International Women’s Day Explained For Men

What are women, and why should we care?

1. Today is International Women’s Day. If you’re a man, it’s possible you might have some questions about this!

Francesco Raibolini [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Andrea del Castagno [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

 

We’re here to help! Let us explain:

2. First up: What are women?

Hans Baldung [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Long-standing assumptions about the difference between men and women have been eroded in recent decades, as we begin to understand how our traditional notions of both biological sex and social gender roles impose artificial binaries on a far more fluid reality.

However, as a broad rule of thumb: Women are like men, but with better personalities, deeper friendships, and structural disadvantage imposed by societal norms.

3. But wait: Why do they need a whole day to themselves?

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This may seem like overkill! Why should just 49.6% of the world’s population get a whole 0.27% of the year’s days to themselves? Women can often be greedy in this way, like when they live to be older than men, hogging all the life.

4. But it turns out there are actually lots of Days! In April the UN will celebrate International Jazz Day, May gives us World Migratory Bird Day, and June has the International Day of Yoga.

Artemisia Gentileschi / Via commons.wikimedia.org

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Eduard Steinbrück / Via commons.wikimedia.org

 

So if you just imagine that women are like migratory birds it makes more sense.

5. When was the first International Women’s Day?

Eugène Delacroix [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Much like women, International Women’s Day has been around for a long time!

The origins of IWD can *possibly* be traced to the actions of women textile workers in New York in 1908, when 15,000 women marched to demand #JustGirlyThings like “shorter work hours, better pay, and voting rights”.

In the next decade or so other cool ladies from around the world all contributed to the creation of IWD. In 1911 an estimated 1 million people attended marches in Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany demanding rights for women in the first ~official~ International Women’s Day. Since 1922, IWD has taken place on 8 March, to commemorate the beginning of a massive women’s strike in Russia in 1918 in the early days of the Russian revolution.

In 1975, the UN declared an official International Women’s Year, as if a whole day weren’t already enough, and made IWD a yearly thing starting in 1977.

6. What happens on International Women’s Day?

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The official International Women’s Day organisation wants you to take the day to “take a pledge for parity” and then take a selfie and tweet it with #PledgeForParity, but, if you hate the sight of your own face, there are still things you can do!

7. Do you have any suggestions for things I could do to mark International Women’s Day?

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Other than the selfie thing, there are festivals and events around the world, and lots of information from organisations like UN Women, which you can share angrily on Facebook.

Or if you wanna get REALLY social media about it, check out #InternationalWomensDay on Twitter, and furiously retweet everything you see, except for the spam bots and men’s rights activists.

8. As a man, am I allowed to take part in International Women’s Day?

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Yes! International Women’s Day is a fun event that everybody can join in with.

You know when you’re out with the lads and then you see Gaz and his mates on the other side of the bar, and even though Gaz can be a bit of a twat sometimes he’s basically sound and so you’re like “shots” and the banter is off the charts? It’s like that, but with equality instead of shots.

9. OK, but what do women usually do on International Women’s Day?

credit Francisco Goya [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Well, International Women’s Day REALLY kicks off at the witching hour, when by the light of the full moon, all the women of the world gather in threes, whisper the man-banishing spell, and clench in unison, expelling foul spirits from their bodies and inviting good luck in the new year.

But don’t tell anyone about that.

10. I’d like some new things to give a shit about. What things can I give a shit about on International Women’s Day?

We’re glad you asked! This is a great day of the year to give a shit about things.

11. Here’s a thing to give a shit about!

12. Here’s another thing to give a shit about!

13. Here’s another!

14. And here’s another. That’s four whole things to give a shit about today.

If you’d like more things to give a shit about, and would like to give a shit on more days of the year, we recommend listening to women and also believing them.

15. Do people get presents on International Women’s Day?

Not currently, because Mother Moon has made a list of who’s been patriarchal and who hasn’t, and everybody has, so we don’t get presents. But maybe this is the year! Listen carefully! Can you hear on the roof the pitter patter of the leopards that pull her sleigh, as she delivers IWD presents to the all the children around the world who have rejected traditional gender roles?

16. Are there any traditional songs to sing on International Women’s Day?

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No, please put away the guitar and stop singing “Wonderwall” for one day out of the whole year.

17. Are women angry at me? Why are women angry at me?

Gregorio Lazzarini [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Yes, we are. Because this morning we were just trying to get on a crowded train, and there would have been space if you had only taken off your backpack, and instead you just looked me right in the eye with your big space-taking-up backpack on your stupid space-unaware body, and I couldn’t get on the train and had to get off and wait for the next one and it made me late, fuck you.

Oh also, even if you are nice and not a crowded-train-backpack-wearer, you still benefit in numerous ways from a society that for centuries has treated maleness as the default, many of which you might not have fully acknowledged or even realised.

18. Yeah, but when is International M

Andrea del Castagno [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Let’s just stop you right there – it’s on 19 November.

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Tom Phillips is the UK editorial director for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
Hannah Jewell is a senior staff writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London. Contact this reporter at hannah.jewell@buzzfeed.com
 
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