On International Women’s Day | Sarah Stook
International Women’s Day means lots of different things to different people. For some, it’s a public holiday in their country. It can be a day of protests or remembering strong women both alive and deceased. For many, it’s just a day of virtue signalling before everything goes back to normal.
The conservative movement can be a little more indifferent to IWD. It’s understandable really- the media around IWD definitely skews to the left. Feminism has become a dirty word and it’s not really hard to see why. Both men and women on the right are ready to decry feminism. That’s why it must be strange to see a conservative publication discuss it. Conservatism and IWD can go together.
Celebrating women is an awesome thing. We’re made to feel ashamed of our gender or made to think we’re believed to be lesser because of it. Yes, oppression against women is systematic across the world, from FGM to child marriage, but we’re also worth celebrating.
There’s nothing wrong with being a feminine girl. Wearing dresses and floral skirts and heels is not ‘slavery to the patriarchy.’ It’s exactly the same as wearing jeans and trainers- it’s a choice women make. We can dress pretty for us- not for anything or anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with being a stay at home mother. Children are chaotic and a household can be hard to manage. If you want to care for your children at home and maintain a home, then you do that. If it’s a choice, it’s not some old-fashioned forced upon thing.
There are women we admire who have done great work outside the home. Margaret Thatcher, love or hate her, realigned the conservative movement in the UK and set the Tory party on one of its most successful runs. Malala took a bullet to the brain to defend women’s rights to education and remains a classy role model. Oprah Winfrey clawed her way up from being dirt poor to becoming one of the wealthiest self-made women in the world.
Women can be so hateful towards one another. Any female reader will have been catty about a friend or judgemental over basically nothing. Admit it, we can be mean. So-called feminists will talk about championing women, but will bring down others who don’t fit their mindsets.
We don’t have to support women just because they’re women, in fact, we shouldn’t. What we should do is recognise women who have fought their way to the top in a way others haven’t. We need more women in politics, just not through all-women shortlists and positive discrimination. It’s their ideas and life experiences that are more important than who they are. Left-wing feminists need to celebrate conservative women who do great things instead of just paying lip service to girl power.
Most of all, we need to reclaim IWD and women’s rights. When the Women’s March went out against Donald Trump, it only mentioned middle-class women in America whose main source of activism is a pink pussy hat. Conservatism means tradition and conserving and we need to keep that mindset, but conservatism also means equality of opportunity. There is nothing right about little girls being held down whilst their genitals are cut. A 12 year old girl marrying a man thrice her age isn’t acceptable. Girls being murdered by their families for being seen with a boy is not ok. These are things we must remember on IWD- the true meaning of it.
Celebrate the women around you, whether it’s a grandmother who stayed at home and had lots of children or a mother who worked long hours in order to put food on the table. Women, don’t apologise for choices. Wear your hair long and dance around in pretty dresses. If you won’t want to do any of that, then don’t. Just don’t judge the choices that others make. Let’s reclaim IWD.