I am not usually one who puts much thought into “internationally designated holidays,” but this year, this date feels especially important. Plus, International Women’s Day has been, and will hopefully, continue to be celebrated with significance across the globe with respect and honor toward women, past and present, for the issues they face and the power they represent.
“Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”
According to the International Women’s Day website, March 8 is globally recognized to cast a light on celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality, the site says.
International Women’s Day (IWD) was coined in 1910 with unanimous approval from over 100 women from 17 countries during an International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen, Denmark. For each year since then, a campaign theme is granted. This year, we are told to #BreakTheBias.
I found myself in conversation last night with two, new girl friends about the fact that women are not encouraged to talk about their “physical” bodies in the way that men are. We get pulled out of class, depending on schooling, somewhere around the fifth grade. We are taught about puberty and periods. We get a free, oversized maxi pad. Then, we carry on with our lives—back to analyzing “The Giver,” or whatever book the class is reading that week.
Maybe this is a bit of a generalization, I told them, but it is how I feel about womanhood and the topic of sexuality surrounding us individuals who own a uterus and ovaries. We are not taught to talk about what feels good, but even then, we are not really taught to talk about what feels bad.
(disclaimer: I didn’t know certain words for my own body parts until a human sexuality course I took as a junior in college!!!)
Think about it:
Whether you are a woman reading this, a man reading this, or you are figuring out your own personal identity—do you have a moment in your childhood where something strange, or “sexual” a classmate did was simply dismissed as “oh, boys will be boys!”
Taboo words for children are usually things like: vagina, vulva, period (gross!), tampons, discharge, orgasms.
What isn’t taboo? Words like ‘wiener,’ and ‘penis,’ or little boys being taught they can just whip it out anywhere if they have to pee. It is so normalized.
If reading those two paragraphs made you uncomfortable—good.
I am uncomfortable simply typing these words. Am I allowed to publish this? I don’t even know.
I guess we will find out together!
That further defends my point, though. Why wouldn’t something like this be allowed? Why are honest discussions like this so rare and, ultimately, uncomfortable?
Why are female children not just as healthily encouraged to know their own body parts as male children are? Why is there a bias around the female functions being ‘gross,’ or ‘taboo,’ but verbally acknowledging male body parts and functions are ‘boys being boys?’
I can remember being at a male friend’s house during my sophomore of high school. The core friend group was roughly three or four ‘guys’ and three or four ‘girls.’ We would all get together, play basketball, truth or dare, watch movies or just talk—it was purely innocent friendship; no funny business.
There was one evening, though, where the guys casually turned on a ‘funny’ pornographic video.
What the hell is happening?
Even now, reflecting on this moment, I can remember how uncomfortable the girls were. They all have seen this? This is something they casually turn on…together? What is happening here? Why is it funny?
I am going to make a bold, blanket statement here that I am not claiming as 100% truth or fact, so don’t come at me with your “fake news” accusations. Here it is:
Women are not taught to, nor are they given the resources to talk to one another about pleasure, pain, or simply ‘normal’ bodily functions in the same way that men are.
This is not a call to action to make conversation about sex more “casual.” No, it is a call to action to #BreakTheBias of avoiding the normal words that revolve around being a woman.
It is a hypothetical proposition.
I want to leave you thinking about this:
How would the world be different if talking about the female body was just as normalized as talking about the male body?
Are you a woman? Would you be more comfortable talking about cramps or periods with your partner if those words had been allowed in your vocabulary from a younger age? Would you finally admit that girls are just as turned on by certain graphics as men are?
Are you a man who struggles to please a woman because their anatomy was simply, never taught? Would your confidence levels and understanding of women be boosted if those things were more frequently talked about? Do you know the difference between a vulva and a vagina? Seriously?
Are you and your spouse new parents? Is your baby girl your entire world? Would you do anything and everything to protect her?
Will you give her the words she needs to be able to tell you if something inappropriate or painful ever happened to her? Will you give her those words to articulate to someone what feels good? Ultimately, wouldn’t that help keep her safe? Would that not allow her to set more boundaries?
The more passionately I write, the more I find myself leaving you with open ended questions. I would love to hear your thoughts, your experiences, and your own questions. Please keep in mind though, these topics can be sensitive and they are supposed to be difficult. If you feel inclined to comment, keep it respectful or it will be removed.
Do something today to celebrate #InternationalWomensDay! If you don’t know how to start, share this article to your social media to help me #BreakTheBias in one, small way today.