Every March 8th, we celebrate women.
It started like this: in 1911, German theorist and activist Clara Zetkin organized International Women’s Day to rally for social, economic and political reform. Over one million men and women gathered in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. The day has since grown into an annual global event recognizing women’s achievements and the continued challenges in developed and developing countries.
That is what International Women’s Day is. This is what it means: opportunity. It’s a visible platform on which the agendas and concerns of individual feminist organizations integrate into one powerful communiqué. It’s hard to think of another instance where women come together, and for my part I’m going to wear the day’s signature purple ribbon for the first time to remind myself I’m part of something larger.
[IWD is] a visible platform on which the agendas and concerns of individual feminist organizations integrate into one powerful communiqué.
Over the years, International Women’s Day has experienced an attitudinal shift as new generations come of age. Rallies and suffragette cries have mostly been replaced with speeches and celebratory gatherings. Many former battles for equality and safety have been achieved – though there is still road to travel. Maybe you feel untouched by the late sixties, or wonder what the 1917 Russian bread strike really has to do with you, here, now.
Well, in an answer, everything.
We stand on the ideological shoulders of women who were in social and political trenches, and see the expanse before us. We no longer have to adapt to arbitrary systems – we can adapt the systems to us. But, we have the often-confusing task of sloughing off the dictatorial voice of society, of listening to our own inner voice and creating an authentic life plan and identity. “If women,” Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan says, “do not put forth, finally, that effort to become all that they have it in them to become, they will forfeit their own humanity.”
What do we do with that sentence, handed to us like a banding wheel and putty knife, which we take with slumped shoulders and open mouths, wondering if we are equipped to handle it? We get to work. We shape ourselves from our innermost place – that strange hot burning kiln that all of our energy emits from – and build from that center because that center is self.
Gloria Steinem said, “A movement is only people moving.” When we walk our own path in one collective direction, we create indomitable momentum. Steinem also said that most women’s magazines just try to mold women into bigger and better consumers. I (and I think you do, too) appreciate Darling’s invitation to the reader to join a conversation, to evaluate oneself, and to make intelligent decisions. Like International Women’s Day, Darling was created to get people moving.
When we walk our own path in one collective direction, we create indomitable momentum.
Ideally, our decisions open up as many options as possible, but we can’t have everything. We must choose. That is the thrill and the terror of the game. Only when we pair our rights with our willpower can we throw around big words like liberated. Only then are we shaping the very thing we celebrate on International Women’s Day and at Darling, the thing that preceding women offer us from their own hard work: the power of possibility.
What path are you currently walking? What possibilities are before you that you recognize as the result of previous generational struggles?
Image via Stephanie Hynes Photography