caring, child raising, and homemaking. Add these hours of work to the GDP, to the balance sheet. (Or better still create a far better measure of a nation’s success than GDP.) By dismissing my labour as worthless to the spoils of capitalism I am disqualified of worth in the eyes of business and industry. The system says I am worthless. When it does that it becomes easy for others, as well as myself, to treat me as worthless.
We need International Women’s Day, not because men are less deserving. But because we need to enable all voices, all genders, all diversities, to find a space of respect at the table. But first, we must realise just how silenced they have been.
And sometime in the future, International Women’s Day, #BlackLivesMatter, #NeverAgain and #timesup will hopefully become a bridge we needed to cross to the other side.
The other side is that place where all humans are valued for being human. Period. When we have reached this side of the river we can burn the bridges that got us here.
Happy International Women’s Day.
In honour of my mother who raised me to be fierce, and to all the women who have fought fearlessly and to exhaustion for women to have the right to vote, to be heard, to be paid equally, to be invited to speak. To the men who have supported them and fought alongside them, thank you.
March 8th 2018
Photo Taken July 24th 2016