I woke up this morning to my news feed full of inspirational quotes and celebrations of International Women’s Day. I love this day and what it stands for – it show’s how far we’ve come to have a day where we call on and celebrate the rights and equality of women. It’s a day to reflect on the progress and dialogue about what still needs to be. With movements like The SOLD Project, Half the Sky, Nike’s Girl Effect and so many others beginning to shed light on the importance of girls internationally, it’s all the more important and personal to me as well.
Yet this morning there was one tweet that jumped out to me and made me pause for a moment.
It’s International Women’s Day and I don’t know if I’m supposed to hold doors open for girls or not!
— Branden Harvey (@BrandenHarvey) March 8, 2013
I quickly responded “of course you should!” and then went about my day. But this question sat in the back of my mind, provoking the bigger questions that sat behind it. What is this tension between independent feminism and women’s rights that communicates to men that chivalry doesn’t have a place? I am a female that yearns for equal rights in the work place, for girls to have equal access to education worldwide, that gets frustrated when I’m looked down upon or not listened to because of my gender… but I also love being treated like a lady. I appreciate doors being opened for me. Or when a guy walks on the outside of the sidewalk (to protect me from who knows what? But I like it!). While I might be perfectly capable of opening my own door, I also believe that allowing a man to have the honor to do so in no way strips me of my independence.
Today is a day to celebrate and honor both women AND men. Women could not have come this far without the support of the men that believed and fought for us. Or opened our doors for us. Women’s day is a day to reflect on the past and dream for the future: for all of us. And as we (women) celebrate this, we would only be projecting to men what we’re trying to change for ourselves if we reject their chivalry. And men, don’t forget your role and importance in this ongoing battle: even if it starts with simply opening a door.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem