IWD 2018: We seek justice, not sympathy

Toxic masculinity is real, and the longer it lingers and remains in public office and in positions of power, the longer it deters progress across societal sectors.

For those of you who still don’t understand why there’s a day designated to celebrate women across the globe and ask “why don’t we celebrate men?” We do. Google it.

Why a separate movement for the equal treatment of women and all marginalized individuals (a little one known as feminism) is not only real but absolutely necessary, yet still claim “women are just being discriminatory and want to be above everyone else.” The focus is on women because, as Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie put it, if we didn’t we’d be “pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”

Why we still continue to fight for women’s rights on any given day around the world even though “men and women have the same rights. I mean, women can vote, too, can’t they?”

Yes, we have rights.

But gender discrimination in the workplace is real.

But rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment of women and girls in the workplace, at home and in public and private spaces is real.

But the continued distrust of women in government positions is real.

But the lack of representation of women, especially women of color, in media is real.

But the over-sexualization of our bodies is real.

But the fear of retribution for speaking our truth is real.

But the overwhelming questioning of the validity of our stories, from men, women and especially ourselves, is real.

But the persistent need instilled by society to prove ourselves worthy for anything, even above our own sisters, is real.

But the “boys will be boys” mentality that goes on well into male adulthood is real.

But toxic masculinity is real, and the longer it lingers and remains in public office and in positions of power, the longer it deters progress across societal sectors.

To those who still don’t understand:

Don’t make your own conclusions.

Please don’t assume.

Stop. Listen. Observe. And allow our stories to sink in. Because our stories are not unique. They’re not one of a kind. They happen and have happened to your family members, your neighbors, your colleagues and friends.

It happens.

We do not seek sympathy.

We seek understanding.

We seek justice.

For us.

For all.