I had a lovely International Women’s Day last week. I’d been feeling a bit grumpy on account of lady problems – my bits ached, I was emotional, and I had a savage craving for Snickers like you wouldn’t believe, so I wasn’t massively in the mood to celebrate being a woman. Everything was narking me off and I was very cross at the disruption that hormones can cause. I didn’t want to play the worldwide sport of owning our femininity, I wanted to watch Meryl Streep films in the dark and throw things. Maybe have a little cry over nothing in particular into the dog’s tummy and then eat another Snickers.
But I cracked on because it would have been frowned on if I’d skulked around wincing at my boobs and muttering that I wanted to be a man. That’s not the kind of thing that’s expected of you on International Women’s day. You’re supposed to be at your best, showing anyone who will notice that you are part of a franchise of Gender Awesomeness, not just today, but every day. You are an ambassador of all that is Woman; you certainly can’t grumble about your fallopian tubes.
Somehow I got through the day without weeping, throwing anything, killing anyone or performing a self-hysterectomy with a spoon, and set up for the International Women’s Day event I was doing in the evening, which was a talk on the theme of The Invisible Woman. “I WISH I WAS RUDDY INVISIBLE AND THEN NO ONE WOULD NOTICE ME SITTING IN THE CORNER, PICKING SNICKERS NUTS OUT OF MY TEETH”, I wanted to bellow as I laid out the seats. But that wasn’t the point of the evening.
The point of the evening was to welcome a small number of women to talk openly about whether we feel seen; whether we have to struggle to be seen as young women, get seen for a few years, and then slowly get forgotten again. To discuss whether we want to be seen at all, and if we are seen in the way we want to be seen. I was expecting maybe a handful of people to turn up for an hour’s chat before attending the next events; a talk on domestic violence and a talk on the Essex Girl and her stereotyping. The talk got going and slowly the room filled up until there were no more seats. More women turned up and eventually there were people sitting on the floor, standing by the back wall, and filling the pockets of space at the side. I was pleasantly surprised and settled in to the talk with a warm feeling growing in my tummy. Not unlike when you clutch a hot water bottle to your abdomen because Eve ruined it for all of us when she mucked God about all those years ago or whatever.
The assembled women had brilliant things to say about their experiences; how our lives are shaped by our gender, how often things get brought back to our sexuality when they shouldn’t, and how sometimes it feels very much like some men forget to address things to our faces instead of our boobs. “If anyone talked to my boobs right now I could ruddy bash their face off with one slight jerk” I muttered inwardly, still a bit peeved at the enlargening effects of the monthly tribulation.
It was an inspiring hour of a diverse collection of brilliant women of all ages meandering off and on subject as we achieved what was essentially the point of the day; be with each other, share our stuff, listen to each other, and support each other. We ended the session saying we should do it again soon. On the whole I was glad I’d turned up. Especially as it was my event.
It was so nice I even stopped thinking about Snickers. For, like, an hour.