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Monday 11 December 2017

Don't get me started: International Women's Day

It's a great seven days to be a woman. For there is not one, but two days dedicated to us this week. This Sunday is Mother's Day, and for those of us who don't have kids to be nice to us one day of the year, Monday was International Women's Day.

Yep, it slipped my mind, too. In fact, it was up there with National Soup Week, and Audio Book Appreciation Month.

Dare I risk the wrath of my fellow females and question the relevance of International Women's Day in 2010? This year marks the 100th anniversary of the day, which was created as a socialist political event, at a time when such an occasion was warranted. We're talking about the days before women were allowed to vote. Over time it seems to have become an impotent hybrid of a birthday and Valentine's Day with little or no social meaning whatsoever.

Men are encouraged to be especially nice to their lady folk, and women are encouraged to remind their sisters how amazing they are. In some countries, it is observed as a public holiday, China being one (in a country where baby girls are still abandoned in their thousands every year). And there are calls to have it made a global holiday. What a way to champion the cause for women's equality: a day off. Surely that is the exact opposite of what such a day should symbolise? Anyway, most busy women simply wouldn't be able to take a day off, trust me on that one.

I realise that our gender's struggle for equality and balance is far from resolved, but by creating a day solely to celebrate women, are we not just contradicting ourselves? Where is International Men's Day? Isn't that the whole point of equality? And before people start Googling it just to prove me wrong, I found out that one was created about 10 years ago, but pretty much as a reaction to its female counterpart.

Like any day or event -- the significance of which has been lost over many generations -- it has become nothing but an extra strain on in-boxes from what I can gather (and no doubt, Hallmark pulled a few greeting cards out of the bag for the occasion).

I think I received about a dozen chain emails from friends, acquaintances, and out-and-out strangers, reminding me how special I was for not having a penis, and to forward this lovely message on to five important woman in my life; (incidentally, who chooses the random number of friends a chain mail must be forwarded to?).

One of them even had an animated image of a cute kitten with unfeasible large, blinking eyes. Because if ever there was a timeless symbol of the fight for women's rights, surely a cute kitten has got to be it. Presumably something terrible will happen to me because I didn't forward any of the mails to a single other person. I considered replying and suggesting that next year we have a sponsored ironing marathon, where we spend Women's Day ironing as many men's shirts as we can... but I was genuinely afraid some of the senders may not get the joke and might hurry to get the sponsorship cards printed up in plenty of time.

Kathryn Bigelow making history at the Oscars last Sunday was significant for women. Katie Taylor's invitation to the White House next Wednesday is something to be proud of. A woman on O'Connell Street shouting in my face and handing me a two-for-one coffee voucher to mark International Women's Day is not. I told her I didn't drink coffee but I'd pass it on to a male colleague who did. She looked at me as if I'd set women's rights back 50 years.

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