by Iulia Gheorghe
"Do not allow yourself to be diminished. Expand like a flower, like a heated gas, like a beautiful rising loaf. Expand into yourself, and never apologize for it. And for the young men in the crowd, who already know by some strange alchemy how to be large and expansive, I would say this: Let your sisters in this world grow, too, and do not consider their growth to be a diminishment of yours. The world is not a zero-sum game, and there is cake enough for everyone. Be the bigger man, and welcome the bigger woman.”
Elizabeth Renzetti, "Shrewed"
I had been caught in a platitudinous celebration of Women’s Day for a long time. Like really long, two decades maybe. They never explained us at school what March 8 really meant, instead, we were encouraged to write “I love you” cards for our mothers, buy them household appliances, expect flowers from boyfriends and fathers, listening to the same refrains about “the delicate women who make the world turn around”, the “mothers who sacrifice their lives for their children”, “the loving obedient wives”, the “adorable female colleagues”. Translation: the women who cook divinely, sweep the floors effectively, write accurately a work report, wipe their babies' ass and give vigorous blow jobs in the shortest span of time possible, maybe even in the same time while still looking good dealing with all this shit/sperm/sweat situations.
Later in life, thanks to books, Internet and sisters from other misters, I understood better the purpose and the stakes of the International Women’s day. It’s definitely not about receiving an ounce of gratitude for doing housework or giving birth or being well-behaved, it’s about women’s rights. History tells us that March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Woman's Conference to become an International Women's Day as a strategy to promote equal rights (suffrage for women was one of the main goals in those times). UN states “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities".
So as shocking as it may sound, March 8 is not some kind of women’s Christmas, a day when we get the “privilege” to be well treated and spoiled for our wonderful deeds as angels, princesses and walking incubators.
The thing is, who really needs that? All that validation we didn’t ask for? All that “you’re a heroine, I don’t know how you do it” but if you stop doing it you will be directly called a loser and treated as such?
We are not heroines.
We are not delicate flowers. We are not placid birds. We are not an ethereal creatures.
Like men, we have orifices and we produce stinky faeces. Like men we get angry, we burp, we have bad breath and dark circles in the morning, we sweat.
And we have rights.
We have the right to not be ashamed to bleed from our vaginas.
We have the right to put a tiny skirt for our own pleasure, not for engaging in a seduction game. We have the right to put loose pants and sit with a hand on our crotch and still claim sexiness.
We have the right to be respected whether we are or NOT : mothers, sisters, wives, courageous, adorable, multitaskers, ambitious, losers, calm, crazy and the list could go on forever.
We have the right to be valued even if we are messy, feisty, loud, too much.
We have the right to be shrews aka ill-tempered, nagging humans just as much as men have the right to be ill-tempered and unpleasant.
We have the right to stop being asked “what is acceptable behavior for women ?”. The only relevant question is” what is acceptable behavior for human beings? “. As writer Kate Bolick wrote in her book “Spinsters”: Are women people yet?
Of course they are, they say rolling their eyes. Let’s not debate this time about equal pay and the #metoo movement, but ask a very simple question: why owning a vagina costs more than owning a penis if we are all human beings with the same rights and responsibilities?
In 2012, Jezebel wanted to find out how much it costs to own a vagina in USA. The figure they come up with was $2,663.02. That included birth control, tampons and pads, yeast infections, public hair removal, smears, but not emergency contraception, pregnancy tests or abortion:
« Owning a vagina is a lot like owning a car: Even though you have a set amount of expenses when it comes to care and maintenance, sometimes we have accidents and need to draw on a rainy day fund ».
Unfortunately. politicians’ cojones and ovaries don’t give a shit about this. For them, the feminist fight means pulling off burkas or criticising unruly and opinionated human rights activists like Munroe Berrdorf or Rokhaya Diallo.
“Their bodies, words, and actions have become a locus for the type of inflammatory rhetoric usually reserved only for political figures. It’s as if each of these women is constantly igniting the line of acceptable behavior: you don’t know where it is until she steps over it, at which point it bursts into flames" media studies professor Anne Helen Peterson writes in her book “Too fat, too slutty, too loud”. Peterson’s portraits are about women who are considered "too much" and yet magnetic, “but that magnetism is countered, at every point, by ideologies that train both men and women to distance themselves from those behaviors in our own lives. Put differently, it’s one thing to admire such abrasiveness and disrespect for the status quo in someone else; it’s quite another to take that risk in one’s own life.”
We admire women who cause riots, but from a “secure” distance and I know that from my own experience. I think I was more unruly when I was 16 than now, 12 years later. Of course, I was making more mistakes back then, but I had a stronger voice. Transitioning to adulthood meant turning into a presentable and respectable person, with clean white shirts, knowing how to act with diplomacy, how to smile politely and hold on the curses or the tears in spite of the asteroids of bullshit coming straight to my face.
Let’s be honest, women are supposed to speak lightly, to be pleasant, to keep it low, because we all know very well : if a lady does a misstep, she will be called nasty, hysteric, unfuckable and instantly sent to the bitches' purgatory.
This is why, today, 8 March 2018, I am raising my middle fingers to those who put pressure on girls to shrink, hide, disguise, behave like eery soft-spoken dolls, wear strings, never curse, diet, not be harsh.
Middle fingers up. You can do it. You just have to raise your hand and show that beautiful middle finger. That will help you in the future, to step up, speak up, claim it, own it, make it. I know what you're asking yourself right now reading this “and if something wrong happens? What if I will lose something or someone because of that”? Girl, wrong things and loss happen all the time, but not because you decided not to stay small anymore. They happen because LIFE. Middle fingers up. You are allowed to do it (stop asking why, do you also ask why you are allowed to breathe?) and you’re definitely not a bad girl for doing it.