International Women’s Day; Make It Happen

Today is International Women’s Day.  A day when we strive for equality, from opportunities to pay to protection from FGM to not having to worry about whether a woman will be catcalled in the street or private photographs stolen and shared with the world.  

We’ve come a long way and women can vote and go out to work but women are also still trying to narrow the gender pay gap and break that glass ceiling.  The majority of CEOs are still male and violence against women, physical and emotional, is rife.  

International Women’s Day comes this year the week when a convicted rapist and murderer in India said that his victim was more to blame for his actions than he was, that- to paraphrase- if she’d have quietly allowed him and his friends to rape her and not struggled too much, all that would have been taken was her innocence and dignity rather than her life and the male friend that she’d been to the cinema with that evening would have been but a bit knocked about.

Rape is not the victim’s fault.  Let’s just get that out of the way before I talk about what we should do this International Women’s Day.  Unlike the QC in the case of the groomed Oxford Girls who implied that victims somehow choose their fate because “being a victim is better than being a slag”. 
Saying no to someone is your choice. Just like it is, if we wish, to say yes.  
And as a consenting adult we might wish to consent to something and not something else.  We might want for the act to stop part way through.  It’s all a choice and it should all remain a choice.  
As a side note, women can also wear what they want; a short skirt is not an “invitation”, only an invitation is an invitation.
Convicted rapist Ched Evans has caused a stir this year wishing to return to professional football. He’s spent his 2 and a half years porridge and he thinks he should be allowed to return to his well paid, high exposure job, a profession where young children look up to those playing with admiration and respect.  Meanwhile, his victim’s life is ruined; she’s had to get a new identity thanks to the supporters of her rapist who were from the school of thought that she was asking for it or that because she’d consumed alcohol the night that a man chose to do what he wished with her, that she somehow deserved it.  
The theme of IWD 2015 is ‘Make It happen’.  How do we Make It Happen?
Here’s a little something that fascinates me.  A man and his son are in a car accident; the man is killed and his son must be operated on.  The surgeon comes to the operating theatre sees the boy and says “I can’t operate, this is my son”, who is the surgeon? 
It’s actually the answers that fascinate me, rather than the question.
Some people puzzle for a moment.  Others say, “the Dad didn’t die?”.  The correct answer is that the surgeon is the boy’s mother.  Society has us so conditioned that most of us won’t reach the logical conclusion.  
Like so many things, I believe the answer this International Women’s Day is in our children.  We should speak to them about what they want to be or do openly.  If your daughter wants to be a firefighter support her, likewise if your son wants to design dresses, support him.  As our children grow up, talk to them openly about sex.  It’s nothing to be bashful about.  Tell them about choices.  Talk about waiting until they’re ready and comfortable and that they can say stop if they wish to.  Teach your sons about consent; if he’s at a party and he sees a young woman intoxicated teach him that this doesn’t mean he can have his way with her without regard for the consequences.  
Educate our young people because the future is theirs; and it needs to be better than the present. 
Happy International Women’s Day.

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