I’m seeing lots of “phenomenal women” t-shirts popping up on my Twitter feed. Lots of “women are great” sentiments. It’s International Woman’s Day, you see. And we women want our flowers and chocolates. (Heck, I even re-posted a “you go, girl” meme on Instagram. I am not immune).
Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of phenomenal women. I know some shitty ones, too. Celebrating women for being women is kind of like the participation trophy of gender. Have the right parts, and, poof! It’s your day! No effort or skill required.
I believe in women’s empowerment. I know the gender disparity that we’re dealing with in wages, on corporate boards, in government and in many of the places where life-changing decisions are made. I know that our first viable female presidential candidate was sunk, in part, by her womanhood, that her own gender did not believe one of their own was ready to lead. I know. It’s real.
I also know symbols are powerful. So, sure, let’s have a day of the woman. But I can’t help but think that you don’t need to declare a day for a group unless you’re also giving a nod to the idea that they are, in fact, in need of some kind of extra help, and this bothers me. I don’t want the best woman’s job. I want the best job. I don’t want an honor designed just for women. I want the top honors in my field. I don’t want “bonus points”for being a woman, that old “isn’t she cute, see how she tries” condescension. I want to sink or swim of my own accord.
Am I a phenomenal woman? I’d like to think so. But not because I’m a woman, but because I’m phenomenal, and I happened to have come jarred in this container.