This year's theme for International Women's Day is "Equal Rights For All", which I imagine does not just extend to women only, but also men.
One of the things which undermines feminism is the idea that rights are a zero-sum game: if women get more rights, then men will lose rights. It's as if rights are finite things which are arbitrarily distributed. Like apples. I just bought some. Which means I deprived someone else of the very same apples! Oh nos, that poor person! There are only so many apples in the world! Except, whoever it is I "deprived" of the apples I bought could buy them somewhere else.
Even that analogy fails, because there are some people who cannot afford to buy apples! Fortunately, though, rights are not concrete things like apples. Which means they are exponential! Which means they can reach out to apply to everybody!
Everybody means women of colour, transgendered and transsexual folks, or folks who don't fit into the gender binary. Everybody means really young children and really old people. Everyone means people of all races, and of all cultures, whichsoever they fit into, gets proper respect and representation in media and status and are recognized as part of the tapestry of globalization. Everybody means even that one person in the room with a different opinion gets heard, rather than ignored until someone else repeats it. Everybody means even people who cannot hear or see or walk or talk or move or stop, evne people who feel differently and think differently.
Equal rights means we recognize that some people are more advantaged than others and adjust our expectations differently. Equal rights means we accommodate those who are disadvantaged in whatever way, because it does not truly inconvenience us to do so, and benefits all.
Equal rights is the gift that keeps on giving. Equal rights is loving everyone the best we can with our attitudes mirrored into law. Equal rights is the dream and the ideal that we all work towards, because to stop is to betray everything all those who came before us have worked for. Equal rights is gratitude to our forebears who worked hard to give us a better life. Equal rights is kindness to those who don't normally receive them.
In the past one hundred years that we have celebrated International Women's Day, we have made progress, mostly for a certain subset of all women in the world. We have begun to recognize how limited our work has been and extended our purview.
Equal rights is a work in progress, for progress, by people who believe in progress. Equal rights is exponential in potential.
Happy International Women's Day!