This isn’t exactly a post about knitting or crochet or wool. It’s about women – it’s International Women’s Day today. This morning I celebrated by calling C “The Patriarchy” whenever he made a suggestion or wanted to push the trolley at the supermarket. I also posted a status on Facebook making reference to how Taiwan apparently mark International Women’s Day – by releasing survey results about women’s increasing waistlines. Now, I have done basically no research on this, so I can’t speak with any authority, but I was quite shocked when one of my friends – an educated healthcare professional, and a really very kind and lovely woman – didn’t automatically agree that this seemed a bit ridiculous. We both gave our point of view, and that was that: no animosity, no hard feelings. And I’m not going to use this platform to air my views about something I’m no expert on.
However, I am an expert on being a woman. I’ve been doing it for years – I’ve got the anatomy to prove it and everything. I am a fantastically lucky woman, with a family who want what’s best for me, a boyfriend who supports me wholeheartedly and lets me boss him around sometimes (OK, most of the time), an education system that supported me to the point where I can now contribute to it, a healthcare system that’s saved my life, kept me healthy and let me cry on them, and a network of friends – men and women – who are happy to let me be me even when I’m being a bitch. I’m part of a society that doesn’t gang rape and kill me for going out of the house on my own in the evening. My contributions to that society, small as they are, are valued and rewarded. In a very small way, I can be a role model. We might have a very long way to go on embracing gender equality, but when I walk out of the house with no make on, or the wrong sort of clothes, or the wrong sort of hair, or trainers that have definitely seen better days, no one points and stares. And my part of the world lets me be confident enough to say a firm “No thank you” to anyone who might.
But it isn’t OK to settle for that. Malala Yousafzai can tell you that. Jyoti Singh would have been able to tell you that.
We can’t change the world today. It’ll be a long time before there are significant, meaningful changes. But put it this way: you can’t knit a cardigan in an afternoon – that doesn’t mean you never cast on. You knit away, one row a day, for weeks and months and years. And then, eventually, you’ve made a difference. You’ve created something that makes the world better. Maybe you dropped a stitch or the sleeves aren’t quite long enough, but something new exists because of you.
So find a way to make a difference. Educate yourself, and be grateful that you can. Call on your network of strong female friends and ask them what they think. Donate your time to a women’s charity. Mentor a young woman who needs some help. Or just get on your blog and write a post about how it really is time we cast on that cardigan.