International Women’s Day should be an all-inclusive event

Today, March 8, 2020, is International Women’s Day and the entire month of March is Women’s History Month, although to be honest, if you didn’t know, I’m not surprised, especially in the UK . The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “I am Generation Equality.”

The problem with this is that there are many who seek to divide, creating a society that pits women against men. When I switched genders almost 20 years ago, I fell into this trap. I identified as a woman, demanded that I be a woman now and became an active feminist campaigning against male domination and patriarchy and in the process antagonized people, making the transition process more difficult than it should have been.

I met some resistance. It was when I started reading for my Master’s in Gender Research that I first encountered significant opposition from some radical feminists and political activists who believed that to be a woman you had to be born a woman. But their arguments went beyond denying that anyone could change gender. They told me that the identity of Mujeres was a biologically determined exclusive club that I could never join. I was a man and therefore one of “Them.”

What I have learned since then is at the heart of Social Identity Theory. These women don’t want equality; they do not want equal rights; They are angry with men for their power and dominance and want to take it from them. His goal seems to be the destruction of the patriarchy, and I suppose he will replace it with a new matriarchy.

I can understand anger towards men. I have identified as a woman for almost 20 years and have experienced all kinds of discrimination, harassment and victimization in that time. More importantly, I see the levels of discrimination and harassment that women are subjected to; I see how women, from childhood, have their power crushed; I see how as a result of the behavior of many men, women grow up in fear.

But I also see how as a result of the attacks against all men, their resistance grows. I found this quote from Amy Chua in The Guardian very helpful in understanding this issue.

When groups feel threatened, they retreat to tribalism. When groups feel mistreated and disrespected, they close ranks and become more isolated, more defensive, more punitive, more us against them. Amy chua

And we’ve seen this so well exemplified in the Brexit debate. It scares me to think how long it will be until we put aside the damage caused by Brexit and the country recovers.

One of the first things I did when I transitioned was to get actively involved in the first Hull Pride event. This was in 2002, and the focus was on marching to oppose Article 28 of the Local Government Law. This was the law that prevented all municipalities, and therefore schools, from treating homosexuality as normal. Schools and councils just couldn’t even talk about LGBTQ issues.

Over the next several years, most of the legal changes were made to support LGBTQ inclusion and we wonder what to do with the Pride event. From the first event on Christopher Street in New York in 1970, gay pride marches were protest marches demanding equality, but the laws had changed, so there was nothing to protest about. We realized that we had to shift the entire focus from protest to compromise. Changing laws might have been difficult, but changing attitudes was a much more challenging goal.

So, we hired a lot of bouncy castles, inflatable slides and wild horses to attract children and young people. We found more money to hire better bands and turned Pride into a family event, attracting straight people socialized with the LGBTQ community. In 2019, Hull Pride attracted 50,000 people and is one of the top events on the Hull social calendar, and Hull is probably one of the most gay-friendly cities in the UK.

International Women’s Day is a day to raise awareness of women’s achievements and highlight the ways in which women continue to be subjected to discrimination, harassment and victimization despite all laws in place to protect them. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act of 1970, but we still do not have equal pay.

But attacking men and blaming them for an extremely skewed patriarchal system is not the answer. Unconscious bias tests show that women tend to be just as biased against women as men. It is ingrained in societies around the world. Unfortunately, the negative stereotype of women will only be reinforced if either side of the social identity binary is threatened.

I’m reading Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez, which explores how society is skewed in favor of men and against women, which I highly recommend to anyone who want to understand why gender equality is so difficult to understand. achieve. We are all unconsciously predisposed; it is the nature of humans to be like this. In our heavily consumer-oriented Western society, the primary goal of all marketing and politics is to encourage prejudice.

The only way to change bias is to first recognize that we are all biased. I took several implicit association tests from Harvard that test for a variety of biases. Two surprised me. First, the gender test showed that he was unconsciously predisposed to associate men with careers and women with family. The second showed that he was unconsciously biased in favor of members of the LGBTQ community.

Knowing that I was prejudiced meant that I could correct it, whenever I find myself in a situation where that unconscious prejudice may result in an unfair decision or behavior, I can now control myself by making a conscious decision free from prejudice.

We know, after 50 years of trying to make Gender Equality a reality, that it is not going to happen simply by changing the laws. We have to change attitudes, which is very difficult partly because most men believe that there is no gender inequality and partly because many men think that we can only have gender equality if men lose out.

The only way to achieve gender equality is “Working Together”, the title of a workshop I teach on this topic. Men and women seem to work differently, but not all men are the same and not all women are the same. The creation of stereotypes about men and women causes biases and prejudices.

When I changed my gender, I experienced a lot of discrimination, but it took me a while to realize that much of that discrimination was not because I am transgender, but because I now identify as a woman. I used to enjoy male privilege, although I didn’t believe it until I lost it. So I know that unless there is equality for women, I will always be discriminated against as a trans woman.

But that also affects men, men who are more feminine in behavior or appearance, men who are campers, men who are gay, men who work in what some consider female jobs, men who are “house husbands”, and so on.

Instead of trying to exclude anyone, we must include everyone. Only by encouraging everyone to realize the prejudice that exists and enlisting them in the campaign to change that will there be any hope of gender equality.

Imagine the change we could achieve if all the women who marched for gender equality on International Women’s Day brought a man committed to the same goals.